Robert Weiss has served as Carolina Ballet’s Artistic Director / CEO since the company’s professional launch in 1997 until July 2019. Under his artistic and executive leadership, Carolina Ballet has become one of America’s premier professional ballet companies, and one of the nation’s finest arts organizations (The Wall Street Journal).
Mr. Weiss has created over 60 new works for Carolina Ballet, including the first full-evening ballet choreographed to Handel’s Messiah, an original full-length Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Carmen, and The Nutcracker. In addition, he has choreographed repertory pieces to Stravinsky’s Firebird, Petruschka, Symphony in C and Concerto for Two Pianos; Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, Grosse Fuge, and the 9th Symphony; Bach’s Musical Offering; Grieg’s Piano Concerto; Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony; and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. He has worked with contemporary composer Paul Moravec using his Tempest Fantasy and Time Gallery to create new ballets; and he has collaborated on several short works and a full evening Macbeth with contemporary composer J. Mark Scearce.
After studying ballet from the age of 8, and performing as a child with the New York City Ballet; American Ballet Theatre; the Kirov Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet (on their U.S. tours), Robert Weiss began his career as a professional dancer at the age of 17, when he joined the New York City Ballet at the request of George Balanchine. He remained with the company for 17 years, rising to the rank of principal dancer. He performed principal roles in over 40 ballets, some of which were created for him by both Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. He was also featured in Illuminations and Dim Lustre by Frederick Ashton and Antony Tudor respectively, and worked directly with these esteemed choreographers on the revival of these works for New York City Ballet.
Upon retiring as a dancer, Mr. Weiss was appointed Artistic Director of Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia. There he precipitated a period of great artistic growth for that company and a complementary growth in revenue and audiences, both of which more than tripled during his nine seasons. Mr. Weiss has also created works for American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Maurice Bejart’s Ballet of the 20th Century, The Caramoor Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, Stars of American Ballet, and Philadanco Dance Company. In January 2012, Weiss directed and choreographed the opera Les Enfants Terribles to music of Philip Glass for the North Carolina Opera.
Mr. Weiss is a recipient of two fellowships for choreography from the National Endowment for the Arts. In May 2005 Robert Weiss received the Medal of Arts from the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, and in fall 2009 he was honored by the Phi Beta Kappa Society of North Carolina. In May 2011, Mr. Weiss received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts Degree from North Carolina State University. He is married to Melissa Podcasy, the company’s founding principal ballerina, now a Ballet Master with the company.