National Youth Ballet Appoints New Artistic Director

The National Youth Ballet of Great Britain is delighted to announce the appointment of its new Artistic Director, Mikah Smillie. Following the passing of the company's Founding Director Jill Tookey in March this year, Mikah was appointed Artistic Director in Residence and led the 2016 Season including a sell-out Memorial Gala performance at Sadler's Wells in September. Mikah now joins National Youth Ballet on a permanent basis and will lead the company into its 30th Anniversary Year in 2017.

A graduate of The Royal Ballet School, Mikah Smillie danced as a soloist with Nurnberg Ballet, Ballet Dortmund, Rotterdam Dance Company, Phoenix Dance Company and spent 10 years as a member of Mathew Bourne's New Adventures, performing in a variety of character principal roles. Mikah is an Associate Artist for Re:Bourne and has worked extensively as a rehearsal director with Re:Bourne, New Adventures, Scottish Ballet, Ballet Ireland, The McOnie Company and for Turner Prize winner Martin Creed. Mikah also lecturers in dance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Mikah has been involved with National Youth Ballet over the past decade and assisted in developing the Beyond Ballet mentoring platform for young choreographers. She was appointed as Artistic Director in Residence in 2016, having been taken under the directorial wing of the late Jill Tookey in previous seasons.

Anna Meadmore and Jonathan Payn have also been appointed as Trustees on the Board of National Youth Ballet.

Anna Meadmore has a long association with The Royal Ballet School, having graduated from their Teachers' Training Course in 1990. After teaching there for many years, Anna went on to become the school's Head of Academic Dance Studies, and is now the Archivist and teacher of History of Ballet. Anna has been associated with National Youth Ballet since 1991, first as a teacher and choreographer and then as a Patron. Anna was the founding teacher of the National Youth Ballet Workshops in Schools programme, and in 2011 succeeded the late Frank Freeman as adjudicator of the National Youth Ballet annual Choreography Competition.

Jonathan Payn has been associated with National Youth Ballet from the age of 12 when he was first a member of the Company. Jonathan has also choreographed four ballets for the company over the last 10 years. Jonathan is a graduate of the Royal Ballet School and is currently a First Soloist for Birmingham Royal Ballet where he has been a company member since 1993.

National Youth Ballet involves talented young dancers aged 8 to 18 in every aspect of creating a ballet, from the conception of an idea through to performance on stage at a professional level. The Company also encourages children from all walks of life to become involved with dance through schools and community workshops. NYB utilises the skills of students in associated arts and encourages the talents of young designers, costumiers, musicians and student teachers in the preparation and production of all their work. Through the Beyond Balletplatform, the Company also nurtures young choreographic talent, supporting young choreographers in devising and showcasing their own works at professional level. This year 120 dancers from across the country were offered places with the Company, and will perform in the 2016 season.

Notable NYB alumni include Drew McOnie (choreographer), Sir Gregory Dean (Principal at Royal Danish Ballet), Jessica Brown Findlay (Actress, Downton Abbey) and Tyrone Singleton (Principal at Birmingham Royal Ballet), as well as many alumni working for leading companies including Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Matthew Bourne's New Adventures. Patrons include Carlos Acosta, Sir Matthew Bourne, Darcey Bussell, Joanna Lumley, Dame Monica Mason, Wayne Sleep and Sir Peter Wright.

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