Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada in Tomasson's "Romeo & Juliet." (Courtesy Erik Tomasson / May 9, 2010)

The San Francisco Ballet, one of the country's oldest and most esteemed professional ballet companies, will return to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in September for the first time in three years.

The company will perform Sept. 27 to 28 and Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa. The six performances, divided into two programs, include the Southern California premieres of Yuri Possokhov's "RAkU" and "Trio," choreographed by Helgi Tomasson, the San Francisco Ballet's artistic director and principal choreographer.

The company is scheduled to open the center's 2011-12 season International Dance Series, as well as headline a weekend commemorating the center's 25th anniversary. Tickets for the series at Segerstrom Hall will go on sale Aug. 28, but are currently available to the center's dance season subscribers.

The San Francisco Ballet's Sept. 27 and 28 program will be a mixed repertoire. It will feature "RAkU", "Trio" and George Balanchine's "Symphony in C."

The Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 shows are a second program of Tomasson's extravagant ballet adaptation of Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet."

"San Francisco Ballet has always enjoyed performing for Southern California audiences, and we look forward to returning to Segerstrom Center for the Arts," Tomasson said in a prepared statement. "We are also honored to be part of the celebrations that mark the center's 25th Anniversary. Segerstrom Center has played a significant role in establishing California as a major world dance center and cultivating an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience in Southern California."

A free preview talk by members of the ballet will be offered one hour before showtime, according to a news release from the ballet company. This in-depth screening will provide a unique opportunity for the public to enhance their artistic experience while learning about one of the world's most respected professional ballet companies and the specific pieces brought to this venue, company officials said.

"RAkU," choreographed by Possokhov with music by Shinji Eshima, recounts the burning of Kyoto's Golden Pavilion in 1950 by a crazed monk. "Trio" showcases the marriage of Tomasson's choreography with Tchaikovsky's emotionally ranging piece, "Souvenir de Florence."

"Symphony in C," with music by Georges Bizet, will conclude the three-part repertory. Originally premiered in 1947 by the Paris Opéra Ballet, and by the San Francisco Ballet in 1961, "'Symphony in C' is just glorious to watch, visually stunning, with fantastic music," says Tomasson.

Finally, "Romeo & Juliet," will be brought to life for Orange County audiences. Initially created in 1994 for the company, the production features Sergei Prokofiev's score and Tomasson's choreography.

"It's a human story," Tomasson said, "so that has to come across. It's not an abstract, make-believe story or fairy tale — this could be today, anywhere."

If You Go:

What: Tickets to San Francisco Ballet performances at Segerstrom Hall

When: Tickets go on sale to the general public on Sunday

More information: Individual tickets start at $17 and group discounts are offered for parties of 15 or more via the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. Tickets can be reserved in person at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts' Box Office, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, or by calling (714) 556-2787. For online ticket purchases, visit SCFTA.org