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Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen says he never expected to achieve such professional success, as both a performer and a cultural ambassador, when he started dancing professionally at 15.

He certainly never anticipated becoming a knight.

Last week, Nissinen was appointed a Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland. The Consul General of Finland in New York, Ambassador Manu Virtamo, honored Nissinen with a speech and presented him with a set of three medals at Virtamo’s residence.

“It meant a lot because Finnish people, we have a very strong identity to the country and the land because we have had to defend it so much, so many times,” the Helsinki-born artistic director said. “Inside, of course, I feel I’m very Finnish. I’ve always tried to serve as sort of a cultural ambassador wherever I’ve been.”


After the ceremony, the consul general and his wife, Liisa Virtamo, hosted a dinner for Nissinen and his close friends.

Jenni Todd can be reached at jenni.todd@globe.com.