The Boston Ballet is an American professional classical ballet company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The company, founded in 1963 by E. Virginia Williams, and Sydney Leonard, was the first professional repertory ballet company in New England. Boston Ballet’s national and international reputation developed under the leadership of Artistic Directors Violette Verdy (1980–1984), Bruce Marks (1985–1997), and Anna-Marie Holmes (1997–2000). Today, Boston Ballet is one of the major ballet companies in North America and among the top companies in the world. Current Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen was selected to lead Boston Ballet in September 2001. Under his artistic direction, Boston Ballet maintains an internationally recognized repertoire of classical, neo-classical and contemporary works, ranging from full-length story ballets to masterworks by George Balanchine, to new works and world premieres by contemporary choreographers. Nissinen leads the company, and Boston Ballet School, the largest ballet school in North America, with Executive Director Meredith (Max) Hodges.
In 1979, Boston Ballet opened the Nervi Festival in Italy, and in 1980 was the first American dance company to perform in the People's Republic of China. The Company made its London premiere in 1981, with a full-length production of Swan Lake. In 1983, Boston Ballet presented Don Quixote on Broadway with Rudolf Nureyev as special guest artist, after touring the United States, Mexico, France, and Italy. Boston Ballet collaborated with choreographer Mark Morris for the first time in 1986, performing his Mort Subite at the PepsiCo Festival in Purchase, New York. The following year Boston Ballet was the first ballet company to perform at the BESSIE Dance and Performance award ceremony at New York City Center. Boston Ballet was the first major dance company to commission works from contemporary choreographers Mark Morris, Susan Marshall, Ralph Lemon, Elisa Monte, and Helen Pickett.
In May 1990, Natalia Dudinskaya and Konstantin Sergeyev, along with then-assistant artistic director Anna-Marie Holmes, staged a new production of Swan Lake featuring Boston Ballet dancers performing the leading rôles with dancers from the Kirov Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet. In recent years, the Company has added James Kudelka’s Cinderella, George Balanchine’s Coppélia, Jewels, and Midsummer Night’s Dream, the American premiere of Jirí Kylián’s Black and White and John Cranko's Onegin, The Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet to its repertoire.
Boston Ballet made its debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in January 1990. In July 1991, Boston Ballet toured throughout Spain. During the summer of 2007, the Company completed a second tour of Spain to audience and critical acclaim. Boston Ballet’s most recent touring has included appearances at the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series, the Fall for Dance festivals held at New York City Center and Orange County Performing Arts Center as well as back-to-back performances at the Spoleto Festival USA and The Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America series in Spring 2008. Boston Ballet embarked on its first tour to Seoul, Korea in the summer of 2008 presenting a range of works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon, never before seen by Korean audiences.
In fall 2009, Boston Ballet's sole performance venue became the Boston Opera House. Located in the Boston Theater District, this 2,500-seat theater provides clear sightlines and has a newly renovated orchestra pit.
Boston Ballet maintains a repertoire that combines classics such as Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty, August Bournonville’s La Sylphide along with contemporary versions of classics, such as Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake, and John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, along with new works by contemporary choreographers including William Forsythe, Jirí Kylián, Mark Morris, David Dawson, Val Caniparoli, Christopher Wheeldon and Helen Pickett. Boston Ballet appointed Jorma Elo as Resident Choreographer in 2005. Since then, Elo has created six works for the company, including Plan to B, Brake the Eyes and Le Sacre du Printemps. In 2009, The New York Times hailed Boston Ballet’s repertoire as “one of the most eclectic in the country.”
Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker has been performed annually for forty-two years. Over 35 performances employ the talents of the entire company and more than 250 Boston Ballet School students who perform in the production every year.
Boston Ballet operates Boston Ballet School with more than 3,000 students at four locations in Boston, Newton, Norwell and Marblehead for ages 2 through adult. The Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education offers numerous educational and outreach activities for the community. Collectively, programs include Summer Dance Workshop, Summer Dance Program, Citydance, Taking Steps, and Adaptive Dance in partnership with Children’s Hospital Boston. Boston Ballet’s outreach programs reach over 7,000 children each year.
Boston Ballet’s headquarters at 19 Clarendon Street in Boston’s South End neighborhood is one of the largest and best-equipped dance spaces in the country. Designed by architect Graham Gund, this five-story, 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) building is an important hub for dance in New England.
Company dancers of the Boston Ballet are:
Corps de ballet
Boston Ballet II
The dancers of Boston Ballet II are:
Boston Ballet School
Background: Boston Ballet School, which celebrated its 25th year in 2004, was founded by E. Virginia Williams whose vision was to establish a world-class dance educational facility in the region. The program was officially incorporated as Boston Ballet School in 1979 and since then has grown from a small, regional dance studio into a world-class dance education institution that now also includes Outreach programs like Citydance, Adaptive Dance, and Taking Steps and summer programs like Summer Dance Program and Summer Dance Workshop. Each year select students from Boston Ballet School perform in productions with the company including The Nutcracker in which more than 250 Boston Ballet School students rehearse and perform every year.
Enrollment: Students aged nine and older with previous ballet training, are required to take a placement class to determine the level of study best suited to their abilities. Group placement classes are typically held at each studio beginning May through August for September enrollment. Students ages two through eight are placed by age.
Facilities & Locations: Each of Boston Ballet School’s three locations set the stage for a positive, educational dance experience. Basic ballet classes for students of all ages are offered in the Ballet’s Boston studio located in the South End, the Newton Studio in the MetroWest, and the Marblehead Studio on the North Shore. Each state-of-the-art facility is temperature-controlled for comfort, and each features convenient dressing rooms and lounges.
Director, Boston Ballet School: Margaret Tracey Principals: Tamara King, MetroWest Studio, Jessica Kreyer, North Shore Studio.
Education and Outreach
- Established in the fall of 1991, Citydance is a scholarship dance program offered to third-grade students in the Boston Public Schools. Designed to educate and introduce public school children to a variety of dance forms, Citydance offers students from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds a chance to dance. Because of its broad scope and commitment to excellence, Citydance has become a model dance education program for institutions across the country.
- Each fall, professional staff members from Boston Ballet provide lively workshops for more than 4,000 third-grade students in the Boston Public Schools. Those students who show a strong interest and natural aptitude for movement are invited to the ten-week Introduction to Ballet program. Citydance classes represent a cross-section of the Boston Public Schools' diverse population.
- Upon the completion of Introduction to Ballet, students who wish to continue their ballet studies may do so during the third and final phase of the Citydance program, Beginner Ballet. Beginner Ballet classes offer a more intensive approach to ballet training by holding weekend classes exclusively in ballet technique.
- Following the completion of the Beginner Ballet program, all Citydance students are invited to enter Boston Ballet School to continue their ballet training with financial assistance available for eligible students. Established as a dance education program by E. Virginia Williams more than 50 years ago, the Boston Ballet School strives to bring new levels of excellence to ballet and to make dance accessible to all.
- Adaptive Dance
- The Adaptive Dance Program, founded in 2002, continues to be a successful joint venture between Boston Ballet and the Department of Physical Therapy, Children's Hospital Boston. The program reflects an innovative collaboration between the staff from both institutions and is designed to foster a love of dance and creative expression in children with Down syndrome. Although the primary goal of the Adaptive Dance classes is for the children to experience the sheer joy of dance and music, program evaluation suggests that it has many other important benefits to the children who participate including improvements in their coordination, overall fitness, balance, focus, listening, self-esteem, self-expression, rhythm and musicality.
- The pilot program began with 11 children, and has blossomed to 49 students, ranging from ages 7–18. Many of the original 11 children are still in the program and have flourished in their own special way.
- Taking Healthy Steps
- Taking Healthy Steps, founded in 1990, is a one-week intensive of dance instruction, theatre arts and special workshops during which girls ages 11–14 explore a range of performing arts including Ballet, Modern Dance, Musical Theatre and Theatre Arts daily with special guests leading classes in strength training, flexibility, nutrition, gyrokinesis and yoga.
- Taking Steps after-school program
- Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education and lead sponsor Loomis, Sayles & Company are pleased to offer this free after school program in the Boston Public Schools.
- Taking Steps is an exciting after-school program that provides dance training and performance opportunities for girls ages 11 to 14. Taking Steps offers participants the opportunity to experience the arts first-hand with two afternoons of dance instruction and one afternoon of another art form such as visual art, music, drama, and literature. The girls experience a wide variety of dance forms such as ballet, modern, hip hop, jazz, salsa, African, Indian, flamenco, and folk. Students explore their creativity and develop leadership skills and confidence as they learn from arts professionals.
- Ballet in the Balcony
- In order to provide affordable opportunities for students to gain exposure to a world-class ballet company, Boston Ballet created Ballet in the Balcony which offers a discounted $20 Balcony ticket (average ticket price is normally $65.00) to public school students and families and select student non-profit organizations on Saturday evenings throughout the season, excluding The Nutcracker production. Ballet in the Balcony tickets are offered to 300 attendees per event and this cost also includes a Pre-Performance Talk. During the 2008–2009 season, Boston Ballet welcomed over 2,200 Ballet in the Balcony attendees to the ballet.
Friends of Boston Ballet
Friends of Boston Ballet is a membership program which provides unrestricted annual operating support that funds the Company's on stage work, and its wide range of education and outreach programs.
- NY Times obituary of Virginia Williams by Jennifer Dunning, May 9, 1984]
- "Company Dancers: The Company". Boston Ballet. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- ""Cupcakes & Conversation" with Lia Cirio". Ballet News. May 11, 2010.
- "Cupcakes & Conversation with John Lam". Ballet News. January 14, 2011.
- "Company Dancers: Boston Ballet II". Boston Ballet. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- Official website
- @BostonBallet on Twitter
- Boston Ballet on Google+
- Boston Ballet on Facebook
- archival footage of Plan to B in 2004 at Jacob's Pillow
- Interview with Sydney Leonard, To the Pointe: part 1, part 2