Cincinnati Ballet looks to the future and sees a leap to the top

Cincinnati Ballet's Courtney Connor Jones, Sirui Liu and Maizyalet Velazquez (Photo by Aaron M. Conway)

Cincinnati Ballet’s Courtney Connor Jones, Sirui Liu and Maizyalet Velazquez (Photo by Aaron M. Conway)

Call it the “new” Cincinnati Ballet.

And look for changes to begin rolling out immediately as part of its quest to become one of the nation’s leading ballet companies.

The moves, part of a new long-term strategy for growth and advancement, will encompass everything from a return to Music Hall for three productions, to launch of the Otto M. Budig Academy’s Professional Training Division, introduction of a new Family Series, partnership with Ballet West on a world premiere production and a new brand identity.

They will “help us move into our next phase of development as we scale up one of the pre-eminent ballet companies in the country,” said Cincinnati Ballet President/CEO Scott Altman.

The 2017-18 season will be, assures Altman, “a watershed season for us.”

Specific elements of the strategic plan include:

Otto M. Budig Academy: The Professional Training Division launched Aug. 7. The 38-week program is designed to support the transition from ballet student to professional dancer.

Performances at Music Hall: For the 2017-2018 season, Cincinnati Ballet will join Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, Cincinnati Opera and May Festival as a Music Hall resident performing company. The five-week Music Hall Grand Opening Celebration will include six performances of Prokofiev’’s “Romeo & Juliet,” Oct. 26- 29. Other 2017-2018 productions at Music Hall will include “Frisch’s Big Boy Presents The Nutcracker,” Dec. 14-24, and “Carmina Burana + Serenade,” Feb. 8 -11.

Family Series: The inaugural production will be “Beauty and the Beast,” April 6-8, 2018, with six performances featuring the Cincinnati Ballet Second Company and students from the Otto M. Budig Academy. Vivid costumes and sets, along with guided narration, are designed to help even the youngest audience members comprehend the story on stage.

World premiere: The collaboration on a new production of “Carmina Burana” is a first for Cincinnati Ballet. Choreographed by Nicolo Fonte, “Carmina Burana” will premiere at Ballet West in Salt Lake City on Nov. 3 and with Cincinnati Ballet on Feb. 8, performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the May Festival Chorus at Music Hall.

Personnel: New people have taken over several key roles tied to expansion of the company’s administration, and select changes are being made within the dancer ranks, including several promotions and new dancers. Artistic Director Victoria Morgan has announced eight new hires and five promotions to the 2017-2018 dancer roster. Among them: Sirui Liu moves from senior soloist to principal, and Chisako Oga moves from soloist to principal.

Marketing: The company’s new brand identity and refreshed logo are the product of a partnership with Cincinnati-based brand design agency, LPK. The Ballet will roll out the new look in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 14 season opening.

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