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Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Richard Tanner received his early dance instruction from Robert Lindgren and Sonja Tyven. He continued his dance training while simultaneously pursuing a course of academic study, ultimately receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Utah. Mr. Tanner continued his dance education at New York’s School of American Ballet — the official school of the New York City Ballet — where his teachers included Stanley Williams, Pierre Vladimirov, Andre Eglevsky, and Diana Adams.
Mr. Tanner danced with Oklahoma’s Ballet West as a soloist from 1967 through 1970. He then joined the New York City Ballet, where he remained for ten years. In 1971, Mr. Tanner choreographed two ballets for the company: Concerto for Two Solo Pianos (Igor Stravinsky) and Octandre (Edgar Varese). In addition to appearing in a wide variety of roles from the company’s extensive repertory, Mr. Tanner participated as both a dancer and a choreographer in the historic 1972 Stravinsky Festival, to which he contributed Qctour. From 1981 to 1983 Mr. Tanner served as Regisseur General at American Ballet Theatre, and from 1985 to 1990 he served as Associate Artistic Director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Mr. Tanner has choreographed more than two dozen ballets for such companies as Ballet West, Eglevsky Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Oklahoma, Miami City Ballet, and numerous touring groups. He has created a number of works for the Pennsylvania Ballet including Candide Variations set to music by Leonard Bernstein, XVIII Symphonic Etudes (Robert Schumann), Skin & Steel (Tim Clark), Rough Assemblage (David Van Tieghem), and Eroica (Franz Liszt). Other works include Sonatas and Interludes (John Cage), which was created for the Eglevsky Ballet and entered the repertory of the New York City Ballet during the company’s 1988 American Music Festival, and The Waltz Project (Robert Moran, Lou Harrison, Ivan Tcherepnin, Joseph Fenimore, Robert Helps, Tom Constanterr, Philip Glass, and Morton Gould), which was created in June, 1984 for a touring group led by Edward Villella, and later set for Ballet Oklahoma. In February, 1990, Mr. Tanner choreographed Prague Symphony (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) for the New York City Ballet. Mr. Tanner’s Ancient Airs and Dances (Ottorino Respighi) was presented along with ten other ballets, as part of New York City Ballet’s inaugural season of The Diamond Project in May, 1992. Mr. Tanner’s latest works for the New York City Ballet include A Schubert Sonata (Franz Schubert), Episodes & Sarcasms (Sergei Prokoficv), and Operetta Affezionata (Carl Maria von Weber).
In additlon to his work as a choreographer, Mr. Tanner has staged Balanchine repertory ranging from Bourree Fantasque (Emmanuel Chabrier) to Symphony in Three Movements (Stravinsky) throughout the United States.