Ballet West

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Ballet West
General information
Name Ballet West
Year founded 1963
Artistic staff
Artistic Director Adam Sklute
Official school Ballet West Academy

Ballet West is an American ballet company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was founded in 1963 as the Utah Civic Ballet by Willam F. Christensen, the company's first artistic director, and Glenn Walker Wallace, who served as its first president. Christensen had previously established the first ballet department in an American university at the University of Utah in 1951.[1]

In 1968, the Federation of Rocky Mountain States chose the company to represent that group, and by extension, to represent the western United States. Due to that choice, the group's name was changed to Ballet West.[2] This is not to be confused with Ballet West in Taynuilt, Scotland.[3]

The Ballet West Academy is the official school of Ballet West and is located in Salt Lake City.[4]

Ballet West was featured in the reality TV series Breaking Pointe in the Summer of 2012 and 2013 aired on the CW Network, part of a BBC Production.

History of Ballet West[edit]

Ballet West was established in Salt Lake City in 1963. Willam F. Christensen was the company’s first artistic director, co-founding the company together with Utah’s “First Lady of the Arts” Glenn Walker Wallace. In 1951, Christensen had established the first ballet department in an American university at The University of Utah and with the tireless assistance of Mrs. Enid Cosgriff this program grew into the Utah Civic Ballet, Ballet West’s first incarnation. But this was not the first ballet company Willam Christensen’s founded. Along with his brothers Lew and Harold, Christensen made history by establishing the oldest ballet company in the western United States, the San Francisco Ballet. There he went on to create the first full-length American productions of Coppélia, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker, which remains in Ballet West’s repertoire to this day.

A 20th Century ballet pioneer, Christensen developed a distinctly American and theatrical repertoire for his company based on his early training in Utah and New York City as well as his years traversing the American Vaudeville circuit. He also built a strong connection to the works of George Balanchine. In 1975 Christensen invited the great American dancer Bruce Marks to join him as Ballet West’s Co-Artistic Director. Marks became Artistic Director in 1978 when Christensen retired. Under Marks’ direction, the company presented its first full production of Swan Lake and it earned a reputation for developing emerging choreographers of the time. Also during this period Marks made history, along with his wife, the acclaimed Danish Ballerina, Toni Lander, by presenting the first American full-length production of Abdallah by renowned 19th Century Danish choreographer, August Bournonville. John Hart, CBE, former dancer, administrator, and Assistant Director of The Royal Ballet in England succeeded Marks as Artistic Director of Ballet West In 1985. Under his leadership, the company’s repertoire was expanded to include more well-loved 19th Century classics such as The Sleeping Beauty. Hart further enriched the company’s repertoire of ballets with the works of many early 20th Century masters, most notably the great English choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton. From 1985 to 1996, Hart engaged San Francisco-based Val Caniparoli as Ballet West’s resident choreographer. Dancer and choreographer Jonas Kåge served as Artistic Director from 1997 to 2006. During this time Kåge maintained Ballet West’s repertoire of classics while revitalizing its profile with notable late 20th Century choreographers such as Christopher Bruce, Hans van Manen, Glen Tetley and William Forsythe.

Artistic directors[edit]

The founding artistic director, Willam Christensen, retired in 1978. He was succeeded by Bruce Marks, who had been co-artistic director since 1975. Starting in 1985, the company's third artistic director was John Hart, CBE, a former dancer, administrator, and assistant director of The Royal Ballet. From 1997 through 2006, the position belonged to Jonas Kåge, a dancer and choreographer.[1]

The company's fifth and current artist director is Adam Sklute, who has served in that capacity since 2007. Sklute was dancer, ballet master and associate director with The Joffrey Ballet.[1][5]

Dance company[edit]

Dancers with Ballet West as of January 2016 include:[6]

Principal artists[edit]

Name Birth Place Date Joined Training
Emily Adams Newtown, Pennsylvania 2007 The School of American Ballet, Studio Maestro, Ballet Technique, and Princeton Ballet
Adrian Fry Omaha, Nebraska 2010 Omaha Theater Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School
Katherine Lawrence Fairfield, Connecticut 2004 Connecticut Dance School, followed by The Harid Conservatory
Chase O'Connell Fredericksburg, Virginia 2012 The Royal Ballet School, and Kirov Academy of Washington D.C
Christopher Ruud San Francisco, California 1998 San Francisco Ballet School, University of Utah Department of Ballet
Beckanne Sisk Longview, Texas 2010 The Rock School for Dance Education
Rex Tilton San Diego, California 2008 Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, and School of American Ballet
Arolyn Williams Rowe, Massachusetts 2006 Pioneer Valley Ballet and University of North Carolina School of the Arts

First Soloists[edit]

Name Birth Place Date Joined Training
Allison DeBona Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2007 The Parou Ballet, followed by the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet
Sayaka Ohtaki Tokyo, Japan 2010 Inoue Ballet School in Japan
Beau Pearson San Francisco, California 2007 The Academy of Ballet in San Francisco
Christopher Sellars Huntington Beach, California 2006 Orange County Dance Center and The Rock School for Dance Education


Name Birth Place Date Joined Training
Katlyn Addison 2011
Katie Critchlow San Diego, California 2006 The San Elijo Dance Academy in San Diego, followed by Pacific Northwest Ballet
Tyler Gum 2009
Jenna Rae Herrera 2007
Alexander MacFarlan 2007


Name Birth Place Date Joined Training
Lindsay Bond 2008
Trevor Naumann 2009
Jordan Veit 2012
Joshua Whitehead 2010
Chelsea Keefer 2014
Gabrielle Salvatto 2014

Corps Artists[edit]

Ballet West II, Second Company Artists[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "About Us". Ballet West. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ Willis, Cherie N. (1994), Powell, Allan Kent, ed., "Ballet West", Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0874804256, OCLC 30473917 
  3. ^ "Ballet West - Ichrachan House - Taynuilt - Argyll - Scotland". Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Ballet West Academy". Ballet West. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Artistic Director". Ballet West. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  6. ^ "The Artists". Ballet West. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 

External links[edit]