Minnesota Ballet is the premier classical ballet company in the Northland.
We have provided high-quality performances, pre-professional ballet training, and lively outreach programs for over 55 years.
Whether from our permanent home in Duluth, Minnesota or on our annual Midwest tours, we offer audiences vibrant new versions of classic works, faithful interpretations of masterpieces by legendary artists, and new commissions from established and emerging choreographers in a variety of dance styles.
A History of Artistic Excellence
Where innovation, diversity, and inclusion richly nourish the art of dance.
In December 1965, twenty ballet supporters in the Duluth area formed a board of directors, with Jan Gibson as the first president, establishing the Duluth Civic Ballet with the intention of providing excellent instruction in ballet.
The board had funded the means to hire the Ballet’s first professional resident director, George Montague, formerly the choreographer and a principal dancer with the Illinois Ballet.
The Ballet dropped “Civic” from its name, reflecting the growing professionalism of the company.
The Ballet celebrates its growth into a professional touring company with significant artistic assets and a growing national reputation.
The Ballet’s fortunes hit its lowest in the 1982-1983 season, with no professional dancers and only the school to sustain the Ballet. Jon Benoit, who had choreographed for the San Francisco Dance Theater and the Nederlands Dans Theater, was hired as artist-in-residence and staged a chamber performance in March danced by himself and advanced students.
The Ballet was revived in 1983, with the hiring of German-born Gernot Petzold, who hired six professional dancers for the company and established an eight-member junior company of advanced students. A former member of the repertory company of the American Ballet Theatre, Petzold served as artistic director for the next five years, choreographing many stark, modern pieces in a minimalist style, such as Oma and GlaCaGla. In his tenure, the Minnesota Ballet made its Twin Cities debut in October 1986 at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium.
The Ballet hired the new artistic director, Allen Fields, who had been a principal dancer with the Cleveland San Jose Ballet and a guest dancer with international experience. During his tenure—the longest in the Ballet’s history—the Ballet staged for the first time such historic favorites as Swan Lake Act II, Coppélia, and Giselle Act II; as well as repertory pieces in diverse styles from ballroom to jazz, to swing.
Just prior to its 40th anniversary the Ballet won the right to perform Balanchine’s world-renowned Apollo.
Under the leadership of artistic director, Robert Gardner, the Ballet premiered such productions as his A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Firebird, Carnival of the Animals, and the contemporary ballet Recurrent Stages, with original music by composer Ryan Homsey, and his full-length Swan Lake.
The Ballet celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Gala Performance featuring works from its five decades.
As its new Artistic Director the Ballet hired Karl von Rabenau, who had studied at School of the Minnesota Ballet and served as guest instructor in the summer term for the previous twenty years. Von Rabenau danced as a soloist with the Milwaukee Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Ballet Omaha. After retiring from his professional career, Von Rabenau sought a full-time pursuit to teach dance, his personal passion.
Like many arts organizations, the Ballet temporarily closed its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
From that first board and a score of enthusiastic citizens, the dream has continued to grow. The community founded the Ballet. The community has sustained it for decades, and remains a valued part of Minnesota Ballet as it moves upward in its second century of excellent dance, education, outreach, and performance.
We Are The Ballet
Meet our current students, faculty, staff, and board of directors.
Company Dancer sponsored by Morgana and Leroy Kolenda
Company Dancer sponsored by Jonathan Reznick
Company Dancer sponsored by Claudia von Wilpert
Company Dancer sponsored by Story North Productions
Company Dancer sponsored by Patricia Salo Downs
Company Dancer sponsored by Ed Schumacher
Company Dancer sponsored by Betsy Holcomb
Company Dancer sponsored by Pamela and Ryan Arola
Sean M. Sullivan
Company Dancer sponsored by Mary and Joe Gummerson
Sr. Apprentice sponsored by Pamela and Ryan Arola
Company Dancer sponsored by Jack and Cindy Seiler
Apprentice sponsored by Pamela Nelson
Apprentice sponsored by Betsy Holcomb
Apprentice sponsored by Patricia Salo Downs
Apprentice sponsored by Shawn and Rachel Cefalu
Apprentice sponsored by Jayme Hartman
Apprentice sponsored by Jayme Hartman
Apprentice sponsored by Eric Huie
Apprentice sponsored by Penny Darling
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and diverse artists.