The San Francisco Ballet has announced their full ensemble of ballet members and character artists for the upcoming 2023/24 season.
The roster will include eight new corps de ballet members including Katharine Lee, Hui-Wen Peng, and Simone Pompignoli. Former apprentices Jihyun Choi, Benjamin Davidoff, Jasper True Stanford, Angela Watson, and Seojeong Yun have been promoted to the corps. Additional corps members will be announced later this summer. Former Principal Dancers Joanna Berman, Pascal Molat, and Tiit Helimets and longtime SF Ballet School faculty Kristi DeCaminada and Jeffrey Lyons will join as character artists.
Katharine Lee is a graduate of English National Ballet School, and previously studied with The Washington School of Ballet from 2009 to 2018. Currently at Northern Ballet, Lee’s repertoire has included Swan Lake (Four Cygnets), The Great Gatsby (Young Daisy), and corps roles in Mthuthuzeli November’s Wailers and Drew McOnie’s Merlin. She performed in Akram Khan’s Giselle while at ENB School and attended the SF Ballet School summer program studying with Patrick Armand, Tina LeBlanc, and Sofiane Sylve in 2017 and 2018.
Hui-Wen Peng was born in Taichung, Taiwan and began her initial training with Peiyu Wu and Maiying Lin. In 2015, she won the Taiwan Grand Prix gold medal, which awarded Peng a full scholarship to National Conservatory Dance School of Lisbon and The Harid Conservatory, where she received the Dance Study Award in 2016 and 2017. She began to study at The Washington School of Ballet under the direction of Xiomara Reyes and Rinat Imaev in 2017. Peng became a trainee for The Washington Ballet under the direction of Julie Kent and former SF Ballet Principal Dancer Ruben Martin for the 2018–19 season. From 2019 to 2022, Peng was a member of Atlanta Ballet II under the direction of former SF Ballet Principal Dancer Gennadi Nedvigin, where her repertory included principal roles in The Swan Princess and Snow White, both choreographed by Bruce Wells. In 2022, Peng was awarded the silver medal in the senior category at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition.
Simone Pompignoli was born in Forli, Italy, and began his ballet training at the Ateneo Danza. Pompignoli attended the 2013 Youth American Grand Prix competition in Belgium where he made it to the finals in New York; during that time, he attended the American Ballet Theatre’s Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School. In September 2014 he began training at the John Cranko School. During his time in Germany, Simone had the opportunity to dance in several pieces for the school including Italiana by Nicola Biasutti, Alrededor no hay nada by Goyo Montero, and Classical Symphony by SF Ballet Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov. He completed his ballet training at John Cranko School in 2018 under the guidance of Dimitri Magitov, joining Tulsa Ballet II later that year. Simone joined the Tulsa Ballet in 2020 as an apprentice and joined the corps de ballet in 2021. While at the Tulsa Ballet his corps repertoire has included Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker, Ben Stevenson’s Dracula, and Vendetta by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.
Six SF Ballet School Trainees have been named apprentices for the 2023–24 season: Sofia Albers, Raphaël Brunais Besse, Eduardo Cazarez, Jacey Gailliard, Mimi Lamar, and Dylan Pierzina. As apprentices, dancers will take company class and perform corps de ballet roles in SF Ballet productions.