The Florida Ballet at Jacksonville, Inc. (d/b/a The Florida Ballet) was founded in 1978 by Laurie Picinich-Byrd and Michael F. Byrd. Michael, born and raised in Jacksonville, completed his education at the University of Florida before going to New York City to pursue a professional career in dance. Laurie had been trained in New York and London, England and was working as a choreographer, teacher and dancer. They met while working at the Metropolitan Opera House. Both had a passion for the arts and a desire to bring dance to a community to enhance the quality of life. Michael wanted to give back to his home city and so The Florida Ballet at Jacksonville was born!
The Company debuted at the old Civic Auditorium Little Theatre in March of 1979. In addition to the theater performances, the company dancers also gave educational programs in schools. The service to Jacksonville’s young people was established from the first season! The next season a federal grant allowed the dancers to present over 125 in-school programs, in addition to the dance concerts in the theater.
In 1981, several of the city’s dedicated dance students were requesting training from Mr. and Mrs. Byrd. The directors were well aware of the intense training needed to pursue a professional career. They added The Florida Ballet Training Center to their already busy schedule.
The Company and newly formed Training Center were given rehearsal space in the old Ivey’s building (now JEA building) in downtown Jacksonville and then at the First Presbyterian Church on Monroe street. As the company grew, so did the need for a real home. The Clarkson Company assisted the company in acquiring an historic building on Forsyth Street, directly across the street from the Florida Theatre. From 1983 to 1989 The Florida Ballet toured throughout the southeast presenting professional quality dance performances. For three years the Company was the highest funded dance company by the State of Florida through the Department of State’s grants.
For over twenty years audiences have been captivated and entertained by Florida Ballet’s professional production of “The Nutcracker.” And 2015 is no different with performances on December 19th and 20th at the Lazzara Theatre on the campus of the University of North Florida. Guest artists Sarah Webb and Ian Casady, principal dancers from the Houston Ballet, are featured as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier along with over 100 local dance students and professionals. We invite you to become a part of this holiday tradition that is “The Nutcracker.” Information about performance times, ticket sales and pricing is available by clicking on the links below.
- Saturday, December 19 2015 2:00PM
- Saturday, December 19 2015 7:30PM
- Sunday, December 20 2015 2:00PM
- Sunday, December 20 2015 7:30PM
*Please note: Parking for performances at the Lazzara Performance Hall is available in a parking garage adjacent to the venue. All patrons attending "The Nutcracker" performances are required to stop at the main campus parking booth, located at the I-295 entrance to campus, and purchase a $5 per vehicle daily parking permit. Cash and credit/debit cards are accepted at the booth for payment.