Helgi Tomasson (published 1982)


Tomasson talks about the difference between dancing to please an audience and dancing to please oneself, the self-criticism of dancers, and his own process.

Biographical note:

Born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1942, Tomasson began his career at age fifteen performing with the Tivoli Pantomime Theater in Copenhagen. Encouraged by Jerome Robbins, Tomasson studied briefly at the School of American Ballet, and in 1962 he was invited to join the Robert Joffrey Theatre Ballet. In 1969, Tomasson was awarded a silver medal in the International Ballet Competition in Moscow. The following year Tomasson joined the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer, where he remained until his retirement as a performer in 1985. During his fifteen years as a principle male dancer he became known as one of the finest male dancers of his generation, acquiring a large and varied repertory including roles created for him by both George Balanchine and Robbins.

Tomasson transitioned into choreographic work and was invited to become the artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet in 1985. He has since staged many notable productions and been awarded multiple accolades for both his dancing and choregraphy. Tomasson is married to former Harkness dancer Marlene Rizzo with whom he has two sons.








“Helgi Tomasson (published 1982),” Dance Dialogues: Interviews by Barbara Newman, 1979-Present, accessed September 24, 2020, http://dancedialogues.prattsils.org/items/show/64.