Adam Sklute was named Artistic Director of Ballet West in 2007. Since then he has expanded Ballet West’s repertoire, visibility, and overall outlook with exciting company premieres, increased touring and public exposure, and greater focus on Ballet West Academy.
In his 10 years at Ballet West, Sklute has presented more than 60 world and Utah premieres. He has presented 27 works never before performed by Ballet West by such renowned historical choreographers as Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Bronislava Nijinska, and Michel Fokine. At the same time, he has also expanded contemporary repertoire from Jiří Kylián, Mark Morris, and Twyla Tharp, to name a few. He has commissioned 12 world premieres by leading choreographers such as Val Caniporoli, Nicolo Fonte, Jessica Lang, Matthew Neenan, and Helen Pickett. In 2012, Sklute named Nicolo Fonte Resident Choreographer for Ballet West.
Sklute has reintroduced lost elements of Ballet West founder Willam Christensen’s beloved production of The Nutcracker and recently oversaw new sets and costumes for this acclaimed classic; the first new designs in almost 30 years. He also produced the reconstruction of Christensen’s 1967 The Firebird. He has conceived and produced critically acclaimed new productions of Swan Lake (2010) and The Sleeping Beauty (2011), and Giselle (2014) and launched Ballet West’s Family Series featuring Ballet West II and Academy dancers. Notably, Sklute developed the Company’s wildly successful annual Innovations program, designed to nurture and present new creations by Ballet West Artists and emerging Utah, national, and international choreographers. Based on the success of Innovations Sklute ushered in two major new initiatives – Ballet West’s National Choreographic Festival, bringing together dance companies from around the country to share the stage with Ballet West all presenting new and innovative creations; and Works from Within a touring program presenting exclusively World Premieres by Ballet West Artists.
Under Sklute’s leadership Ballet West has toured extensively, appearing three times at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2008 Ballet Across America – Serenade, and two week-long runs of The Nutcracker in 2012 and 2014); a 2013 engagement at Chicago’s famed Auditorium Theater with his The Sleeping Beauty and a mixed repertory program; twice to New York’s Joyce Theater; twice at New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival (Les Biches, 2009; Grand Pas Paquita, 2012); and twice at the Chicago Dancing Festival (Serenade 2010; Sinfonietta 2011). In the past seven years, the company has also appeared at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in 2011; The Laguna Dance Festival in 2010; Las Vegas with Nevada Ballet Theater in both 2010 (Sinfonietta) and 2012 (Jewels in collaboration with NBT and PNB); and Aspen, CO., Victoria, B.C. and Dallas. Notably in 2016, Ballet West was invited to perform in Havana, Cuba as part of the renowned Cuban International Ballet Festival.
In 2009, Ballet West graced the cover of Dance Magazine for the first time in 25 years and again was on the cover in 2013. Since 2007, the company has garnered numerous reviews and articles in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Dance Magazine, Ballet Review, and Pointe to name a few. In 2012 and 2013 Ballet West was the subject of the BBC Worldwide Production’s docu-drama television series Breaking Pointe that aired on The CW Network.
Sklute has lectured at the Chicago Art Institute, and Salt Lake Community College and has served on the boards of Chicago’s Dance for Life, Salt Lake Community College, School of the Arts Advisory Board, the Salt Lake County Cultural Facilities Master Plan Advisory Board, and the Gerald Arpino/Robert Joffrey Foundation. A finalist judge and international representative for numerous ballet competitions including the Youth America Grand Prix, Los Angeles’ Spotlight Awards, The International Ballet Competition, The Japan Grand Prix, and an adjudicator for the American College Dance Festival Association, Sklute was listed as one of the 25 Movers and Shakers of the Utah Arts Scene in 2007. In 2014, he was named one of Utah’s Enlightened 50 and he received the Utah National Guard’s Bronze Minuteman Award for outstanding service to Utah and the nation. In 2017, Ballet West received the Utah Diversity Connection’s Business Award, which recognized Sklute as a leader that has built a diverse workforce with strong diversity initiatives.
Passionate about dance education and the development of young dancers, Sklute actively oversees Ballet West’s Academy, teaching regularly and developing and focusing its syllabus and programs with the Academy faculty. Sklute is also a guest teacher and coach for dance programs and workshops worldwide, including Brigham Young University, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Berlin State Ballet School, The School of American Ballet, The Southwest Regional Ballet Festival, and The University of Cincinnati, to name a few. He is an adjunct professor for the University of Utah’s Ballet Department.
A native of Berkeley, California, Sklute began dancing late at nearly 17 years old. His early training was at the Oakland Ballet and San Francisco Ballet schools. After only two years of formal study, he joined The Joffrey II Dancers (The Joffrey’s apprentice company). Two years later, he was asked to join The Joffrey Ballet. Sklute was one of the last two artists personally chosen by Robert Joffrey.
Throughout his dancing career, Sklute performed leading roles by such choreographers as Gerald Arpino, Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Cranko, Agnes DeMille, Robert Joffrey, Kurt Jooss, Jiří Kylián, James Kudelka, Leonide Massine, Jerome Robbins and Paul Taylor. Along with The Joffrey Ballet, he has performed with New York’s Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Dallas and California’s Diablo Ballet. Sklute’s television credits include The Joffrey Ballet’s “Dance in America,” filmings of Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, and Gerald Arpino’s production of Billboards, the role of The Old Soldier in WTTW’s filming of Kurt Jooss’ The Green Table, and Herr Drosselmeyer in the WTTW one-hour special of Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker. In 2003 he assisted with and appeared in Robert Altman’s feature film The Company, and in 2012 he appeared in The Joffrey Ballet: Mavericks of Dance, a documentary chronicling the history of The Joffrey Ballet, and First Position a documentary about YAGP; He both appeared in and was Creative Consultant for both seasons of the CW network’s “Breaking Pointe.”