Dayton Performing Arts Alliance names new Dayton Ballet artistic director

A new era of diverse, generational change is coming to the Dayton Ballet.

At a press conference held Thursday in the lobby of the Victoria Theatre, the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance named Brandon Ragland as the new artistic director of the second-oldest regional ballet company in the country.

With more than 15 years as a ballet professional, Ragland, 38, comes to Dayton from the Louisville Ballet, where he was a principal dancer, managed the Louisville Ballet School’s pre-professional program, and served as resident choreographer.

“Brandon brings an immense amount of talent and experience to the Ballet and the Ballet School,” said Patrick Nugent, DPAA President and CEO. “With his experience and gifts, he will lead the Dayton Ballet to great heights. His experience with and commitment to teaching and mentoring dance students, from beginners to pre-professionals, will be invaluable to continuing the growth of Dayton Ballet School. Additionally, Brandon will be a valuable addition to DPAA’s artistic leadership team. We could not be happier with the (search) committee’s recommendation.”

Credit: Sam English

Credit: Sam English

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Ragland received his early training from Jacqueline Crenshaw Lockhart and continued his dance training at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. In 2007, he graduated from Butler University with a B.S. in Dance-Arts Administration.

After graduation, he joined the Alabama Ballet, performing numerous classical and neoclassical works by choreographers such as Roger Van Fleteren, George Balanchine, Christopher Bruce, and Septime Webre. He joined the Louisville Ballet in 2010, where he spent 13 years as a leading artist and performed featured roles in classical, neoclassical, and contemporary works by choreographers such as Alun Jones, George Balanchine, Adam Hougland, Val Caniparoli, Ma Cong, Lucas Jervies, Stanton Welch, Ronald Hynd, and Tim Harbour.

A respected choreographer, Ragland has created works for Louisville Ballet, Alabama Ballet, Ballet Arkansas, AROVA Contemporary Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, Sedona Chamber Ballet, and The Perla Ballet. His choreography with the Louisville Ballet Youth Ensemble was performed several times at the Regional Dance America/Southeast Festival. In addition, he choreographed two one-act ballets, “Cinderella’s Ball” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” for the Louisville Ballet School.

He was chosen out of more than 100 applicants, according to Arts Consulting Group (ACG), a leading team of professional management consultants. The search committee was led by Rodney Veal, member of the DPAA board, president of Ohio Dance, arts educator, and local media producer. DPAA says applicants were screened by ACG through a rigorous process that yielded four finalists who visited Dayton to meet with DPAA staff, artistic team, search committee and board members. Candidates also met with Dayton Ballet School administrators and instructors and led classes with Dayton Ballet company members.



“Just being here in Dayton, I can feel the energy, the revitalization of art that’s going to take place,” said Ragland. “I don’t take this opportunity lightly. I do believe representation matters, and there are people of color who love ballet and want to see ballet move forward. I’m looking forward to all future collaborations with multiple dance organizations here and abroad, bringing the best to Dayton and showing the world the best of Dayton. I’m very excited.”

Ragland begins his role on Aug. 1. He notably plans to continue encouraging the development of new works, implement more George Balanchine repertory, and grow the organization’s community engagement programs.

“He has a kind of a fire about him that is catching,” said Nugent. “He has big ideas that we all love. I have every confidence that he will command the attention and affection of ballet audiences in the Greater Dayton Region, including new audiences that have not traditionally been visible or well-included in the ballet community. This is a historic moment for the Dayton Ballet.”

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