Miami City Ballet Welcomes New Leadership This Spring

Miami City Ballet Welcomes New Leadership This Spring

As Miami City Ballet's new fiscal year kicks off on May 1, new leaders will take the helm to continue the growth of one of South Florida's major cultural institutions.

Michael Tiknis, who led the Harris Theater of Music and Dance in Chicago for 13 seasons, joins the Company as the interim executive director following the departure of Michael Scolamiero in April. Laura Hood Babcock has been hired as the new director of marketing, sales and communications with a diverse background as both a marketing executive and a professional ballet dancer.

"We thank Michael Scolamiero for his hard work during his three years of service to Miami City Ballet. We will miss him and wish him great success," says Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez. "Michael Tiknis is an internationally recognized arts leader in the performing arts world and we are thrilled for him to be joining the team as interim executive director," said Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, "With intellect, wit, enormous energy and experience, he successfully took a brand new modern performance venue in downtown Chicago built in 2003 and created one of the leading national and international presenting theaters. Michael and I have been collaborating since I formed Morphoses with Christopher Wheeldon and most recently during Miami City Ballet's 2016 tour to the Harris Theater, including the Brian Brooks commission for this coming season. I am looking forward to working with him side by side."

Board of Trustees Chairman Kristi Jernigan, who also officially began her tenure on May 1, adds, "To begin my tenure as Chair of the Board of Trustees, with the company in the capable hands of Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez and Interim Executive Director Michael Tiknis gives me great pleasure and confidence that we will expand our national leadership within the ballet world. Michael is joining Miami City Ballet at an exciting and pivotal time. His success in audience development and vast experience in non-profit leadership and fundraising will be invaluable to us as we implement the strategic plan we have recently completed. Michael's love of the art form and his dedication to Miami City Ballet will be an inspiration for all of us who serve as Trustees."

"The goal of every professional in our field is to support an authentic and singular artistic vision," said Michael Tiknis. "Being able to work with someone with the generosity of spirit and understanding of dance that Lourdes Lopez embodies is a privilege. As Artistic Director, Lourdes builds upon the solid foundation of Miami City Ballet and its founders, but ultimately opens a new window into the future of dance as an important influence in our society. I am thrilled and honored to be able to be a part of this exciting moment in the history of this Company."

"I am delighted to combine my passion and experience in both marketing and ballet in a role with Miami City Ballet- a gem of a ballet company," said Laura Babcock. "To be able to work with Lourdes Lopez, one of the people I respect most in the dance world, combined with the expertise and energy of Michael Tiknis and Kristi Jernigan is inspirational."

About Michael Tiknis:

Tiknis was the first president and managing director of the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago - guiding the artistic and organizational vision of the Harris Theater since 2004. Working together with the Theater's Board and staff, he managed the Theater's mission of partnership and collaboration with an array of Chicago's performing arts organizations. Under his leadership, the Harris became a home to some of the city's world-renowned music and dance institutions, such as Hubbard Street Dance, Lyric Opera and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The Harris has also produced several commissions given directly to artists to support the creation of new works on diverse subjects. Tiknis creaTEd Harris Theater Presents, a series of acclaimed performances by national and international companies including a historic Paris Opera Ballet performance and simulcast in 2012 reaching more than 16,000 people in Millennium Park. He initiated a strong collaboration with the Lyric Opera of Chicago to introduce the Beyond the Aria series pairing internally renowned opera stars with performers from the Ryan Opera Center. In support of his vision to develop and foster a young arts audience, Tiknis crafted the successful Mix at 6 series - a cocktail hour performance showcasing International Artists for as little as $10 a ticket.

In 2016, Tiknis appointed Brian Brooks as the theater's first ever Choreographer in Residence with three new commissions to be set for several dance companies across the country - one of which is Miami City Ballet. Brooks' commission will have its world premiere on Feb. 9 during Program Three of MCB's 2017-18 season.

Tiknis previously held the position of President/CEO of the Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan as well as Managing Director of the Virginia Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and Houston's Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre. In addition, he has worked as Marketing and Public Relations Director with the San Antonio Symphony and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and its May Festival.

He has served on the music panel for the United States Artists recognizing the country's most accomplished and innovative artists. He has also demonstrated his commitment to the industry by serving on panels, teaching at the college level, and acting as consultant for organizations across the country.

Tiknis did his undergraduate study at Seton Hall University and has pursued graduate coursework at Catholic University of America and at New School University. He was recently a Roman Nomitch Fellow of the Harvard Business School Club of Chicago, and a participant in Harvard's Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management seminar.

About Laura Babcock:

Laura Hood Babcock joins Miami City Ballet with a diverse background as both a marketing executive and a professional ballet dancer at a world class level.

Babcock's ballet training began in San Diego, California and her professional ballet career began at the age of 15 with the San Diego Ballet. She danced with The Eglevsky Ballet (under the direction of Edward Villella), The Cleveland Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and with American Ballet Theatre (under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov), where she performed principal, soloist and corps de ballet roles.

After her dance career, Babcock pursued a liberal arts degree from Dickinson College and graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in American Studies. She began her marketing work as a Marketing Coordinator for The Carlisle Project- a choreography workshop created by Barbara Weisberger, founder and director emeritus of Pennsylvania Ballet, and also received a Pennsylvania Arts Council Artist in Transition Grant. The grant allowed Babcock to move from marketing focused on the arts to a corporate career with large marketing technology firms.

As a marketing executive, Babcock specialized in digital and database marketing best practices, campaign development, sales targeting tactics, content development and communications strategies for Fortune 500 companies. Babcock's work has been published in Chief Marketing Officer magazine and Seventeen magazine as well as other industry new sites and publications. She has led marketing efforts for: Epsilon, a division of Alliance Data; Aprimo, a marketing software provider; Acxiom, a database marketing provider, and has independently worked on large-scale projects for the IBM marketing suite and its partner companies.

Recently, Laura served as the Artistic Associate for Ballet Arkansas where she guided the company's professional dancers in their day-to-day training and performance preparation, directed Ballet Arkansas' annual production of "The Nutcracker," adding new choreographic elements, and working directly with the creative team. Laura also headed the organization's marketing and public relations campaigns.

Laura is the wife of a career U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant and the mother of three grown boys.

About Miami City Ballet:

Miami City Ballet, entering its 32nd season, continues to build upon its growing national presence as what The New York Times calls "an exceptional troupe, by Balanchine standards, anywhere in the world." Led by Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez since 2012, MCB was founded in 1985 by Miami philanthropist Toby Lerner Ansin and Founding Artistic Director Edward Villella. The Company has 51 dancers and a repertoire of more than 100 ballets. MCB performs for nearly 100,000 patrons annually during its South Florida season not only in Miami, but also proudly presenting each of its repertory programs at its home theaters in West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Naples. MCB is frequently invited to tour to top theaters in the U.S. and abroad.

Miami City Ballet School, the official school of Miami City Ballet, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2018. One of the most respected ballet training academies in America, the School's renowned faculty, challenging syllabus and affiliation with Miami City Ballet make it a place where all students - from children to adults - can receive comprehensive dance training. The School trains approximately 400 students, ages 3-18, in its year-round program, and 400 during its summer programs, granting nearly $500,000 in scholarships annually. More than 500 adults participate in a vibrant community division.

MCB's 'Share the Dance' Community Outreach and Educational Programs reach deep into the community, touching nearly 23,000 young people, seniors and other traditionally underserved community members annually through a wide array of programming. The diverse programs introduce new and underserved audiences to the art form of classical ballet while building strong community relationships and engagement with the arts.

Miami City Ballet is headquartered in Miami Beach, Fla., at the Ophelia & Juan Js. Roca Center, a facility designed by renowned architectural firm Arquitectonica.


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