Peter Martins
Peter Martins is a Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

 dancer and choreographer. Martins was named man of the year by Danish American Society, 1980. He was a principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet
Royal Danish Ballet
The Royal Danish Ballet is one of the oldest ballet companies in the world. Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, it originates from 1748, when the Royal Danish Theatre was founded, and was finally organized in 1771 in response to the great popularity of French and Italian styles of dance...

 and with New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Leon Barzin was the company's first music director. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company...

, where he joined George Balanchine
George Balanchine
George Balanchine , born Giorgi Balanchivadze in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to a Georgian father and a Russian mother, was one of the 20th century's most famous choreographers, a developer of ballet in the United States, co-founder and balletmaster of New York City Ballet...

, Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins was an American theater producer, director, and choreographer known primarily for Broadway Theater and Ballet/Dance, but who also occasionally directed films and directed/produced for television. His work has included everything from classical ballet to contemporary musical theater...

 and John Taras
John Taras
John Taras was a prominent American balletmaster and choreographer. Born on the Lower East Side of New York City to Ukrainian parents, he was sent at age 16 to study ballet with Michel Fokine, Anatole Vilzak and Ludmila Shollar, and later to the School of American Ballet...

 as balletmaster in 1981, retired from dancing in 1983 at which time he became Co-Ballet Master-In-Chief with Robbins, and since 1990 has borne sole responsibility for artistic leadership of City Ballet.


Born and raised in Denmark, Martins studied at the School of the Royal Danish Ballet and danced with the company from 1965 to 1969. He was already an international star when he joined NYCB in 1970 as a principal dancer
Principal dancer
A principal dancer is a dancer at the highest rank within a professional dance company, particularly a ballet company....

. Martins danced a wide variety of roles, although he may be most famous for Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

and the Cavalier
Cavalier was the name used by Parliamentarians for a Royalist supporter of King Charles I and son Charles II during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration...

 in Balanchine's Nutcracker
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St...

. He danced frequently with Suzanne Farrell
Suzanne Farrell
Suzanne Farrell is an eminent 20th century ballerina and the founder of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C....

, although they parted acrimoniously when she retired in 1989. Martins was Balanchine's choice to run the company, and he was made Balletmaster in 1981. He retired from dancing in 1983 and assumed the job of Balletmaster-in-Chief in 1990.

Martins regularly choreographs new works for both companies. His first piece was Calcium Light Night
Calcium Light Night
Calcium Light Night is a piece of music by American composer Charles Ives. It is one of his Cartoons or Take-Offs and is scored for piccolo, clarinet, cornet, trombone, bass drum, and two pianos...

set to music by Charles Ives
Charles Ives
Charles Edward Ives was an American modernist composer. He is one of the first American composers of international renown, though Ives' music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Over time, Ives came to be regarded as an "American Original"...

 and premiered in 1977. His more recent pieces include Octet
Octet (Martins)
Octet is a ballet made by New York City Ballet balletmaster in chief Peter Martins to Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat major . The premiere took place November 14, 2003 at the Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen; the NYCB premiere was November 23, 2004, at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center.-...

, Friandises, Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Roman Catholic hymn to Mary. It has been variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III...

 and the full-length ballets The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake
Swan Lake
Swan Lake ballet, op. 20, by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, composed 1875–1876. The scenario, initially in four acts, was fashioned from Russian folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger...

and Romeo Juliet
Romeo + Juliet (ballet)
Romeo † Juliet is a ballet made by New York City Ballet balletmaster in chief Peter Martins to Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet...

. He also did the choreography for the Barbie movies Barbie in the Nutcracker
Barbie in the Nutcracker
Barbie in the Nutcracker is a 2001 computer animated and motion capture-based direct-to-video Barbie film directed by Owen Hurley. It was the first Barbie film since 1987's Barbie and the Rockers: Out of this World...

and Barbie of Swan Lake
Barbie of Swan Lake
Barbie of Swan Lake is a 2003 direct-to-DVD Barbie movie directed by Owen Hurley. It is the third computer animated movie of Barbie film series. Barbie and Odette is voiced by Kelly Sheridan. The story is an adaptation from "Swan Lake".-Plot:...


He was nominated for the 1986 Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

 for Best Choreographer for Song & Dance. Martins is a champion of contemporary music, working often with composer John Luther Adams
John Luther Adams
John Luther Adams is a composer whose music is inspired by nature, especially the landscapes of Alaska where he has lived since 1978.-Biography:...

. His autobiography, Far From Denmark was published in 1982, and his exercise regimen, NYCB Workout, first appeared in book form in 1997, with a DVD and a second series produced later. Martins was inducted into the National Museum of Dance C.V. Whitney Hall of Fame
National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame
The National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, in the Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga, New York, was established in 1986 and is the only museum in the nation dedicated entirely to dance. It contains photographs, videos, artifacts, costumes and biographies. The museum is located in the former and...

 in 2008.

His son, Nilas Martins (son of Royal Danish Ballet ballerina and later associate director Lise la Cour, whom Peter divorced after he left Denmark), is a principal dancer at NYCB. Peter Martins had a long relationship with former NYCB ballerina Heather Watts
Heather Watts
Heather Watts was a principal dancer with New York City Ballet. A native of California, Ms. Watts was born as Linda Heather Watts in Long Beach on September 27, 1953. She started taking up ballet at the age of 10, came to New York at the age of 13 on a Ford Foundation scholarship to attend the...

, which finally ended for good in 1990. In 1991 he married NYCB principal dancer Darci Kistler
Darci Kistler
Darci Kistler is a noted American ballerina. She is often said to be the last muse for legendary choreographer George Balanchine.-Biography:...

. Their daughter, Talicia, was born in 1996. Eventually, Martins along with The New York Sports Club, founded the New York City Ballet Workout, which is now practiced all over.

External links

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