News: New Artistic Director, Mikah Smillie joins National Youth Ballet of Great Britain

Monday 17 October 2016 by Jobeda Khanum

Mikah Smillie
Photo: National Youth Ballet of Great Britain

The National Youth Ballet of Great Britain announces 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.

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 Ballet platform, 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) 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.

Jill Tookey, Founding Director
Over three decades, Founding Director Jill Tookey quietly became one of the industry’s most influential dance leaders, inspiring generations of young dancers and choreographers, many of whom have embarked upon successful professional careers after their time with NYB. Jill was appointed a CBE for services to dance in the 2016 New Year Honours, and in June this was presented at Buckingham Palace to her ten-year-old granddaughter, and NYB company member, Gabriella Rummery.

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