Ballet Sun Valley is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the world’s most celebrated ballet companies and dancers to the Sun Valley area. Its mission is to ensure that international ballet is an annual addition to the rich cultural offerings of this special community.



Ballet Sun Valley was founded by a passionate supporter of dance and a long-time Board Member of the San Francisco Ballet, Robert Smelick. Prior to forming as a non-profit organization, the predecessor of Ballet Sun Valley hosted its first Summer Festival in 2012.

Mr. Smelick believed that ballet performances by dancers of the quality of those from the San Francisco Ballet, hosted in the newly constructed Sun Valley Pavilion, would provide an unparalleled cultural experience for Sun Valley locals and visitors alike. After many years of discussions with the Sun Valley Resort and the San Francisco Ballet to persuade both parties of the vision, an agreement was reached in 2011.

The inaugural festival in 2012 featured twenty dancers from San Francisco Ballet, most of them Principal dancers with the company. The event sold out and received rave reviews from the audience and accolades from the dance world. Helgi Tomasson, San Francisco Ballet’s Artistic Director, praised the festival’s venue, the Sun Valley Pavilion, calling it one of the most beautiful venues in which the company had ever performed.


The open-air, Sun Valley Pavilion sits amidst the natural beauty of the area and the Sun Valley Resort. This venue provides staging for ballet dance that folds the movement and musicality of ballet into gentle breezes, bending aspens, moving clouds, and changing hillside shadows. The leadership of Ballet Sun Valley believes it is one of the most perfect venues in which to experience the beauty of the ballet art form.

While Ballet Sun Valley organizes education programs and events and dance presentations in other venues and during different times during the year, the center point of its mission is showcasing ballet in the Sun Valley Pavilion. All of the Ballet Sun Valley team are very, very grateful that its mission benefits from having the special privilege of presenting the best of international ballet in the Sun Valley Pavilion.


Dick Davis, Board Chair
Monica Grossman, Vice Chair
Jim Laski, Treasurer
Gillian (Smelick) DiLallo, Secretary
Bobbie Herrell
Kathy Jones
Adrian Norris

Bob Smelick, Founding Board Chair

Ballet Performance


Kelli Quinlan, Executive Director



In 2012, Festival organizers identified the opportunity for an Education Program for young ballet aspirants during the Ballet Sun Valley Summer Festival. With internationally acclaimed dancers visiting for the performances, the idea was to offer dance instruction with the performers as teachers. While this program was initially limited, the students and the community reacted with excitement and gratitude.

In 2017 and 2018, a generous financial contribution from a private donor to the Education Program allowed Ballet Sun Valley to expand the program’s offerings. The program’s outreach expanded outside of the area, and the number of participants grew each year.

The program expanded again in 2019 to a three-day Summer Intensive with over 120 students from 17 states taking part in the program. Class offerings included various ages and experience levels of ballet, along with Conditioning, Contemporary, Variations, and Choreography workshops.


In 2018, in partnership with Higher Ground, a local non-profit serving individuals in many communities with disabilities, Dance as Therapy classes were added for disabled youth. This program included movement and music sessions for youth with Down Syndrome, Autism, and Cerebral Palsy.

In 2019, Ballet Sun Valley partnered with the Boston Ballet School Adaptive Dance Program, which is one of the most respected programs in the country using dance therapy for disabled youth. As a result of this partnership, additions to the Ballet Sun Valley program in 2019 included a two-day teacher training for those interested in learning the skills needed to offer Dance as Therapy classes in their local communities.


The Community outreach also grew as Ballet Sun Valley partnered in 2019 with The Community Library to host two programs for the public.

The Community Library hosted a Q&A with Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet, where he discussed his 66-year dance career and the history of ballet in the United States. For younger audiences, Sasha de Sola, principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet, read from her bilingual children’s book, delighting over 50 children who were in attendance.

The partnership with The Community Library continues, as Panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and dancer Story Time have now become annual BSV Festival offerings.

Ballerinas practicing

Header Image: Photo Courtesy San Francisco Ballet // company dancers in Tomasson's The Fifth Season // © Erik Tomasson

Second Image:  Sasha de Sola & Aaron Robison, Diamonds. Choreography by George Balanchine © George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Angela Sterling.