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Jocelyn Vollmar

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Jocelyn Vollmar Obituary
Jocelyn Vollmar

Fondly remembered as America's first Snow Queen, former San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Jocelyn Vollmar passed away at the age of 92 on July 13, 2018. As one of the earliest members of SF Ballet, she was cast as the Snow Queen in the US premiere of Nutcracker, which became a beloved holiday tradition and shaped the future of ballet in America. Jocelyn was a lifelong advocate for ballet, and her celebrated career spanned seven decades as a performer and teacher.

Jocelyn was born on November 25, 1925, and as a San Francisco native, she was selected to participate in opening day of the Golden Gate Bridge while a sixth grader at West Portal School. The Bridge became a source of pride and joy for her, and she frequently exclaimed, "That's my bridge!" Jocelyn later attended Lowell High School. She was also a prolific writer who composed her first poem at age eight and later published 11 books of poetry during her lifetime.

Jocelyn received her dance training at San Francisco Ballet School under Willam Christensen's purview, where she performed in America's first full-length production of Swan Lake. She also appeared in the first 20th century American Coppélia. At age 17, she was invited to join SF Ballet.

In 1948 George Balanchine invited her to join New York City Ballet during its inaugural year. She later went on to perform with Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theatre), Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas in Europe, and The Australian Ballet before returning to her hometown of San Francisco. She returned to SF Ballet in 1956 under Lew Christensen's leadership and performed in SF Ballet's international tours to Asia, Central and South America, and the Middle East. She enjoyed sharing her fun and wonderful travel stories with her family and friends.

Jocelyn retired from SF Ballet in 1972 but remained devoted to the Company. In 1974, when the Company faced bankruptcy, she played a critical role in its fundraising campaign by making phone calls, writing letters, and encouraging dancers to seek support from the public. Just over a decade later, current Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson invited her to become a faculty member of SF Ballet School, where she taught until 2005. Her contributions helped shaped the institution, and she received the Isadora Duncan Award for Sustained Achievement in 2001 and the Lew Christensen Medal in 2003, SF Ballet's highest honor. In November 2015, the mayor's office in San Francisco presented an official proclamation naming her birthday Jocelyn Vollmar Day. The following year, SF Ballet renamed its legacy donor group the Jocelyn Vollmar Legacy Circle, in honor of her commitment to SF Ballet.

Jocelyn will be remembered for embodying the history and spirit of SF Ballet. She dedicated her life to dance—and specifically to SF Ballet. Tomasson recalls, "Jocelyn left an indelible mark on SF Ballet. She supported and saw the Company grow from its earliest stages, and she trained generations of dancers who have grown through the ranks. She will be missed, not just by me but by the dance community at large."

Jocelyn is survived by her niece, Dawn Enright Gee, and nephew, William Enright who lovingly remember sharing Sunday dinners with their parents and Jocelyn. On top of her dancing career, she was devoted to her family, and she regularly hosted gatherings at her apartment near the Golden Gate Bridge, where she resided for 52 years and peacefully spent the last moments of her life. "Auntie Joce" will be remembered for her strength, grace and love both on and off the stage.

Memorial gifts may be made to the SF Ballet School Scholarship Fund.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Aug. 5, 2018
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