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Hartford, CT, April 16, 2024 – Ballet Hartford has appointed Claire Kretzschmar, a former New York City Ballet soloist dancer, to be the Artistic Director of Ballet Hartford starting August 2024. She will succeed Ballet Hartford’s current director, Leyna Doran, who has led the company since 2019.

Ms. Kretzschmar danced with New York City Ballet from 2010 – 2022, rising to the rank of soloist before retiring in 2022 to pursue teaching and ballet choreography. She has choreographed for Ballet Hartford previously, most notably re-staging Duncan Noble’s Peter and the Wolf and creating A Ceremony of Carols with choral music by Benjamin Britten, in 2023.

The announcement comes at a pivotal time in Ballet Hartford’s history – the company has tripled in size since 2019, thanks to the leadership of Leyna Doran and company manager, Hannah Bush. Leyna Doran will continue to work with the company as both Executive Director and company dancer.

As Artistic Director, Ms. Kretzschmar hopes to expand and deepen Ballet Hartford’s presence in the Harford region. “Ballet Hartford is one of the most joyful and hard-working dance environments I’ve experienced. I hope more and more people will come to see our beautiful performances or take our open adult classes or bring their children to our school,” Kretzschmar said.

“It is with great excitement that we move forward with Claire Kretzschmar as Artistic Director,” said Leyna Doran. “Her past career with New York City Ballet, choreographic achievements, and her boldly creative leadership qualities will have a profound effect on our organization. We anticipate the many ways her involvement will enable us to further our mission of being art for the city of Hartford.”

The announcement, made on April 16 at Ballet Hartford’s rehearsal facility at 224 EcoSpace, featured Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam, MetroHartford Alliance President & CEO David Griggs, Greater Hartford Arts Council Chief Executive Officer Rev. Dr. Shelley D. Best, and numerous local officials and members of the Ballet Hartford company.

“Our arts community is one of the best of any mid-sized city in America, and this adds significantly to the fabric of that community. It is a big win for Ballet Hartford, our arts community, and our City as a whole,” said Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam. “Claire’s impressive background could have given her opportunities anywhere else in the country, and we are so lucky that she has chosen Hartford to continue her career. I also want to congratulate Leyna Doran for her new role as Executive Director, and am grateful to Ballet Hartford for their commitment to our community and for providing artistic opportunities for our adults and youth.”

“Claire Kretzschmar’s appointment to Ballet Hartford, following her tenure with the prestigious New York City Ballet, underscores our region’s commitment to excellence,” said David Griggs, President & CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance. “Her experience and artistry will undoubtedly invigorate Ballet Hartford’s performances, enriching our cultural offerings and captivating audiences across the Hartford region.”

“This is a wonderful transition to what’s next for Ballet Hartford, and so much a part of the legacy of the arts in Hartford,” said Rev. Dr. Shelley D. Best, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Hartford Arts Council. “Inspiring leadership and amazing dancers demonstrate the potential of what can happen here, amidst a community of so many fine artists. This is a
community that supports creatives, and we know there will be great work ahead. We look forward to seeing that future unfold.”

Ballet Hartford will be performing “Planets” on May 3 at 7pm at the University of Saint Joseph’s Hoffman Auditorium in West Hartford, a  dynamic show highlighting Gustav Holst’s famous music through an imaginative series of performances inspired by the solar system’s planets. The “Venus” movement is choreographed by forthcoming Artistic Director Claire Kretzschmar.

Ballet Hartford began in August 2016 as Vivid Ballet and rebranded to Ballet Hartford in 2018. Doran joined Ballet Hartford at the organization’s inception in 2016. She began as a dancer, was promoted to Principal, became Ballet Mistress and then Artistic Director in 2019. Ballet Hartford has accelerated community connections in recent years, most recently launching an innovative collaboration with the Connecticut Science Center earlier this month.

The company currently rehearses and offers classes at the 224 EcoSpace in Hartford on Farmington Avenue. Performances are held throughout the region, including Hartford venues such as The Bushnell Performing Arts Center’s Belding Theater, Bushnell Park, and Wadsworth Atheneum, and area locations including the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown, and Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington. Ballet Hartford has also performed in New York City and New England.

Performances range from full theater performances to shorter family-friendly programs and academic lecture demonstrations. Ballet Hartford will offer a short performance at the Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest continuously-operating public art museum in the United States, on May 4 as part of the annual springtime Fine Art & Flowers. Ballet Hartford will also perform excerpts from Planets at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown on May 17. The School of Ballet Hartford offers an array of classes for young dancers as well as adult classes and regular open community classes led by a varied roster of choreographers and dancers.

For ticket information and more information about Ballet Hartford, visit