The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy is thrilled to announce world-renowned ballerina Evelyn Cisneros-Legate has been appointed as the new Director of all four campuses of the school. Cisneros-Legate, a native of Huntington Beach, California trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining the San Francisco Ballet under the direction of Lew Christensen, brother of Ballet West founder, Willam Christensen.  During her performing career, Cisneros-Legate grew to become San Francisco Ballet’s “prima-ballerina” and an international star under Christensen, Michael Smuin, and Helgi Tómasson.

“I am ecstatic that Evelyn will be taking on the mantle of the Ballet West Academy Director,” said Artistic Director Adam Sklute. “Since I arrived at Ballet West in 2007, our Academy has grown and developed exponentially. First under Peter Christie, who revitalized the Academy and put it back on the road to success, then through the leadership of Peter LeBreton Merz who oversaw our move to the Jesse Eccles Quinney Ballet Centre and guided the expansion with our satellite locations in Lehi, Park City, and downtown Salt Lake City. Peter has overseen the growth of the Academy to become an internationally recognized ballet school. The appointment of Evelyn Cisneros-Legate, with her great history and empirical knowledge, is the dynamic next step in building Ballet West Academy to a world-renowned institution for dance education.”

Peter LeBreton Merz will be stepping into a faculty position with the Academy. “As many of us have, in the past six months I have reassessed what I want, my career goals, and what I am passionate about. I want to teach ballet, it is what I have always wanted to do. I will help Evelyn transition into this role and be successful, but will step aside and focus on ballet and formation of dancers.” Sklute adds, “I am grateful for all Peter has done for the Academy and I honor his commitment to Ballet West, and his yearning to devote himself to teaching. During this complicated and unprecedented time in the world, I am happy he will be staying on as a faculty member and help Evelyn navigate this transition.”

While at San Francisco Ballet, Cisneros-Legate was the first Mexican American to be elevated to a Principal Dancer in the United States. She was named “100 Influentials” by Hispanic Business and the Huffington Post called her one of the “17 ballet icons who are changing the face of dance today.” Cisneros-Legate has been featured on the covers of Dance Magazine, Ballet News, and Hispanic Magazine.

“As a young child, my mother took me to ballet classes in an attempt to overcome my shyness. I began at eight years old and I have loved dancing ever since,” said Cisneros. “My greatest thrill is to see a child learn from ballet as I did, to immerse in the life skills it offers, the physical activity it affords, and to seize the opportunities for growth. I have traveled to Salt Lake City many times; my family loves the mountains next to a cosmopolitan city. Moreover, it is an honor to guide Ballet West Academy, a prestigious institution that was founded by an icon in our industry, Mr. C. I am humbled to be here and recognize the great responsibility that Adam is charging me with.”

Cisneros-Legate holds an honorary doctorate from Mills College and the University of California at Monterey Bay. She is married to Dr. Stephen Legate who was a Principal Dancer at San Francisco Ballet before becoming a chiropractor. Together they have two children.