The Washington Ballet, dance company member, Washington, D.C.
The Washington Ballet incorporated in 1976 after the School’s founding by the legendary Mary Day in 1944, is an artistic force in the nation’s capital. Under the direction of Executive Director Peter Branch and Artistic Director Septime Webre, the Ballet continues fulfilling its three part mission of bringing the joy and artistry of dance to Washington, DC, providing high quality dance training, and serving and involving the entire community.
1. Describe your organization’s mission and its work in 3 adjectives. Please explain the adjectives you selected.
Creativity is at the heart of everything we do. The Washington Ballet has a fierce commitment to propel the art form of ballet forward and to showcase the fidelity of our traditions in bold new ways.
The pursuit of excellence is embedded in the three parts of our mission – the Company, the School, and Community Engagement programs all make up the DNA of The Washington Ballet.
The Washington Ballet is committed to its outreach programs, and we work to ensure every aspect of our institution engages the DC Metro community, from students to adults, in all we do.
2. What inspires the work of your organization and why?
We are inspired by young dancers receiving the highest caliber of dance training and reaching their full potential; we are inspired by daring performances by our professional Company and challenging their artistry; we are inspired by the tens of thousands of young people exposed to the art of ballet every year through our community engagement programs.
3. What accomplishment from the past year is your organization most proud of and eager to share with Dance/USA’s membership and the field at large?
The Washington Ballet has continued to create new ballets that contribute to the dance canon. We are proud of our commitment to create new works and have presented numerous world premieres each year for the last several seasons.
During our most recent season, more people came to see the Ballet than any previous year; in particular, Septime Webre’s ALICE (in Wonderland) broke all box office records for the organization at the Kennedy Center.
Under the successful direction of School Director Kee Juan Han, The Washington School of Ballet (TWSB) has grown in recent years from a school of 340 students to over 900 students today. Additionally, TWSB was awarded the Best School Award from the Youth America Grand Prix.
Sydney Wiggins from the Ballet School’s Southeast campus in Ward 8 was accepted to the prominent Duke Ellington School of Performing Arts with a focus in dance. Wiggins began her dancing career at THEARC seven years ago, and we are very proud of her accomplishments.
4. Where do you see dance in the future and how does your organization fit within that vision?
We humans have been dancing before we could talk and will always communicate with our bodies and thus our future is assured. Ballet is a pliant and pliable language, and it’s vital that this language evolve to remain compelling as a means of communication. The Washington Ballet is hard at work helping to ensure our language remains current.
5. As an organization, what do you hope your dance legacy to be?
We hope to support the dance makers of the future through aggressive commission projects; we hope to deliver beautifully trained dancers to the field from TWSB; and we hope to expose more people to the art of ballet through our community engagement activities.