Celebrating its 72st year as an organization, The Washington Ballet grew out of the success of The Washington School of Ballet, founded and directed for years by legendary dance pioneer Mary Day. The School opened in 1944 and the Company was established in 1976 with Ms. Day’s singular vision clearly illuminated: to create a stellar institution of teaching, creating and enlightenment through dance.
Now under the artistic directorship of Julie Kent, her long term focus and vision for The Washington Ballet is using its solid foundation to further develop and build the institution by broadening Company repertoire, expanding community engagement efforts throughout the DC metropolitan area and leading TWB to a more prominent place both within and beyond the Nation’s capital. In addition to being an iconic ballerina, Kent has the distinction as the longest-serving dancer at American Ballet Theatre, having danced with the company for 29 years.
Her extensive roles encompass the breadth of the ballet repertoire and as a muse to choreographers who created works on her. Her continued devotion to serving the art form, to promoting arts education and to using her experience to nurture, train and develop the next generation of dancers are the tenets by which she will further elevate TWB and its Company, school and community engagement programs and initiatives.
TWB and Day were pioneers of diversity in dance, nurturing dancers of varied backgrounds including Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem. This tradition has continued in leading the dialogue and action in the larger dance community to incorporate dancers from diverse backgrounds into the Company. TWB has served as an exemplary company in welcoming dancers of color and their families through an integrated faculty and company. Towards this end, prior artistic director Septime Webre initiated activity for [email protected], community engagement programs housed at the Townhall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) in SE Washington, DC. The programs include The Washington School of Ballet's Southeast Campus, the DanceDC program, and the EXCEL! Scholarship. These programs have served over 70,000 children and thousands of adults since their inception in 1999.
Diversity in choreographers has been a fundamental tenet in the TWB artistic decisions to nurture and present choreographers with fresh interpretation of classical ballet repertoire while also presenting classical iconic choreographers and works. In a review of TWB repertoire, a combination of classics and exciting new works and themes is evident.