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Nissinen new Boston AD


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#1 bbfan

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 11:58 AM

This morning Boston Ballet held a press conference and named Nikko Missinen the new artistic director for the ballet - and reportedly made it clear he will be the one in charge at the ballet. No links to press release yet.
Lost of smiles from Boston.

#2 dirac

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 04:44 PM

THANK YOU so much for the update! It's nice to be kept up to speed....

[ 09-06-2001: Message edited by: dirac ]

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 05:36 PM

Thanks! That's been the scuttlebutt for weeks now; glad they finally announced it. I'm sure many people will be happy that things have settled down. BBfan, is the general attitude, then, at least among people you know and have talked to, a sigh of relief? (I gather that from your post.)

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 05:41 PM

A colleague in Boston just sent me the company's press release. Here 'tis:

MIKKO NISSINEN APPOINTED ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF BOSTON BALLET

Accomplished dancer and teacher represents
the new generation of artistic leadership

September 6, 2001 (BOSTON) - Boston Ballet Chairman of the Board John Humphrey today announced the appointment of Mikko Nissinen as Artistic Director for Boston Ballet and Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education.
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Nissinen assumes his full responsibilities as Artistic Director of Boston Ballet beginning July 1, 2002. There will be an interim period beginning now until June 30, 2002 when Nissinen will divide his time between Boston and Calgary as he concludes his tenure as Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet. Beginning on July 1, 2002, Nissinen will be in Boston full time. His appointment as Artistic Director for Boston Ballet is for an initial three-year period, continuing through
June 30, 2005.
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THE SEARCH
Following an intensive search and interview process by the Boston Ballet Artistic Director Search Committee, Nissinen emerged as the lead candidate. The Search Committee was led by James Wilson and included staff members, dancers and trustees who were assisted by Genovese Vanderhoof & Associates, a Toronto-based arts consulting firm. John Humphrey, Chairman of the Boston Ballet Board of Trustees, presented the Search Committee's recommendation during a meeting of the Board this morning. A unanimous vote confirmed Nissinen's appointment.
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>"It is with tremendous excitement that we announce the appointment of Mikko Nissinen as the new Artistic Director for Boston Ballet," declared Humphrey. "We searched for a candidate who represented artistic excellence, international and American experience and proven leadership abilities. Nissinen is a perfect fit. He represents the next generation of young and greatly accomplished Artistic Directors."
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Nissinen was present at today's Board of Trustees meeting to accept the appointment and congratulations from the Board. Staff, dancers, Trustees and members of the media attended a press conference immediately following the Board meeting. "It is a great honor to have been selected as the new Artistic Director of Boston Ballet," explained Nissinen. "I have tremendous respect for the history and tradition of this organization and its founders, and truly believe that Boston Ballet should be the leader in performance and dance education. I look forward to working toward that goal."
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>NISSINEN'S BACKGROUND
Mikko Nissinen is recognized internationally as an accomplished dancer, teacher and Artistic Director. He was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1962 and began his dance training at the age of eleven at The Finnish National
Ballet School. At age fifteen, he launched his dance career and immediately began performing soloist roles. In 1978, he won First Prize at The National Ballet Competition in Kuopio, Finland. In 1979 he joined The Kirov Ballet School to continue his studies. Nissinen went on to dance with the Dutch National Ballet, Basel Ballet and San Francisco Ballet - where he held the position of Principal Dancer for ten years. During Nissinen's performance career his vast repertoire ranged from classical to contemporary works. As a guest artist, Nissinen danced at numerous international galas and with many different companies and partners.
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In 1996 Nissinen retired as Principal Dancer from San Francisco Ballet and was appointed Artistic Director of the Marin Ballet in San Rafael, California. In the summer of 1998 Nissinen was appointed Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet, based in Calgary, Canada. Under Nissinen's leadership Alberta Ballet increased its performance schedule, touring and global visibility.
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>Nissinen continues to teach ballet technique at numerous schools and summer intensives. His knowledge and interest in dance history also make him a popular presenter at conferences.
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A detailed Q&A has been prepared for distribution to facilitate the introduction of Mr. Nissinen to the media. Boston Ballet's Office of Public Relations is scheduling requests for interviews. Founded in 1963, Boston Ballet is considered one of the top dance companies in North America. With more than 50 full-time dancers, the company maintains an internationally acclaimed repertoire of classical and contemporary works, ranging from full-length story ballets to new works by contemporary choreographers such as Christopher Wheeldon, Nacho Duato, Mark Morris and Lila York.

#5 bbfan

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 06:45 PM

The people I've talked to are glad an AD has been named and happy with the choice - looking forward to getting to know him and work with him. And we fans can look forward to the coming seasons.

#6 Alina

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 08:57 PM

Having been well aware of the rumors and information from some more reliable informants I am happy BBC has hopefully closed this difficult chapter and will be moving on, continuing to present great ballet in Boston and grow to be an even stronger company. Happiest for the dancers and staff who have persevered through it all. For myself as a Bostonian, I only wish them the best!!

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 07 September 2001 - 09:18 AM

From the Boston Ballet press office:


Q & A with Mikko Nissinen
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JOINING BOSTON BALLET
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Q: Why were you interested in pursuing the Artistic Director position with Boston Ballet?
A: I have followed Boston Ballet for the past 20 years. When the opportunity to interview for the position presented itself, I was excited about the possibility of leading a company of this size, reputation and potential. I am honored to have been selected and I appreciate the Board's vote of confidence. My career ambition to be an Artistic Director took root when I was 18 years old. As a dancer I began to educate myself on the business of running a dance company as well as teaching, public speaking and the nuances of motivating people. I also studied to improve my English, which I understand is a lifetime project!
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>Q: Is your contract for a certain length of time?

A: From now until June 30, 2002, I will be in a transitional period as I fulfill my duties with Alberta Ballet and begin to serve Boston Ballet as Artistic Director. I will be in Boston full time with Boston Ballet as of July 1, 2002 and we have agreed to an initial three-year period, which will bring us to June 30, 2005. I will assume the responsibilities of Artistic Director as of today and I plan to be as hands-on as time
permits during the transitional period.
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Q: Are you familiar with the circumstances that have lead to the position being vacant?

A: As an observer from afar I believe it was an unfortunate situation for everyone. I can imagine that the circumstances are complex and, as I was not directly involved, I hesitate to comment on the facts or the outcome. Obviously my belief in the dancers, staff, Board members and the Boston community's ability to move beyond this episode is quite strong as I did not hesitate in pursuing the Artistic Director position and joining Boston Ballet.
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Q: What are your plans for national and international touring?

A: This is certainly a personal as well as a company ambition but it must be done efficiently. It is a big step every time you tour a dance company and the success of the first tour will pave the way for additional tours. One possible scenario is that we begin with a local and regional tour schedule and gradually step up to a national and international schedule.
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Q: Do you envision a new artistic direction for the company?

A: No and yes. No, because Boston Ballet already has a very good artistic balance. Under the strong leadership of Chief Ballet Master Jorden Morris the company is dancing extremely well, I must also recognize the contribution of our Music Director Jonathan McPhee, who stepped in as an Artistic Director advisor to help shape the current season, which I believe has a strong balance. So I feel that I'm joining a company that is in good shape, artistically. I also believe that there is room for change.

First and foremost, Boston Ballet should be a leader among dance companies in the United States. We should be known for excellence in our dancing as well as for interesting repertoire that distinguishes us from other companies. I want Boston Ballet to pave the way for the future of dance and dance education in this country. In assuming this leadership role I envision raising the bar artistically as opposed to taking the company in a completely new direction.
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Q: Will you influence the current season?

A: The current season begins on September 20th. There will be no changes in the program but as of today I intend to be a very hands on Artistic Director, so I plan to spend as much time with the dancers and production staff as possible, helping to shape the productions artistically wherever possible.
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Q: When will you announce the next season?

A: We anticipate announcing the 2002-2003 season in April but we have a lot of dancing to do for our audiences before that, so we'll all be focused on the current season through next May. Having said that, however, I will, of course, be working behind the scenes to plan the 2002-2003 season, beginning as early as next month.
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Q: What are your priorities in the next six months?

A: To immerse myself in the company. To get to know the dancers, the staff and the students. I want to formulate a crystal clear vision for Boston Ballet and begin to plant seeds for the future. So I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and start working. I also have to sell a house in Calgary and find a place to live in Boston! That could take longer than six months so I better get started on that too. I also plan to discover the shortest possible flight path between Calgary and Boston while still accumulating frequent flyer points.
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Q: What kind of company would you like Boston Ballet to be by its 40th anniversary in 2003?

A: I would like the Boston Ballet performances to have a certain edge and freshness. We should aim to engage our audiences and not leave any one audience member feeling indifferent. To benefit both the company and our audiences we need to create exciting, entertaining, artistic encounters.
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Q: What role does the Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education play in your plans?

A: Dance education is very high on my list of priorities. As a community, we should be extremely proud of the role of Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education. Enrollment for this current semester is up and the renovated studios in Newton are scheduled to open in early 2002. I played a very active role with the Alberta Ballet School and I hope to play an equally active role here. I would like to see the Boston Ballet School become an example for other ballet schools across the country and I think that is very achievable.
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Q: What is your artistic vision for Boston Ballet?

A: I anticipate sharing my vision for the Boston Ballet simultaneous with announcing my first season.
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PAST EXPERIENCE
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Q: Were you offered the directorship of the National Ballet in Finland?
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A: Yes, I was flattered to have been offered the position in March 2000 to begin June 2001. I'm very proud of my Finnish heritage and it was a great honor to consider that I would lead the National Ballet. I opted though to decline the offer as I felt that it was not the right time in my career, nor personally the right time for me to return to Finland.
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Q: Have you worked with any of Boston Ballet's previous Artistic Directors?

A: Yes, with Violette Verdy. She was teaching at San Francisco Ballet when I was a dancer and I have now known her for over ten years. I also know Bruce Marks from many conversations and greatly admire his insight. He continues to set an example for me.
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>Q: Have you worked with any of the current Boston Ballet dancers or staff?
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A: I have danced with Jennifer Gelfand at the Gala des Étoiles where in fact she and Paul Thrussell are dancing this evening (September 6th) in Montréal. I know many of the artistic and administrative staff through association so I don't feel like a stranger coming to Boston.
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Q: As you reflect on your years at San Francisco Ballet, what were the most important things you learned professionally as a dancer and personally as an artist?

A: As a dancer I believe I matured during my time in San Francisco, and truly benefited from a first quality organization. Personally I learned to take full responsibility for my career development and to maintain the highest level of artistic integrity possible.
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Q: What is your experience as a dance instructor and how will you contribute to the Boston Ballet School?

A: I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to teach at some of the best dance companies including San Francisco Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Academy. I benefited from extraordinary teachers and I'm committed to teaching in hopes that I can share the wisdom entrusted to me. I look forward to working with Rachel Moore, the Director of the Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education. I have great regard for her leadership of the Center and hope that I may contribute.
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TRENDS IN DANCE
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Q: Do you feel that North American culture tends to not encourage men from pursuing dance as a career, as opposed to Scandinavian cultures? How might you like to help change the perception?

A: I do believe that dance as a profession for men is less stigmatized in Scandinavian cultures. The American perception has been positively influenced in recent history by popular films, which have had the biggest impact on increasing the ranks of male dancers. Over the years, films such as The Turning Point and White Nights have been influential and most recently Center Stage and Billy Elliot. I believe that dance companies and dance schools in the United States have to continue to do what they have been doing - reminding audiences and parents that dance is inclusive and equally challenging and fun for girls and boys.
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Q: How can we make dance more relevant to a society that is more interested in MTV and Riverdance?

A: The reality of the younger generation is that their attention span is very short. Our challenge is that art and dance can not be approached with a fast food mentality. I do believe that we can create programming that will entertain new audiences without diminishing its artistic value.
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Q: Will you commission new work for Boston Ballet?

A: Yes, a commissioned new work for Boston Ballet is of great interest, personally as well as institutionally. Realistically, it will not happen in my first year. I do hope though to begin the process in my first year that will lead to a commissioned work in the near future. One of the reasons I was excited to come to Boston Ballet is the fact that Christopher Wheeldon is Principal Guest Choreographer here. I've worked with Chris before, and look forward to developing new repertoire with him.
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Q: How would you define your artistic standards / aesthetic /sensibilities?

A: I have an appreciation for the highest of standards across many artistic genres and I incorporate these elements in my personal work ethic. I personally enjoy many of the performing and visual arts, and was influenced at an early age thanks to my parents. My father is a painter and my mother is a ceramic artist. My maternal grandfather played the clarinet for the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Helsinki and was educated at the Sibelius Academy. Personally, I am a great fan of Jessye Norman in recital and in opera. But my interests are not only in the classical realms. My favorite contemporary singer is David Bowie. I admire the work of Vermeer, Braque, Pollock, Luthi and Camille Claudel, but also the films of Pedro Almodóvar and David Lynch.
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PERSONAL
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Q: How were you exposed to dance as a child?

A: My curiosity led me there. I was in the fourth grade, in Helsinki, and some of my female classmates were taking dance instruction. I asked them if there were any boys in the class and they said that there were none and then suggested that I join, which I did. I also managed to bring along two of my friends, so all of a sudden there were three boys in class. I consider the fact that I convinced two of my unsuspecting
friends to join as one of my greatest achievements, even if one lasted 1.5years and the other only 4 years.
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Q: Who were your dance role models as a child?

A: Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
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Q: Who are your role models as an adult?

A: Nureyev's legacy continues to be an influence. I strongly believe in what Baryshnikov is doing with White Oak Dance Project and find his vision to be inspirational. Dominique Khalfouni of Paris Opera and Assylmurtorva of Kirov Ballet are also dancers I admire.
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Q: Are there any other dancers in your immediate family? Siblings, cousins, nieces, etc.

A: At this point, no. My younger brother is a professional photographer in Helsinki.
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Q: Are you married? Do you have children?

A: I am divorced and I have no children.
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Q: If dance is your greatest interest, what is a close second?

A: If I were not a dancer I would probably be a chef or a yoga instructor. I have a great interest in Italian cuisine, in art and architecture, psychology and philosophy, especially eastern philosophies. I have so many interests.
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Q: Who are your favorite classical choreographers?

A: Marius Petipa, George Balanchine, August Bournonville and Martha Graham.
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Q: Which living choreographers' work do you most admire?

A: I have tremendous respect for Pina Bausch, Christopher Bruce, Jiri Kylián, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon.
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Q: Is Mikko your full, first name or a nickname?

A: My complete first name is Mikko-Pekka, but I dropped Pekka when I was in my early twenties. I'm known just as Mikko. Mikko is the Finnish name for Michael.


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