Living Art 5

IB Andersen Takes Dance to New Heights as Artistic Director of Ballet Arizona

One could easily say Denmark native and Artistic Director of Ballet Arizona IB Andersen is a master of his art, that being dance, of course.

“I actually started ballroom dancing when I was four and I liked it a lot,” says Andersen. “Then my mother took me to audition for the Royal Danish Ballet School and I got in; but I really didn’t know much about ballet until I started there.”

While at the Royal Danish Ballet School, Andersen continued to flourish as a dancer and eventually joined the Royal Danish Ballet at age 16. By the time he was 20, Andersen had become a principle dancer—the youngest one in the company’s history. From there, Andersen continued to build his reputation in Europe, until he finally caught the eye of New York City Ballet (NYCB) director George Balanchine, who is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the ballet world.

“New York City Ballet is one of the best companies in the world; and working with Balanchine, who I would say was probably one of the best choreographers that ever lived, and having ballets created on me by him was a huge privilege,” says Andersen.

After retiring as principle from NYCB and beginning a second career as a guest ballet master, Andersen decided that it was time for a change and moved to sunny Phoenix, Arizona. Once he was settled in Phoenix, Andersen accepted the position as Artistic Director of Ballet Arizona, where he is now in charge of the company and acts as main choreographer.

Although his career has been marked by incredible success, Andersen has never lost sight of the reason he is so passionate about dance—a pure love of the art form as a means of expression.

“Dance is the closest relative you could say to music, which in my opinion, is the ultimate form of art because it has so much variety in what it can express,” says Andersen. “Ballet is just like that, it’s a very pure art form and it hits you in a deeper sense than many other things do.”

Always one to share his wealth of knowledge when it comes to dance, Andersen strives to elevate the style, technique and skills of young dancers, while also enriching their lives and helping them discover their calling.

“I like working with young people and developing dancers,” says Andersen. “I’ve been privileged to work with some of the best in the industry, so I have an ability to give on, and I enjoy that because I really believe in dance.”

It is also safe to say that the fire dance ignites in Andersen will not go out anytime soon, as he continues to share his gift and love of the art form with both company members and audiences alike.

“I don’t think [my love of dance] will ever be diminished because it has become a part of me.”

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