Oklahoma City Ballet is proud to share the news that our Artistic Director, Robert Mills, has been named as a recipient of the Governor’s Arts Awards, in the category of Community Service. Mr. Mills has been at the helm of Oklahoma City Ballet for the past ten years, and has been the driving force behind OKC Ballet’s involvement in outreach and development of programs to reach underserved communities and schools.
Mr. Mills also emphasizes the importance of education and certification of the teachers of classes that occur at OKC Ballet as well as the outreach and off-campus classes provided by the organizations’s outreach programs.
“During his tenure, Robert has skillfully elevated the artistic quality and reputation of the professional company, the organization’s dance school, and its dance outreach programs,” said Board of Trustees President Sally Nichols Starling.
Included in these initiatives are the institution of Project Plié, a partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County; BalletReach, a program that allows Oklahoma City Ballet to provide fully accredited ballet classes for an entire school year to elementary and high school students at no cost to the schools, teachers, or parents; ArtsReach, a program that includes an eight week curriculum that concludes with a special performance by Oklahoma City Ballet in the Civic Center Music Hall; Golden Swans, a program geared towards senior adults; and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease, which is an active class geared toward people with ailments and diseases that affects a senior adult’s movement and motor skills, such as Parkinson’s disease.
“Oklahoma has a prodigious ballet legacy, and the brand Robert Mills has built from its near demise in 2008 adds an indelible chapter. The Company’s dramatic rise since is an important cultural facet of Oklahoma City’s Renaissance story. He is truly an ambassador for the arts in Oklahoma, taking our story across the U.S. and beyond,” said former board member Jeanette Elliott.
This award comes only a year after Mr. Mills was named one of four choreographers chosen to take part in the prestigious National Choreographers Initiative in Southern California, where he spent three weeks with elite ballet dancers and fellow choreographers. He used this time to develop choreography for Oklahoma City Ballet’s upcoming production of The Little Mermaid and a new piece included in the final performance of the season, Petite Mort: A Triple Bill.
This is also the 10 year anniversary of Mr. Mills’ tenure as Artistic Director of Oklahoma City Ballet, and will be celebrated in April at the 2018 Ballet Ball. This year’s event will be a tribute to Mills and all his accomplishments.
“Robert Mills has earned his place among the vanguard of contemporary artistic directors, choreographers, and educators in the ballet world,” stated Russ Tallchief, great-nephew of the renowned ballerina Maria Tallchief. “Oklahomans have much to be proud of in the evolution of Oklahoma City Ballet under Mills’ direction. Let’s hope we can keep him here for 10 more years.”