Martins at the opening night of the 2009 Metropolitan Opera.
27 October 1946 |
Peter Martins (born 27 October 1946) is a Danish danseur and choreographer. He was a principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet and with The New York City Ballet, where he joined George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and John Taras as balletmaster in 1981, retired from dancing in 1983 at which time he became Co-Ballet Master-In-Chief with Robbins, and since 1990 has borne sole responsibility for artistic leadership of City Ballet.
Dance and administrative career
Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, Martins studied at the School of the Royal Danish Ballet and danced with the company from 1965 to 1969. Although before that, he studied ballroom dance at the age of five. He was already an international star when he joined NYCB in 1970 as a principal dancer. He reportedly left his own native homeland of Denmark and the Royal Ballet of Denmark to dance with NYCB. Martins danced a wide variety of roles, although he may be most famous for Apollo and the Cavalier in Balanchine's Nutcracker. He danced frequently with Suzanne Farrell, although they parted acrimoniously when she left the NYCB at his insistence. She went on to found her own company. Martins was Balanchine's one and only choice to run the company, and he was made Balletmaster in 1981. He retired from dancing in 1983 and assumed the job of sole Balletmaster-in-Chief in 1990. He was Balanchine's own choice to carry on the legacy of the NYCB when Balanchine himself passed. He was the subject of the documentary Peter Martins: A Dancer.
Martins regularly choreographs new works for both companies. His first piece was Calcium Light Night set to music by Charles Ives and premiered in 1977. His more recent pieces include Octet, Friandises, Stabat Mater and the full-length ballets The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Romeo † Juliet. He also did the choreography for the Barbie movies Barbie in the Nutcracker and Barbie of Swan Lake.
Awards, collaborations and written work
He received a Dance Magazine Award and Cue's Golden Apple Award in 1977. An Award for Arts and Culture, City of New York, 1981. The title of Knight of the Order of Dannebrog in 1983. An award of Merit, Philadelphia Art Alliance, 1985. And a Liberty Award, 1986. He was nominated for the 1986 Tony Award for Best Choreographer for Song & Dance. Martins is a champion of contemporary music, working often with composer John Adams. His autobiography, Far From Denmark was published in 1982. Martins was named Man of the Year by the Danish American Society, 1980. His exercise regimen, titled NYCB Workout and designed with the New York Sports Club, first appeared in book form in 1997, with a DVD and a second series produced later. Martins was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame in 2008.
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His son, Nilas Martins (son of Royal Danish Ballet ballerina and later associate director Lise la Cour, whom Peter divorced after he left Denmark), was a principal dancer and choreographer at NYCB, until his retirement.
Martins had a long relationship with NYCB ballerina Heather Watts, which ended in 1990. They even lived together for 11 years. They first met when he was 23 and she was 16.
Martins was romantically involved with Gelsey Kirkland while she was with the New York City Ballet. They had an incredibly heated relationship after they were paired together for a performance. The relationship ended when Gelsey left NYCB to join the American Ballet Theatre. Gelsey had mentioned her older sister, Johnna had also had a relationship with Peter.
In 1991 he married NYCB principal dancer Darci Kistler. In July, 1992, Martins was arrested on charges of assaulting Kistler, cutting and bruising her arms and legs. Kistler then dropped the charges. Kistler and Martins' daughter, Talicia, was born in 1996.