Oklahoma City Ballet

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Oklahoma City Ballet
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General information
Name Oklahoma City Ballet
Previous names Oklahoma Civic City Ballet
Ballet Oklahoma
Founders Yvonne Chouteau
Miguel Terekhov
Principal venue Civic Center Music Hall
Senior staff
Executive Director Jo Lynne Jones
Company manager Stephanie Aaron
Artistic staff
Artistic Director Robert Mills
Ballet Master Miki Kawamura
Ronnie Underwood
Orchestra Oklahoma City Philharmonic
Official school The Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School

The Oklahoma City Ballet is a professional dance company and school located in Oklahoma City. The company began under the artistic direction of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancers Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov in the Science and Arts Foundation building on the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds,

Oklahoma City State capital city in Oklahoma, United States

Oklahoma City, often shortened to OKC, is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The county seat of Oklahoma County, the city ranks 27th among United States cities in population. The population grew following the 2010 Census, with the population estimated to have increased to 643,648 as of July 2017. As of 2018, the Oklahoma City metropolitan area had a population of 1,396,445, and the Oklahoma City-Shawnee Combined Statistical Area had a population of 1,469,124 residents, making it Oklahoma's largest metropolitan area.

Myra Yvonne Chouteau was one of the "Five Moons" or Native prima ballerinas of Oklahoma. She was the only child of Col. Corbett Edward and Lucy Arnett Chouteau. She was born March 7, 1929 in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1943, she became the youngest dancer ever accepted to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she worked for fourteen years, In 1962, she and her husband, Miguel Terekhov, founded the first fully accredited university dance program in the United States, the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma. A member of the Shawnee Tribe, she is also of ethnic French ancestry, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Maj. Jean Pierre Chouteau. From the Chouteau family of St. Louis, he established Oklahoma's oldest European-American settlement, at the present site of Salina, in 1796. She grew up in Vinita, Oklahoma.


Founded in 1963, Oklahoma City Ballet has been the city’s professional ballet company for over 40 years. [1] It is the resident dance company of the Civic Center Music Hall and as of 2017 has 31 dancers from around the world. Led by Artistic Director Robert Mills, the company produces 5 main stage productions per season in Oklahoma City and tours across Oklahoma and the surrounding states. The Oklahoma City Ballet also participates in a number of community outreach projects designed to provide dance education and experience throughout central Oklahoma. [2]


The company began in 1963 under the name Oklahoma City Civic Ballet, brought together by the foundation’s civic ballet committee and chief benefactors, Mr. and Mrs. John E. Kirkpatrick. [3]

The Oklahoma City Ballet Society was incorporated in 1967 to support the company. That same year the Ballet joined the newly formed Arts Council of Oklahoma City and performed in the first Festival of the Arts, celebrating Oklahoma’s 60th year of statehood.

In 1970 the Board of Trustees formed a new group, Oklahoma City Metropolitan Ballet Society and with the generous support of Vernon Pellow, Sr. the company began as the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Ballet with Yvonne Chouteau staying on as founding artistic director. Ballerina and Oklahoma native Maria Tallchief worked together with Ms. Chouteau to audition dancers for the company.

Maria Tallchief American ballerina

Elizabeth Marie "Betty" Tall Chief was an American ballerina. She was considered America's first major prima ballerina, and was the first Native American to hold the rank.

Yvonne Chouteau was succeeded by New York City Ballet principal dancers Conrad and Joy Ludlow, who directed the Company from 1973–1979. The Ludlow’s founded the company’s affiliate school and joined Oklahoma City's Allied Arts organization. During this time the Company and School used studios on the campus of Oklahoma City University and performed at the Kirkpatrick Theater also on the OCU campus.

New York City Ballet American ballet company

New York City Ballet (NYCB) is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company. Léon Barzin was the company's first music director. City Ballet grew out of earlier troupes: the Producing Company of the School of American Ballet, 1934; the American Ballet, 1935, and Ballet Caravan, 1936, which merged into American Ballet Caravan, 1941; and directly from the Ballet Society, 1946.

Conrad Ludlow American ballet dancer

Conrad Ludlow is a former principal dancer with New York City Ballet under George Balanchine. He also danced at San Francisco Ballet and founded and directed Ballet Oklahoma. He is currently a professor at the University of Utah's ballet department. Several of Balanchine's works were created on Ludlow, including Emeralds, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ludlow partnered such dancers as Allegra Kent and Violette Verdy while at New York City Ballet.

Oklahoma City University American university

Oklahoma City University (OCU) is a private university historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church and located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In 1979 American Ballet Theatre dancers Bojan Spassoff and Stephanie Wolf-Spassoff assumed direction of the Company. This was the beginning of the change from a civic company to a semi-professional company which was now performing three productions plus The Nutcracker in a season. In 1980 the company name was changed to Ballet Oklahoma and in the spring of 1981 the company moved into a newly renovated facility. The building was donated by Robert Hefner, III and a campaign to raise funds for renovations was chaired by Ann Simmons Alspaugh. Rand Elliott provided the architectural design and the renovations were completed by Bill McNatt Construction.

American Ballet Theatre ballet company

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) is a classical ballet company based in New York City. It has an annual eight-week season at the Metropolitan Opera House in the spring and a shorter season at the David H. Koch Theater in the fall; the company tours around the world the rest of the year. ABT was founded in 1939 by Lucia Chase and Richard Pleasant and is recognized as one of the world's leading classical ballet companies. ABT is the parent company of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, and was recognized as "America's National Ballet Company" in 2006 by the United States Congress.

<i>The Nutcracker</i> Tchaikovsky ballet

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King".

In 1983 New York City Ballet dancer Edward Villella joined the company as artistic director and directed the company for three seasons, bringing the work of George Balanchine into the repertory. In 1986 Dallas Ballet dancers Bryan Pitts and Laura Flagg-Pitts joined the company as artistic director and assistant to the director respectively. During the Pitts’ tenure, the company instituted its annual Artsreach program to bring students from across the state to the Civic Center for a live ballet performance. This program received the Governor’s Arts Award in 1997.

In 2008 the Board of Trustees appointed dancer, choreographer and former Ballet Nouveau Colorado director Robert Mills the new artistic director. That same year the name of the company was changed to Oklahoma City Ballet. In 2017 the name of the affiliate school was changed to The Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School thanks to a generous endowment gift from Kirkpatrick Philanthropies. Also in 2017, the company moved into a new state of the art, 29,000 square foot facility designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Architects. [4]


Oklahoma City Ballet’s repertory includes works by George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Anthony Tudor, Nacho Duato, Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, Jessica Lang, Nicolo Fonte, Stanton Welch, Perrot, Coralli, Fokine, Petipa, Bournonville and Artistic Director Robert Mills. Oklahoma City Ballet has also presented special dance attractions as part of its role in serving the community. In the past, it has sponsored performances by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, the San Francisco Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. [4]

The Oklahoma City Ballet tours regionally and is the resident dance company of the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City.


The Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School is Oklahoma's only American Ballet Theatre certified school and teaches the A.B.T National Training Curriculum. Its faculty have all trained within the curriculum and have passed examinations to become certified instructors of the curriculum [5] The school trains students who wish to become professional ballet dancers, and recreational students. Students trained in the school have been regularly accepted into summer sessions and advanced classes at the School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet and others. Former students have gone on to professional careers with the American Ballet Theatre, Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, David Parsons Dance and the Oklahoma City Ballet itself.

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  1. Anderson, Jack. "Yvonne Chouteau, Native American Ballerina, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  2. "Community Outreach". Oklahoma City Ballet. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  3. "Oklahoma City Ballet Nonprofit Profile". GiveSmartOKC. Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  4. 1 2 "History". Oklahoma City Ballet. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  5. "School". Oklahoma City Ballet. Retrieved 5 March 2017.