Celebrating Black History Month with Adam W. McKinney

Photo: Anita Buzzy Prentiss

In honor of Black History Month, we are excited to present some deeper insight into our artistic director, Adam W. McKinney. We hope you enjoy learning more about him, his accomplishments and a bit more about him as a person, an artist and a leader.

About Adam W. McKinney

Adam W. McKinney began his role as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s artistic director in March 2023. He brought with him a diverse and accomplished background in arts leadership across the globe, having served as an arts organization director, tenured professor, choreographer, dancer, educator and activist.
Adam loves his new home city of Pittsburgh and is excited to build on PBT’s long history of excellence here by making ballet accessible to all people, bringing in new works and choreographers, presenting family-friendly productions and working in and with local communities to ensure that they know that they belong in ballet and at PBT.
He is eager to continue to build a culture that focuses on inclusivity and opportunity and reflects the diversity of the Pittsburgh region. Adam is working to create more opportunities for the Pittsburgh community to engage with PBT, including education programs in schools, furnishing accessibility programming and providing health & wellness classes for members of the Pittsburgh area.

What is your favorite ballet?
Oh, my. There are so many! Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante is top of mind. I danced Allegro at Milwaukee Ballet. Mr. Balanchine said about the work that it is “everything I know about classical ballet in thirteen minutes.” I look forward to Zippora Karz’s arrival in March when she will stage it for PBT. Also, William Forsythe’s Blake Works, a work that I hope to bring to PBT in future years, is electric, riveting, wondrous and profound — a tour de force!

Photo: Anita Buzzy Prentiss

What do you like to do in your spare time?
With what spare time I have, I spend my early mornings on my Peloton. I also enjoy cooking, traveling, writing, being outdoors and spending time with family. Also, I am an avid bath taker.

What is your favorite part of being an Artistic Director?

Every day is different, and I get to utilize my brain to solve and collaborate on small and large problems. I feel as though all areas of expertise are represented in my responsibilities as artistic director. It’s an absolute joy!

What makes you laugh?
People make me laugh. We are amazingly infinite in our possibilities. People bring me joy, and make me excited.

Photo: Andrew Eccles

What is your proudest moment?
About 20 years ago, I had the honor and pleasure of being present during the birth of my nephew. I was with my sister and her husband, my parents and my brother-in-law’s mother. It was a proud, extraordinary experience that I will never forget.

If I weren’t a ballet dancer, I would be…
Either a doctor or data analyst

When did you know you wanted to pursue a professional career in ballet?
It had to be my first ballet class when I already knew how to tours enchaînement and saut de chat. I was hooked!

Who is your inspiration – in dance and in life?
My family, my husband, nature, people, words and poetry, ideas, food, places, exercise, practice, language, visual art and sculpture…