Artistic director of Northern Ballet steps down after 20 years at the helm

The longest serving artistic director at Northern Ballet has announced that he will be stepping down after 20 years in the role.

By Emma Ryan
Saturday, 29th May 2021, 4:45 am

Canadian born, David Nixon OBE said that his decision had been influenced by the time away due to the COVID pandemic and that it was time to allow someone new to take the role.

Sir David Wootton, chairman of Northern Ballet said Mr Nixon had transformed the Northern Ballet into the "internationally-renowned, commercially-thriving company" that is now is.

Under Mr Nixon's leadership, the Northern Ballet moved from West Park into its purpose-built headquarters in Quarry Hill in 2010 which allowed for more dancers, more studios and the development of the Academy of Northern Ballet.

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David Nixon OBE outside the Northern Ballet.

He took up the post of artistic director of Northern Ballet in 2001 and since then 29 full-length ballets and 23 one-act works have been added to the repertoire, as well as 14 original full-length musical compositions.

As a choreographer and designer, David has created 13 original full-length ballets for Northern Ballet, including Wuthering Heights, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Great Gatsby and The Little Mermaid, and has restaged and adapted a further six productions.

Multiple Northern Ballet productions have been shown on TV, and the Company made its cinema debut during his tenure, with several works including children’s ballets shown in cinemas nationally and internationally. In October 2019 David Nixon’s Dracula became the first Northern Ballet production to be live-streamed to cinemas.

Supporting the work of young choreographers, Mr Nixon has also commissioned eight full-length works including first full-length commissions to talents such as Cathy Marston (A Tale of Two Cities, Jane Eyre, Victoria) and Kenneth Tindall (Casanova, Geisha). He has given Northern Ballet’s young dancers opportunities for their choreographic debuts with children’s ballets, mixed programmes and choreographic labs and most recently he has supported Northern Ballet’s growing digital platform.

Tobias Batley as Jay Gatsby with Martha Leebolt as Daisy in David Nixon's The Great Gatsby. Northern Ballet photo by Jason Tozer.

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"I wish to thank the Board for the opportunity they have afforded me for over 20 years of directing Northern Ballet and I am grateful to all those who have worked for Northern Ballet, our supporters and audience members, without whose support nothing would have been possible. Finally, my deep gratitude for the extraordinary, never-failing support of my wife, without whom I could never have done any of this."

Sir David Wootton added: "David took the legacy of Christopher Gable and built on it to transform Northern Ballet into the internationally-renowned, commercially-thriving company it is, recognised around the world for artistic excellence. David’s talent as an artistic leader and the loyalty and dedication he has created in his dancers is shown by the cohesion and performance levels which the Company has maintained during the pandemic and which will be evident when we return to performing on 1 June."

Mr Nixon will leave his post on December 1 and Northern Ballet says it will begin the process to recruit a new Artistic Director shortly.

David Nixon at the home of the Northern Ballet.

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