Ballet Season Is Upon Us

Margaret Mullin is bringing new life to Ballet Tucson

Last year marked Margaret Mullin’s first season as artistic director with Ballet Tucson. Now heading into her second season, the momentum is growing and Ballet Tucson is becoming a household name.

Founded in 1986, Ballet Tucson was established with the purpose of offering world-class professional ballet to the communities of Southern Arizona. As a child and well into her teens, Mullin trained at the school and studied under her teacher, Chieko Imada, before pursuing a fourteen-year career with Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle as both a choreographer and dancer. Mullin eventually found her way back home to Ballet Tucson in 2022 and now works alongside her former teacher and current Associate Artistic Director, Chieko Imada. 

“As Artistic Director, I'm responsible for steering the organization forward, which includes choosing programming, dancers, and the artistic direction of the company,” said Mullin. “I grew up in Tucson and I am really passionate about bringing great art to Tucson.” 

During her first year in the role, Mullin put her focus into producing world-class ballets, straying from the familiar and breaking barriers 

“We are getting a lot more ambitious with the type of works we are performing,” said Mullin. “The caliber of the productions we are putting on has taken a huge step forward. We are investing in our dancers and pushing them to be the greatest artists that they can be, preparing them to perform advanced choreographic pieces that are sought after by top ballet companies both nationally and internationally.” 

Ballet is known to be fiercely competitive, with strict hours that can be harsh on the body. At Ballet Tucson, the dancers follow a rigorous schedule, with professional dancers rehearsing between 5 and 6 days per week, for up to 6 hours each day, and sometimes longer. Under these intense training hours, Mullin has taken great pride in further focusing on topics of mental health and overall wellness within the world of ballet.

“We strive to have a positive and supportive culture in our company. It’s a demanding art form and there are expectations that surround that, but we try to have a really positive mental health lens on how we’re doing things, how we treat the dancers and how they treat each other,” said Mullin.

These ideals have continued to attract national and even international attention. 

“Many people don’t realize that we have a fully professional ballet company right here in Tucson and that dancers come from all over the country, and sometimes the world, to dance for Ballet Tucson. We’re also proud that this includes graduates of the School of Ballet Tucson,” said Mullin. “This past year, we hired Abigail Lee as an apprentice dancer, who is an alum of our school. This is her first year in the company but she has been training with us since she was 5 years old.”

Ballet Tucson is home to dancers of all backgrounds, with their love for the art form bringing them together. Their different experiences help to generate new ideas and create better art. 

The dancers are sorted into the ranks of principals, soloists, demi soloists, corps de ballet, and apprentices and they all appear in the company shows.

“Patrons love different pieces and they love different dancers; it’s subjective and I think that’s a good thing. Not everyone has the same taste and that keeps things interesting and fresh in the performing arts,” said Mullin, “The best way to do well as a dancer in this company is to work hard and care about each other and what you do.”

November marks the start of Ballet Tucson’s main stage theatre season and Margaret Mullin’s second season leading as Artistic Director. With so many changes made in her first year, she is looking forward to continuing to grow, build, and see out the projects she started.

Through the organization’s 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 performance seasons, Mullin programmed 16 different premiers for the company, both world premieres and those new to Ballet Tucson. On top of this, last year was Ballet Tucson’s first year partnering with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for The Nutcracker thanks to the generous support of the James H. and Frances R. Allen Family Foundation. Rolling into her second season, she is excited to continue to grow the partnership. 

Mullin is a believer in the importance of arts organizations supporting each other and collaborating to create something inspiring for their community. During last season’s The Nutcracker, she recounts that the show was completely sold out and the audience applause was unlike anything she had ever heard. 

“People were so happy to experience live dance and music coming together in such a magical production through two great organizations.”

In addition to The Nutcracker, the Winter Concert is set to be an evening of magic and a merging of artistic forms.

“We're premiering an Édith Piaf piece called Eternal Love in our Winter Concert this year which I think is going to be fabulous,” said Mullin. “The piece is choreographed by our Associate Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Chieko Imada, who has a long history of creating great new works in partnership with the Tucson Desert Song Festival. We have an amazing singer Katherine Byrnes, and Khris Dodge, Conductor and Music Director of the Tucson Pops Orchestra and also Executive Director of the Tucson Jazz Festival, is going to be our pianist— They will be performing live on stage with our dancers!”

Outside of the programming, Mullin’s focus this season is really on the community. 

“We are trying to get out into our community a lot more. I think the desire to do so stems from my growing up here. I like creating opportunities for people to experience our art beyond the traditional theater setting. It’s our mission to uplift and inspire our city through dance and I would like Ballet Tucson to be known as a pillar of the community,” said Mullin. 

She aims to make Ballet Tucson a welcoming organization, where all members of the community can picture themselves in the audience, allowing the art of ballet to be shared. 

“We love this art form and there is so much to explore within it. Whether onstage at our performances or at our wonderful school, we work to bring the best of ballet to our community. That’s the heart of what we do.”

This season is set to be a big one with a whole lot to look forward to. With ambitious pieces on the calendar, Ballet Tucson welcomes you to enjoy the wonder and majesty of the art of ballet. Season Subscriptions are still available and offer incredible benefits to ensure that you have a great experience. Subscribers save 20% on the entire season, have access to free, flexible, and easy ticket exchange options and more. Visit for more information.

“We love this art form and there is so much to explore within it. Whether onstage at our performances or at our wonderful school, we work to bring the best of ballet to our community. That’s the heart of what we do.”

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