Artistic Direction

Daniel Duell - Artistic Director, Founder


Founder and Artistic Director, Duell is a force in the development of American Classicism, and is passionate about the advancement of ballet technique in its purest and most energetic form. As a dancer with the New York City Ballet from 1972-1987, he was taught and coached daily by George Balanchine. Quickly rising through the ranks, Duell was promoted to Soloist in 1977, and then Principal Dancer in 1979. He performed a wide-ranging repertoire, dancing leading roles in the ballets of George Balanchine, Jerone Robbins, Peter Martins, and Jacques d'Ambois, among others, including multiple works that were created for him. A Ford Foundation Scholarship recipient from the age of 13, he trained with the Dayton Civic Ballet, then at The School of American Ballet, and at the age of 19 was invited to join NYCB. In addition to his fifteen years at NYCB, he was a featured guest artist for numerous companies nationwide and performed for several PBS Dance in America public television programs. Duell has been choreographing since 1980 and has created works for Ballet Chicago, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Dayton Ballet, Harkness Dance Theatre, The Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and The School of American Ballet. He also collaborated with WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago to design two programs; the first, an Emmy Award winning special (outstanding cultural programming) on Ballet Chicago, and the second entitled "Love in Four Acts," a program showcasing four Chicago choreographers selected by Duell. He was also awarded the 2000 Ruth Page Award from the Chicago Dance Community for the Artistic Direction of The Ballet Chicago Studio Company.

Duell is a frequent lecturer on ballet, music, and the arts, serves on several not-for-profit boards and advisory boards, and has been an adjudicator for the National Endowment for the Arts and The Illinois Arts Council. He is also a repetiteur for The George Balanchine Trust and stages ballets across the United States. He conducts master classes in both the United States and Europe, including teaching engagements at The School of American Ballet, Indiana University at Bloomington, The University of Iowa, and the Bulgarian National Dance Academy in Sophia, Bulgaria. In Spring 2011, Duell worked with the Royal Danish Ballet, teaching and coaching the company in preparation for its New York season. Duell taught again for The Royal Danish Ballet in preparation for the company's Spring 2012 Copenhagen performances of major Balanchine/Stravinsky ballets.

Patricia Blair - Associate Artistic Director, School Director


Patricia Blair is highly committed to the training, artistic education, and personal well-being of young dancers. She began working with children when she was only 15 years old, and to this day, her love and respect of classical ballet and passing that on to young artists is one of her greatest passions. She was born in New York City, began studying ballet at the age of 7, and began her performing career at 17. While a student at North Carolina School of the Arts, she was chosen to dance the role of "Myrtha" in Giselle alongside principal dancers Svea Ekloff and ABT's Burton Taylor. In 1979 she joined the Eglevsky Ballet, under the direction of Edward Villella and then Michael Vernon. In 1984, while still dancing full time with the company, she became one of the organization's Ballet Mistresses, rehearsing the repertoire of George Balanchine, MIchael Vernon and guest choreographers. Throughout her years at Eglevsky Ballet, she was also an active teacher in NY, teaching classes for Eglevsky Ballet, Harkness House for Ballet Arts, Steps NY, and volunteering to teach at risk youth in churches and community centers. During off seasons, she performed as a guest artist developing new works with many NY choreographers, danced in musical theatre productions across the US and on Broadway, and briefly entered the LA move world with Pavanne for a Dying Princess, a solo dance film created especially for her. She came to Chicago in September 1987 upon the recommendation of Balanchine repetiteur Victoria Simon. She staged several ballets for Chicago City Ballet's fall season, after which Duell invited her to move to Chicago and join his artistic team. She was the Ballet Mistress for Ballet Chicago from 1987-1997, and was appointed Director of The School of Ballet Chicago in 1995. She also serves as Associate Artistic Director for the company.

In addition to her work with The School of Ballet Chicago and The Ballet Chicago Studio Company, Ms. Blair gives master classes throughout the region and has been a guest teacher for Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle, Washington, Gem City Ballet in Dayton, Ohio, and in May 2007 had the honor of teaching at The School of American Ballet. Ms. Blair has a lifelong love for the ballets of George Balanchine, and appreciates both the privilege of having performed his ballets and the joy of passing them on to younger
dancers. She has been responsible for a large body of repertoire at Ballet Chicago, and has staged Mr. Balanchine's Serenade and Allegro Brilliante for the St. Louis Ballet.


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