By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 18, 2023 at 1:30 PM

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced Wednesday that it has hired Milwaukee native Adam W. McKinney as its new artistic director, after "a comprehensive international search."

McKinney, 46, who grew up on the East Side near UWM, will be the seventh artistic director in the company's 54-year history, and its first artistic director of color.

He will begin in March.  

“We are thrilled to welcome Adam W. McKinney as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s next artistic director,” said President and Board Chair Mary McKinney Flaherty in Wednesday's announcement.

"After an extensive search, expertly led by search committee chairs Dr. Melonie Nance and Rich Beaty and guided by PBT’s historical strengths and established strategic goals, Adam became the clear choice to lead PBT’s next era. We believe Adam will be a transformative artistic director  for our organization and leader in our community and throughout the world of ballet.”

McKinney has danced with the Milwaukee Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Bejart Ballet Lausanne.

He is former co-director and founder at DNAWORKS, former chair of the dance department at New Mexico School for the Arts and, most recently, a tenured associate dance professor at Texas Christian University.

McKinney succeeds Susan Jaffe, who is now artistic director at American Ballet Theatre.

“I most look forward to building upon PBT’s significant ballet legacy by curating meaningful and innovative season programming, working with and mentoring company artists and PBT School students and developing relationships with the PBT staff," McKinney said in a statement issued Wednesday. "Many have prepared PBT and me for this moment, which I do not take lightly. Together we have an extraordinary opportunity to build PBT and Pittsburgh’s arts and culture ecology.

"I am moved to meet the people of Pittsburgh. Under my leadership, I will work to develop relationships in and with the broader communities to ensure that all people know that they are welcome and belong at PBT.”

Check out this interview with McKinney today in Pointe magazine.

On a personal note, I've known the amazing Adam McKinney for many, many years and I wish him success in his new role.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.