Ballet Arizona has had to overcome many obstacles to become what it is today. The company is actually the combination of three ballet companies that existed in Arizona – Phoenix Ballet, Arizona Dance Theatre and Ballet West Arizona. All three had been struggling financially in the mid 80s. A Phoenix philanthropist names Allen Rosenberg helped to merge the three companies in 1986.
In its first season, 1986-1987, the company was directed by Jean-Paul Comelin and Malcolm Burn. They opened with a full-length production of Cinderella. Mr. Comelin stayed with the company until Michael Uthoff took over in 1992. He encouraged the production of major works while commissioning new works for the company. Under his direction the school also strengthened and its enrollment doubled during the early 90s.
The company was almost forced to shut down in 2000 because of limited funding. This is when Ib Andersen was named artistic director. Mr. Andersen was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and choreographs many of the companies’ productions. With his commitment along with people such as Sherry New and Kevin Myers the company is now debt free.
Today Ballet Arizona performs at Phoenix Symphony Hall and at the Orpheum Theatre and consists of 36 dancers. Ib Andersen has recreated classical works for the company such as Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. They also perform works by other prominent choreographers including George Balanchine and Twyla Tharp. The School of Ballet Arizona performs an annual Nutcracker and is also involved in community outreach.