Ballerina Bay: 5 Ways SF Knocks NYC off Its Tutu

Guest post by ballet aficionado, Bethany Leger.

New York is indubitably considered the dance hub of America. George Balanchine grew his wildly successful company on Manhattan turf, America’s namesake company, American Ballet Theatre, set up shop only a few blocks away, and Broadway is crawling with Rockettes and Tony Award winners. Unfortunately, the public tends to forget about New York’s hot older sister on the West coast: San Francisco Ballet. If you live in the Bay area, consider five reasons you should grab tickets to the next ballet.

1. San Francisco Ballet Is the Stuff


Founded in the early 1930s, this company is home to the most exceptional classically trained dancers on the West coast. Audiences can catch traditional favorites such as Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, as well as contemporary works. In efforts to educate and relate to their patrons, they have also developed outreach programs such as adult beginning ballet classes, lecture series, and meet-and-greets with the dancers. What was once considered a notoriously exclusive art form is now being made accessible and approachable through social media and other thoughtful learning experiences. So, whether you’re a huge ballet fan, or have never seen a pointe shoe in your life, take a chance to see this extremely talented and historical company.

2. Talent Isn’t Relegated to New York

Professional female ballet dancer isolated in studio

Too many talented, promising dancers make the trek to New York only to be rejected, or discover that the city isn’t their steez. Hello! New York does not own all the talent in the world! I’ve seen incredible performances by local dancers that rival the East coast elite: dancers with killer bodies, a wicked grasp of music and movement, and innovative choreography that wasn’t birthed at Lincoln Center. San Franciscans are known for being passionate foodies, environmentalists, and writers, to name a few. They have every reason to take pride in their community of dancers as well.

3. Alonzo King LINES Ballet Will Blow Your Mind

alonzo lines ballet

If Dying Swans and Sugar Plum Fairies aren’t really your thing, check out Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Holy abs and thighs! Not only are the dancers ripped technical dynamos, artistic director King’s collaboration with various musicians and visual artists creates an unparalleled creative experience. Even your most reserved, anti-ballet friends can get on board with a night of LINES.  Like San Francisco Ballet, they also offer outreach programs that allow interested teens and adults to get in on the action.

4. There are ballet classes for grown-ups too

adult ballet

A lot of adults have expressed that they’ve always wanted to try ballet, but weren’t able to enroll in classes when they were kids for various reasons. Still interested? Adult ballet classes are gaining major popularity and there’s plenty of options in the San Francisco area. These classes are designed with the mature body in mind and allow you to explore the art form in a pressure-free zone. Check out adult ballet classes at the San Francisco Ballet School, Alonzo King LINES Dance Center, or City Dance Studios.

5. Tony Bennett Was Right

ballet in front of gg bridge

A lot of us have left our hearts in San Francisco. After getting our buzz on in Napa, my husband and I continued our honeymoon in the streets of San Francisco. Brimming with culture, artistry, and special events. If you catch the major dance companies in their off-season, consider attending a college performance, or supporting a neighborhood dance school. After all, even the most famous of principal dancers had to get their start somewhere. You might get the chance to see a blossoming future star at a weekend recital. Bottom-line, never underestimate the glittering City by the Bay.

About the Author


Bethany Leger taught ballet for 7 years in Dallas, TX. She is the founder of Ballet For Adults, a site dedicated to educating adults about ballet.