Press Release

Press Release


SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 16, 2020—San Francisco Ballet School (SF Ballet School), led by Patrick Armand with oversight by SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, announces three new faculty members for the 2020-2021 school year: Larissa Ponomarenko, Jason Ambrose, and Viktor Plotnikov. The three new members of SF Ballet School join a robust faculty specializing in ballet, contemporary dance, and music, that trains around 700 students annually and serves a dual mission: to develop classical ballet dancers capable of joining the ranks of SF Ballet and other world-renouned companies, and to offer a diverse group of young children and adults in the Bay Area an introduction to ballet and the joy of moving to music. “I am extremely thrilled to welcome Larissa, Jason, and Viktor as full-time faculty in the School,” says SF Ballet School Director Patrick Armand. “Their experience, expertise, and accomplished careers will be a major asset for our school, as well as our students. I am looking forward to working with them and sharing our passion and love of dance.” SF Ballet School is currently scheduled to begin its fall semester on October 5, 2020.

A native of Odessa, Ukraine, Larissa Ponomarenko danced as a principal ballerina at Boston Ballet for 18 years before joining the company’s artistic staff as Ballet Master and Coach in 2011. In 2019, she debuted her adaptation of the full-length Giselle for the company, resulting in a “traditional and resplendent” production staged by the “formidable” artist (The Harvard Crimson). “Throughout my ballet career I have been fortunate to learn from amazing professionals and legendary masters,” says Ponomarenko, who graduated under Ninel Kurgapkina at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in Saint Petersburg. “I am beyond grateful to the teachers, coaches, mentors, artists, and colleagues who influenced and shaped my life. Now I find there is no better way to continue my journey in ballet art than to share my experience and knowledge with the students of SF Ballet School.” Ponomarenko has taught and coached at Washington Ballet, and Harvard and Yale universities, in addition to master class workshops throughout the world.

A native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Jason Ambrose’s training began at the Virginia Beach Ballet Academy under the direction of Ana Maria Martinez, with further training at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. He is an alumnus of the Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program where he was coached and mentored by former SF Ballet soloist Edward Ellison. Later, St. Petersburg Conservatory Dean Oleg Vinogradov invited Ambrose to enroll in the Ballet Masters and Choreographers Degree Program and to dance with the Ballet Theatre of the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, making him the first African American to do so. “I am incredibly honored and inspired to begin this inaugural season with SF Ballet School,” says Ambrose, who received the 2020 World Ballet Art Competition Grand Prix Outstanding Teacher Award. “I look forward to my students discovering and growing the talents and parts of themselves which shape them as artists and individuals. While navigating challenges and change is never easy, being surrounded by professionals that share an understanding of quality and excellence is priceless. I am grateful to be in this space.” Ambrose has choreographed for and coached many top three winners in the Youth American Grand Prix contemporary and classical solo categories and was also a coach to the 2020 Prix de Lausanne second prize winner. Most recently, he served as Ballet Master at Elite Classical Coaching in Frisco, Texas. Ambrose has been a guest faculty member and choreographer for the Manhattan Youth Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Ellison Ballet, Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory, Charlottesville Ballet, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, and numerous other schools and conventions.

Born in Kharkov City, Ukraine, Viktor Plotnikov trained at Kiev Ballet Academy and graduated from Vaganova Ballet Academy under Veniamin Zimin and Inna Zubkovskaya. Plotnikov was a principal dancer at Boston Ballet from 1993 to 2006, with prior appointments at Donetsk Ballet Company in Ukraine, Mississippi Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet. Plotnikov is also a celebrated choreographer; the 2018 revival of his Carmen from 2003 was hailed as “stunning…pure magic” by the Providence Journal. He has created works for companies including Boston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Pittsburg Ballet Theatre, Richmond Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, and Bolshoi Theatre’s Choreographic Workshop, and has served as resident choreographer for Festival Ballet Providence since 2003. “With its best efforts and great leadership, the diverse and passionate team of San Francisco Ballet School welcomed us new members not long ago and yet it feels as if I’ve been in this family for quite a while,” Plotnikov says. “With high respect to my predecessors in pedagogy, theory, and tutoring, and my teachers and mentors of this beautiful art form, I’m thankful that I was given an opportunity and entrusted to share my knowledge with the younger generations.”

Complete biographies of the new faculty members, in addition to the full list of faculty for the 2020-2021 school year, can be found at this link.

About SF Ballet School
SF Ballet School, led by renowned dancer and dance pedagogue Patrick Armand with oversight by SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, was founded alongside the Company in 1933. Nearly 70% of San Francisco Ballet dancers trained at SF Ballet School, which is considered one of the finest ballet academies in the world. The School boasts an international roster of prominent instructors, a Trainee Program curriculum for pre-professional students, and a robust scholarship program. SF Ballet School attracts students from around the world, training approximately 700 annually. In addition to filling the ranks of SF Ballet, alumni have gone on to join prestigious ballet companies throughout the world. For those who wish to pursue a career in ballet, SF Ballet School offers a distinguished training program of unqualified excellence.

For photos and other press inquiries, please contact SF Ballet publicity department:
Kate McKinney, PR & Communications Manager, kmckinney@sfballet.org // 415.865.6610
You You Xia, Director of Communicationsyxia@sfballet.org // 415.865.6603