Vollmar as Myrthe in Giselle, San Francisco Ballet, 1947. Via Wikimedia Commons
Jocelyn Vollmar was born in San Francisco, California. Her mother was an actress in silent films, before the Hollywood movie studios were developed. In those days they filmed in Hayward, California. Jocelyn had an extensive and impressive career as a ballerina.
She grew up in the West Portal district of San Francisco. The homes there were tall, classic and impressive. They exuded quality, charm and character. She began dancing with San Francisco Ballet at the age of twelve, under the direction of William Christensen. She started out performing in small roles. At the age of seventeen, she joined the company. She was well known by locals for dancing the Snow Queen in their Nutcracker in 1944.
George Balanchine invited her to dance with his company, New York City Ballet, as an original member. She also danced with American Ballet Theatre and Grand Ballet de Cuevas, (which became Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo.) She spent two years with The Borovansky Ballet, the recursor of the Australian Ballet. With them she danced leading roles in Giselle, Les Sylphides, The Nutcracker, and numerous ballet reset from the Ballet Russe's repertoire, including Petrushka.
In 1956, Vollmar made the choice to return to her beautiful home of San Francisco. She was 31. She rejoined the prestigious San Francisco Ballet, performing with them until she was 47! She stayed slim and elegant, and even modeled for Body Wrappers with two students when she was a senior citizen. Her toned physique still looked lovely in her leotard, pink tights and chiffon ballet skirt.
After teaching and choreographing for several Bay Area ballet schools, she returned to San Francisco Ballet School to teach. She worked there for fifteen years, from 1985-2005. She taught until she was 79.
She was very devoted, determined and dedicated. I met her in my aunt's living room when I was a thirteen year old hopeful. I was immediately struck by her classic beauty and style. She was extremely confident: an obvious leader. She gave me valuable advice on choosing the right pointe shoes. She recommended Freeds for my hard, inflexible feet. She was tactful and decisive. Her voice rang with truth, capability and experience.
She had gone to school with my aunt, who was a year ahead of her in school. Her mother played bridge with my grandmother in the fifties and sixties. She exuded star quality, and was dressed in an attractive, classy blue outfit. Her grooming and appearance were perfect. She looked like a movie star from the 1950's, with the aura of an Old Hollywood starlet. As the saying goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She is remembered for her generosity to dancers and her magnificent contribution to the art of ballet.
Contributions can be made in her name to The San Francisco Ballet School Scholarship Fund.
Pacific Northwest Ballet principals Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta took their final curtain call on June 9, 2019. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB
We all know dance careers are temporary. But this season, it feels like we're saying goodbye to more stars than usual.
Many have turned to social media to share their last curtain calls, thoughts on what it feels like to say farewell to performing, and insights into the ways that dancing has made them who they are. After years of dedicating your life to the studio and stage, the decision to stop dancing is always an emotional one. Each dancer handles it in their own way—whether that means cheekily admitting to having an existential crisis, or simply leaving with no regrets about what you did for love.
We will miss these dancers' performances, but can't wait to see what awaits each in their next chapters.
A previous lab cycle. Photo by Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade, Courtesy RRR Creative
Choreographic incubator Broadway Dance Lab has recently been rechristened Dance Lab New York. "I found the nomenclature of 'Broadway' was actually a type of glass ceiling to the organization," says choreographer Josh Prince, who founded the nonprofit in 2012.