Skip to main content
David Nixon OBE. Photo Joan Russell Photography

David Nixon CBE

David Nixon was Artistic Director of Northern Ballet from 2001 to 2022.

David trained as a dancer, first in his home town of Chatham, Ontario and then at the National Ballet School of Canada where his training began in earnest. It was during his time there that he first became interested in choreography, helping to revive a choreographic workshop with the approval of school director Betty Oliphant. After further training in Europe he returned to Canada to train with Erik Bruhn and the great Russian teacher, Eugene Valukin.

David’s career began at the National Ballet of Canada where he progressed rapidly through the ranks to become a Principal Dancer, dancing lead roles in the classical and contemporary repertoire. In 1985 he joined the Deutsche Oper Ballet in Berlin as Principal Dancer where he won the Critics’ Award for Best Male Performance (1987) and continued to increase his own choreographic output. This included producing and directing a successful mixed programme, David Nixon’s Liaisons, at the Hebbel Theatre, Berlin in 1990.

David left Berlin for a series of Principal Guest Artist positions with National Ballet of Canada, Bayerisches Staatsballett, Munich and Royal Winnipeg Ballet before returning to Deutsche Oper Ballet in 1994 as First Ballet Master. His Guest Artist credits also include: Birmingham Royal BalletKomische OperDeutsche StaatsoperHamburg Ballet; and Sydney City Ballet.

In 1994 David became Artistic Director of BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, USA. During his six years with the Company he added 16 world and 15 company premières to the repertoire.

Since joining Northern Ballet, David has added an impressive array of new works to the repertoire including: Madame Butterfly (nominated for an MEN Award); Wuthering HeightsI Got RhythmSwan LakeA Midsummer Night’s Dream (nominated for an Olivier Award and MEN Award); Peter PanDraculaThe Three Musketeers (winner of MEN Award and nominated for an Olivier Award); A Sleeping Beauty TaleThe NutcrackerHamletCleopatraBeauty & the BeastThe Great Gatsby (nominated for a National dance Award and UK Theatre Award); Cinderella (nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award); The Little Mermaid (winner of a BroadwayWorldUK Award); and several short works. His adaptation of Dracula became Northern Ballet's first performance to be broadcast live in cinemas on Halloween 2019.

David’s productions have been staged worldwide including Europe, Canada, the USA and South Africa. Most recently he reproduced The Great Gatsby for West Australian Ballet in 2017.

In 2020, David’s choreography featured on primetime television on BBC One’s The Greatest Dancer

David was voted Director of the Year by readers of Dance Europe in 2003 and 2006, and in 2018 was awarded the Ken McCarter Award for Distinguished National Ballet School Alumni by Canada’s National Ballet School.

Under his directorship Northern Ballet has also won several awards: Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards (Audience Award) 2004, 2005 and 2006; Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards (Patron’s Award) 2009; Taglioni European Ballet Awards (Best Company) 2014; South Bank Sky Arts Awards (Dance Award) 2016 for 1984 and 2020 for Victoria, UK Theatre Awards (Achievement in Dance) 2018. Northern Ballet has also been nominated for many prestigious awards: South Bank Sky Arts Awards (Dance Award) 2017 for Jane Eyre; UKTheatre Awards (Achievement in Dance) 2016; Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards (Outstanding Company) 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021.

In January 2010 David was awarded an OBE for his services to dance in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.