Louisville Ballet Welcomes Seasoned Duo as Artistic Directors

Mikelle Bruzina and Harald Uwe Kern
Combining 36 years of Company Expertise to Lead in the 72nd Year


LOUISVILLE, KY – Louisville Ballet proudly announces the appointment of its new Artistic Directors, Mikelle Bruzina and Harald Uwe Kern, marking a significant milestone for the organization. Helen Daigle will be elevated to Principal Repetiteur + Senior Rehearsal Director.

As the company embarked on discussions for new artistic leadership, former Artistic Director Bruce Simpson and former Associate Artistic Director Helen Starr, who served as interim artistic advisors during the transition, emphasized the value of generational and institutional wisdom within Louisville Ballet.

Mikelle Bruzina is a native of Lexington, Kentucky, and a graduate of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Professional Division. She has been a part of Louisville Ballet for a span of 28 years. Mikelle joined in 1995 as a member of the Corps de Ballet under the Direction of Alun Jones and during the tenure of Bruce Simpson, she worked her way up to principal dancer in 2004 and since 2010 has taken on the role of Senior Ballet Mistress for Louisville Ballet upon her retirement from the stage. The extensive range of roles as principal dancer gives her a breadth of knowledge in teaching, coaching, staging, and rehearsing the company’s extensive repertoire. In addition, Mikelle has been the director of the Louisville Ballet’s training program as Co-Associate Artistic Director of The Louisville Ballet Studio Company. As a choreographer, Bruzina has created several World Premiers commissioned by and for Louisville Ballet including Gloria (1999) and Sansei (2009), which received the prestigious Choo-San Goh Choreography Award and was a world premiere in 2012.

Harald Uwe Kern was invited in 2005 to join Louisville Ballet, by then Artistic Director Bruce Simpson as the company’s Ballet Master and was promoted in 2009 to Senior Ballet Master. Kern studied at the Ballet School of the Vienna State Opera and the Academie de le Danse de Princess Grace in Monte Carlo. He performed as a soloist and principal dancer with the Vienna State Opera Ballet, Basel Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Internationale, Charleston Ballet Theater, and the Channel Island Ballet, where he also served as Associate Artistic Director. He has toured throughout the world and received many accolades, including the Rudolf Nureyev Scholarship Award, the Paris International Dance Competition – prix d’interpretation, and an Award for Artistic Achievement from the New York International Ballet Competition. Over the last 18 seasons with Louisville Ballet, Kentucky audiences enjoyed his stagings and choreography as well as his stagecraft as a performer.

Helen Daigle, former Rehearsal Director at Louisville Ballet, will be elevated to Principal Repetiteur + Senior Rehearsal Director. Daigle studied at Joffrey Ballet School and School of American Ballet. She performed professionally with Feld Ballet’s New York, Ballet Hispanico, and Miami City Ballet before joining Louisville Ballet in 1998. Through her 20 years as an Artist with Louisville Ballet, she has performed soloist and principal roles in ballets including Lark Ascending, In the Glow of the Night, Who Cares?, Serenade, Lambarena, Scheherazade, Company B, Etesian, Cold Virtues, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Don Quixote. Apart from teaching and coaching the Company and Studio Company Dancers, she is also the official stager of resident choreographer Adam Hougland’s works.

“Louisville Ballet is committed to fostering growth and opportunity, particularly within our own organization, where exceptional talent resides to propel the company forward,” remarked CEO Leslie Smart.

Louisville Ballet’s Season of the Commonwealth is a tribute to the state, infusing productions with the vibrant spirit of the Bluegrass. Their inaugural in-studio production, Distilled, scheduled for October 13-15, has already sold out. For a comprehensive list of shows and ticket information for the entire 2023-24 season, please visit louisvilleballet.org