Chair of the National Theatre Melbourne Susan Thacore said the Board were tremendously honoured to welcome Damian as Artistic Director of Ballet. “Damian’s international reputation, experience and artistry will carry the legacy of the National Theatre Melbourne’s Ballet School of more than 80 years standing to the highest level and give its students world-class opportunities in terms of training,” said Ms Thacore.
Damian brings with him more than 25 years international experience as a dancer with companies such as the Boston Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Ballet Du Nord, New York City Ballet and 18 years as Principal Dancer with the highly acclaimed San Francisco Ballet.
He has been chosen more than 20 times to be the original cast for some of the world’s best choreographers, including Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky and Nacho Duato, and worked with them on the creation of their new ballets.
Beginning his dance training in Newcastle with the Robyn Hick School of Dance and the Marie Walton Dance Academy, Damian completed his studies at the MacDonald College before being accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York at just 16 years old.
His appointment at National Theatre Ballet School marks a welcome homecoming and an exciting new chapter for Damian and the School. “As an Indigenous man I hope that my personal story – from humble beginnings in Sydney to a 25-year international dance career – can inspire others to believe that our dreams are achievable given the right opportunities.” said Damian.
“I had always imagined returning to Australia and the National Theatre Ballet School has provided an exciting opportunity to do just that. I now want to share my knowledge, skills and experience with the next generation of dancers and prove to them that no matter what their background is or what obstacles they may face, a combination of passion, desire and hard work will assist them to reach their potential and achieve their goals.”
Damian will be undertaking an audition tour in July and August, traveling to Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane in search for new talent, with a particular emphasis on discovering young male dancers. For more information, visit: www.nationaltheatreballetschool.org.au for details.
Image: Damian Smith (supplied)