Ballet Pensacola artistic director returns to Catawba for student workshops, community class

  • Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Catawba College alumnus Richard Steinert, class of 1981 and artistic director of Ballet Pensacola, will be back at his alma mater today through Wednesday to work with college students and to offer master classes for them and the members of the Salisbury-Rowan community.

Steinert, who visited campus in February 2012, has enjoyed a long and successful career as a dancer, a choreographer and an artistic director at some of the country’s premier ballet companies. He was honored by Catawba as one of the inductees into the Blue Masque Hall of Fame in October of 2012.


Steinert’s free master class for the community is scheduled between 7 and 9 p.m. Tuesday in Keppel Auditorium of the Robertson College-Community Center on campus.

Steinert, a theatre major at Catawba, has danced for such renowned companies at the Joffrey Ballet and Bob Fosse. But he noted in February 2012 that the way he was trained and the way he trains dancers today has changed.

“The way we are training dancers now is so much better,” Steinert said. “No one will insure a ballet company if you aren’t caring for your people. Now, you not only have a real ethical and moral responsibility, but a legal obligation. It’s better business to be a part of the cure than to be part of the disease.

“When I was a young dancer, most people’s careers were over at (age) 25. Now dancers can work into their 30s and 40s. We’ve changed the way we train. At our studio, there’s Pilates, acupuncturists, and trainers of every type. We work hard to make sure the people we train and employ are cared for physically and emotionally.

“You need to be a little bit of everything, especially if you want to work forever. Work is out there, but you must take the opportunity for the diversity of knowledge, for diversity of thought and diversity of style.”

Known for his innovative and collaborative style, Steinert has worked in the repertories in companies across the United States. Since his inaugural season as artistic director at Ballet Pensacola in 2007, he has held the attention of the ballet and arts community through a series of critically acclaimed performances and projects directed at broadening the experience of the dance enthusiast.

One of the hallmarks of his style is the graceful marriage of theatre and dance and the 2008 premier of his Unprocessed Materials brought the Pensacola audiences their first taste of that experience. Under his direction, Ballet Pensacola draws professional dancers from around the globe, creating a diverse and provocative performing organization.

As the director of Ballet Arkansas, Ballet Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut and as a founding director of Connecticut Contemporary Ballet Theatre, Steinert has a long creative history with more than 30 original ballets in his repertoire. His full length Nutcracker has been in the national repertoire for more than 20 years, and his productions such as Dracula, Clue, Weisburg Suite and Quakes continue to receive critical acclaim. His choreographic works have been sanctioned by such funding organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.

He has held seats on the Board of Directors of the Midwestern Arts Alliance, SWRBA, the Alcoa National Choreographic awards, and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to a seat on his Arts-In-Education committee.

As a guest instructor at many pre-professional programs, Steinert is a sought after master teacher throughout the United States. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of West Florida and a Scholar-In-Residence at The Bishops School in La Jolla, California.

He and wife Christine are parents of two adult daughters, Laine and Paige.

For questions about the community master class, email Catawba’s theatre arts department at theatrearts@catawba.edu.

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