Ballet West

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]

Ballet West
General information
NameBallet West
Year founded1963
Artistic staff
Artistic DirectorAdam Sklute
Official schoolBallet West Academy

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

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

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

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

Principal dancers

NameBirth PlaceDate JoinedTraining
Emily AdamsNewtown, Pennsylvania2007The School of American Ballet, Studio Maestro, Ballet Technique, and Princeton Ballet
Adrian FryOmaha, Nebraska2010Omaha Theater Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School
Katherine LawrenceFairfield, Connecticut2004Connecticut Dance School, followed by The Harid Conservatory
Chase O'ConnellFredericksburg, Virginia2012The Royal Ballet School, and Kirov Academy of Washington D.C
Christopher RuudSan Francisco, California1998San Francisco Ballet School, University of Utah Department of Ballet
Beckanne SiskLongview, Texas2010The Rock School for Dance Education
Rex TiltonSan Diego, California2008Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, and School of American Ballet
Arolyn WilliamsRowe, Massachusetts2006Pioneer Valley Ballet and University of North Carolina School of the Arts

First soloists

NameBirth PlaceDate JoinedTraining
Allison DeBonaPittsburgh, Pennsylvania2007The Parou Ballet, followed by the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet
Sayaka OhtakiTokyo, Japan2010Inoue Ballet School in Japan
Beau PearsonSan Francisco, California2007The Academy of Ballet in San Francisco
Christopher SellarsHuntington Beach, California2006Orange County Dance Center and The Rock School for Dance Education


NameBirth PlaceDate JoinedTraining
Katlyn Addison2011
Katie CritchlowSan Diego, California2006The San Elijo Dance Academy in San Diego, followed by Pacific Northwest Ballet
Tyler Gum2009
Jenna Rae Herrera2007
Alexander MacFarlan2007


NameBirth PlaceDate JoinedTraining
Lindsay Bond2008
Trevor Naumann2009
Jordan Veit2012
Joshua Whitehead2010
Chelsea Keefer2014
Gabrielle Salvatto2014

Corps de ballet

Ballet West II, Second Company Artists


  1. "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, archived from the original on 2017-01-13, retrieved 2013-10-30
  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. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
  6. "The Artists". Ballet West. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
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