Septime Webre, the artistic director at the Washington Ballet, will step down after 17 years, the ballet company announced Friday.
Webre will leave the role in June when his current contract ends, according to a press release.
"I am extraordinarily proud of our collective accomplishments and the spectacular growth of The Washington Ballet, and it is now time to focus my efforts on new creative endeavors," Webre said. "I'm looking forward to creating new ballets and to staging on other companies the many original works I have created for The Washington Ballet."
Webre brought great change to the Washington Ballet during his time there. Since his arrival in 1999, the company has grown both as a performing arts organization and as a major contributor to D.C. cultural life. Enrollment at the Washington School of Ballet has grown from 325 to more than 1400 students, and its budget grew from $2.8 million a year to its current $12 million a year.
Additionally, Webre played a major role in bringing dance programs to D.C. public schools through the Washington Ballet's "DanceDC" program.
Board Chair Sylvia de Leon commended Septime's contributions.
"Each of us on our Board has deeply admired his boundless energy, creativity and infectious joy of the art of ballet," she said. "We will be forever grateful for his years of tireless work and dedication."
The Washington Ballet is collaborating with Webre to ensure that his works created for the company are made available for performance by companies around the world. The company will continue to perform Webre's famous production of The Nutcracker in December, according to the release.
The ballet's board of directors is now searching for a new artistic director.