In 2021, Cincinnati Ballet made history and moved into its new spectacular home — the Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance in Walnut Hills. The state-of-the-art Dance Center was specifically designed to forward the Company’s mission and better serve the Greater Cincinnati community.
Since 1963, Cincinnati Ballet has been the cornerstone professional ballet company of the region, commended for presenting an internationally-acclaimed repertoire of classical masterworks and premieres of provocative contemporary pieces. The Company was founded on a desire to create a diverse community of dance enthusiasts by sharing the beauty of the artform with full-length ballets and innovative world premieres. Cincinnati Ballet has brought the world to the region through exceptional collaborations with acclaimed artists and choreographers, becoming a creative force within the larger dance community.
Cincinnati Ballet reaches beyond the stage with dance programs that are both relatable and accessible, allowing every person in the region to be part of the continued evolution of dance. To that end, Cincinnati Ballet presents exhilarating performances, extensive education and community engagement, and offers top-level professional ballet training at Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy.
Cincinnati Ballet began officially when 41 dancers were chosen from auditions at the YMCA in 1963. Early performances were held at the University of Cincinnati’s Wilson Auditorium. In 1966, the head of UC’s College Conservatory of Music (CCM), David McLain, became Artistic Director. In 1968, the Company was renamed the ‘Cincinnati Ballet Company’ and Carmon DeLeone became Music Director.
In 1974, The Nutcracker premiered at Cincinnati Music Hall. Beginning in 1978, additional mainstage performances were also held at the iconic Cincinnati venue. By 1980, the Company’s name was shortened to ‘Cincinnati Ballet.’
With McLain’s passing in 1984, the legendary Frederic Franklin was named interim Artistic Director. In 1986, Hungarian dancer and former American Ballet Theatre star Ivan Nagy assumed leadership and recruited experienced, international dancers, raising the Company’s performance standards.
The 1990s brought three artistic directors in quick succession – Richard Collins, Nigel Burgoine, and Pater Anastos. Thanks to the Kaplan and Budig Foundations, the Company moved into a stable home in the West End in 1994.
Two years later, Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy was founded. That same year, the Company performed choreographer George Balanchine’s seminal, full-length ballet, Jewels. In 1997, Victoria Morgan was named Artistic Director, one of the first women to lead an American ballet company.
The 2000s were a time of collaborative growth, during which the Company partnered with Columbus’ BalletMet on several productions, including Stars and Stripes in 2006 and Swan Lake in 2009.
The Company also expanded its reach, touring Europe and several U.S. cities including Alaska, Michigan, and Indiana.
In 2013, Cincinnati Ballet celebrated its 50th anniversary. This period is also marked by the Company’s expansive growth. Cincinnati Ballet created bold works accompanied by live music with local favorite, Over the Rhine, and legendary guitarist Peter Frampton.
The Company’s offerings continued to reach new heights and reach new audiences. In 2014, Victoria Morgan debuted her full-length ballet, King Arthur’s Camelot. The 2017-2018 Season saw the debut of the annual Family Series, featuring narration and the Second Company – CB2 dancers.
In 2021, Cincinnati Ballet completed a $30.8 million dollar fundraising campaign for the Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance in Walnut Hills. The 62,000-square foot Center for Dance features nine studios and iconic, stunning architecture.
The 2022-2023 season marks Jodie Gates’ first season as Artistic Director of Cincinnati Ballet and Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy. For 35 years Gates has contributed to the profession as a visionary leader, artistic director, arts educator, stager, choreographer, and dancer. She is honored to lead the artistic vision of the Company into its 60th Diamond Anniversary during the 2023-2024 Season.