The mission of Delta Festival Ballet is to foster an appreciation of the ballet art form in the Greater New Orleans area and throughout Louisiana.
To achieve this mission, Delta Festival Ballet will:
- Present professional ballet performances with artistic integrity and excellence,
- Train young dancers in ballet to the highest level they can attain,
- Provide these young dancers with opportunities to work with professional ballet artists in full-scale public productions and in student performances,
- Build support and appreciation for ballet in individuals, businesses, foundations and government and
- Inspire an appreciation of ballet in new audiences through public and special school performances.
A Brief History
Since its official beginning as a not-for-profit in 1969, Delta Festival Ballet has played a leading role in the cultural development of Louisiana. Delta is devoted to artistic integrity and excellence in its performances and to successful collaborations with other cultural institutions and businesses. These collaborative efforts have fostered the growth and appreciation of the art of dance in audiences of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds in metropolitan New Orleans and in smaller communities throughout the state.
Delta Festival Ballet is Louisiana’s largest resident, professional dance company. The company includes both a school and a pre-professional company, the New Orleans Youth Ballet (NOYB). This affords an opportunity for intensive study and performing experience to local, talented dancers who wish to pursue professional dance careers. As Artistic Directors and founders, Joseph Giacobbe and Maria Giacobbe have spent the last 43 years making Delta a remarkably stable, innovative and professional entity. More than 50 ballets and divertissements that range from 19th Century classics to popular rock ballets are in Delta’s repertoire. Both Joseph Giacobbe and Maria Giacobbe are internationally known for their skill as directors and teachers of classical ballet. Through Delta, the NOYB and the Giacobbe Academy of Dance, they have trained dancers who now fill the ranks of major ballet companies. These include the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Houston Ballet, London Festival Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Zurich Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre of England, and many more.
Delta Festival Ballet is strongly committed to arts-in-education and devotes a large portion of its programs and services to young people. In 1981, the company launched the Children’s Concert Series in conjunction with its first Louisiana tour of The Nutcracker. In the three decades since, this mini-version of The Nutcracker Ballet has been enjoyed by thousands of students in Louisiana. Continuing the education in the classroom, Delta provides comprehensive study guides to all participating educators. The Children’s Concert Series has presented other famous ballets including Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella to numerous young people. For many of the attending children, Delta is providing their first opportunity to experience a professional ballet production. As a part of its outreach effort, the company’s artistic personnel work in tandem with other community arts groups.
Under the auspices of Young Audiences, the company presents in-school productions throughout the entire school year, often traveling to outlying areas (Houma, Boutte, Covington and more). Master classes, choreography, guest teaching and the appearance of Delta’s dancers on the faculty roster of several arts organizations all indicate the comprehensive effect that this resident dance company has on the community.
Delta began its long association with the New Orleans Opera Association in 1967 when Joseph Giacobbe and his wife, Gwen Delle, were asked to dance with the company’s ballet ensemble. In the early 1970’s, Mr. Giacobbe was asked to choreograph the Opera’s dance sequences. In that capacity he choreographed over 40 productions including Samson and Delilah, Aida, Rigoletto, The Pearl Fishers, Faust, Carmen, La Traviata, Tannhauser, Romeo and Juliet, Turandot, Lucia de Lammermore, Hansel and Gretel, and The Ballad of Baby Doe. Delta Festival Ballet, as the official ballet company since the 1980’s, performed in these productions.
The long-standing association with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra began in 1976 when Delta Festival Ballet and the Orchestra (at that time the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony) collaborated to produce and present the full length Sleeping Beauty ballet. The relationship has continued and each December Delta’s presentation of the Nutcracker is accompanied by the LPO.
About the Directors
Joseph Giacobbe, Artistic Director
Born in Metairie, Louisiana, Mr. Giacobbe is a major voice of dance in Louisiana. He is well known and respected nationally and internationally for his dedication to excellence as a teacher and director. As Artistic Director and cofounder of the company, Joseph Giacobbe graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Both he and his sister, Maria Giacobbe, are internationally known for their skill as directors, choreographers, and as teachers of classical ballet. The August 1996 issue of Dance Magazine ran a feature article on Mr. Giacobbe and the school he operates with his family, Giacobbe Academy of Dance (established 1943). Mr. Giacobbe has taught Master Classes for virtually every major national and regional dance teacher’s organization in the United States and Canada.
In addition to his work with Delta Festival Ballet, New Orleans Youth Ballet and Giacobbe Academy of Dance, Mr. Giacobbe has also served in many capacities for many regional and national committees and organizations, such as President of Louisiana Association of Dance Masters, Vice-President of Dance Masters of America, Director of the Dance Program at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, among others. Mr. Giacobbe has been associated with the New Orleans Opera Association since 1967, and in the early 1970’s, became the resident choreographer. He has adjudicated for the Festivals of the Southeast and Northwest Regional Ballet Associations and the Southeast College Dance Festival.
Maria Giacobbe, Artistic Director
Artistic Director and cofounder of the company, Maria Giacobbe, performed with the USO, the New Orleans Opera Association and other local cultural organizations in the New Orleans area. She graduated cum laude from Loyola University with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education. She taught in Orleans and Jefferson parish schools for over seventeen years. One of the founders of Giacobbe Academy of Dance, Ms. Giacobbe has also been an integral player in the success of the dance school.
Her interest in excellence has remained a constant. Throughout her career, she has continued to study training methods throughout the United States and Canada. She has attended numerous seminars on the Cecchetti, Vaganova and Royal Academy of Dance graded methods of teaching. From this and her own experience, she has developed a logical, well-planned syllabus for younger dance students.
In 1989, Maria Giacobbe and Joseph Giacobbe were honored by the Arts Council of New Orleans with the Mayor’s Arts Award for their outstanding contributions to the New Orleans arts community. In 1993, the Giacobbes, accepting on behalf of Delta Festival Ballet, received a proclamation of honor from the New Orleans City Council for 25 years of service to the city.
Richard Rholdon, Ballet Master
A native of Louisiana, Richard Rholdon received early dance training in New Orleans, and continued his studies in New York City on a scholarship to the American Ballet Theatre School. After returning to New Orleans, he performed with many local dance organizations and was a guest artist for both the New Orleans Opera and the Houston Grand Opera. He joined Delta Festival Ballet as a soloist in 1986. He has served as the Regisseur for the pre-professional company, New Orleans Youth Ballet, since its formation in 1988, and in 1994, was named Ballet Master for DFB. He is on the faculty of the internationally recognized Giacobbe Academy of Dance.
One of the most active choreographers in the state, Mr. Rholdon has created many full-length ballets as well as shorter divertissements over his many years with DFB. His full-length ballets include Cinderella, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Hansel and Gretel. Mr. Rholdon has also choreographed a number of other works, in a variety of styles, including Grande Tarantelle, Slavic Symphony, Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, Dvorak Serenade, Ballet Jeunnesse, and Rock Around the Clock.
Board of Directors
Mrs. Joan Patrick, President
Mrs. Laura Hornaday, Vice President
Mrs. Kayne Stewart, Treasurer
Mrs. Jessica Donegan Van Vrancken, Secretary
Mr. Jason Brown
Mrs. Jeanne Bruno
Ms. Linda Fried
Ms. Lynn Fry
Mrs. Virginia LaHatte
Mrs. Pamela Martin
Mrs. JoAnn Neumann
Dr. Charles Schlosser
Mrs. Michelle Smolinski
Dr. Peter Stedman
Dr. Jeffrey Surcouf
Awards and Recognition
1984 - Maria Giacobbe is presented with a Certificate of Appreciation by the City of New Orleans for her Contributions to the City.
1989 - Joseph Giacobbe and Maria Giacobbe receives the Mayor’s Arts Award from the New Orleans Arts Council for their major contributions to the arts in Greater New Orleans
June 1993 - Maria and Joseph Giacobbe receives proclamations from the New Orleans City Council and the Jefferson Council for their 50 years of contributions to the development of the arts in the community.
June 1993 - In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Giacobbe Academy of Dance, Robert and Rosalind Stern of Dance Magazine present the Giacobbes with an award for their outstanding contributions to the dance professions.
July 1993 - The Dance Educators of America honor Mr. Giacobbe at its national convention in Orlando, Florida for his dedication and contribution to dance.
July 1999 - The American Dance Awards Organization present Mr. Giacobbe with its Lifetime Achievement Award in Boston, Massachusetts.
February 2001 - Joseph Giacobbe and Maria Giacobbe receive the Lifetime Achievement Award presented at the Tribute to the Classical Awards Luncheon of the Big Easy Awards.
June 2004 - Jefferson Parish Council awards a Proclamation to the Giacobbes on the occasion of their 60 years of excellence in teaching and promotion of the art of dance.
Dec. 2007 - New Orleans City Council honors Delta Festival Ballet with a Proclamation presented by Councilwoman Jacquelyn Brectel Clarkson on stage, for the 25th Anniversary of Nutcracker.
Jan 2009 - Jefferson Parish Council President, Aaron Broussard, honors Maria Giacobbe at a Council meeting with a Proclamation for a Lifetime of devoted teaching in recognition of her 50-year membership in the Dance Masters of America
March 2010 - The Big Easy Foundation presents a special Recognition Award to Delta Festival Ballet at the Classical Arts Luncheon in honor of Delta’s 40th Anniversary.
In addition, Delta Festival Ballet has received awards from the Tribute to the Classical Awards presented by the Big Easy Foundation for the Best Ballet Productions performed in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007 and 2009.
Delta Festival Ballet
Post Office Box 7425 Metairie, Louisiana 70010 Phone (504)888-0931 Fax (504)888-0941