Friday, February 23

Ballet legend David Nixon steps down from leading Northern Ballet

Northern Ballet have announced their longest serving Artistic Director David Nixon will step down in December 2021 after twenty years leading the Leeds based company.

Under the Canadian-born Nixon they have created 29 full-length ballets with 23 one-act works added to their repertoire, as well as 14 original full-length musical compositions.

As an innovative choreographer and designer Nixon has created 13 original full-length ballets for Northern Ballet, including Wuthering Heights, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Great Gatsby and The Little Mermaid, and has restaged and adapted a further six productions.

But more than that Nixon turned a company based in the North into a national and international force building a world class company that always nurtured and pushed new talent to explore their artistic limits.

He also led Northern Ballet’s move into its purpose-built headquarters in Quarry Hill in 2010. The new site offered seven dance studios, a 230-seat studio theatre and a health suite so they could grow artistically and physically from 34 dancers to 44.

Photo Simon Lawson

Under his leadership, with the assistance of Academy Associate Director Yoko Ichino, the Academy of Northern Ballet has grown offering classes for all ages. The Academy’s Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) programme is the only CAT in the country with a focus on classical ballet that has produced several professional dancers for different companies.

In 2020, Northern Ballet celebrated its 50th anniversary marked by a celebratory gala devised by Nixon to show the history and development of the company. Senior dancers from all of the major UK ballet companies, plus Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, performed works from Northern Ballet’s repertoire, and the event was a testament to the regard in which Nixon is held across the ballet world.

Northern Ballet’s success has been recognised with the Taglioni European Ballet award for Best Company. Nixon has been awarded Dance Europe Director of the Year twice, and in 2010 was awarded an OBE for services to dance.

‘The time afforded for reflection during the Covid-19 pandemic made it clear that the time for me to pass the Company on to new leadership had come,” says David Nixon. “I wish to thank my dancers past and present, all those who work on the artistic side of the Company and all the creative collaborators I have had the privilege to work with over these years for their priceless contribution towards the company’s many artistic achievements.

“I am grateful to all those who have worked for Northern Ballet, our supporters and audience members, without whose support nothing would have been possible.”

Northern Ballet will begin the process to recruit a new Artistic Director shortly.