Louisville Ballet’s Return to the Stage

Celebrating 70 years with the upcoming 2021-2022 season


By Anna Byerley
Photos by Sam English


After a full season of pre-filming performances and selling virtual tickets, the Louisville Ballet is eager to return to the stage with in-person audiences to help celebrate its 70th anniversary. 

We spoke to the Louisville Ballet’s Artistic Director, Robert Curran, and the Interim Director of Marketing, Natalie Harris, to find out more about what’s in store for the upcoming season. 

Robert Curran.

“We’re really excited to be going into the 70th anniversary after wrapping our heads around the digital experience,” said Curran. “It was a great opportunity for us and now we know what a digital offering can be for our patrons – how it can reach further without having to be physically in attendance and can create a richer and deeper engagement with the art form.” 

During the pandemic shutdowns, the Louisville Ballet continued to produce work digitally with high-production films available for their audiences to purchase and view from home.

However, from a creative perspective, they were not fully virtual. They were back in the studio with their dancers, distanced by 8-feet, mask-wearing and getting tested twice a week in order to still make the 2020-2021 season happen. 

“The big missing part was the interaction between our artists and audience. It’s very different performing for a camera, much different than being on stage,” said Curran. “It’s going to be an exciting moment for us, that first live performance where there’s going to be an audience in front.” 

For the 2021-2022 season, the Louisville Ballet is planning some very exciting new works for its audiences, with two new interpretations of the Tchaikovsky ballets: Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, along with The Nutcracker, which is already the Company’s own interpretation. 

“What is exciting about these new interpretations of these works is that nobody else in the world does these versions,” Curran said. 

For the 70th anniversary, Curran wanted to respectfully, but adventurously, walk the line between the past and the future. 

“Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty are probably the most recognized classical ballets out there and programming them in one season is a testament to the quality of dancers and the strength of this company,” Curran explained. “Some of the biggest companies in the world don’t do all three productions in one season because it’s such a big deal. But I wanted to respect what has gone before but give it our twist and flavor by making a 21st century version of these very recognizable ballets. I wanted to show our audiences – existing and not-yet existing – how much we respect classical ballet tradition, how much we hold on to the essence of these works but liberate ourselves to some of the constraints that we don’t need to be holding onto anymore.” 

As the Louisville Ballet prepares to celebrate 70 years and as the fifth oldest continuously operating ballet company in the country, they encourage everyone to come see what they’re all about. “We are still here after 70 years, and to combine that with returning to the stage after being away for a full-season is so exciting. We just want as many people as possible to celebrate with us in whatever way they want to,” Harris said.

Louisville Ballet
Studio & School
315 E. Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202