Founder and Artistic Director
Répétiteur, The George Balanchine Trust
Ballet Chicago Artistic Director Daniel Duell is a force in the development of American Classicism, and is passionate about the advancement of ballet technique in its purest and most energetic form. As a dancer with the New York City Ballet from 1972-1987, he was taught and coached daily by George Balanchine. Quickly rising through the ranks, Duell was promoted to Soloist in 1977, and then Principal Dancer in 1979. He performed a wide-ranging repertoire, dancing leading roles in the ballets of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, and Jacques d’Amboise, among others, including multiple works that were created for him. A Ford Foundation Scholarship recipient from the age of 13, he trained with the Dayton Civic Ballet, then at The School of American Ballet, and at the age of 19 was invited to join NYCB. In addition to his fifteen years at NYCB, he was a featured guest artist for numerous companies nationwide and performed for several PBS Dance in America public television programs. Duell has been choreographing since 1980 and has created works for Ballet Chicago, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Dayton Ballet, Harkness Dance Theatre, The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and The School of American Ballet. He also collaborated with WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago to design two programs; the first, an Emmy Award winning special (Outstanding Cultural Programming) on Ballet Chicago, and the second entitled “Love in Four Acts” a program showcasing four Chicago choreographers selected by Duell. He was also awarded the prestigious Ruth Page Award from the Chicago Dance Community for Artistic Direction of The Ballet Chicago Studio Company.
Duell is a frequent lecturer on ballet, music, and the arts, serves on several not-for-profit boards and advisory boards, and has been an adjudicator for the National Endowment for the Arts and The Illinois Arts Council. He is also a répétiteur for The George Balanchine Trust and stages ballets across the United States.
Duell conducts master classes in both the United States and Europe, including repeated teaching engagements at The School of American Ballet, Indiana University at Bloomington, The University of Iowa, and the Bulgarian National Dance Academy in Sophia, Bulgaria. He has taught and coached the Royal Danish Ballet Company in preparation for both their New York seasons and their Copenhagen performances of Balanchine/Stravinsky masterworks. In March 2019, he returned to his alma mater, New York City Ballet, to teach company class.
Associate Artistic Director and School Director
Répétiteur, The George Balanchine Trust
Patricia Blair was born in New York City, began studying ballet at the age of 7, and launched her professional performing career at the age of 17. She trained in various schools including North Carolina School of the Arts and Harkness House for Ballet Arts, but attributes her summer at the School of American Ballet with igniting her love for and commitment to the Balanchine Technique®. While a student at North Carolina School of the Arts, she was chosen to dance the role of “Myrtha” in Giselle alongside principal dancers Svea Ekloff (Grande Théåtre de Genéve) and American Ballet Theatre’s Burton Taylor – a true honor. After leaving NCSA, she returned to NYC, studied
with Wilhelnm Burman, David Howard and Nanette Charisse, and subsequently joined the Eglevsky Ballet under the direction of NYCB former principal, Edward Villella. Six years later, while still dancing full time with the company, she became one of the organization’s Ballet Masters.
Ms. Blair performed as a guest artist developing new works with numerous NY choreographers, danced in musical theatre productions across the US and on Broadway, and briefly entered the LA motion picture world with Pavanne for a Dying Princess, a solo dance film created especially for her.
Ms. Blair is highly committed to the artistic education and personal well-being of young dancers. She began working with children when she was only 15 years old, and to this day, her love and respect of classical ballet and passing that on to young artists is one of her greatest passions. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, she volunteered to teach at-risk youth in East Harlem, both in churches and community centers. She also taught classes at Steps NY and the Harkness House for Ballet Arts.
Blair came to Chicago in September 1987, at the invitation of Daniel Duell, to stage ballets for Chicago City Ballet’s fall season. After working together for only three weeks, Duell invited her to relocate to Chicago and join his artistic team.
Later that year, the two formed Ballet Chicago. Blair has served in many capacities throughout - teacher, répétiteur, ballet master and administrator, and now shares all aspects of artistic and administrative management with Duell.
In addition to her work with Ballet Chicago, she has been a guest teacher for Carolina Ballet, St. Louis Ballet, Ballet Idaho, the Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle, the National Dance Institute and New Mexico School of the Arts in Santa Fe, and Indiana University in Bloomington. She has also had the honor of teaching at The School of American Ballet in New York City.
Ms. Blair has a lifelong love for the ballets of George Balanchine, and values both the privilege of having performed so many of them, as well as the joy of passing them on to today’s dancers. As a répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, she is responsible for staging and maintaining a large body of work for Ballet Chicago. She has also staged Mr. Balanchine’s ballets for St. Louis Ballet, Indiana University Bloomington, and Huntsville Ballet.