Orlando Ballet leadership change: new principal hired

In the latest in a series of leadership changes at Orlando Ballet, Christopher Alloways-Ramsey will become the dance company’s new director of school.

Orlando Ballet announced the appointment on Monday. In recent weeks, director of community enrichment Charmaine Hunter left the organization after seven years to join the Sarasota Ballet. And in March, the company announced it would not renew executive director Cheryl Collins’ contract.

Alloways-Ramsey succeeds Phillip Broomhead as head of the Orlando Ballet School. Spokeswoman Sara Brady said Broomhead tendered his resignation last week, which Broomhead confirmed to the Sentinel.

“I’m going to work on something new,” he said, declining to elaborate further on his departure.

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Hunter, Collins and Broomhead were among Orlando Ballet’s highest-ranking officials with public roles, joining Jorden Morris, the company’s artistic director since 2021.

Brady said the rapid succession of changes was not easy, but was a necessary part of the organization’s growth.

“Change is always difficult,” she wrote in a statement, “and everyone within the organization is operating at a much higher level – and that is how Orlando Ballet will continue to attract some of the industry’s strongest leaders.”

Alloways-Ramsey is a graduate of Harvard University and received a master’s degree in fine arts in choreography from Jacksonville University. As a former dancer, his career includes assistant professor at the University of Utah’s School of Dance, as well as faculty positions at the American Academy of Ballet in New York, the Boston Arts Academy, and the Utah Dance Institute. He also held adjunct teaching positions at Harvard and Boston Conservatory.

Additionally, Alloways-Ramsey was head of ballet at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts in Cape Town, South Africa, where he oversaw a dancer training program.

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At Orlando Ballet, a reorganization by Morris means Alloways-Ramsey will have a new title – director of education – and expanded responsibilities. He will oversee the ballet’s community initiatives together with the school and curriculum.

The reorganization is part of a plan to strengthen the school and the company as a whole, Brady said.

“The ballet is a living, breathing organization that must always grow artistically and academically,” she wrote. “The board commissioned Jorden Morris to evaluate the organization as a whole and create a path that takes ballet to the next level of excellence.”

“Jorden’s intentional redesign of the school’s architecture and bringing everything together makes perfect sense,” Alloways-Ramsey said in the official announcement of his hiring. “The school will provide greater strategic opportunities for young people interested in professional dance, and provide a destination for locals who simply want a place to enjoy dance and fitness. It is a perfect blend of education, talent, skill and vision. I can’t wait to get started.”

Morris said new hires reflect the company’s growing prestige; Last year, the Orlando Ballet moved from number 30 to number 18 in Dance Data Project’s annual survey of the American ballet companies with the greatest financial resources.

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“Just as our performances and audiences have grown, so too has Orlando Ballet School’s reputation, enrollment, programming and impact in our community and industry, making this the ideal time to grow our success and with top professionals first,” Morris said in a statement.

The company continues to search for a new executive director; Morris has also fulfilled that role on an interim basis since Collins’ departure.

On Monday, the company also announced that Shane Bland has been named community engagement manager, reporting to Alloways-Ramsey, after serving as the program’s field director for three years.

Bland, also a dancer and actor who recently appeared in Orlando Shakes’ “Ain’t Misbehavin'”, will directly lead the company’s dance initiatives, such as the STEPS program for children who might not otherwise be exposed to dance education . which was previously supervised by Hunter.

Shane Bland has been named community engagement manager for Orlando Ballet.  (Courtesy of Orlando Ballet)
Shane Bland has been named community engagement manager for Orlando Ballet. (Courtesy of Orlando Ballet)

“Shane’s infectious enthusiasm for teaching dance and enriching the lives of everyone in our community has made him a key player in the dramatic expansion of our enrichment programs over the past three years,” Morris wrote. “Working with Chris and I will ensure a seamless transition.”

Although the ballet’s statement on the leadership changes did not mention Broomhead by name, leaders paid tribute to the school’s achievements under his watch.

“The Orlando Ballet School has grown rapidly and extensively in terms of prestige, programming, training and results, so it’s nice to start with something that is already fundamentally thriving,” Alloways-Ramsey wrote.

Shane Bland has been named community engagement manager for Orlando Ballet.  (Courtesy of Orlando Ballet)
Shane Bland has been named community engagement manager for Orlando Ballet. (Courtesy of Orlando Ballet)

Broomhead paid tribute to former Orlando Ballet artistic director Robert Hill, Morris’ predecessor, and told the Orlando Sentinel he would remain with the school to complete the academic year and oversee this weekend’s student-dancer showcases .

“I really enjoyed my time here,” he said. “Without Robert Hill, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show a side of myself even though I didn’t know I had it.”

Orlando Ballet concludes its mainstage season this weekend with performances of “Casanova” in Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

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