Principal Characters

Val Caniparoli

Val Caniparoli


  • Born

    Renton, Washington

  • Company Membership

    Joined in 1973
    Named Principal Character Dancer in 1985

Val Caniparoli’s versatility has made him one of the most sought after American choreographers in the United States and abroad.

He has contributed to the repertoires of more than fifty dance companies, including Finnish National Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, BalletMet, BalletX, Kansas City Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Ballet West (resident choreographer 1993-97), Washington Ballet, Israel Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre,  State Theatre Ballet of South Africa, and Tulsa Ballet, (resident choreographer 2001-06). One of his most popular ballets, Lambarena, was nominated for the Prix Benois de la Danse in 1997 for Best Choreography and was also featured on Sesame Street with dancers Lorena Feijoo and Lorna Feijoo.

Caniparoli is most closely associated with San Francisco Ballet, his artistic home for over 46 years. He first worked under the co-artistic directorship of Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin, and in the early 1980s, was appointed resident choreographer. He continues to choreograph for the company under Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson.

Caniparoli has also choreographed operas for three major companies: Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and The Metropolitan Opera. In addition, he has worked on several occasions with the San Francisco Symphony, most memorably on the Rimsky-Korsakov opera-ballet Mlada, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. His work with San Francisco’s esteemed American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) includes choreography for A Christmas Carol, A Doll’s House, Arcadia, A Little Night Music, and the creation, with Carey Perloff, of a new movement-theatre piece, Tosca Cafe. His full evening-length ballets include Lady of the Camellias, four different productions of The Nutcracker for Royal New Zealand Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Louisville Ballet, and Grand Rapids Ballet, and Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story, danced to themes by Richard Rodgers, for Royal Winnipeg Ballet. In November of 2020, he will premiere a full evening-length Jekyll & Hyde for Finnish National Ballet. In 2015, Caniparoli co-choreographed, with Helgi Tomasson, a commercial for the 50th Anniversary Super Bowl with dancers from San Francisco Ballet.

The recipient of ten grants for choreography from the National Endowment for the Arts, Caniparoli was also awarded an artist fellowship from the California Arts Council in 1991. He has twice received the Choo-San Goh Award from the Choo-San Goh and H. Robert Magee Foundation: in 1994 for Lambarena, choreographed for San Francisco Ballet, and in 1997 for Open Veins, created for Atlanta Ballet. Lambarenawas also nominated for the Benois de la Danse Award from the International Dance Association at a gala at the National Theater of Warsaw, Poland, in 1997. Dance Bay Area acknowledged Caniparoli’s contributions to the local dance scene with an Isadora Duncan Award (or Izzy) for Sustained Achievement in 1996. In addition, he has twice won Izzies for Outstanding Choreography. He was also honored to have been selected to choreograph a pas de deux for Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington for the Royal Jubilee Gala for Queen Elizabeth in Toronto.

Born in Renton, Washington, Caniparoli opted for a professional dance career after studying music and theatre at Washington State University. He received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to attend San Francisco Ballet School and performed with San Francisco Opera Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet in 1973. He continues to perform with the company as a Principal Character Dancer.