Born in Helsinki, Finland, Nissinen began his dance training at age ten with The Finnish National Ballet School, and launched his professional dance career at age 15 with The Finnish National Ballet. In 1978, he won First Prize at The National Ballet Competition in Kuopio, Finland. He continued his studies at The Kirov Ballet School. Nissinen went on to dance with Dutch National Ballet, Basel Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, where he held the position of principal dancer for ten years. During Nissinen’s performance career his vast repertoire ranged from classical to contemporary works. As a guest artist, he danced with many different companies and partners and at numerous international galas.
Nissinen directed the Marin Ballet in San Rafael, California from 1996-1998, and Alberta Ballet from 1998-2001, also serving as Alberta Ballet’s Executive Director from 1999-2000. As Artistic Director of Boston Ballet, Nissinen has defined the Company’s image, cultivating a compelling and dynamic collection of classical, neo-classical and contemporary repertoire, establishing the Company as one of the leading ballet organizations in America. Nissinen actively promotes progressive new work and creations, commissioning emerging choreographers.
Commencing in the winter 2008, for a year and a half, Nissinen served as Executive Director of Boston Ballet. Under his direction, Boston Ballet has toured nationally and internationally for the first time in 16 years, to Spain, Korea, and Canada. Nissinen also heads Boston Ballet School, the largest ballet school in North America, which annually enrolls over 3,000 students in its recreational and pre-professional programs.
His broad knowledge of dance, its history, and arts organization business leadership makes him a popular presenter at conferences including Harvard University, Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a fellow at the 2002 Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders in the Arts at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has juried the Prix de Lausanne, Benois de la Danse, Japan Grand Prix, the Helsinki International Ballet Competition and the New York International Ballet Competition.
He is a member of the Artistic Committee for the New York Choreographic Institute, an advisory board member of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship and the recipient of the Finlandia Foundation’s 2008 Arts and Letters Award, the 2007 United Nations Association of Greater Boston Leadership Award, and Boston’s Guide for the Arts 2009 Ambassador for the Arts Award.
Mikko Nissinen has been instrumental in the development of the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition, started in 2011 as the Boston International Ballet Competition, before moving to New York in 2013.Return to the Jury