The Boston Ballet is a professional ballet company based in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1963 by E. Virginia Williams and was the first professional repertory ballet company in New England. Under the leadership of Artistic Directors Violette Verdy (1980-1984), Bruce Marks (1985-1997), and Anna-Marie Holmes (1997-2000), the Ballet's national and international reputation has grown. The Company is now one of the major ballet companies in North America and among the top companies in the world. Boston Ballet was the first American ballet company to tour China in 1980.