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Smillie to step down as AD of National Youth Ballet

Published: 21 March 2019
Reporter: Vera Liber

Drew McOnie and Ruth Brill will lead National Youth Ballet's 2019 season, as Mikah Smillie steps down as Artistic Director after three years leading the company since she took over in 2016 following the death of founder Jill Tookey.

Smillie said, “I feel hugely privileged to have led this extraordinary company of young creative talent. I’m proud of all we have achieved together and look forward to seeing the company’s unique artistic vision fly in the many years to come.”

The 2019 season will be overseen by an interim artistic team led by National Youth Ballet alumni Drew McOnie and Ruth Brill. McOnie most recently directed and choreographed King Kong on Broadway and Strictly Ballroom in the West End, with other work as choreographer including In The Heights, for which he won an Olivier Award. Brill is currently a choreographer and First Artist with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and her current projects include Peter and the Wolf for Birmingham Royal Ballet and a full-length narrative production of Ballet Shoes for London Children’s Ballet, both for summer 2019.

Apart from McOnie and Brill, notable alumni from National Youth Ballet’s history include James Lovell and Max Webster (currently playing The Prince and The Swan in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake), Sir Gregory Dean (Principal at Royal Danish Ballet), Jessica Brown Findlay (Actress, Downton Abbey) and Tyrone Singleton (Principal at Birmingham Royal Ballet).