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This San Francisco Ballet Soloist Has Started His Own Company

James Sofranko. Photo by Andrew Weeks.

The Bay Area dance scene continues to grow, and San Francisco Ballet soloist James Sofranko has added his voice to the mix. His new company, SFDanceworks, was founded in 2014 and presents its debut season this week at the ODC Theater in San Francisco.

The U.S. has a surprising lack of contemporary dance companies that perform a broad repertoire—Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and L.A.'s BODYTRAFFIC and LA Dance Project are three, and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet was another. Sofranko's troupe looks to become one of those few, with a mixed rep of new work, emerging choreographers and established names.


Most contemporary companies exist to fulfill the choreographic vision of the founder. Though many ballet companies now perform work that blurs the line between contemporary and ballet, like Mats Ek's Appartement or Jiří Kylián's Petit Mort, the dearth of smaller, flexible troupes comprised of versatile dancers is majorly lacking in the U.S. dance scene. And, it limits opportunities for ballet dancers who have a penchant for contemporary work.

As of yet, SFDanceworks appears to be a project-based group, but Sofranko has taken time to find his artistic and financial footing, and the company may someday become a full-time option. The premiere season features choreography by HSDC resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo and HSDC company member Penny Saunders. Former SFB dancers Dana Genshaft, Garrett Anderson and Kendall Teague have joined the roster, as well as The Joffrey Ballet's Amber Neumann and Smuin Ballet's Ben Needham-Wood. Genshaft, who also choreographs, has a work on the program and the company will perform a duet from Lar Lubovitch's Concerto Six Twenty-Two, along with a premiere by Sofranko.

SFDanceworks joins the re-emerging Oakland Ballet, and many other Bay Area companies, to help build a vital performing community for dancers. The season runs June 23–25 at the ODC Theater in San Francisco.

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