Edwaard Liang continues BalletMet’s history of directors who choreograph
By Steve Sucato
Newly appointed BalletMet Columbus artistic director Edwaard Liang says he didn’t know he wanted the position until it fell into his lap. The 39-year-old internationally known choreographer had just returned from creating a work for Bolshoi Ballet’s Svetlana Zakharova in Russia when he received an invitation from the BalletMet executive committee to apply. Though he was reluctant to interview at first, he was soon convinced to throw his hat into the ring, realizing that no matter the outcome, it would be a learning experience at the very least.
In July 2013 he became the Columbus, Ohio, ballet company’s fifth artistic director, succeeding Gerard Charles, who is now a ballet master at Joffrey Ballet. Founded in 1978, BalletMet has a rich performance history showcasing a mix of classics (Balanchine and story ballets) along with a range of contemporary works from choreographers such as James Kudelka, Stanton Welch and Doug Varone. The dual role of artistic director as company choreographer, embraced by all of its previous directors, most notably John McFall and David Nixon, was an exciting prospect for Liang in accepting the directorship. “I think that a ballet company that has an artistic director who choreographs sets it apart from others,” says Liang. “It has its own strategic voice and vision.”