Federico Bonelli has been appointed as the new Artistic Director of Northern Ballet, based in Leeds and one of the UK's leading ballet companies and the widest touring ballet company in the UK. He is currently a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet.
On announcing the appointment Sir David Wootton, Chairman of Northern Ballet, said:
The Board of Northern Ballet is delighted that Federico Bonelli is joining us as Artistic Director, successor to David Nixon OBE, after the massive achievements of David's 21 years as Artistic Director. It has required a prolonged, thorough, wide-ranging, and diverse search, supported by the best advice, which has resulted in an appointment of the highest quality.
Federico joins us at the height of his career as a dancer with The Royal Ballet and he will bring to us the benefit of his experience there and at his previous companies, his manifest wish to establish a career with us in artistic leadership and a clear vision for the artistic future of Northern Ballet, enhancing and building on its classical foundations and taking us forward with new perspectives and new ideas.
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.
Of The Royal Ballet, he said,
I am thrilled to be joining Northern Ballet… 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. What wonderful seasons I have had here! I count myself fortunate to have worked with such an amazing group of people who have encouraged me to become the artist and person I am today. I would like to thank everyone who has facilitated my journey… I extend grateful thanks to my former director Monica Mason for believing in me and bringing me into this family and to my current director Kevin O'Hare for his thoughtful and earnest support of my development as an artist and a leader. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
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.
A tribute from The Royal Ballet's director, Kevin O'Hare reads:
Federico is the very embodiment of a versatile Royal Ballet dancer and gracious company member. He epitomises the charismatic elegance of the true danseur noble and possesses an innate ability to cover with ease the wide-ranging classical and contemporary stylistic qualities of our repertory. He has brought a deep and affecting understanding of story and character to all his roles… He has been a wonderful role model for young dancers and has great integrity, both as a performer and member of the Company, which I know bodes well for his future leadership of Northern Ballet.
Last year Northern Ballet announced that Artistic Director David Nixon OBE would be stepping down after more than 20 years at the helm. Federico will now begin to work closely with colleagues at Northern Ballet on vital future planning alongside fulfilling his existing commitments with The Royal Ballet. His tenure will begin formally on 1 May.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.