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BOSTON BALLET RENEWS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MIKKO NISSINEN'S CONTRACT
Nissinen's Contract Extended Through 2014
BOSTON, MA - September 29, 2008 - Boston Ballet Chairman of the Board, J. Peter
Lyons, announced today the extension of Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen's contract
through 2014. Nissinen has been Artistic Director of the institution since
September 2001 and his current contract was set to expire in 2009.
"Over the past seven years, Mikko has dramatically raised the profile of the
institution by establishing a roster of talented dancers, heightening the quality of
dancing, building a varied and reputable repertory and expanding the reach of the
school and community programs," said Lyons. "The Board is pleased to announce his
continued leadership and looks forward to even greater success in the coming years."
"I am extremely proud of Boston Ballet's accomplishments over the past seven years,"
said Nissinen. "The quality and versatility of our dancers is especially
impressive, and with our strong artistic team, the Company has come a long way. I'm
also very proud of our acquired repertoire, and how well Boston Ballet has curated
the major classics, the works of Balanchine, and those of contemporary
choreographers. Our long term relationship with resident choreographer Jorma Elo
has produced unique signature pieces for Boston Ballet which have progressed the art
form farther. It is especially important for me to develop new work and emerging
choreographers. We are cultivating the next generation of talented choreographers
through commissioned and Company premieres."
Nissinen continued, "We've taken a great and important step with our recent national
and international touring. I'm looking forward to the future and the Company's next
"Under Mikko's direction Boston Ballet has flourished," said Mark Morris,
choreographer and Director of Mark Morris Dance Group. "He's doing it right: the
company is once again a serious, viable and high-quality organization; real dancing
by real people. Boston is a lucky town."
Since taking the reigns as Artistic Director, Nissinen has defined the Company's
image with classical and neo-classical works, ranging from full-length ballets
including John Cranko's Onegin, Sir Fredrick Ashton's La Fille mal gardée, Rudolph
Nureyev's Don Quixote, Nikolay Sergeyev's The Sleeping Beauty and August
Bournonville's La Sylphide, to masterworks by George Balanchine and new works and
world premieres by some of the finest contemporary choreographers, including William
Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, James Kudelka, Peter Martins, Mark Morris, Val Caniparoli,
David Dawson, Christopher Wheeldon, Helen Pickett, and Resident Choreographer Jorma
Elo. Nissinen has himself contributed to the Company's repertory with his versions
of The Nutcracker in 2003, Swan Lake in 2004, and Raymonda, Act III in 2006 for
In 2007, Boston Ballet became only the second U.S. ballet company to perform John
Cranko's Romeo & Juliet and the only American company to have three of Cranko's
greatest works as part of its extensive repertoire: The Taming of The Shrew, Onegin
and Romeo & Juliet.
Nissinen has been integral in nurturing emerging choreographers including Resident
Choreographer Jorma Elo, who has created five new works for the company since 2002,
company member Heather Myers and choreographers Helen Pickett and Sabrina Matthews.
Under Nissinen's direction, Boston Ballet toured internationally for the first time
in 16 years, receiving critical acclaim during its 2007 six-week tour to seven
festivals in Spain and its tour this summer to Korea. Recent domestic touring
engagements have included performances this past summer at the acclaimed Spoleto
Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina and at The Kennedy Center in Washington,
DC as part of the Ballet Across America series. Last fall, the company performed in
New York at the Guggenheim Museum as part of its ground-breaking Works & Process
series and for the second time at New York City Center's Fall for Dance Festival.
Since Nissinen joined Boston Ballet in 2001, Boston Ballet Center for Dance
Education has radically expanded its programming and Boston Ballet School has become
the largest ballet school in North America. In 2007, Nissinen named Margaret
Tracey, former New York City Ballet Principal Dancer, as Associate Director of the
Center. This January, Boston Ballet School's fourth location will open in
Marblehead, MA in partnership with the North Shore YMCA.
Last March, Nissinen announced that beginning in the fall of 2009, Boston Ballet's
new home and sole performing venue for its Boston season and subscription series as
well as its popular holiday classic, The Nutcracker, would be the Opera House. The
Opera House will offer Boston Ballet audiences a more intimate experience with the
artists on stage and a single venue for all Boston Ballet productions.
Born in Helsinki, Finland, Nissinen began his dance training at age ten with The
Finnish National Ballet School, and launched his dance career at age 15. In 1978, he
won First Prize at The National Ballet Competition in Kuopio, Finland. The following
year he continued his studies at The Kirov Ballet School. Nissinen went on to dance
with Dutch National Ballet, Basel Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, where he held the
position of principal dancer for ten years, until he retired from the stage in 1996.
During Nissinen's performance career his vast repertoire ranged from classical to
contemporary works. As a guest artist, he danced at numerous international galas and
with many different companies and partners.
Nissinen was appointed artistic director of the Marin Ballet in San Rafael,
California in 1996. Two years later he was appointed artistic director of Alberta
Ballet, in Calgary, Canada. Under Nissinen's leadership, Alberta Ballet's global
visibility, national stature, performance schedule and touring and were increased.
Nissinen has received extensive media coverage, including a cover story in Dance
magazine and a profile on CNN Worldwide. He was a fellow at the 2002 Executive
Program for Nonprofit Leaders in the Arts at the Stanford Graduate School of
He has juried the Prix de Lausanne, Benois de la Danse, Japan Grand Prix and the
Helsinki International Ballet Competition, and his knowledge of dance history has
made him a popular presenter at conferences. Nissinen is a member of the Artistic
Committee for the New York Choreographic Institute. He is an advisory board member
of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, and Armitage Gone! Dance. Nissinen is the
recipient of the Finlandia Foundation's 2008 Arts and Letters Award and the 2007
United Nations Association of Greater Boston Leadership Award.
About Boston Ballet
Founded in 1963, Boston Ballet is one of the leading dance companies in North
America. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, the Company
maintains an internationally acclaimed repertoire of classical, neo-classical and
contemporary works, ranging from full-length story ballets to new works by some of
today's finest choreographers.
Boston Ballet's second company, Boston Ballet II, is made up of pre-professional
dancers who gain experience by performing with Boston Ballet and as an independent
group, presenting lecture-demonstrations and unique programs to audiences throughout
the Northeast. The Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education is the largest ballet
school in North America. In service of its mission to bring the highest quality
arts education to all, it reaches and instructs more than 5,000 students of all ages
each year through Boston Ballet School, Summer Dance Workshop, Summer Dance Program,
Citydance, Taking Steps, and Adaptive Dance. The wide array of dance education
programs are held at four major ballet studio locations, in community centers, and
throughout the Boston Public Schools.
Boston Ballet gratefully acknowledges the following institutional partners:
State Street Corporation, 2008 Sponsor, The Nutcracker
Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation/Linda S. Waintrup, Trustee
Massachusetts Cultural Council
National Endowment for the Arts
Boston Organ & Piano, Official Piano Supplier of Boston Ballet
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