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Federico Bonelli to become new director of Northern Ballet

Posted on February 1, 2022

Federico Bonelli photo by Andrej Uspenski ROH

Royal Ballet principal Federico Bonelli has been appointed the new artistic director of Northern Ballet. The appointment follows an extensive search by the company, whose current artistic director, David Nixon, will be standing down after 21 years in post.

“I am thrilled to be joining Northern Ballet as its new artistic director and cannot wait to begin working with this exceptional group of dancers and creatives,” Bonelli said. “At the same time, I am truly sad to leave The Royal Ballet, a company that has been my home for 19 years and that has enriched my life so greatly.”

“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,” Bonelli continued. “We are at an exciting moment for the company, which is based in Leeds and across the north, yet rooted in the whole of England and the UK. I cannot wait to leverage its wide-ranging touring to connect with wider audiences and bring outstanding ballet to as many people as possible.

“I have been very impressed by the Board and team’s vision and am excited to lead on how best to bring a diversity of perspectives and experiences represented in the stories we tell on stage. I can’t wait to bring my ideas and contribution to the company’s vibrant offering and propel it to its future successes.”

Born in Genoa, Bonelli trained at the Turin Dance Academy and danced with Zürich Ballet and Dutch National Ballet before joining The Royal Ballet in 2003. He has also performed as a guest dancer with many leading companies around the world and has received several awards. In 2019, he graduated from the Clore Leadership Programme (The Clore Fellowship) and is a non-executive director and member of the Board of Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA). 

Bonelli curated the programme for The Royal Ballet’s activities in Doncaster as part of the Doncaster Creates festival, prior to its pandemic postponement and has coached Royal Ballet repertory to 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.

Details of Bonelli’s final performance with The Royal Ballet will be announced shortly.

Pictured: Federico Bonelli. Photograph by Andrej Uspenski, courtesy of the Royal Opera House.

Simon Oliver has been production editor of Dancing Times since 2010 and is highly experienced in design across print and online magazine production. Throughout his career, Simon has worked on a diverse range of subjects including music, family history, book collecting and poker.

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