With the end of Swan Lake comes the end of an era – Peter Anastos, artistic director for the last 10 years, will be taking his leave of Ballet Idaho and beginning his retirement. Our Marketing Director, Meredith Stead, sat down with him to talk about both his journey of the past ten years, as well as his plans for the future.
What are you most proud of during your ten years with Ballet Idaho?
Well, pride is a process: I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity, by AJ Balukoff, Mrs. Simplot, and the Board in 2008, to form a company from scratch. We all took a huge gamble, but I’m proud to say we’ve survived. Just keeping the Ballet company running for 10 years makes me proud of our community. I’m proud of the way we have shaped and defined Ballet Idaho, and certainly for bringing the ballets of George Balanchine here. Finally, I’m proud that Ballet Idaho is now a known and respected company on the ballet world’s map. We did it!
What were the toughest challenges that you faced?
Always and forever, the biggest challenge is fund raising. But we’ve continued to grow as a company, refine our efforts, enlarge our donor base, make new friends every year. Although we’ve been through some dicey times, we’ve never missed a payroll!
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen take place over the years in the company?
One big change is the size of our audience. We started small, I have to admit. But the change is positive and it’s the confidence and support our community has shown in the company after 10 years. Our audience is large and growing, we have touched so many people’s lives, educated so many students, introduced so many people to the joy of ballet. We have also seen change in our repertoire, adding more contemporary work (which has a very sizeable fan base) and, again, adding the ballets of my hero, George Balanchine. His ballets create an audience by their genius and their accessibility.
As you pass off the torch, do you have any advice to give to Garrett Anderson, our new Artistic Director?
I wouldn’t presume to give him advice, except to say “be strong.” The Artistic Director is the company’s leader, it’s head and heart, and everything that the company does should flow from the vision of the Artistic Director. There is no such thing as a good ballet company without a great Director. I have no doubt Garrett Anderson will continue to improve and grow Ballet Idaho. It’s a very exciting adventure for him, for the company and for the community. I wish him God speed.
What would you wish for Ballet Idaho ten years from now?
I would wish for more work week for the dancers, better pay, more performances. I wish that in 10 years Ballet Idaho is a major national treasure and the pride of Idaho.
What are your plans for post retirement?
People like me don’t really ever “retire.” I have some interesting freelance choreography projects coming up next year in the US and also a developing project in Japan. That should be exciting. But first I will be catching my breath with a summer vacation to Norway and Russia. Want to bet I won’t be able to keep away from ballet performances? Also, I plan to stay in Boise, a wonderful place to live. We love our home, have many friends here, and I look forward to watching the continued growth and success of Ballet Idaho.