IBT MasterClass Series
Askegard joined Pennsylvania Ballet as Ballet Master in 2015.
Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Charles joined American Ballet Theatre—under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov—in 1987, and was promoted to Soloist in 1992. He danced with the Company for 10 years, performing lead roles in full-length and repertory ballets, such as Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, La Bayadère, and Manon, partnering Julie Kent and Nina Ananiashvili, and working with legendary choreographers like Natalia Makarova, Agnes de Mille, Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, and Glen Tetley.
In 1997, Charles joined New York City Ballet where he spent 14 years as a Principal Dancer. Askegard’s extensive repertoire with the Company included numerous great George Balanchine ballets, like Diamonds (the last act of Mr. B’s full-length Jewels), Stars and Stripes, Theme and Variations, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, as well as Apollo, Concerto Barocco, Symphony in C, and a long list of others.
When asked by Time Out magazine how long it took him to become a Balanchine dancer, Askegard said, “About two years. […] There were a lot of things that had to be changed and learned, and it wasn't just the dancing technique: It was the partnering technique as well.”
At New York City Ballet Charles had the honor of working with many renowned choreographers, such as Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Eliot Feld, Christopher Wheeldon, and Helgi Tommason.
Askegard danced his farewell performance with New York City Ballet on the last day of the fall 2011 season. The program included the supremely elegant Diamonds Pas de Deux from Jewels, in which he partnered the long-limbed Maria Kowroski; Episodes — also with Kowroski; Jerome Robbins’ In Memory of... ; and the fun, richly colorful Western Symphony.
Ballet critics and company members alike sang endless praises to Askegard’s “extraordinary skill of partnering,” in the words of Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times. “During my time watching his career, there have been many Nutcracker and Diamonds performances when a ballerina has been way off balance, but Mr. Askegard, supporting her with seeming nonchalance, has made the angle of her body look not only right, but also exciting,” the critic explained.
No one ever doubted Charles’s versatility but it was his “ability to take on some of the most challenging partnering assignments in the repertory” that “over the years earned him a lustrous reputation,” Macaulay summarized.
“Askegard’s retirement brought some City Ballet dancers to tears — who, who would partner them now?” famously wrote another NYC journalist.
“We've been able to dance together for 14 years, and even though I'm older than she is, […] we kind of matured together,” says Askegard about Kowroski. “She's so long and her legs are hyper-extended—she's absolutely beautiful, but a little tricky to partner. She's tall but also one of these girls who's super light. […] For me, it's been one of the most rewarding partnerships I've had in my career, if not the most.”
After retiring from New York City Ballet, Askegard co-founded Ballet Next, a company that he co-directed, and for which he choreographed and performed up until 2013.
Since joining Pennsylvania Ballet’s Artistic Staff, Charles continued appearing on stage in character roles such as Don Quixote in Don Quixote, Stepsister in Cinderella, King in The Sleeping Beauty, and Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet.
Charles is a frequent Youth America Grand Prix competition judge. He is on the Faculty of American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive and teaches Masterclasses all around the US.
“I was given the opportunity to work with Mr. Askegard last year,” says PA Ballet trainee and PBSI student, Hannah Baugher. “His classes were very intense yet enjoyable. In the couple of weeks I spent studying with him I have learned a lot and was happy to be given the opportunity to dance as a trainee with the Pennsylvania Ballet for the 2018/19 season. I definitely recommend his classes to every dancer, wherever you are in your training. What a treat from Palermo Ballet Summer Intensive!”
“Intense” is a word you’ll be hearing and using often, when training with Askegard. That’s the world-class training tradition he hailes from. Charles fondly remembers his summers at ABT in NYC. It was in the 80s, and the ABT Summer Program was run by Baryshnikov: “It was terrific. It was literally 40 people, and we danced basically all day, from class in the morning to variations and Pas de Deux and then modern class and jazz class—it was great and intense.”
“Great and intense” is exactly what we will deliver to you at Palermo Ballet Summer Intensive: old-school, serious and diverse training, small classes, dancing like you mean it, learning from today’s ballet élite. And we are delighted to have Charles Askegard join us in this endeavor.