Northern Ballet have announced that present Royal Ballet principal dancer Federico Bonelli is to be its new artistic director, succeeding David Nixon, who had led the Leeds-based company for the past 21 years. It is in some ways a surprise name, but one that promises much. The choice also represents a move away from the director-choreographers that the company has traditionally looked to, although they do seem to be becoming a little less common.
Bonelli danced with Ballett Zürich and Dutch National Ballet before joining The Royal Ballet in 2003, where he has danced many leading roles. He has also performed as a guest dancer with many leading companies around the world and has received several awards.
In 2019, Bonelli graduated from the Clore Leadership Programme (The Clore Fellowship) and he is a non-executive director and member of the Board of Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA). He curated the programme for The Royal Ballet activities in Doncaster as part of the Doncaster Creates festival, prior to its pandemic postponement and has coached Royal Ballet repertory, helping to nurture and develop the high standards of the company’s dancers.
He co-facilitates The Royal Ballet’s Inclusivity Focus Group and is a member of the external steering group of Chance to Dance, The Royal Ballet’s outreach talent development programme that aims to remove the barriers to a diverse talent pipeline into vocational training and the ballet and dance profession.
Bonelli’s experience is sure to be of benefit to Northern Ballet’s dancers, a point highlighted by the company’s Chairman, Sir David Wootton, who looks forward to him “enhancing and building on [the company’s] classical foundations and taking us forward with new perspectives and new ideas.”
Bonelli says, “I am thrilled to be joining Northern Ballet as its new Artistic Director and I can’t wait to begin working with this exceptional group of dancers and creatives. Through its history and most recently under David Nixon’s distinguished directorship, Northern Ballet has rightly been renowned for its bold approach to narrative ballet, and it is an honour to build on this legacy.”