Alberta Ballet finds new artistic director Down Under

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After a global search, Alberta Ballet has found its next artistic director, an Italian choreographer with world experience in both classical and contemporary ballet.

Coming from Australia where he co-founded the Sydney Choreographic Centre, Francesco Ventriglia will arrive in early January in time for rehearsals of Alberta Ballet’s March and May performances — Hansel and Gretel, followed by Der Wolf and The Rite of Spring. 

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“I am thrilled and deeply honoured to join Alberta Ballet as the next artistic director. Having come to know this company, I eagerly anticipate collaborating with its remarkably talented artists. I am grateful for this opportunity to bring to fruition some incredible dreams alongside the company, where we can honour the past while crafting an extraordinary future together.” 

Ventriglia got his start as a dancer at La Scala in Milan, before creating a diverse repertoire for the Ballet School of La Scala, his own company Heliopolis and other freelance works. He has had works performed internationally by companies such as Arena di Verona, Bolshoi Theatre, the Mariinsky Ballet, Grande Théâtre du Genève, Royal New Zealand Ballet, the National Ballet of Uruguay and at the Venice Biennale. 

Francesco Ventriglia is Alberta Ballet’s new artistic director. Courtesy, Damiano Mongelli cal

He was artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet from 2014 to 2017, and it was there that he created a newly staged, longer version of his work Wizard of Oz. The production toured New Zealand and was seen by more than 38,000 people in its first season. Well received by audiences and critics alike, the production is regarded as one of the most successful productions created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

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Ventriglia is well-known in the dance world as an advocate for ballet and Italian dance, and has a foot in both modern and classical styles.

In New Zealand, he created a new full-length ballet, Romeo and Juliet; Midsummer Night’s Dream; Jago; Immemoria, a work for 40 dancers to music by Shostakovich; and Sed lux permanent – Transit umbra, to music by Schoenberg, for the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève.

But he also embraces contemporary works. His own Heliopolis Company made its debut at the Venice Biennale in 2007, with a new piece, Il Mare in Catena (The Sea in Chains), an investigation of eroticism and physical disability, which was nominated for the Golden Lion. The following year he created a new work, Normale, which explored the concept of love and mental health.

“Francesco brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, and Albertans can look forward to a new chapter with more of Alberta Ballet’s high-quality, inspirational programming,” said Alberta Ballet board chair Heather Rae.

Ventriglia replaces Christopher Anderson, who parted ways with the company after only one year as artistic director. He had been with Alberta Ballet in various roles since 2015 and assumed the title for the 2022-23 season after a three-year transition from longtime artistic director Jean Grand-Maitre, who had helmed the ballet for 20 years. 

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