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DPAA Announces Departure of Ballet Artistic Director

Karen Russo Burke to Step Down at the End of Dayton Ballet’s 85th Anniversary Season

DAYTON, OH (Sept. 27, 2022) – Dayton Performing Arts Alliance announces that Karen Russo Burke will conclude her ten-year tenure as Artistic Director of Dayton Ballet at the end of the 2022-2023 season, which is also the 85th anniversary of Dayton Ballet and the 95th anniversary of Dayton Ballet School. A search committee to identify a new artistic director will be led by DPAA board member Rodney Veal.

“My husband (former Dayton Ballet Director, Dermot Burke) and I have been part of the Dayton Ballet since 1993,” says Burke. “We have worked with many talented artists, dancers, and students and have made lifelong friends with those who served Dayton Ballet as administrators, Trustees, and our backstage crews. Dayton Ballet’s patrons, donors, and subscribers have continuously sustained us through the years. Their consistent loyalty enables the company to celebrate Dayton Ballet’s 85th and Dayton Ballet School’s 95th anniversary seasons. While I am moving on, I hope to continue seeing my ballet friends in the coming years.”

“DPAA supports Karen Russo Burke’s decision to leave Dayton Ballet as she seeks new opportunities,” says DPAA President and CEO Patrick Nugent. “We are grateful for Karen’s many years of service to Dayton Ballet. She led Dayton Ballet as artistic director and talented choreographer as it merged into the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. DPAA celebrates ten years as a single, integrated arts organization and is embracing this time of transition in each of our art forms. We wish Karen happiness as she welcomes a new chapter of her life.”

“Karen Burke is personally responsible for introducing me to ballet, “says Ed Tomme, Chair, DPAA Board of Trustees. “Because of her, I fell in love with ballet. I congratulate her on 30 years with Dayton Ballet, 10 of those years leading it, and wish her all the best in her future.”

As Artistic Director, Karen led the Dayton Ballet through the merger with Dayton Philharmonic and Dayton Opera, culminating in Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. During her time as artistic director, attendance at Dayton Ballet performances increased by 35%. Before she was appointed artistic director, Burke spent twenty years in significant roles at Dayton Ballet, including ballet master and director of DBII Jr. and Sr. Companies (Dayton Ballet’s second companies). She has choreographed numerous critically acclaimed ballets for Dayton Ballet, such as the current version of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, the story of Briar Rose, Cinderella, Dracula Bloodlines, and the October world premiere of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Burke has been a mentor and role model for numerous ballet students who chose to pursue professional ballet careers and many who sought other opportunities, many of whom enrolled their children in Dayton Ballet School to study with Karen.

DPAA Board Member Rodney Veal will chair the Ballet Artistic Director Search Committee. Veal, an independent choreographer and interdisciplinary artist is currently the president of Ohio Dance and an adjunct faculty member at Stivers School for the Performing Arts and Sinclair Community College. The search for a new artistic director begins immediately.

For more information about DPAA’s 2022-23 Ballet, Opera, and Philharmonic seasons, visit daytonperformingarts.org.

About Dayton Performing Arts Alliance 

Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (DPAA) was formed in a groundbreaking and innovative merger between Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera, and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the greater Dayton community, with a mission to be the community’s indispensable source for traditional, diverse, and innovative experiences in ballet, opera, and orchestral music. The vision of DPAA is to transform lives through the power of music and dance. In addition, DPAA offers various performance and education programs, setting a new standard for artistic excellence. DPAA performances reach an audience of more than 90,000 people annually, and their rich arts education programming serves over 60,000 schoolchildren in 150 schools in southwest Ohio. These performances and education initiatives are made possible partly through significant support from the Ohio Arts Council, Culture Works, Montgomery County, and the National Endowment for the Arts.