Get to Know Helen Pickett - Boston Ballet

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Get to Know Helen Pickett

Seo Hye Han and Derek Dunn with choreographer Helen Pickett

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

Helen Pickett has been professionally choreographing for 14 years. She also has strong ties to Boston Ballet, where she got her choreographic start.

Lia Cirio in Pickett's Tsukiyo

Photo credit: Gene Schiavone

Lia Cirio and Sabi Varga in Pickett's Tsukiyo

Photo credit: Gene Schiavone

Since Pickett’s start with Boston Ballet in 2005, she has created over 40 ballets in the U.S. and Europe. Here are 10 things to know about her.

1. She has a long history with Boston Ballet: In 2005, Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen offered Helen Pickett her first choreographic commission titled Etesian. Since then, she has choreographed four new works for Boston Ballet: EventideTsukiyoLayli o Majnun, and Tabula Rasa.

2. She is a choreographic success: In 2007, Dance Magazine named Pickett one of 25 TO WATCH for choreography. She received a Choreographic Residency from Jacob’s Pillow in 2008 and was one of the first choreographers to receive the Jerome Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works Grant in 2009. Her full-length ballet The Crucible for Scottish Ballet won the Herald Angel Award and UK Theatre Award in 2019.

3. She takes literary inspiration: Pickett’s Tsukiyo will be performed as part of this season’s CARMEN program. She originally created the intimate duet for Boston Ballet in 2009 and pulled inspiration from the Japanese fable of “The Woodcutter’s Daughter.”

4. And theatrical inspiration: Pickett’s first full-length ballet, Camino Real, was inspired by Tennessee Williams’ 1953 play of the same name. When it premiered in 2015, Dance Critic Manning Harris wrote that Pickett’s rendition would “become a legend in the dance world.” Later that year, she won Best Choreographer and Best Dance Production of Atlanta for Camino Real.

5. She premiered an early version of Petal at Boston Ballet: Pickett’s vibrant Petal will also be performed as part of the Carmen program. While this is the first time the full ballet will be seen in Boston, Petal was originally commissioned as a 10-minute work for a Boston Ballet in-studio workshop in 2007.

Helen Pickett and Seo Hye Han

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

6. She keeps good company: Pickett performed with WILLIAM FORSYTHE’s Ballet Frankfurt for more than a decade. Her repertoire includes In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. She also teaches FORSYTHE IMPROVISATION TECHNOLOGIES throughout the United States.

7. She is in demand around the world: Pickett served as Resident Choreographer for Atlanta Ballet from 2012 to 2017. She has also choreographed for several distinguished companies, including Ballet West, Pennsylvania Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Semperoper/Dresden Ballet, Vienna State Opera, and Scottish Ballet.

8. She has an honorary doctorate: Pickett received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in 2016 from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

9. She gives back: Pickett created a choreographic intensive for college-age choreographers called Choreographic Essentials and a motivational creative workshop for the public called STEP INTO COURAGE.

10. She’s a ChoreograpHERDANCE MAGAZINE called Pickett “one of the few prominent women choreographers in ballet today.” Boston Ballet is committed to elevating the works of female choreographers from within the Company and beyond through the CHOREOGRAPHER INITIATIVE.