Roy Kaiser announced that he is stepping down as The Ruth and A. Morris Williams, Jr., Artistic Director of Pennsylvania Ballet. Mr. Kaiser has been with Pennsylvania Ballet for 35 years, first as a dancer, and after a series of promotions, as Artistic Director since 1995.
“I feel the culmination of our successful 50th Anniversary Season is an appropriate time for me to step down and transition the Company over to new artistic leadership,” Mr. Kaiser says. “I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to the dancers, orchestra, and staff of Pennsylvania Ballet who have openly shared their artistry and skill throughout the years to make this company what it is today. I would also like to thank our audience. Their constant and enthusiastic support has been an inspiration.”
“Pennsylvania Ballet would not be one of the premier ballet companies in the country today without the artistic direction of Roy Kaiser for the past 19 years,” says David Hoffman, Co-Chair of Pennsylvania Ballet’s Board of Trustees.
“When Roy took over as Artistic Director, the Company was fighting for its life. Roy’s commitment to expanding the repertoire and creating new works not only increased the Ballet’s profile, but also led to what I view as the Company’s finest moment under my Chairmanship – the international debut at The Edinburgh International Festival,” adds Louise Reed, Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees has formed a search committee to identify the new Artistic Director with the assistance of Michael Kaiser (no relation) of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. Roy Kaiser will continue to serve as Artistic Director until the new Artistic Director is identified and hired, following which he will assume the title of Artistic Director Emeritus.
Roy Kaiser has been committed to presenting an eclectic and diverse repertoire to audiences while continuing to nurture the Company’s Balanchine legacy. Throughout his tenure, the Company has added 90 new works to its repertoire, including 34 World Premieres and 56 Company Premieres. Under his direction, the Company’s trainee program, Pennsylvania Ballet II, was formed in 2002, and The School of Pennsylvania Ballet opened in 2012. In addition to its Philadelphia seasons, the Company has enjoyed successful tours to venues such as The Edinburgh International Festival, The Sintra Festival in Portugal, New York City Center, The Kennedy Center, and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. This summer, Pennsylvania Ballet will return to The Kennedy Center for the fifth time under Roy Kaiser’s direction to present Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In July, the Company is invited to debut at the prestigious Vail International Dance Festival, performing Balanchine’s Rubies.
Roy Kaiser’s professional dance career started when he was seven years old and entertained audiences with his four brothers on television and across the United States. He began his ballet training at age 17 and earned a scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet School. He joined Pennsylvania Ballet in 1979 and was subsequently promoted to Soloist and Principal Dancer. In 1987, while still performing, he was appointed Assistant Ballet Master and then Ballet Master in 1992 when he retired from dancing. In 1993, he was named Associate Artistic Director under Christopher d’Amboise. He became Interim Artistic Director upon Mr. d’Amboise’s departure in 1994 and succeeded him as Artistic Director in February 1995, following a national and international search.