San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer News: Tiit Helimets Forms New Touring Company and Lorena Feijoo Performs The Black Swan on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

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Tiit Helimets and Co.
(Wait a moment to enjoy the slideshow above; full story follows the photo gallery below)

     Tiit Helimets and Co.-The Estonian Tour Documentary 

  Is there one single person visiting Odette’s Ordeal who hasn’t wanted to be a ‘fly on the wall’ in the rehearsal studio while some of our favorite Dancers fine tune their skills, learn a ballet they haven’t danced before, or practice with a new partner? 

Am I right in assuming that we’ve all wanted to witness what really goes on in the studio and backstage? What do San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancers Sarah Van Patten and Frances Chung ‘nosh’ on for sustenance during a rehearsal break? What do SFB Soloists James Sofranko and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira wear in the studio?  Can seasoned SFB Corps de Ballet Dancer Sasha De Sola and 1st year (and already popular) SFB Corps de Ballet rising star Nicole Ciapponi keep up with the rest of the Tiit Helimets and Co. Dancers?

  And wouldn’t we be amused to know which Dancer gets more than one parking ticket in one day? 

If you have absolutely no interest in observing exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ footage of some of the top Dancers in this country as they practice at the barre, relax, stretch, goof off, and prepare for an international tour, then pay no attention to this post or its accompanying video links. I disown you as one of ‘Odette’s Peeps’; go directly to Von Rothbart and have all your feathers plucked.

For the rest of us:

I am pleased to announce that Tiit Helimets, one of San Francisco Ballet’s most well-loved Principal Dancers, has formed his own touring company and has hand-picked some of the Left Coast’s most amazing Ballet stars to accompany him to his native Estonia. There they will perform a challenging program featuring two of America’s greatest choreographers, George Balanchine and Val Caniparoli, as well as traditional Ballet favorites by Sir Frederick Ashton, Marius Petipa and Roland Petit.

 But more importantly, for those of us who cannot fly to Estonia:

Tiit has chosen the multi-talented photographer/videographer/SFB Corps de Ballet Dancer Quinn Wharton to film the entire experience, thereby offering us a unique ‘backstage pass’ to witness everything we’ve always wanted to see-the real life of a Dancer.

 Please help Tiit and Quinn make this documentary dream a reality; with a very small donation to help them fund this project, you can have special Donor’s access to Quinn’s exclusive documentary footage, backstage and rehearsal photographs, weekly updates from Tiit Helimets’ Tour Journal, a special ‘Thanks’ credit in the film, and a high-resolution download of the entire documentary. (For those able to give a little more generously, there are additional Donor ‘perks’ that include a DVD of the film, autographed pointe shoes, limited edition signed photos of the entire cast, and even passes to see the final run-through of the entire program in San Francisco, before Tiit Helimets and Co. departs for their Estonian Tour!)

 This is a great opportunity for all of us to have an insider’s glimpse of the Dancers’ daily lives, and I heartily suggest that you head to the link below to watch a video excerpt of Quinn Wharton’s documentary film of Tiit Helimets and Co. (you don’t have to pledge anything to watch the video), and hopefully what you see will hasten your decision to part with even $10 so that we all can have the pleasure of seeing more.(If nothing else, you can satiate your curiosity and discover who got the parking tickets!)

 Enjoy the Tiit Helimets and Co. video and pledge your support here. 



  To view the website where Quinn Wharton’s documentary, and exclusive backstage, rehearsal, and performance photos will ‘air’, along with Company Dancer blogs, and Tiit’s personal Journal entries, click here *.


^*Don’t forget to look at the ‘links’ section on the web site above; you’ll discover additional links to Quinn Wharton’s photography sites and journal. If the Tiit Helimets and Co. video didn’t seduce you, I guarantee Quinn’s photography will. 


Complete Dancer Roster, Program, & Casting:


 Tiit Helimets and Co-The Estonian Tour 

June 17-June 19, 2011


Artistic Director: Tiit Helimets

   Ballet Master: Katita Waldo

Featured Choreographer on Tour: Val Caniparoli

Company Photographer/Videographer: Quinn Wharton

 Stage Manager: Jane Green 


 The Dancers    


Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet   
Corps de Ballet with San Francisco Ballet 
Soloist with San Francisco Ballet
Corps de Ballet with San Francisco Ballet
Artistic Director of Tiit Helimets and Co, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet 
1 of Dance Magazine’s ’25 to Watch’ for 2011, Principal Dancer with Milwaukee Ballet 
Soloist with Ballet San Jose 
Principal Dancer with Ballet San Jose
Soloist with Milwaukee Ballet 
Soloist with San Francisco Ballet
Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet


 The Cities:   


Friday, June 17, 2011- Estonian National Opera, Tallinn, Estonia

To view the American Ballet Stars program on the Estonian National Opera’s site, click here

Sunday, June 19, 2011-Johvi Concert Hall, Johvi, Estonia

To view the Johvi Concert Hall site (for those of you that can read Estonian!), click here

The Program:  
Act 1
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Apollo: Tiit Helimets
Terpsichore: Alexsandra Meijer
Polyhymnia: Julianne Kepley
Calliope: Sarah Van Patten 
Act 2
Double Stop
Choreography by Val Caniparoli  
Tiit Helimets and Sarah Van Patten
Cinderella-Grand Pas de Deux
 Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton 
Julianne Kepley and Joshua Reynolds
Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust 
Frances Chung and James Sofranko
 Carmen-Grand Pas de Deux
 Choreography by Roland Petit 
Alexsandra Meijer and Jeremy Kovitch 
Le Corsaire-Grand Pas de Deux
Choreography by Marius Petipa  
Nicole Ciapponi and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira
Act 3
Ibsen’s House
Choreography by Val Caniparoli
Hedda Gabler
Hedda Gabler: Alexsandra Meijer
George Tesman: Jeremy Kovitch
A Dolls house
Nora Helmer: Sarah Van Patten
Torvald Helmer: Daniel Deivison-Oliveira
Mrs. Alving: Julianne Kepley
Osvald: Tiit Helimets
Lady from the Sea
Ellida Wangel: Frances Chung
The Stranger: Joshua Reynolds
Rebecca West: Sasha De Sola
John Rosmer: James Sofranko
 Tiit will also be featured as Guest Choreographer (as well as set and costume designer!) at the Estonian National Opera on October 1st, 2011. Read about his new ballet Time here
Below is a video clip of Tiit Helimets and Julianne Kepley in their 2010 Estonian performance of Val Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s Suite, a modified version based on his complete ballet’s ‘Ghosts’ movement. This year Tiit Helimets and Co. will perform Val’s entire ballet from which this was taken, Ibsen’s House, created for SFB’s 2008 75th Anniversary  New Works festival:   
  I’m a huge fan of Quinn Wharton’s many gifts, so I thought I’d include this video clip of San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Taras Domitro-another offering for you to sample Quinn’s videography skills:   


Other links of interest:

Forever a question in SFBalletomanes’ minds: Where is the globe-trotting world-renown Choreographer, Former SFB Principal Dancer, and current SFB Principal Character Dancer, Val Caniparoli today? Well, now we can catch up with Val at nearly any given moment; he has a stunning new web site, where you can easily click on his ‘Calendar’…and discover he is currently at the Met fine-tuning his choreography for the opera Capriccio…and hanging out with Renée Fleming! (Note: the Home page’s photo is of Tiit Helimets and Sarah Van Patten performing Val’s Double Stop at SFB’s 2011 Gala, which is on Tiit Helimets and Co’s Estonian Tour):

Val Caniparoli’s new web site  



San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Lorena Feijoo…

…performed in a ‘made-for-TV’ excerpt (a mini version) of Swan Lake on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ this week. To accommodate the show’s need for her to perform in a very short period of time, with two other Cuban ballet superstars-Boston Ballet sister Lorna Feijoo, and American Ballet Theatre’s Jose Manuel Carreno-it was an unusual ‘cameo’ presentation that allowed ‘Odette’ and her evil nemesis ‘Odile’ (yes, the White Swan and the Black Swan, respectively) to appear onstage at the same time, in a mock ‘battle’ to win Prince Siegfried’s love.

Sister Lorna was the virtuous ‘Odette’, Lorena was the seductress ‘Odile’, and Jose Manuel was the Prince caught between two swans. There was a small ensemble of swan maiden attendants to give protection to their swan queen and ‘hide’ each ballerina, when it was time for the other to strut her stuff. It was short, sublimely silly (to those of us who know Odette and Odile never appear onstage simultaneously, since both roles are usually performed by the same Ballerina), and yet I couldn’t help choking up a bit.

After all, it was our Lorena, her famous sister, and  one of the finest male dancers on the planet…

…showing the ballroom dance loving world what a small bit of real Classical Ballet looks like when 3 of the world’s finest perform together.

Say “Amen” and take a look at the video:



About Odette's Ordeal

'Ballet's Head Cheerleader'
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