Robert Weiss (Founding Artistic Director/CEO) began his career as a professional dancer at the age of 17, when he joined the New York City Ballet at the request of George Balanchine. He remained with the company for 17 years, rising to the rank of principal dancer. During this time he performed principal roles in over 40 ballets, some of which were created for him by both Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. His career took him next to Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia, where he served as Artistic Director for eight years.
As a choreographer, Mr. Weiss has created over 40 ballets, including commissions by Pennsylvania Ballet, American Ballet Theatre (for Kirkland and Baryshnikov), the New York City Ballet, Bejart’s Ballet of the 20th Century, The Caramoor Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, Stars of American Ballet, and Philadanco Dance Company, among others. He is a recipient of two fellowships for choreography from the National Endowment for the Arts.
In May 1997, Mr. Weiss was invited to become the founding Artistic Director of Carolina Ballet. Mr. Weiss has received great critical and audience response for his Carolina Ballet world premieres including Romeo and Juliet, Messiah, Stravinsky’s Clowns (Jeu de Cartes, Petruschka and Pulchinella), Carmen, Nutcracker, The Kreutzer Sonata, Firebird (which has been presented by Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center in the nation’s capital), Swan Lake, Cinderella and Peter and the Wolf, and a new Sleeping Beauty after Petipa to end the tenth anniversary season in 2008. In 2009 Mr. Weiss created a new Beauty and the Beast to a commissioned score from Karl Moraski.
Other ballets he has created on the company include Grosse Fuge; Des Images, based on the paintings and sculpture of Edgar Degas; Reflection, an homage to his mentor George Balanchine during the centennial celebration of his birth; and Symposium to Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade inspired by the writings of Plato; Petit Ballet Romantique to selections from Leo Delibes’ ballet scores in October 2005; and Tempest Fantasy in February 2006 to the Pulitzer Prize winning score of Paul Moravec. In 2007, Robert Weiss collaborated with the North Carolina Museum of Art and presented Monet Impressions to coincide with the Monet exhibit at the Museum. Lynne Taylor-Corbett created Picnic on the Grass for the program to accompany Weiss’ The Gardens at Giverny.
In 2008 and 2009, Weiss and Carolina Ballet collaborated with the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University presenting two premieres – Don Quixote and Picasso – to coincide with two of the museums exhibitions. In 2008 he also created a second ballet to music of Paul Moravec, Time Gallery; a ballet to Dvorak’s Serenade for strings called Serenata; Waltzes of Old Vienna; and Oblique Dreamscapes. During the 2010-2011 season, Robert Weiss created The Masque of the Red Death from Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre story for the Dracula program; and he also created Grieg: Piano Concerto, A Dancerly Response and Sturmische Liebe.
In May 2005 Robert Weiss received the Medal of the Arts from the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, and in fall 2009 he was honored by the Phi Beta Kappa Society of North Carolina. In May 2011, Mr. Weiss received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts Degree from North Carolina State University.