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ABT News

June 27, 2007


Kirk Peterson Appointed Master Teaching Associate

Nancy Raffa Named Ballet Mistress

Wes Chapman, Ballet Master with American Ballet Theatre and former Artistic Director of Alabama Ballet, has been named Artistic Director of the ABT Studio Company, it was announced today by Kevin McKenzie, ABT Artistic Director. In addition, McKenzie announced the appointments of Kirk Peterson to Master Teaching Associate with ABT and Nancy Raffa to Ballet Mistress.

“Wes Chapman has been a wonderful addition to our ballet staff this past year,” said McKenzie. “His successful leadership of Alabama Ballet, as well as his years as a dancer with ABT, will, I’m certain, combine to make him a valuable leader for the Studio Company. We are also pleased to have Kirk Peterson return to our artistic staff as Master Teaching Associate and Nancy Raffa as Ballet Mistress. Both individuals have contributed a wealth of experience and dedication to ABT over the past year. Kirk’s term as Artistic Director of the Studio Company was highlighted by a period of great artistic growth for our young artists, and Nancy has successfully led the Summer Intensives for the past two years, while also assisting in rehearsals with the main company. Her combined experience as a dancer and a teacher will make her an invaluable member of our artistic team."

A native of Union Springs, Alabama, Chapman joined American Ballet Theatre in 1984 as a member of the corps de ballet. He was promoted to Soloist in 1987 and to Principal Dancer in 1989. With ABT, Chapman performed all the leading roles in the ballet repertoire and in works by many of the twentieth century’s master choreographers, including George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Twyla Tharp and Antony Tudor. He also created leading roles in Clark Tippet’s Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 and Twyla Tharp’s The Elements. In 1993, he joined the Bavarian National Ballet as a principal dancer before returning to ABT in 1995. In 1996, Chapman was named Artistic Director of Alabama Ballet. During his leadership, the company grew from 16 to 44 professional and apprentice dancers. He also founded the Alabama Ballet School, the apprentice pre-professional training program and the Alabama Ballet Summer Program. Chapman succeeds Kirk Peterson as Artistic Director of the Studio Company.

The ABT Studio Company is a small classical company of 12 young dancers of outstanding potential. Now in its thirteenth season, the ABT Studio Company prepares young dancers to enter professional ballet companies and provides opportunities for the emergence of new and established choreographers and composers.

Kirk Peterson, former Ballet Master and Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, was Artistic Director of Hartford Ballet from 1993-1998. Peterson was also a Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet and Resident Choreographer from 1980-1985. As a choreographer, Peterson has created over 50 ballets for such companies as Pacific Northwest Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, among others. He was a founding member of the San Francisco based OMO Dances and was later appointed Assistant Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet. He collaborated with Michael Smuin on the Broadway shows Anything Goes and Shogun, and has served as Resident Choreographer of Cincinnati Ballet since 2002. Peterson was named Artistic Director of ABT Studio Company in June 2006 and was recently appointed an official representative of the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust by Sally Bliss. Peterson’s transition to his role as Master Teaching Associate with ABT allows him to pursue the numerous choreographic commissions that he has received. Among the commissions, Peterson will choreograph a new full-length Othello for Alberta Ballet, to be premiered in October of this year, and for Cincinnati Ballet, he will choreograph Javelin, a new three-part ballet for which he received the Choo San Goh Award for Choreography. He will also restage his 1993 Reinin’ in the Hurricane for Smuin Ballet in September 2007. As Master Teaching Associate, Peterson will teach at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre, the ABT Studio Company and ABT’s main company. He will also oversee rehearsals of many works in the traditional repertoire, including the works of Michel Fokine and Antony Tudor. Peterson will continue to perform Principal character roles with ABT.

Nancy Raffa, Director of American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensives since 2005, was the youngest and first American female to win the Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne International Ballet Competition in Switzerland in 1980. She joined the corps de ballet of ABT in 1981 and danced with the Company for four years. Raffa joined Ballet de Santiago in 1985 as a principal dancer and was also a principal dancer at Ballet National Franƒìaise de Nancy. In 1992, she became a principal dancer with Miami City Ballet. Raffa began her teaching career in Miami and, in 1994, joined the staff of the Miami City Ballet School, becoming the coordinator for the school’s summer intensive program and Ballet for Young People program. She was twice awarded a special teacher’s recognition from the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts and won a grant from the United States Information Services to act as a cultural ambassador and teacher for the company and school in Honduras. Raffa holds an Ace certification in exercise physiology and graduated magna cum laude in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. Thomas University.

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