2021/2022 Season > Artistic Directors
With stellar credentials in performing, teaching, and staging ballets, Colleen Neary brought a wealth of professional experience and expertise when she and her husband, Thordal Christensen, co-founded Los Angeles Ballet in 2004. Born in Miami, Florida, Neary trained in New York at the School of American Ballet and at Harkness House for Ballet Arts. She danced as a soloist with New York City Ballet from 1969 to 1979. George Balanchine personally selected her to stage his ballets for other companies as Répétiteur for The George Balanchine Trust, which is the official guardian of the choreographer’s style and celebrated choreography.
Neary’s career path led her to Europe in 1979, where she was Rehearsal Director and Choreographic Assistant with Zurich Ballet. She also performed internationally as a Guest Artist and staged Rudolf Nureyev’s full-length Don Quixote and Manfred throughout Europe. In 1984, Maurice Béjart recruited her as Guest Principal Artist and Company Teacher for his Ballet du Deuxième Siècle. Neary returned to the U.S. in 1986, joining Pacific Northwest Ballet as Principal Dancer. In 1992, she began a decade with The Royal Danish Ballet as Rehearsal Director, Company Teacher and First Instructor in charge of productions.
In 2002, Neary and Christensen moved to Los Angeles and responded to the need for a resident professional ballet company. Since the company’s 2006 debut, Neary and Christensen have co-choreographed an original Nutcracker production set in 1912 Los Angeles, as well as other full-length classics. They have commissioned new contemporary choreography, and presented ballets by 20th century masters, including more than 20 of Balanchine’s ballets. As a Répétiteur, Neary remains in demand, continuing to stage Balanchine ballets for major U.S. and international ballet companies. Her commitment to ballet education also resulted in co-founding Los Angeles Ballet School and Los Angeles Ballet’s many community outreach programs.
Colleen Neary Artistic Director
Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Thordal Christensen trained at The Royal Danish Ballet School and at the School of American Ballet in New York. He had a successful performing career with three of the world’s major ballet companies in Europe and in the U.S. and eventually established his credentials as a choreographer. Christensen served as artistic director of The Royal Danish Ballet and The Royal Danish Ballet School, where he was praised for artistic leadership, developing new choreography, cultivating young talent, and his commitment to dance education.
After moving to Los Angeles in 2002, Christensen noticed the city’s lack of a professional resident ballet company, and in 2004, he drew on his extensive experience to co-found Los Angeles Ballet with his wife Colleen Neary. The company debuted in 2006 with its original production of The Nutcracker, which was set in 1912 Los Angeles. It was presented in five theaters throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. As Co-Artistic Directors, Christensen and Neary have steered the company through 16 seasons, establishing multiple home venues and building a repertoire of full-length classics, including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Don Quixote (also choreographed by Christensen and Neary).
Christensen and Neary have led Los Angeles Ballet by commissioning new choreography, and presenting contemporary masterpieces by Christopher Wheeldon, Lar Lubovitch, Jiri Kylián and George Balanchine, and offering free educational outreach programs for the community. Concurrently, the couple founded Los Angeles Ballet School, which has offered training to a new generation of dancers.
Thordal Christensen Artistic Director
LOS ANGELES BALLET
Learn about the comprehensive and varied seasons of Los Angeles Ballet since its debut in 2006. Repertoire includes superb stagings of Balanchine repertory, stylistically meticulous classical ballets, and commissioned contemporary works by renowned local and international choreographers.