Oklahoma City Ballet
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The Oklahoma City Ballet is a professional dance company and school located in Oklahoma City. The company began under the artistic direction of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancers Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov in the Science and Arts Foundation building on the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds,
|Oklahoma City Ballet|
|Name||Oklahoma City Ballet|
|Previous names||Oklahoma Civic City Ballet |
|Founders||Yvonne Chouteau |
|Principal venue||Civic Center Music Hall|
|Executive Director||Jo Lynne Jones|
|Company manager||Stephanie Aaron|
|Artistic Director||Robert Mills|
|Ballet Master||Miki Kawamura|
|Orchestra||Oklahoma City Philharmonic|
|Official school||The Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School|
Founded in 1963, Oklahoma City Ballet has been the city’s professional ballet company for over 40 years. It is the resident dance company of the Civic Center Music Hall and as of 2017[update] has 31 dancers from around the world. Led by Artistic Director Robert Mills, the company produces 5 main stage productions per season in Oklahoma City and tours across Oklahoma and the surrounding states. The Oklahoma City Ballet also participates in a number of community outreach projects designed to provide dance education and experience throughout central Oklahoma.
The company began in 1963 under the name Oklahoma City Civic Ballet, brought together by the foundation’s civic ballet committee and chief benefactors, Mr. and Mrs. John E. Kirkpatrick.
The Oklahoma City Ballet Society was incorporated in 1967 to support the company. That same year the Ballet joined the newly formed Arts Council of Oklahoma City and performed in the first Festival of the Arts, celebrating Oklahoma’s 60th year of statehood.
In 1970 the Board of Trustees formed a new group, Oklahoma City Metropolitan Ballet Society and with the generous support of Vernon Pellow, Sr. the company began as the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Ballet with Yvonne Chouteau staying on as founding artistic director. Ballerina and Oklahoma native Maria Tallchief worked together with Ms. Chouteau to audition dancers for the company.
Yvonne Chouteau was succeeded by New York City Ballet principal dancers Conrad and Joy Ludlow, who directed the Company from 1973–1979. The Ludlow’s founded the company’s affiliate school and joined Oklahoma City's Allied Arts organization. During this time the Company and School used studios on the campus of Oklahoma City University and performed at the Kirkpatrick Theater also on the OCU campus.
In 1979 American Ballet Theatre dancers Bojan Spassoff and Stephanie Wolf-Spassoff assumed direction of the Company. This was the beginning of the change from a civic company to a semi-professional company which was now performing three productions plus The Nutcracker in a season. In 1980 the company name was changed to Ballet Oklahoma and in the spring of 1981 the company moved into a newly renovated facility. The building was donated by Robert Hefner, III and a campaign to raise funds for renovations was chaired by Ann Simmons Alspaugh. Rand Elliott provided the architectural design and the renovations were completed by Bill McNatt Construction.
In 1983 New York City Ballet dancer Edward Villella joined the company as artistic director and directed the company for three seasons, bringing the work of George Balanchine into the repertory. In 1986 Dallas Ballet dancers Bryan Pitts and Laura Flagg-Pitts joined the company as artistic director and assistant to the director respectively. During the Pitts’ tenure, the company instituted its annual Artsreach program to bring students from across the state to the Civic Center for a live ballet performance. This program received the Governor’s Arts Award in 1997.
In 2008 the Board of Trustees appointed dancer, choreographer and former Ballet Nouveau Colorado director Robert Mills the new artistic director. That same year the name of the company was changed to Oklahoma City Ballet. In 2017 the name of the affiliate school was changed to The Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School thanks to a generous endowment gift from Kirkpatrick Philanthropies. Also in 2017, the company moved into a new state of the art, 29,000 square foot facility designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Architects.
Oklahoma City Ballet’s repertory includes works by George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Anthony Tudor, Nacho Duato, Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, Jessica Lang, Nicolo Fonte, Stanton Welch, Perrot, Coralli, Fokine, Petipa, Bournonville and Artistic Director Robert Mills. Oklahoma City Ballet has also presented special dance attractions as part of its role in serving the community. In the past, it has sponsored performances by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, the San Francisco Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The Oklahoma City Ballet tours regionally and is the resident dance company of the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School is Oklahoma's only American Ballet Theatre certified school and teaches the A.B.T National Training Curriculum. Its faculty have all trained within the curriculum and have passed examinations to become certified instructors of the curriculum The school trains students who wish to become professional ballet dancers, and recreational students. Students trained in the school have been regularly accepted into summer sessions and advanced classes at the School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet and others. Former students have gone on to professional careers with the American Ballet Theatre, Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, David Parsons Dance and the Oklahoma City Ballet itself.
- Five Moons, five Native American ballerinas from the U.S. state of Oklahoma who achieved international prominence during the 20th century
- Anderson, Jack. "Yvonne Chouteau, Native American Ballerina, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
- "Community Outreach". Oklahoma City Ballet. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
- "Oklahoma City Ballet Nonprofit Profile". GiveSmartOKC. Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
- "History". Oklahoma City Ballet. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
- "School". Oklahoma City Ballet. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
- Oklahoma City Ballet, official website