Kirk Peterson was the innovative Artistic Director of the Hartford
Ballet for five years and his choreography has been seen with
San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet,
Washington Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, BalletMet,
San Francisco Opera and The Royal Ballet School.
Peterson has had a long and distinguished career as a principal
dancer with American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet.
He was also a principal dancer with London Festival Ballet, Harkness
Ballet and the National Ballet of Washington. Peterson’s
extensive repertoire as a dancer included all the full-length
classics and he appeared in a wide range of works by the world’s
leading choreographers. Peterson began his ballet studies at the
age of three in his native New Orleans, where he studied for fifteen
years with Lelia Haller, a distinguished pedagogue from the Paris
During the summer of 1999, Peterson appeared in, served as Ballet
Master and consultant, and staged classroom segments for the feature
film Center Stage.
He began choreographing while still a member of American Ballet
Theatre and created the ballet Floating Weeds for ballerina
Cynthia Harvey. His first work for the San Francisco Ballet, Cloudless
Sulphur, created for ballerina Evelyn Cisneros and commissioned
by artistic director Michael Smuin, led to his being named a resident
choreographer of the company. In 1985, he then created a one act
Othello to the music of Carl Ruggles. He was a founding member
of the San Francisco based OMO Dances and was later appointed
Assistant Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet.
Peterson has to date choreographed over 50 ballets. His varied
and challenging works, such as the often-performed Belling the
Slayer and his trilogy of ballets to the music of Philip Glass,
The Eyes That Gently Touch, Vortex and Amazed
in Burning Dreams, have received consistently high acclaim.
His more recently created Carmen, Fandango Furioso,
to the music of legendary film composer Bernard Hermann, and the
passionately scintillating The Howling Cat (Imaginary Tango),
have added to the long list of his imaginative works.
Peterson is a specialist in re-staging the full-length classical
repertoire such as Giselle and Don Quixote and
has had a particular success with his The Sleeping Beauty.
He has also created original versions of Coppélia
and The Nutcracker. His ballet Dancing with Monet
(A Gathering at Argenteuil), which premiered in June 2002,
was created for the Pennsylvania Ballet. This past season he collaborated
with violinist Sarah Chang on his new Carmen Fantasy
for American Ballet Theatre.
Peterson collaborated with Michael Smuin on two Broadway productions.
The first, Anything Goes, starred Patti LuPone. In 1990,
he was co-choreographer with Smuin of a lavish musical based on
James Clavell’s novel Shogun.
The Hartford Ballet appointed Peterson its Artistic Director in
1993. During his five years with Hartford, Peterson created or
re-staged nearly 20 works including Reinin’ in the Hurricane
and new versions of The Firebird, Le Sacre du Printemps
and L’Apres Midi d’un Faune. Peterson is
presently Resident Choreographer of the Cincinnati Ballet.
Peterson rejoined American Ballet Theatre as Ballet Master in
August 1999. In addition to
his duties as Ballet Master, Peterson performs the roles of Dr.
Coppélius in Coppélia, the Widow Simone
in La Fille mal gardée, Drosselmeyer in The
Nutcracker, the Charlatan in Petrouchka, the Seneschal
in Raymonda, Escalus and Friar Laurence in Romeo
and Juliet and the Tutor and Master of Ceremonies in Swan
Lake. For the Company he re-staged George Balanchine’s
original version of Theme and Variations.
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