Frantziskonis’ current goal? To look relaxed onstage. Here, in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy PNB.
At about 5' 3", the petite Jahna Frantziskonis is a force onstage: all speed and lightness as Cupid in Don Quixote, technical and steely in Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and emotionally vulnerable in Nacho Duato’s intense Rassemblement. But the featured Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer is on the move. This July, she joins San Francisco Ballet’s corps to be closer to family and expand her growing repertoire.
Company: San Francisco Ballet
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Training: Ballet Arts Tucson, Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s Professional Division
Breakout moment: Frantziskonis originated a featured role in 2013 in Twyla Tharp’s Waiting at the Station. The challenging choreography, which requires the dancer to slide across the floor in splits and, in the next moment, do a classical quadruple pirouette, was her first major role at PNB. “The whole experience was electrifying,” says Frantziskonis. “Before working with Tharp, I had held back at times, but she encouraged me to be more confident. I got to spend one-on-one time with her, and she built a lot of the material on me.”
Career highlight: This winter, Frantziskonis danced in PNB’s live stream of “Forsythe on Stage,” which reached 62 countries. She appeared in not one but two pas de deux in New Suite.
Pull of family and company: Frantziskonis’ brother is currently a student at SFB School. “He’s my best friend and before my last visit, I sent my materials in to San Francisco Ballet to take company class. I so enjoyed those classes. It was an unexpected but delightful surprise when I was offered a contract shortly after.”
What artistic staff are saying: For PNB artistic director Peter Boal, “Jahna shows a natural talent and fearlessness in her dancing.” SFB artistic director Helgi Tomasson agrees: “Jahna is a lovely dancer with a lot of potential.” Christopher Stowell, an assistant to the artistic director and ballet master at SFB, praises her for her “beautiful, light jump and innate musicality.”
On joining SFB: “This career allows you to gain knowledge each step of the way,” she says. “SFB does a lot of touring and there are alternating reps for each season program. A dancer can be a Shade and in the same week dance Forsythe. It is a bit thrilling to be moving to a new place.”