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Evelyn Cisneros
Evelyn Cisneros, photo by Blaine Covert

Evelyn Cisnerose

Evelyn Cisnerose began studying ballet at the age of 8 in an effort to overcome her profound shyness. She later received full Evelyn Cisneros, photo by Blaine Covertsummer scholarships to the San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet. Upon completing her high school education, she began her apprenticeship with the San Francisco Ballet in 1976.

In 1977 she joined the SFB under the directorship of Co-Artistic Directors Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin. Cisneros soon began dancing principal roles, many choreographed for her by Smuin. She performed her original roles in national television broadcasts of A Song for Dead Warriors and The Tempest, as well as the title role of Cinderella and a live broadcast from the White House in 1982.

Her success continued under San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director, Helgi Tomasson, appointed in 1985. Cisneros danced the leading roles in a diverse repertoire of classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, La Sylphide, and La Fille Mal Gardeé. Numerous resident and visiting choreographers have created works for her, including Tomasson, Val Caniparoli, James Kudelka and Mark Morris. Her contemporary repertoire included works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Stanton Welch, and Jiri Kylian. She has toured the world with the company and as a guest artist.

Cisneros has been featured on the covers of Dance Magazine, Ballet News, and Hispanic Magazine, and received numerous awards for her community activism and artistic achievements. She is held in high regards by the Hispanic community and serves as role model to many. Cisneros holds honorary doctorate degrees from Mills College and the University of California at Monterey Bay. In May of 1999, Cisneros retired from the San Francisco Ballet with a Gala performance in her honor, and in celebration KQED produced a documentary on her life, entitled Evelyn Cisneros, Moving On.

Following retirement in 1999, Cisneros hosted various community engagement and education outreach programs through local media and the San Francisco Ballet. Ms. Cisneros was also part of a team of educators training ballet docents involved in the IMPACT program. Since 2000, Cisneros has taught at summer intensive courses for the Kansas City Ballet and The Boston Ballet School, as well as teaching regularly in San Francisco. She has staged ballets for Val Caniparoli and Michael Smuin and company classes around the country. Cisneros is currently Academy Director for Ballet Pacifica in Irvine California. She has also co-authored “Ballet for Dummies” with conductor Scott Speck, which is available at most bookstores and at In January of 2010, Cisneros became the Principal of Boston Ballet School’s Marblehead Studio. Cisneros is married to recently retired principal dancer Stephen Legate, and they have a son Ethan and daughter Sophia, who are their ultimate accomplishment and joy.