KYRA NICHOLS began her early training in Berkeley, California, with her mother, Sally Streets, a former member of New York City Ballet. By age 13, Ms. Nichols started spending her summers in New York at the School of American Ballet. She performed with Alan Howard’s San Francisco based Pacific Ballet before moving to New York full-time when she was 15 years old.
She became an apprentice to NYCB in 1974 and quickly became a member of the corps de ballet. In 1979 she was promoted by George Balanchine to the rank of Principal Dancer. Her early years in the company were enlivened by the presence of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, both of whom were choreographing on the Company. Kyra Nichols danced numerous leading roles in the company repertory, ranging from pyrotechnic displays of bravura skill in ballets such as Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto Number 2 and Stars and Stripes to more lyrical and dramatic roles such those in Liebeslieder Walzer and Robert Schumann’s Davidsbundlertanze.
In addition to her work with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, Ms. Nichols has worked with an extensive list of choreographers including, William Forsythe, Susan Stroman, Christopher Wheeldon, Peter Martins, Jacques D’Amboise, Robert La Fosse and Robert Garland.
During her career, Ms. Nichols has toured extensively. In 1981 she joined a small group led by Jerome Robbins that performed in mainland China as a part of a US Information Agency effort to bring American culture to the Chinese. Over the years Ms. Nichols has all over the world, including Great Britain, France, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Israel and Italy. She has also appeared as a guest artist in various productions including Franco Zeffirelli’s La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. By special invitation she performed in Cuba as a guest of Alicia Alonso. With New York City Ballet dancer Gen Horiuchi Ms. Nichols led a group of dancers for a three week series of performances in Tokyo. Of course, her touring included sites all over the United States, from High School gymnasium’s in Alabama to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Nichols has appeared on national television in Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes for the Lincoln Center Special “A New York City Ballet Tribute to George Balanchine,” in Balanchine’s Serenade for a “Dance in America” program, and also in Mr. Martins’ Beethoven Romance for the “Dance in America” program, “Ballerinas, Dances by Peter Martins.” Ms. Nichols also appeared in the 20th anniversary broadcast of the PBS series “Great Performances” in Mr. Martins’ Not My Girl.
Ms. Nichols danced the featured role of Dewdrop in the film version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, produced by Elektra Entertainment/New Regency Enterprises, and released in November 1993 by Warner Brothers.
In recent years Ms. Nichols has been teaching ballet, bringing her vast experience and knowledge to a new generation of dancers. She has taught at many schools including the School of American Ballet (New York), The Rock School (Philadelphia) Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (Carlisle, PA), The Jillana School (Summer program, Taos, NM), Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA) and Boston Ballet (Boston). Kyra retired from New York City Ballet in June of 2007, after 33 years with the company. Since retiring, Ms. Nichols has been conducting private lessons.
Ms. Nichols lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, David Gray, and their two sons. On the odd occasion when she experiences free time, Ms. Nichols enjoys cooking and gardening.
- Ashley Bathgate - February 3rd, 2008