It is Ballet West’s mission to entertain and excite audiences in Utah and worldwide by presenting great classical ballets, historical masterpieces, and new, cutting-edge creations with the highest standards of artistic and professional excellence. Furthermore, it is the Company’s mission to build future ballet artists and audiences by providing excellent classical ballet training, and to offer outstanding education and outreach programs that will inspire children and adults alike from all walks of life.
Ballet West boasts a rich and varied repertoire, elegant and versatile artists, and an American style and legacy that is as dynamic, expansive, and unexpected as the Rocky Mountain region it represents. Ballet West has toured the world several times over presenting the very best in American classical ballet.
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. Christensen went on to create the first full-length American productions of Coppélia, Swan Lake, and his evergreen production of The Nutcracker, which remains in Ballet West’s repertoire to this day. A 20th century ballet pioneer, he 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.
With 36 company members, 11 second company members, and a thriving Academy that trains dancers of all ages - many of whom have gone on to professional careers with Ballet West and companies around the world—Ballet West ranks among the top professional ballet companies in America. Since its inception, the Company has had five Artistic Directors: its founder Willam Christensen, Bruce Marks, John Hart, Jonas Kåge, and currently Adam Sklute, each of whom has helped to build Ballet West’s unique and expansive profile.
Since 2007, Artistic Director Adam Sklute, former dancer, Ballet Master, and Associate Director of The Joffrey Ballet, has further energized and expanded Ballet West’s remarkable repertoire with works by the most renowned choreographers of today, such as Ulysses Dove, Jiri Kylian, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, and Stanton Welch. Sklute has also introduced the historical masterpieces from the great Ballets Russes of the early 20th century, and he has also introduced new creations by local, national, and international choreographers.
For nearly 50 years, Willam Christensen and Ballet West have developed and influenced innumerable great artists in the ballet world. Some notable figures include Bart Cook, Finis Jhung, Jay Jolley, Victoria Morgan, Tomm Ruud, Michael Smuin, Richard Tanner, and Kent Stowell.