Background on Bonnefoux
Bonnefoux is Charlotte Ballet’s third and longest serving artistic director. He and wife Patricia McBride joined Charlotte Ballet in 1996, just six years after the company moved from Winston-Salem, N.C. McBride will continue serving as associate artistic director, master teacher for Charlotte Ballet Academy and a répétiteur for George Balanchine works.
Bonnefoux’s professional career includes dancing with the Bolshoi, Kirov and Paris Opera ballets, and in 1970, he became a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. His final performance was in 1980, after which he dedicated himself to work as an artistic director, choreographer and teacher. He has served as the artistic director at the Chautauqua Institution in New York since 1983.
During his tenure with Charlotte Ballet, Bonnefoux has built an annual season including five performance series and attracted talented dancers from all over the world. Bonnefoux’s choreographic repertoire includes Shindig, Carmina Burana, Cinderella, Nutcracker, Peter Pan, Romeo & Juliet and Sleeping Beauty. He started the popular Innovative Works series and under his direction, the company has performed countless new ballets and masterworks by choreographers including Mark Godden, Jiri Kylian and Dwight Rhoden. Charlotte Ballet has toured nationally including appearances at the Joyce Theater in New York City and Ballet Across America at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Both appearances led to rave reviews for Bonnefoux’s iconic bluegrass ballet Shindig, including The New York Times’ Alastair Macaulay writing, “Lucky North Carolina” in response.
In recent years, Bonnefoux worked closely with Executive Director Doug Singleton to champion the effort to build a new facility and in June of 2010, Charlotte Ballet opened the Patricia McBride & Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux Center for Dance located in uptown Charlotte. He established a relationship with the Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C., where the company will perform regularly starting in December 2015. It was also through Bonnefoux’s vision that the company made the bold decision to change its name to Charlotte Ballet in 2014.
“Jean-Pierre has built a reputation of honoring the tradition of ballet, while fostering the evolution of the art form,” Singleton said. “His dedication to diverse programing and compassion for the artists has propelled tremendous progress for the company, and I look forward to having his counsel and wisdom as a continued part of Charlotte Ballet’s growth.”
When Bonnefoux came to Charlotte Ballet fewer than 150 students attended the Charlotte Ballet Academy. Today the Academy instructs over 700 dancers annually and graduates students to some of the top ballet companies. Bonnefoux remains committed to building diversity in ballet. He helped the company begin Reach, which provides dance training to students with financial need, and a partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem, which brings conservatory graduates to Charlotte to perform as members of Charlotte Ballet II.
Bonnefoux and McBride received The Arts & Science Council of Charlotte’s inaugural ASC Honors lifetime achievement award in 2008 and in 2011, they were chosen as the first recipients of the New York International Ballet Competition’s Ilona Copen Award.