Congratulations to Frances Chung for her promotion to principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet! What a nice surprise – it’s rare for a dancer promotion to be announced in the middle of the year, but she certainly deserves it. She made a splash with opening up last year’s opening night gala with a sassy rendition of Balanchine’s Tarantella, and has shown her versatility and fluidity in exploring modern ballet as well, with her performance in Possohkov’s Fusion being a particular highlight for me. It’s also a rare accomplishment for a dancer to break into the principal ranks from starting out in the corps – the most common route seems to be hiring superstars from the outside to join the company as principals – but it’s been an exciting journey that she has shared with audiences over the years as she has grown in her artistic abilities, visibly and consistently. I look forward to seeing her perform this year, hopefully with a solo in this year’s opening night gala, which will be on January 20 with the San Francisco Ballet.
Official press release:
“San Francisco Ballet announced today the promotion of Frances Chung from the rank of soloist to principal dancer, effective immediately.
Born in Vancouver, Chung trained at the Goh Ballet Academy before joining the Company in 2001. She was promoted to soloist in 2005 and has danced a diverse range of roles including the Sugar Plum Fairy, Grand Pas de Deux Ballerina, and Snow Queen in Tomassonâ€™s Nutcracker; the Enchanted Princess in Tomassonâ€™s The Sleeping Beauty; Neapolitan, Russian Princess, and pas de trois in Tomassonâ€™s Swan Lake; and the Queen of the Dryads in Tomasson/Possokhovâ€™s Don Quixote. Her repertory also includes lead roles in Balanchineâ€™s Symphony in C, Divertimento No. 15, and â€œEmeraldsâ€; Bintleyâ€™s The Dance House; Eloâ€™s Double Evil; Forsytheâ€™s in the middle, somewhat elevated; Lubovitch’s â€œâ€¦smile with my heartâ€ and Elemental Brubeck; Makarovaâ€™s Paquita; Possokhovâ€™s Fusion; and Welchâ€™s Naked. Among other honors, Chung was a finalist and prize winner at the Prix de Lausanne in 2000 and received the top honor of a silver medal at the Adeline GenÃ©e Awards in London that same year.”
Edited to add: From a previous review of mine about her performance in Possohkov’s Fusion: “Soloist Frances Chung burst forth with an expansiveness and a sostenuto in her phrasing in Possohkovâ€™s Fusion that was dazzling. There was life pulsing through her very limbs. Iâ€™ve always seen her as a wholesome dancer who fully embodies sunny exuberance, and itâ€™s been fun to watch her grow into something freer and deeper, with increasing confidence. Sheâ€™s also had a very good year starting with the lead in Balanchineâ€™s Tarantella at the opening night gala. But for the first time, I saw flashes of a superstar who could hold her own in SF Balletâ€™s star-studded roster of female principals.” And yes, I’m totally going to take credit for calling it in the first place. You’re welcome, Frances.