23-24 Nutcracker Playbill - Other - Page 8
Founded in 1969 by dance pioneer Bernadette Clements, Northwest Florida Ballet was originally
called the Fort Walton Beach Ballet. The name was changed to the Northwest Florida Ballet in
1987 to better reflect its geographic service area. The organization’s mission is to provide premiere
professional performances, provide an enhanced arts curriculum within the framework of a
public school education, identify and develop dancers through exceptional training, and increase
community engagement via outreach.
In 1995, former NFB student Todd Eric Allen returned to the area with his wife, Shari Allen, after
a distinguished career with Boston Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens to accept the position
of Director of the Company. The Allen’s talent, leadership skills, and extensive performance
experience have contributed greatly to the continued growth and success of the Company.
In August 2001, the Northwest Florida Ballet and Sybil Smith Lebherz Center for Dance Education
opened its doors in downtown Fort Walton Beach after a three-year fund raising campaign and a
thirty-three year history of service to the residents of Northwest Florida.
NFB offers world-class performances and training to the community, and reaches thousands
of school children through public programs and student performances. In 2002 NFB opened its
unique arts education program, the NFB Académie, offering superior academic education and
ballet training to young students in grades 3-8 free of charge. For students grades 9-12 NFB
created its Pre-Professional Program, an intensive course of study for young men and women who
wish to pursue careers as professional dancers.