Robert Alexander Lindgren began studying ballet in Victoria, B.C., Canada, with Dorothy Wilson and then in Vancouver with June Roper. He joined American Ballet Theatre in 1940 and, after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, he joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. During his years with the Ballet Russe he rose to the rank of leading dancer, working with choreographers such as Fokine, Massine, Balanchine and de Mille.
Lindgren and Sonja Tyven were married in 1952. In 1957, Lindgren joined the New York City Ballet where he was a soloist. In 1959, he moved to Phoenix, where he and his wife opened the Lindgren-Tyven School of Ballet. After the birth of his two daughters, Lindgren moved to Winston-Salem to serve as the first Dean of the School of Dance at the newly established North Carolina School of the Arts. During his tenure at the School of the Arts, Lindgren and Tyven choreographed the school's first production of “The Nutcracker,” which became a Winston-Salem holiday tradition.
He founded the North Carolina Dance Theatre, a professional affiliate of the School of the Arts. He established the Preparatory Dance Program along with his wife to train young dancers from the local community. He left in 1987 to become general director (later, president) of the School of American Ballet in New York City, where he served until 1991.
Lindgren served on the Council for Lincoln Center; the dance and choreographer panels of the National Endowment for the Arts; the boards of the arts councils of North Carolina, New York State and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, and the Board of Visitors of the School of American Ballet. He was an adjudicator for the Regional Ballet Festivals for many years. He received honorary doctorates from Wake Forest University (1976) and UNCSA (2006). He was a visiting guest artist at Wake Forest University and director of the South Carolina Governor's School dance program and was instrumental in the founding of the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh.
He received the North Carolina Governor's Award in 1980 for outstanding contribution to the arts. In 2006 he served on a Founders Forum panel alongside John Ehle, Philip Hanes, Tom Lambeth, Mary Semans and Robert Ward, as UNCSA celebrated its 40th anniversary. Mr. Lindgren passed away in 2013.
Susan McKee McCullough is a native of Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from the high school program of the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1969 and became a founding member of the North Carolina Dance Theatre. She joined the Harkness Ballet in 1972 and in 1974, she joined Nederlands Dance Theatre (NDT). Over the next nine years with NDT, she was an original cast member in Jiri Kylian’s “Sinfonietta”, “Symphony in D”, “Symphony of Psalms” and of other choreographers such as Hans Van Manen, Glenn Tetley and William Forsythe. She became a company teacher and Ballet Mistress for NDT in 1980.
Returning to the United States in 1984 McCullough was a guest teacher and staged Kylian’s repertory for The Joffrey and The Royal Winnipeg. In 1986 she was appointed the Director of the Pittsburgh Ballet School. In 1988 she was appointed the Dean of the School of Dance of the North Carolina School of the Arts, a position she held until 2008. She “retreated” to the faculty of the School of Dance at (U)NCSA in 2008 and retired in 2014.
Ms. McCullough has choreographed and restaged over thirty works since returning to the USA in 1984 for the North Carolina Dance Theatre, The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Tallahassee Ballet, SUNY Purchase and the North Carolina School of the Arts to name a few. She was the recipient of the Pennsylvania Arts Council Choreographer Grant in 1987.
Throughout his years of teaching, Smith developed reliable methods of helping his students discover their potential and assisting them in reaching their goals. As a School of Dance alumnus from the first four years of UNCSA’s history, Smith has a unique understanding of the initial vision and ongoing mission of this school both as a student and continued throughout his teaching career. The intensive training and professional environment of UNCSA prepared him well for his own 13 year career with American Ballet Theatre. Smith served in the role of Instructor and Associate Professor since 1983, responding to the ever-changing demands of the professional life of young artists and working prepare students for their careers.