Tiit Helimets is a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and Artistic Director of Tiit Helimets and Co. Tall, blond, and good looking, Tiits has a sweet, quiet manner. Onstage, he has been described as “an elegant classical dancer and a superb partner.”
Born in Estonia, a state of the Baltic region in Northern Europe, Tiit Helimets trained in the capital city at Tallinn Ballet School. He began his career as a soloist in 1996 with Estonian National Ballet. He was promoted to principal dancer six months later, dancing the role of Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake at age 18 and making Estonian dance.
While there he met Molly Smolen in 1997, a Philadelphian and former American Ballet Theatre dancer, in Estonia for a six-month guest role and dance partner to Tiits. In 1999, they joined Birmingham Royal Ballet where he created roles in Bintley’s The Seasons, The Shakespeare Suite, Sylvia, The Orpheus Suite, and Les Petit Riens, as well as Siddiqui’s Krishna. Tiit and Molly married in 2003.
Favorite Quote: “Get Back to it” Whether you have a hard day or even a good day…no matter what happens, just get back to it. You can always start again – you can always get back to it.
Since joining San Francisco Ballet as a principal dancer in 2005, Helimets has created roles in Caniparoli’s Doublestop and Ibsen’s House, as well as Wheeldon’s Ghosts. Among his major roles are Albrecht in Tomasson’s Giselle, Nutcracker Prince and King of the Snow in Tomasson’s Nutcracker, Prince Desiré in Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Siegfried in Tomasson’s Swan Lake, Basilio in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote, Gremin in Cranko’s Onegin, and Prince in Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid.
His repertory includes Tomasson’s 7 for Eight, Chi-Lin, The Fifth Season, On a Theme of Paganini, On Common Ground, and Trio; Balanchine’s Apollo, Allegro Brillante, “Diamonds,” Divertimento No. 15, The Four Temperaments, Scotch Symphony, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Symphony in C; Adam’s A rose by any other name and Night; Ashton’s Symphonic Variations; Bintley’s The Dance House; Forsythe’s in the middle, somewhat elevated; Liang’s Symphonic Dances; Lifar’s Suite en Blanc; MacMillan’s Winter Dreams; McGregor’s Borderlands, Chroma, and Eden/Eden; Mrozewski’s Concordia; Nureyev’s Raymonda—Act III; Possokhov’s Firebird and Magrittomania; Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons; Robbins’ In the Night; Welch’s Naked; and Wheeldon’s Quaternary.
Forming Tiit Helimets and Co., he directed, produced, and performed in an Estonian tour featuring San Francisco Ballet dancers in 2011. Largely through a successful Kickstarter campaign, Tiit arranged funding for Quinn Wharton, Corps de Ballet dancer and extraordinary dance photographer and videographer, to accompany them to Estonia. Wharton filmed exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of their tour creating the documentary film Eastern Odyssey.
Helimets organized a tour of Estonian National Ballet to San Francisco as well as the Estonian Festival in June 2013; choreographed AEG for Estonian National Ballet in 2011; As a guest artist he danced Symphony in C with National Ballet of Canada, performed at the International Ballet Star Gala in Taipei, and performed Apollo with Birmingham Royal Ballet, all in 2008.
In 2008, Helimets received an Award for Outstanding Performance for his guest appearances in The Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet in Estonia.
Dancer Answer: Advice for Aspiring Young Dancers
Q: From Katie in MN: Professional dancers often have long rehearsals throughout the day, often followed by performances in the evening. For some dancers this happens for months at a time. What are some tips you use to beat exhaustion and avoid injury?
A: Tiit: To beat exhaustion when I thought I could not keep up with it, I would find ways to strengthen myself – so I would have what it takes to go through those days. So I would go in the studio on my lunch break and work on my variations.
But then other times – you have to give yourself a treat. You’ve worked so hard already so give yourself validation that you are tired and deserve a break. Maybe it is a special coffee with whipped cream. But….give yourself a treat!
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To Find Tiit’s Performances Visit San Francisco Ballet Website
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