Artistic Staff

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    Spring Newsletter

    Are you excited about the spring recital at the DECC?

    Do you know where to drop off your children, or what time their rehearsal is?

    Download our spring 2017 newsletter to receive everything you need to know about the recital, May 12th.

    Parents! Click here to download the Spring Newsletter 2017. It has important info about how to prepare for the Spring Recital at the DECC.

    Dance Day at the Depot

    Sunday April 30 Warm-up for all dancers 11:30-12:30 Depot studio I – Erin

    Ballet IV-Year 1 (dismiss at 12:10): 12:15-12:30 – Nancy
    Ballet IV-Year 2 (dismiss at 12:25): 12:30-12:45 – Nancy
    Ballet VI/VII-Friends: 12:45-1:00 – Suzie
    Ballet V-Year 2: 1:00-1:15 – Erin
    Athletic Dance: 1:15-1:30 – Nik
    Ballet V-Year 1: 1:30-1:45 – Erin
    Lec/Dem: 1:45-2:00 – Erin
    Special Technique: 2:00-2:20 – Linda

    Stage free from 2:20-3:00. Performance starts at 3:00
    Lecture Demonstration-Ballet V-Year 1
    Special Technique
    Ballet IV-Year 1
    Ballet IV-Year 2
    Ballet V-Year 1
    Ballet V-Year 2
    Athletic Dance
    Coppélia Friends Excerpt VI/VII
    Social Dance

    Read More
  • Artistic Staff
    Robert Gardner—Artistic Executive Director
    Allen Fields—Artistic Director Emeritus
    Kenneth Pogin—Technical Director/Tour Manager
    Sandra Ehle—Costume Designer/Wardrobe Supervisor
    Cheryl Podtburg—Stage Manager
    Elena Knezevich—Company Pianist

    Minnesota Ballet Orchestra with conductor Mark Whitlock

    Minnesota Ballet Photography courtesy of Jeff Frey Photography



    Robert Gardner

    Artistic Executive Director


    A native Virginian, Mr. Gardner began his studies with Mavis Ray of the Royal Ballet and studied on scholarship to the North Carolina School of the Arts and the School of American Ballet in New York. He spent a dance career performing with such companies as the Joffrey II Dancers, Joffrey Ballet, Cleveland San Jose Ballet, and Eglevsky Ballet, dancing in works by renowned choreographers including Antony Tudor, Sir Frederick Ashton, Robert Joffrey, Choo-San Goh, George Balanchine, Lar Lubovitch, Agnes de Mille, David Lichine, José Limón, Léonide Massine. Mr. Gardner danced with such luminaries as Rudolf Nureyev in the Edinburgh Festival, Cynthia Gregory when she was a guest artist in the Cleveland Ballet’s Nutcracker and Swan Lake, and in a special gala hosted by Beverly Sills at Alice Tully Hall in New York. He appeared a guest artist with the Houston Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera in New York.

    Mr. Gardner came to the Minnesota Ballet in 1992 and became Artistic Director in 2007. In addition to staging the major classical ballets and pas de deux, he has choreographed such acclaimed works as Sleeping Beauty, which the News Tribune declared, “further entrenches the Minnesota Ballet as a national source for repertory that is faithful to tradition.” His Carnival of the Animals was pronounced “delightful” and “simply grand fun,” his A Midsummer Night’s Dream “luscious and utterly charming,” and his Dracula “a bloody good time.” His visceral contemporary ballet Recurrent Stages, set to an original score by Ryan Homsey played live by the “Music to You” String Quartet of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, was featured in a documentary on The PlayList on WDSE•WRPT Channel 8.

    In the Northland he has choreographed for the Festival Opera, Lyric Opera of the North, Rite of Spring and Scheherazade in collaboration with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, Pirates of Penzance in collaboration with UMD’s School of Fine Arts and the Duluth Playhouse for the 2010 Tall Ships Festival, Into the Woods for the Duluth Playhouse, and Les Misérables in collaboration with the Playhouse and the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra. In summer 2016 he choreographed for Steerage Song, produced by the Duluth Playhouse and presented at Big Top Chautauqua.

    He has taught master classes at the University of Minnesota; UMD: Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana; Park Point University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and at Yale University for A Different Drum Dance Company. He has choreographed for the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet; for the Columbus Youth Ballet, who presented his works three times at the Youth America Grand Prix in New York City; and for Ball State Dance Theatre, who presented his work at the American College Dance Festival, among other venues.

    Mr. Gardner has received an Excellence in the Arts & Sciences Award from the Saint Louis County Board of Commissioners and the Lifetime Artist Award from the Depot Foundation. He has served on the State Arts Board Panel for the Arts in Education Roster of Artists and the Panel for Arts Learning.



    Allen15Allen Fields

    Artistic Director Emeritus

    Mr. Fields served fifteen years as Artistic Director of the Minnesota Ballet, 1992–2007, bringing the company into national prominence. The Ballet continues to perform works he created during his tenure.

    In December 2009, Mr. Fields premiered his production of The Nutcracker set in Manhattan, where he had trained as a dancer. Since his tenure at the Minnesota Ballet, Mr. Fields has taken on many dance projects. He completed a national commercial for Make Visual Minneapolis for the Lung Cancer Foundation of America, produced several full-length shows for Children’s Dance Theatre in Rochester, Minnesota, including the multi-media Alice in Wonderland; traveled to China as casting dance director for Broadway Asia; established Allen Fields Classical Ballet & Training for elite ballet students in Rochester. He is now on staff at Ballet Academy East in Manhattan, one of the finest ballet academies in New York City.

    Among Mr. Fields’ many honors are the Lifetime Artist Award from the Depot Foundation and the George Morrison Artist Award from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council.



    Artistic Technical Staff

    Kenneth Pogin – Technical Director /Tour Manager
    Since joining the Minnesota Ballet in 1997 in his role of Production Manager and Lighting Designer Ken has garnered high praise for his lighting. The Duluth News Tribune applauded him for his “blue velvet lighting” and more recently for his lighting in Madame Butterfly: “The lights even have their big number at the end of Act Two…The sun sets, the moon rises, the stars come out and slowly start to fade — a veritable dance of lights.” Ken’s highest praise comes from the Minnesota Ballet’s Northern Lights that attracted attention from Alaska to come produce the Northern Lights for a tourist attraction. “In all our search, your lighting was the closest we’ve ever seen to reproducing the real Northern Lights,” they said. Ken’s set construction blueprints for the 2001 production of Three Virgins and a Devil are on permanent record with the Agnes de Mille Estate in New York. Ken’s pyrotechnic career has allowed him to work with David Copperfield, Carrot Top, Toby Keith, Godsmack, Poison, and Quiet Riot among others. Ken also enjoys being the Technical Director and Lighting Designer for the Duluth Festival Opera since 2006, as well as with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra for its Pops Concerts. Other companies he has worked with are the New York City Opera, The Acting Company, and Ballet Oklahoma. Ken was nominated for an Upper Midwest Emmy in Lighting Design in 2014.

    Sandra Ehle – Costume Designer/Wardrobe Supervisor

    The designer for the premiering Firebird, Sandra has served as Designer/Wardrobe Supervisor since 1998. Her dramatic designs for Dracula in 2011 were noted by the Duluth News Tribune. Known for her art of sewing in costume construction, in 2009 she took on her most ambitious project: creating more than one hundred costumes for the Ballet’s Manhattan Nutcracker, including tutus, Party Scene dresses constructed from original vintage patterns, and designs made by draping with no patterns. Sandra has designed and created costumes for many Minnesota Ballet works including Robert Gardner’s premiering Dracula, Balanchine’s Apollo and Who Cares?, Allen Fields’ Rough Cut Swing, and Penelope Freeh’s Flying over Greenland. She has worked with movie costume designers in Walt Disney Productions’ Iron Will and Twentieth Century Fox’s Good Son and designed for Baltimore Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus. Locally Sandra has designed for the Duluth Festival Opera’s Madame Butterfly and UMD’s production of L’Elisir d’Amore. Some of her memorable moments were creating costumes for Fields’ choreography to Old Turtle, the book illustrated by watercolorist Cheng-Khee Chee, performed in the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra’s concert, and for the Duluth Playhouse production of Cats. She designs for two Florida ballets: Rogelio Corrales and Lydia Oquendo’s St. Lucie Ballet and Colleen’s Smith’s professional ballet company, Ballet Palm Beach.


    Cheryl Podtburg – Stage Manager/Projects Coordinator
    Cheryl has served as Stage Manager for the Minnesota Ballet since 2005. She holds technical theater degrees from Cottey College in Missouri and the University of Minnesota Duluth. Before coming to the Minnesota Ballet, Cheryl toured with the Italian American Festival’s production of Guys and Dolls in Italy. Other groups she has worked with are Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, The Spencers Theatre of Illusion, Riders in the Sky, and the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America. Cheryl has created masks and props for the Minnesota Ballet, including masks for the Mice and the Nutcracker in The Nutcracker, Puck’s tree and Bottom’s donkey mask for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the masks for the Monsters in Firebird.

    The position of Projects Coordinator was established in part by the Community Opportunity Fund of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.