Photo of a ballerina dancing on stage

Sarah Van Patten

Former Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet

Photography: Erik Tomasson

Sarah Van Patten joined the Royal Danish Ballet as an apprentice when she was fifteen years old. During her first season, she was cast as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, which she performed for the Queen of Denmark. While dancing with the Royal Danish Ballet, she met Helgi Tomasson, the artistic director and principal choreographer of the San Francisco Ballet. After two seasons in Copenhagen, Tomasson offered seventeen-year-old Van Patten a soloist position with the San Francisco Ballet, and after four seasons, he promoted her to principal ballerina. Van Patten recently retired in 2022 after twenty seasons with the company.

​While still dancing professionally, Van Patten expanded her creative pursuits beyond the stage. Her love for dance, creative expression, and artistic collaboration inspired her to adopt new roles as a choreographer, producer, and director.  She choreographed “skylight” for Cincinnati Ballet and produced and directed a dance film with her nonprofit organization, Tahoe Dance Camp. Van Patten also organizes San Francisco Ballet’s yearly tradition of performing at local children’s hospitals.