Mikah Smillie Moving on from National Youth Ballet
National Youth Ballet is in the midst of a very exciting phase, empowering young people and emerging professional artists by providing transformational opportunities to develop their skills through the creation of innovative work and involvement in our unique ‘Company’ model. It’s almost three years since our visionary founder Jill Tookey passed away but her extraordinary legacy truly lives on in all the people in our company. We have been incredibly fortunate to have Mikah Smillie at the helm as Artistic Director. Mikah worked with Jill and embodies the quality, excellence and passion for which National Youth Ballet is famous. Having led the organisation for the last three years through a challenging period of transition, and put firm foundations in place for its future development, Mikah feels the time is right to move on and will therefore be leaving us in March.
Achievements under Mikah’s artistic leadership include:
- Broadening national reach by moving the Company’s artistic base to the Midlands and increasing audition venues across the country
- Performances in both Birmingham and London (Sadler’s Wells) reaching audiences of 2,500 annually
- Introduction of workshops and masterclasses to increase reach
- Mentoring, from the outset, the Beyond Ballet initiative, through which 13 new ballets for young audiences have been created by young choreographers, many of them women
- Putting plans in place to develop our work further, including a health and well-being initiative, and activity to increase engagement with children and young people new to dance and ballet
- Continuing and expanding our tradition of bringing leading figures of the dance world, including Sir Matthew Bourne, Ruth Brill, Antony Dowson, Christopher Hampson, Drew McOnie and Etta Murfit to contribute to the creative work delivered
Mikah will be much missed by the staff team, the company at large and all the young people she has inspired and whose talents she has nurtured. She departs with our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for her massive contribution to National Youth Ballet’s ongoing development, and we wish her every possible success for the future. She will always remain part of the National Youth Ballet family and we look forward to inviting her to our Gala performance in September this year as a very special guest.
Mikah has planned the 2019 Season on the theme of ‘Wonderlands’ – exploring the mysteries of fantastical lands – and she is currently in the process of putting the artistic team in place. The repertoire is as exciting as always and auditions will be underway next month. For further details on auditions click here.
A robust plan is being put in place to ensure the full delivery of the season based on Mikah’s vision, supported by an exceptionally talented staff team, amazing volunteers and a committed board of trustees.
Our mission is to support young people who will create the ballet of the future and to give dance a strong and diverse voice. We now have a fantastic opportunity to recruit a new Artistic Director to work alongside our Executive Director to deliver a new chapter for National Youth Ballet building on Jill’s and, more recently, Mikah’s legacies. The role offers the precious opportunity to drive the quality and excellence at the core of an established national youth dance organisation, which aims to heighten the diversity and accessibility for young people in the dance world through its innovative and confident programmes and celebrated work. In a year when we have demonstrated strong performance in terms of fundraising from generous organisations and individuals, there is a great platform for the right person to join the team and lead the innovative creative agenda of the company, and the ongoing development of our new well-being and engagement programmes.