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SPOTLIGHT:
DANCER PROFILES
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Profile of NILAS MARTINS, Artistic Director, Choreographer and Principal Dancer

by Robert Lombardo
March 6, 2006

Profile of NILAS MARTINS, Artistic Director, Choreographer and Principal Dancer

Robert Lombardo
March 6, 2006

See Mr. Martins' upcoming event on March 25, 2006 and March 26.

A principal dancer of the New York City Ballet, Nilas Martins, creates interest and excitement wherever he appears and from his first performances as a soloist with the New York City Ballet in 1991 to date, his interpretations have made headlines and garnered praise around the world.

Mr. Martins has been featured recently in Vanity Fair, as an artist to watch by Weye and a formidable dance personality in Euroman. He has been seen by millions in the feature photo advertisement in New York's Times Square for Courtaulds Fibers and for Armani and Bill Blass.

Mr. Martins performs an extensive repertory from the title roles of Apollo and Orpheus, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake and Demetrius in Midsummer Nights Dream to the demanding technical and interpretive bravura solos in a long list of works choreographed by Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins and George Balanchine, which form the greatest part of the legacy of the New York City Ballet.

Nilas Martins has created a number of important principal roles including Proia's Dancing in the Moonlight, Alleyne's Beth and Ann's Dance, Steel and Rain by Trey McIntyre, Mahdaviani's Appalachia Waltz, Tanner's Prague Symphony, Ancient Airs and Dances, Schoenberg/Wourinen, and Peter Martins' Adam Violin Concerto, A Fool for You, Ash, Delight of the Muses, Jazz, Jeu de Cartes, Papillon, Reliquary and Stabat Mater. He has appeared a number of times on PBS's 'Live from Lincoln Center' including Ray Charles in Concert and the 'Dance in America' telecast of Dinner With Balanchine. He is also featured in the film adaptation of Balanchine's Nutcracker available on commercial video and DVD.

Educated at the School of the Royal Danish Ballet, Nilas Martins literally 'grew up' in the Royal Opera House, which serves as the central arts center in Copenhagen for ballet, opera, musicals and drama. His exposure to all these art forms from childhood and his involvement therein as an assistant stage director to Lise la Cour have given him a unique perspective as choreographer, stage director and teacher. Mr. Martins' education includes a qualification in musical studies and preparation at the academy level permitting him to familiarize himself with musical scores and play through them on the piano.

During the last few seasons, in addition to his performance schedule around the world, Nilas Martins has dedicated himself to choreography, staging and composition. The George Balanchine Trust engaged Mr. Martins to introduce the Balanchine style to the Peoples Republic of China's National Ballet in Beijing where he taught and staged Balanchine's Allegro Brillante. He has staged Orpheus (Stravinsky-Balanchine) with the Birmingham Royal Ballet in the UK.

In 1995, Nilas Martins choreographed and composed his first original work, Maiden Melody, for the School of American Ballet's Choreography Workshop. The ballet was performed at the Geneva Dance Festival in Switzerland that same season. He then created Reverb for Three for The New York City Ballet Guild and in 1999, for the Santa Fe Festival Ballet, premiered Capriccios for four couples. In July 2001, Nilas Martins composed the musical score for Reflections with choreography by Peter Martins, which premiered at Dance Galaxy in New York, called 'superb' by the New York press.

Mr. Martins returned to China to teach and stage Balanchine's Who Cares? with the National Ballet of China of Beijing which opened the International Festival in Macau in March 2002. He recently opened the fall-winter season of the New York City Ballet in a world premiere ballet Thou Swell! this is based on themes of Richard Rogers and created by Peter Martins.

In February 2003, Nilas Martins created and performed an original choreography for Paolo Micciche's production of Aida for the Washington Opera at Constitution Hall. Sarah Kaufman, dance critic of The Washington Post noted, "Nilas Martins was as impressive in his role as choreographer as he was as principal dancer. His impact on the production was both creative and elegant." Nilas Martins created a critically acclaimed choreography for Bernstein's opera Candide presented at the Teatro Argentina in Rome in June/July 2003. Kultur-Canal Plus taped the production for future release on DVD. This is the first commercially released video version of the Bernstein work.

In September 2003, Mr. Martins returned again to Beijing's National Ballet of China for Balanchine's Four Temperaments, which was performed by the company in January 2004 on the occasion of the Balanchine Centennial. Nilas Martins produced four gala performances on behalf of the National Ballet of China on the occasion of the Balanchine Centennial, which featured leading principal dancers from London's Royal Ballet, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Kirov Ballet, The National Ballet of Cuba, American Ballet Theater and The New York City Ballet. The final performance took place at The Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square before an audience of ten thousand and was televised through out China with an estimated half a billion viewers.

In 2003, Nilas Martins formed The Nilas Martins Dance Company. The Company's first appearances were at the Festival Euro Mediterraneo in a program, which garnered critical and public success and featured the Italian premiere of a Balanchine work (Davidsbundlertanze) and eight principal dancers from The New York City Ballet to the Villa Adriana outside of Rome. Mr. Martins successfully toured in Europe and Asia for the George Balanchine Centennial in 2004. A visit to Cuba by the Company and for Nilas Martins to perform Apollo with the National Ballet of Cuba at the invitation of Alicia Alonzo was cancelled by the US State Department in October of 2004. The Company has been invited to perform at the Shanghai International Arts Festival in October 2006, and is scheduling various projects through 2006-07 and 2007/08 specializing in Balanchine, Robbins and works by Peter Martins not often seen or yet performed in venues around the world as well as creation of new works by Nilas Martins and other rising choreographers through The Nilas Martins Dance Foundation.

Commissioned by Italy's Fondazione Chigiana, Nilas Martins created an original choreography for five dancers of the Preludio Sinfonico of Giacomo Puccini and an adaptation of nine of the composer's songs for soprano, tenor and piano accompaniment for six dancers which was performed in New York in an ante prima in April 2005, under the auspices of the Italian Cultural Institute and the Consul General of Italy. In March 2006, Mr. Martins will add two more Puccini songs to the program and an original ballet for 7 dancers in abstract style to several Puccini orchestral works including his Scherzo, Adagetto, Marcia Brillante and the Prelude to Act II of 'Manon Lescaut'. For the 150th anniversary of Puccini's birth to be commemorated in 2008-09, Martins is planning a choreographed version of the Messa di Gloria and a new staging of the composer's first opera, "Le Villi" a work on the story line of Giselle. These works along with the other ballets and dance works based on Puccini's music and choreographed by Mr. Martins are set for performances in Puccini's birthplace at Lucca and at the annual Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago in 2007 and 2008.

In addition to his active career as a principal dancer, Nilas Martins is currently researching Balanchine's original staging and choreography of Gluck's Orphee et Eurydice from 1936 at the Metropolitan Opera on which to base a future production of the work in co production with several European and North American opera companies.

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