What’s in your Bay, SF Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo?
San Francisco Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo (Stephen Texeira)

What’s in your Bay, SF Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo?


Tamara Rojo isn’t just having a moment, she’s having lots of moments.

Her inaugural season as San Francisco Ballet’s artistic director has featured world premieres (Mere Mortals), crowd-pleasing classics (Swan Lake), and powerful creative programs (Dos Mujeres).

Indeed, as the 2023-24 season nears it finale on May 5th, there’s no denying it has been one hell of a run for the dynamic leader. Words like "spectacular" and "groundbreaking" appear regularly in reviews of her productions.

None of this is surprising. After all, along with her previous position as artistic director of London’s English National Ballet, Rojo has had an extraordinary 30-year career as a professional, award-winning ballerina—including a 10-year stint as principal dancer at The Royal Ballet. (Rojo began dance lessons at age five in Madrid where she grew up.)

With packed audiences at the War Memorial Opera House and standing ovations aplenty—not to mention the recent (anonymous) $60 million donation to the ballet company—it’s clear SF is Team Rojo. The feeling is mutual: Not only does Rojo really love her job, but she adores the city itself. “It feels like home,” she says.

Rojo lives in the Marina with husband Isaac Hernández, a principal dancer at SF Ballet, and their young son. Here, she graciously shares what’s in her Bay—favorite breakfast and date spots, go-to boutiques, and preferred (non-ballet) entertainment.

Avocado toast at Reveille on Chestnut Street is one of Rojo's favorite breakfasts. (Courtesy of Reveille)

What's your favorite thing about living in the Marina?

I love that it's flat and that it has lots of parks around—great parks like the Presidio and the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, which allows you to just go to Sausalito and beautiful places really quickly. But also, it has lots of shops, cafes and little stores. It has a real personality.

Favorite place for brunch and/or coffee?

I really like Reveille on Chestnut Street. They have lovely avocado toast with poached eggs and really nice lattes—and also matcha lattes, which I really like.

Go-to spot when hungry?

Chinatown! I mean, I think it's the best Chinese food in the world, probably outside of China, obviously. I just think the food is extraordinary, amazing seafood and crab, and garlic noodles. Oh my god, I could, yeah...

Favorite date night spot?

SFJazz for for great music and lots of restaurants around Hayes Valley.

Shopping in her 'hood always includes a stop at the Marina's Two Skirts, Rojo says. (Courtesy of Two Skirts)

Favorite local boutique?

Two Skirts on Chestnut, Street: You can always find a really nice summer dress, some great tops, but also something a bit fancier. And, of course, I do love Rag & Bone on Fillmore Street. Yeah, that one I have a problem with. Another local store I love is Alla Prima Lingerie & Swim on Hayes Street. They have the best lingerie and swimming suits, and I absolutely adore their swimming suits. Plus, the service is amazing. They just really take care of you from beginning to end and advise you very well about what to get.

Where do you like to take out-of-towners?

I love going to the Legion of Honor. One, because it's an amazing museum with great exhibitions. Two, because the building, the landscape, the view of the Bay, the park is just so beautiful. It's a great walk, it's a great promenade and it's a great art-exhibit space.

Favorite Northern California getaway?

I haven't had much time for getaways, but I did take a day trip to Bolinas and it blew my mind. I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I can't wait to go back there.

What Bay Area–made item do you fancy?

Birdies trainers. They are the most comfy and fashionable I’ve ever owned.

When not at the War Memorial Opera House, you'll find Rojo at the theater. (Courtesy of Jimmy Keys)

Other than ballet, how do you get your live performance fix?

I like the theater and A.C.T. They bring so many great plays to the city. I'm looking forward to seeing The Lehman Trilogy this summer [at the Toni Rembe Theater]. It's an amazing play that I saw at the National Theatre when it was first performed and directed by Sam Mendes. It's just mind-blowingly good, and I was so excited to see that it's coming to San Francisco. I'm definitely going to get my tickets for that.

// Visit sfballet.org.

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