San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker Posters 1960s-1970s.
The San Francisco Ballet (founded as the San Francisco Opera Ballet in 1933) is the oldest professional ballet company in America. Willam Christensen arrived in 1938. On Christmas Eve, 1944, he presented the first complete version Nutcracker ever staged in the United States.
As a freelance artist, I was lucky to have two opportunities in creating the Nutcracker poster and additional printed items. The first poster, ”Dancing Doll”, started as a tracing pad thumbnail sketch which was then shown to photographer, Larry Keenan Jr. along with the Ballet’s b/w photograph from a past performance. Larry had a technique that turned the simple photo into a mosaic of prisms and added color as well.
The next year, I worked directly with Lew Christensen. I offered four designs. I was surprised that he picked the most humorous of the group — with the mouse sneaking off of the poster. I have scanned two of the four layouts…that I offered, as shown below.
Here also, photographed by Fred Sweiger, is a full collection of the posters of local artists to promote the yearly event. This collection was on the inside cover of a 1980 Nutcracker brochure that was designed by Cal Anderson. The scanned image is not the best quality. If I had originals of each…I could have shown them all more clearly.
2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18 & 19: Cal Anderson, 15: Artworks, 3 & 8: Norman Orr, 1 & 16: Ann Thompson (5: unknown)
Art / Photography:
1: Ann Thompson, 3 & 8: Norman Orr, 4: Sue Foster, 6, 7 & 19: Dale Smith, 11: Nicholas Sidjakov, 12: Fred Lyons, 15: Judy Clifford, 16: Larry Keenan Jr.