Chidozie Nzerem

San Francisco Ballet: Apprentice (1995-1996), Corps de Ballet (1996-?)
South African Ballet Theatre (Joburg Ballet): Guest (2006-2007)
Tucson Ballet: Guest
Ballett am Rhein (2009-present)

Chidozie Nzerem - Deutsche Oper am Rhein
Photo via Deutsche Oper am Rhein

Chidozie Vincent Nzerem was born in Lorman, Mississippi ca. 1977 to a Mississippian mother Joyce Coleman and Nigerian father Dom Nzerem. Nzerem then moved to San Francisco at age four. When his sisters began their training at San Francisco Ballet School, their mother also signed Chidozie up for classes. He attended the school until he joined the company as an apprentice in 1995 and the corps de ballet in 1996, the same year he was awarded a Princess Grace Award.

With the company, Nzerem’s repertoire included Ivonica Satie’s Shogun; The Nutcracker (Arabian); George Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto; Christopher d’Amboise’s Fly by Night; Helgi Tomasson’s Silver Ladders, Con Brio, and Tuning Game; Stanton Welch’s Taiko; and Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena and Slow.

Even while in the corps de ballet, newspapers consistently noted Nzerem’s talent, with both the San Francisco Examiner and London’s Evening Standard declaring he “stood out” in performances throughout his tenure with the company. The Examiner also praised his “fervor and modest elevation” in 1997.

In both 1994, as a junior competitor, and 2002, as a senior, Nzerem participated in the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. In the latter year, he made it through three rounds, becoming a finalist, and was offered a position as a guest artist with South African Ballet Theatre (now the Joburg Ballet). While performing in South Africa, he taught classes as part of an outreach program sponsored by the company. Additionally, Nzerem danced as a guest with Tucson Ballet and at the Balanchine Centennial of Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, as the Dark Angel on Serenade.

Looking for a change, Nzerem auditioned for companies in Europe and received six offers, including those from Monte Carlo and Ballett am Rhein, based in Düsseldorf and Duisburg. He joined the latter and performed leading roles in ballets choreographed by George Balanchine, Regina van Berkel, Nils Christe, Mats Ek, William Forsythe, Young Soon Hue, Antoine Jully, So Yeon Kim, Terence Kohler, Hans van Manen and Remus Şucheană as well as the role of Death in Kurt Jooss’ The Green Table. Martin Schläpfer, ballet director and chief choreographer of Deutsche Oper am Rhein, created principal roles for him. He performed the pas de deux from Schläpfer’s DEEP FIELD at the Prix Benois Gala 2015 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

In 2017, Nzerem’s own piece Edge of Reason was performed at the “Young Moves” program.

Paul Parish, dance critic for San Francisco Magazine, described Nzerem as a “classical dancer on a heroic scale.”

Photo via The Clarion-Ledger, 2012


Chidozie Nzerem, Opera am Rhein
Meeting a Familiar Dancer: Chidozie Nzerem
Chidozie Nzerem, Princess Grace Foundation – USA
They soar above a harsh reality, IOL
Two Mississipians make it to Round II of competition, Clarion-Ledger
IBC challenge: ‘Everyone here wants to win’, Clarion-Ledger
Lack of exposure, professional dance company in state drawbacks, officials say, Clarion-Ledger
Plum special, The San Francisco Examiner
Frisco kids fail to fizz, Evening Standard
Seasoned with international flavor, The Sacramento Bee
For the ages, or just aged, The San Francisco Examiner
Modern music, modern dance, The Sacramento Bee
Mississippi dancer encourages ballet competitors, Hattiesburg American
Stunning opener proves S.F. Ballet right at home on any stage, The Sacramento Bee
Ballerina goes out in great style, The San Francisco Examiner
A company in transition, The San Francisco Examiner
Unity Is the San Francisco’s Strength, Newsday
S.F. Ballet explores styles in ‘Discovery’, The Sacramento Bee
S.F. Ballet lite — less filling, The San Francisco Examiner
Garcia dances away on top, The San Francisco Examiner
IBC: Signature event a moneymaker, Clarion-Ledger

Video links:

1994 San Francisco Ballet School Spring Showcase – Diana & Acteon
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake – Choreography by Martin Schläpfer
Kurt Jooss: Der Grüne Tisch
Unleashing the Wolf
Chidozie Nzerem San Francisco Ballet Pictures
Morris / Brown / Cunningham / Taylor
Binet / Horecna / Remus Şucheană
Balanchine / Hölszky & Schläpfer / van Manen
Ballett am Rhein
Schläpfer / Robbins / Schläpfer

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