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Jennifer Stahl and Myles Thatcher Jennifer Stahl and Myles Thatcher in Caniparoli's Ibsen's House. All photos © Erik Tomasson

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Dancing From San Fran to London
The San Francisco Ballet are performing in London’s Sadler’s Wells from May 29 to June 8. We spoke to five of the ballet’s great dancers about how they became involved, what performing with the San Francisco Ballet means to them, and their upcoming London trip

Published on May 08, 2019
www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2019/san-francisco-ballet

★ WanTing Zhao, Soloist:

WanTing Zhao WanTing Zhao in Tomasson/Possokhov's Don Quixote

Where are you from, and how did you become involved with the San Francisco Ballet?

I'm from Anshan China. I first came to San Francisco Ballet as a student in the summer program and was asked to stay on as a trainee.

How did you first become interested in Ballet?

My mom had always enjoyed dance. So when I was little, she took me to a local Chinese dance school, which I really enjoyed. After a while, I went to audition for the Beijing Dance Academy and was accepted.

What does performing with the San Francisco Ballet mean to you?

San Francisco Ballet was always my dream company. I am so honored to dance alongside such the fantastic artists of San Francisco Ballet.

What are you looking forward to about visiting London for the Ballet's upcoming performances?

I'm especially looking forward to showing the London audience the new works from our Unbound festival. At San Francisco Ballet, we are lucky to be a part of so many new creations. Many of the pieces push the boundaries of what we consider classical and neoclassical ballet. I'm excited to show London how San Francisco Ballet is furthering the art form.

Read more via WanTing's San Francisco Ballet Profile


★ Sasha De Sola, Principal:

Sasha De Sola Sasha De Sola in McIntyre's Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem

Where are you from, and how did you become involved with the San Francisco Ballet?

I grew up in Winter Springs, Florida and joined San Francisco Ballet 12 seasons ago. I had always heard wonderful things about the company so I was incredibly excited when Helgi Tomasson, our Artistic Director, invited me to audition for the company and subsequently offered me a contract.

How did you first become interested in Ballet?

I was particularly shy when I was a child but I found that I felt most comfortable and free while I was performing. It started as a toddler ... I would put on shows for my family at home. Once I started dance lessons and performing on stage, I knew immediately it was what I wanted to do with my life. I was also always drawn to the challenge, discipline and structure that ballet offers.

What does performing with the San Francisco Ballet mean to you?

I've grown up in this company and I always feel so grateful to be surrounded by beautiful artists every day. I love that the company is so diverse yet cohesive and I've been endlessly inspired by so many different dancers, choreographers and ballet masters throughout the years. I find that San Francisco Ballet has a very unique identity. It is always a joy to perform not only at home but for new audiences around the world.

What are you looking forward to about visiting London for the Ballet's upcoming performances?

I have a special place in my heart for London. It will be my second time performing there with the company (we last toured to London in 2012) and I cannot wait to share a bit of what San Francisco Ballet has to offer. I am also looking forward to exploring the city a little more, beyond just the inside of the theater!

Read more via Sasha's San Francisco Ballet Profile


★ Lonnie Weeks, Soloist:

Lonnie Weeks Lonnie Weeks in Christopher Wheeldon's Bound To©

Where are you from, and how did you become involved with the San Francisco Ballet?

I was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico, but spent much of my childhood on a farm outside of Chicago. Growing up in the dance world from a young age I always heard of San Francisco Ballet. But to think that I'd ever actually be a part of the company seemed like a far fetched dream.

How did you first become interested in Ballet?

My mom put me in dance as a form of physical exercise after hearing about a local studio from some family friends. I became quite obsessed with dance soon after. I'd watch Gene Kelly and Judy Garland movies and try to reenact them.

What does performing with the San Francisco Ballet mean to you?

It means a lot to me to be a part of a ballet company that sets such high standards of excellence. Also, I love bringing the art form to such wonderfully diverse and forward thinking city.

What are you looking forward to about visiting London for the Ballet's upcoming performances?

I'm excited to perform in a historic city like London. I love watching documentaries about British history. Queen Victoria, The Tudors, the Tower of London ect. I'm excited to see where these people once lived and died.

Read more via Lonnie's San Francisco Ballet Profile


★ Kimberley Marie Olivier, Corps de Ballet:

Kimberley Marie Olivier Kimberly Marie Olivier in Tomasson/Possokhov's Don Quixote

Where are you from, and how did you become involved with the San Francisco Ballet?

New York, New York. I was accepted into SFB School’s Summer Intensive in 2007. An invitation to attend the year round school led me to two years in the San Francisco Ballet School (Level 8 student then Trainee program the following year). I joined the company as an apprentice in 2009 and corps de ballet in 2010.

How did you first become interested in Ballet?

I saw the San Francisco Ballet perform in NYC at David Koch Theatre, where New York City Ballet performs. I saw Artifact Suite and a few other ballets, I fell in love.

What does performing with the San Francisco Ballet mean to you?

It means I am in one of the most elite ballet companies in the world, therefore I use every opportunity I can to perform my best, admire and learn from the surrounding talent, work hard, and remember complacency is not an option.

What are you looking forward to about visiting London for the Ballet's upcoming performances?

It’s always a delight performing in various theaters and I’m excited to revisit Sadler’s Wells (reminiscent of our tour there in 2012). A new audience is a pleasure to look forward to as well; I'm excited for their response to Bjork Ballet! It’s definitely a fun one.

Read more via Kimberley Marie's San Francisco Ballet Profile


★ Myles Thatcher, Corps de Ballet:

Myles Thatcher Myles Thatcher (right) with Julia Rowe in Lopez Ochoa's Guernica

Where are you from, and how did you become involved with the San Francisco Ballet?

I was born in Atlanta, GA, but shortly moved to Pennsylvania where I started ballet when I was around 8 years old. When I was a teenager, I realized I needed to move in order to get the training I needed to become a professional dancer. Eventually, I found myself in the Trainee Program in SF Ballet School, which is where I got my foot in the door at San Francisco Ballet. It is also where I first started to choreograph.

How did you first become interested in Ballet?

Ever since I was young, I found ballet struck the perfect balance between artistry and physicality. I was a kid who had tons of energy, but never liked the competitive aspects of sports. I loved how much focus it demanded, while still leaving room for me to express myself.

What does performing with the San Francisco Ballet mean to you?

I’ve wanted to be a part of this ballet company since I was quite young. My parents bought me a DVD of San Francisco Ballet, and I was immediately entranced by their extreme physicality and dedication to new work. This still carries into my experience with the company as a dancer and choreographer. Everyone here now feels like family, although we are constantly looking to push ourselves to be better, with lots of support by our fellow dancers.

What are you looking forward to about visiting London for the Ballet's upcoming performances?

I’m looking forward to dancing Arthur Pita’s Bjork Ballet. As soon as the curtain rises, it feels like we are transported to this other curious, dynamic world of Bjork. The costumes and sets are explosive, but what I love most is the movement quality and structure of the piece that effortlessly responds to Bjork’s wild and raw vocals.

Read more via Myles' San Francisco Ballet Profile

You can see San Francisco Ballet in action at London's Sadler's Wells between May 29 and June 8. Go to to grab your tickets!

>> MORE INTERVIEWS



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