Nancy Davis, Founder/Artistic Director
Nancy Davis, a founder and Artistic Director of The Portland Ballet, began her training at age six with Natalia Clare of the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo. She later studied with Irina Kosmovska of the Bolshoi and was chosen to appear with the Bolshoi in Asaf Messerer’s Ballet School during the company’s two seasons in Los Angeles.
At fourteen, she received a full Ford Foundation scholarship to study at George Balanchine’s prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City. For the next three years, she trained with celebrated figures including Mr. Balanchine, Antonina Tumkovsky, Alexandra Danilova, Stanley Williams, and many other teaching luminaries of the school and of New York City Ballet.
In 1970 she joined Frederic Franklin and Ben Stevenson’s National Ballet of Washington, D. C., where she worked closely with frequent guest artist Dame Margot Fonteyn. Dancing a wide repertoire, Davis performed at the Kennedy Center and toured extensively, garnering soloist roles in Mr. Stevenson’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, Valerie Bettis’s A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Jungle by Rudi Van Danzig of Het National Ballet, Amsterdam.
In 1974, Davis became a founding member and principal of the original Los Angeles Ballet, directed by New York City Ballet choreographer and principal dancer John Clifford, who created many roles on her. While touring with Los Angeles Ballet in the U. S. and internationally, she was singled out for critical acclaim by The New York Times critics Anna Kisselgoff, Jennifer Dunning, Jack Anderson, and others for her roles in Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Concerto Barocco, Serenade, Allegro Brillante, The Four Temperaments, and Clifford’s Sitar Concerto, Symphony, Firebird, Sonata and Nutcracker, and Anton Dolin’s Pas de Quatre.
Davis has also appeared in two movies, The Addams Family (1991) directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and Young Doctors in Love (1982) directed by Garry Marshall, in which she played the supporting role of Miss Pendergast, “a secretary on pointe.”
In 2001, Davis and her former Los Angeles Ballet partner, now husband, Jim Lane, founded The Portland Ballet. Her reputation as an outstanding teacher led her to serve as a faculty member at Oregon Ballet Theatre and NW Academy, as a frequent guest teacher at Saint Louis Ballet, and to numerous guest teaching stints around the United States, as well as Santo Domingo in December of 2016.
In 2019, after a 27-year absence from the stage, Ms. Davis triumphantly returned to the stage in the role of La Flamme Rouge in Tom Gold’s Petrushka, choreographed for the dancers of The Portland Ballet. This year marks her 50th anniversary as an accomplished star in this wonderful art form.