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Introducing Grand Rapids Ballet's New Artistic Director, James Sofranko

James Sofranko in Paul Taylor's Company B with San Francisco Ballet. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

James Sofranko, longtime San Francisco Ballet soloist, will succeed Patricia Barker as Grand Rapids Ballet's new artistic director, effective July 1. Sofranko topped a list of 40 applicants from around the world to become only the fifth artistic director in GRB's 47-year history. The 38-year-old will continue his work with SFDanceworks, the Bay Area contemporary ballet company that he founded in 2014. Pointe spoke with Sofranko about his transition.

Had you been actively seeking an artistic directorship?

In a way. I had applied to two other places before to sort of test the waters. With my career at SFB nearing the end, I began thinking about it more and got excited about what I could potentially bring to a company such as Grand Rapids Ballet.


What do you feel you brought to the table that GRB valued?

I've worn a lot of hats in my career, and those experiences can be put to use at Grand Rapids Ballet. I'm a choreographer, have been a fundraiser and have experience in programming and producing a dance season.

What is your vision for the company going forward?

I want to continue the focus the company has had on new works and have choreographers come in and experiment, but also bring a renewed energy in presenting classical ballets and full-lengths. I want to present great ballet pieces that Grand Rapids audiences will want to and need to see.

SFDanceworks has developed a following over the past few years. Will the company continue?

I plan to keep SFDanceworks alive and growing strong. It is an important company to have in San Francisco and a lot of people including myself would be very sad to see it go. Not only that, it will keep up my artistic exploration as well.

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