Ballet West has hired a new executive director. Michael Scolamiero, former longtime executive director of Pennsylvania Ballet and more recently executive director of Miami City Ballet, will take over the Utah job in October.
“I know, having been in this business for quite some time, that Ballet West is a company with a very strong artistic reputation and interesting repertoire,” Scolamiero said Wednesday during a short trip to Salt Lake City to meet with company board members and staff.
He’s been warned of the area’s winter inversions and “housing going through the roof” but said he’s heard nearly universal praise of the community as a “beautiful, friendly place with a lot happening.”
“Running a ballet company is fairly similar no matter where you are, but every company has its own culture and every city has its own culture,” he said. “There’s a learning curve getting to know the board, community and audience. It will take time, but I enjoy it.”
Scolamiero has a musical background, including a lifetime of singing and a master’s degree in clarinet performance from Penn State. He was executive director of the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia for seven years before his 17-year tenure with the Pennsylvania Ballet.
“I love choral music, I love symphonic music and I love dance,” he said. “When I came to dance as an occasional balletgoer, I found it had the best of everything — there’s music, there’s movement and there’s an athleticism to it that I think is very appealing.” He eagerly anticipates the Ballet West season opener, a new production of “Carmina Burana,” in part because of the prominent role of the onstage chorus.
Artistic director Adam Sklute had been acting as interim CEO for the past year in addition to his artistic responsibilities; he said in a news release he’s “grateful to relinquish” that extra hat.
“Michael’s skill set is exactly what Ballet West was seeking — a stellar record of donor relations, nonprofit governance, board development and sustainability,” Sklute said. “Michael is deeply respected in the dance industry, and I am delighted to welcome him to Salt Lake City.”
During Scolamiero’s leadership in Pennsylvania, the company’s budget grew from $6.5 million to $11.3 million. He oversaw capital campaigns to fund a new building, increase the company’s size and fund new ballets. In Miami, he reduced debt by more than $2 million, according to the Ballet West news release.
“Ballet West has grown tremendously in the last several years,” Scolamiero said. “Financially, the company is solid and strong. They’re not growing while running deficits, they’re growing while balancing the budget. That’s a tribute to the team in place here. I give an enormous amount of credit to what Adam has done.”