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The Compañía Nacional de Danza was founded in 1979 under the name of Ballet Nacional de España Clásico, and its first Director was Víctor Ullate. In 1983, María de Ávila was put in charge of both National Ballet companies, the Ballet Español and the Ballet Clásico. She put Ray Barra, a former dancer and choreographer from North America then living in Spain, in charge of a number of choreographies, and later offered him the post of Assistant Director, which he held until 1990. In December 1987, Maya Plisetskaya was appointed the ballet's Artistic Director.
The appointment of renowned dancer and choreographer Nacho Duato as Artistic Director of the Compañía Nacional de Danza in June 1990, has meant considerable change in the company's history. It is Duato's firm intention to transform the Compañía into a ballet with a personality of its own, in which, a more contemporary style is adopted, without, however, neglecting the classical precepts. To achieve this, he will include new choreographic work in the Company's repertoire, created specially for it, together with other works of proven quality recognised world-wide. Also, Nacho Duato contributes to the Compañía Nacional de Danza with his work as a choreographer, praised by critics all over the world and awarded numerous prizes.