American Masters (2015 Season) – American Ballet Theatre: A History

Featured Dancer Biographies

Air date: 05/15/2015

American Masters – American Ballet Theatre: A History

 

Premieres nationwide Friday, May 15, 2015 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)

 

Featured Dancer Biographies

 

 

Isabella Boyleston

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer

Current City: New York City

Hometown: born in Sun Valley, Idaho, grew up in Boulder, Colorado

Trained: Boulder Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Harid Conservatory, School of American Ballet, Boston

Ballet, American Ballet Theatre

Born in Sun Valley, Idaho, Isabella Boylston began dancing at the age of three. While training at the Academy of Colorado Ballet, she won the gold medal in 2001 at the Youth America Grand Prix Finals in New York City. In 2002, she began training at the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, on a full scholarship. Boylston joined the ABT Studio Company in 2005, the main company as an apprentice in May 2006 and the corps de ballet in March 2007. Her repertory with the company includes Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Ballerina in The Bright Stream, Fairy Godmother and the Fairy Summer in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Moss in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Aurora in Coppélia, Gulnare and an Odalisque in Le Corsaire, Kitri and a flower girl in Don Quixote, the second girl in Fancy Free, the title role in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, Giselle, the peasant pas de deux and Moyna in Giselle, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, Olga in Onegin, a Harlot in Romeo and Juliet, Princess Florine and the Fairy of Fervor in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette/Odile, the pas de trois and the Polish Princess in Swan Lake, the Mazurka in Les Sylphides, Persephone in Sylvia, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, the lead in Theme and Variations and roles in Bach PartitaBallo della ReginaBirthday Offering, Brief Fling, Désir, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once, In the Upper Room, From Here On Out, Gong, The Leaves Are FadingSinfonietta, Symphony in C and With a Chance of Rain.

She created the Diamond Fairy in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty and leading roles in Lauri Stallings’ Citizen, Alexei Ratmansky’s Chamber Symphony and Dumbarton, Demis Volpi’s Private Light and Christopher Wheeldon’s Thirteen Diversions. Boylston won the 2009 Princess Grace Award and was nominated for the 2010 Prix Benois de la Danse. In 2011, she received the Clive Barnes Award. She was the recipient of the 2014 Annenberg Fellowship. She was promoted to soloist in June 2011 and to principal dancer in August 2014

She has appeared as a guest artist with the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg and the Royal Danish Ballet.

 

Herman Cornejo

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer

Current City: New York City

Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Trained: Instituto Superior de Arte at Teatre Colon, School of American Ballet, Ballet Argentino

Herman Cornejo was born in Argentina. He began his ballet studies in Buenos Aires at Teatro Colon’s Instituto Superior de Arte and continued his studies at the School of American Ballet. In 1997, he won the Gold Medal at the VIIII International Dance Competition in Moscow. Cornejo has performed with Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino and has appeared as a guest artist with New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Cuban Contemporary Dance Company, Teatro Argentino de La Plata, Barcelona Ballet, Ballett Dortmund and at numerous galas around the world.

In 1999, he joined American Ballet Theatre, was promoted to soloist in 2000 and to principal dancer in 2003. His roles with the company include Solor and the Bronze Idol in La Bayadère, the Red Cowboy in Billy the Kid, Pyotr in The Bright Stream, the fourth movement in Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, the Jester in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Franz in Coppélia, Conrad, Ali, Lankendem and Birbanto in Le Corsaire, It Was Spring in Dim Lustre, Basilio and the lead gypsy in Don Quixote, Puck in The Dream, the first sailor in Fancy Free, Alain in La Fille mal gardée, Ivan in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, Peruvian in Gaîté Parisiene,, Albrecht and the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, The Man in HereAfter (Heaven), the Joker in Jeu de Cartes, Lescaut in Manon, the Lead Pontevedrian Dancer and the Maitre D’ in The Merry Widow, the Nutcracker-Prince and the Cavalier in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, the Nutcracker-Prince in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Cassio in Othello, Petrouchka in Petrouchka, the Piper in The Pied Piper, the Son in Prodigal Son, Abderakman and Bernard in Raymonda, Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Prince Désiré and the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty, the Rose in Le Spectre de la Rose, Prince Siegfried, Benno and the Neapolitan dance in Swan Lake, James and Gurn in La Sylphide, Aminta and Eros in Sylvia, the third movement in Symphony in C, Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew, Le Grand Pas de Deux, Sinatra Suite, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Theme and Variations and roles in Amazed in Burning Dreams, Ballo della Regina, Baroque Game, Black Tuesday, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Brief Fling, Clear, Company B, Diversion of Angels, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Gong, In the Upper Room, Jabula, Marimba, Mozartiana, Overgrown Path, Petite Mort, Sinfonietta and workwithinwork.

Cornejo created the role of Fortune in HereAfter, Rabbit in Rabbit and Rogue and Caliban in The Tempest, and leading roles in The Brahms/Haydn Variations, C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Glow – Stop, Pretty Good Year, Seven Sonatas, Symphony #9 and I Dig Love in Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.

Cornejo has received multiple nominations, awards and distinctions, including Peace Messenger by UNESCO, Dancer of the Year by The New York Times, a Latin Idol by Hispanic magazine, 2005 Star of the 21st Century, The Benois de la Danse in 2005 and 2014, the Mr. Expressivity prize at the Dance Open Festival in St Petersburg in 2010 and 2013, the Argentinian Pride Award by the Argentinian Culture Center, and the 2013 Bessie Award for Male Dancer of the Year.

 

Misty Copeland

American Ballet Theatre Soloist

Current Address: New York City

Hometown: born in Kansas City, Missouri, raised in San Pedro, California

Trained: San Pedro Dance Center, San Francisco Ballet, Lauridsen Ballet Center, American

Ballet Theatre

In 2007, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American female soloist and first in two decades at American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Born in Kansas City, Mo., and raised in San Pedro, Calif., Copeland began her ballet studies at the age of 13 — an advanced age to begin this traditional art form. Training at the San Pedro Dance Center, she was en pointe within three months. At the age of 15, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards (Los Angeles). She then began her studies at the Lauridsen Ballet Center in Southern California. Copeland has studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship, and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. She has danced Kitri in Don Quixote and the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in The Nutcracker.

Copeland joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, then joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001; she was appointed a soloist in August 2007. Her roles with the company include Gamzatti, a shade and the lead D’Jampe in La Bayadère, a leading role in Birthday Offering, Milkmaid in The Bright Stream, Autumn in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Blossom in James Kudelkas’s Cinderella, Swanilda and the Mazurka Lady in Coppélia, Gulnare and an odalisque in Le Corsaire, Mercedes, Driad Queen, the lead gypsy and a flower girl in Don Quixote, Duo Concertant, the Masks in Christopher Wheeldon’s VIII, the Firebird in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, Flower Girl and lead Can-Can in Gaîté Parisienne, the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Lescaut’s mistress in Manon, Columbine and one of the Nutcracker’s sisters in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, a Gypsy in Petrouchka, the lead Polovtsian Girl in the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, the Saracen Dancer in Raymonda, a Harlot in Romeo and Juliet, Princess Florine, the Fairy of Valor, in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette-Odile, the pas de trios, a cygnet and the Hungarian Princess in Swan Lake, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, a leading role in Bach Partita, and roles in Airs, Amazed in Burning Dreams, Baker’s Dozen, Ballo della Regina, Birthday Offering, Black Tuesday, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Brief Fling, Company B, Désir, Gong, Hereafter, In the Upper Room, Overgrown Path, Pretty Good Year, Private Light, Raymonda Divertissements, Sechs Tänze, Sinatra Suite, Sinfonietta, Thirteen Diversions, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison and workwithinwork.

Copeland created the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Fairy Fleur de farine (Wheat flower) and leading roles in C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Dumbarton, Glow – Stop, One of Three and With a Chance of Rain.

Copeland received the 2008 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts and was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2013. In 2014, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She is the author of the best-selling memoir, Life in Motion and the children’s book Firebird.

Copeland has been featured in numerous publications and television programs. She was named by TIME Magazine to the 2015 TIME 100 – its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world – and featured on the cover. As further evidence of her broad appeal, she was handpicked by Prince to star in his “Crimson and Clover” video and was special guest artist at his concerts in Nice, France, Madison Square Garden and the Los Angeles Forum. Her past and present endorsements include BlackBerry, Proactiv, Payless, Capezio, Sansha, Boys & Girls Club, Lavazza Coffee and Under Armour. She has served as a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance (FOX) and starred in Under Armour’s women-focused ad campaign “I Will What I Want,” which became a viral hit. She resides in New York City.

 

Marcelo Gomes

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer

Current City: New York City

Hometown: born in Manaus, raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Trained: Helena Lobato Ballet School, Dalal Achear Ballet School, The Harid Conservatory, Paris

Opera Ballet, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, Cuballet

Marcelo Gomes, a native of Brazil, was born in Manaus and raised in Rio de Janeiro, where he began his dance studies at the Helena Lobato and Dalal Achcar Ballet Schools. He went on to study at The Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, and at the schools of the Paris Opera Ballet, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Cuballet.

A prize winner at Lausanne (Hope Prize, 1996), he was also awarded second place at the National Society of Arts and Letters in 1994 and the Winter Festival in Brazil (1993). Gomes joined American Ballet Theatre in 1997 as a member of the corps de ballet. His roles with the company include Apollo in Apollo, Solor in La Bayadère, Pyotr in The Bright Stream, the first and third movements in Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, Prince in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Her Prince Charming in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Franz in Coppélia, Conrad, Ali, the Slave and Lankendem in Le Corsaire, Cruel World pas de deux, Espada and Basilio in Don Quixote, Oberon and Lysander in The Dream, Henry in Christopher Wheeldon’s VIII, the third sailor in Fancy Free, Baron in Gaitî Parisienne, Albrecht and the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Known by Heart pas de deux, Armand Duval in Lady of the Camellias, Des Grieux and Lescaut in Manon, Danilo and Camille in The Merry Widow, the Moor in The Moor’s Pavane, the Cavalier in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, the Nutcracker-Prince in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Onegin and Prince Gremin in Onegin, Othello in Othello, Other Dances, the Moor in Petrouchka, Jean de Brienne and Abderakman in Raymonda, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Sinatra Suite, Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Siegfried and von Rothbart in Act III of Kevin McKenzie’s production of Swan Lake, Aminta and Orion in Sylvia, the second movement in Symphony in C, Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew, the Sylvia Pas de Deux and leading roles in Désir, Diversion of Angels, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Études, Gong, Nuages, Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, Les Sylphides, Symphonic Variations, Within You Without You:  A Tribute to George Harrison, workwithinwork, George Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial, Symphonie Concertante, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Theme and Variations and leading roles in Antony Tudor’s The Leaves Are Fading, Offenbach in the Underworld and the Man from the House Opposite in Pillar of Fire and Twyla Tharp’s Bach Partita, Brahms-Haydn Variations, Brief Fling, In the Upper Room, Rogue in Rabbit and Rogue and Sinatra Suite.

He created the roles of Aktaion in Artemis, the Portrait in Dorian, Death in HereAfter, Sergei in On the Dnieper, Ivan in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, Prince Désiré in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, Prospero in The Tempest and leading roles in Black Tuesday, C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Clear, Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once, From Here On Out, Glow – Stop, Symphony #9, Thirteen Diversions and With a Chance of Rain.

Gomes was promoted to soloist in August 2000 and principal dancer in August 2002.

In 2008, Gomes danced Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite, partnering with Luciana Paris, at the Kennedy Center Honors. He won the Benois de la Danse for best male performer in the same year.

Gomes has appeared as a guest artist with the Kirov and The Royal Ballet. He has appeared with the Kings of the Dance since 2006. He made his debut with the Bolshoi Ballet in July 2013, dancing the title role in Onegin opposite Diana Vishneva.

Gomes has choreographed three works for American Ballet Theatre: Triptych (2012), Apothéose (2013) and Aftereffect (2013).

 

Joseph Gorak

American Ballet Theatre Soloist

Current City: New York City

Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana

Trained: North Central School of Ballet, Ballet Competition Summer School, American Ballet

Theatre, Orlando Ballet, School of American Ballet

Joseph Gorak began his classical ballet training with North Central School of Ballet in Texas. He has studied under full scholarships at the International Ballet Competition Summer School, as well as ABT’s Summer Intensive in Austin, Texas, and Orlando Ballet’s summer intensive, and School of American Ballet’s summer intensive. In 2004, Gorak trained at the Orlando Ballet School and, in 2005, joined Orlando Ballet, under the direction of Fernando Bujones.

Gorak won the silver medal in the senior men’s division at the 2005 Helsinki International Ballet Competition, the gold medal in the senior men’s division at the 2005 YAGP Finals, the silver medal from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and the Grand Prix Award at the 2006 YAGP Finals.

Gorak joined ABT’s Studio Company in 2006 and was named an apprentice with American Ballet Theatre in January 2009. He joined ABT as a member of the corps de ballet in January 2010 and became a soloist in 2014. Among his roles with the company are the Bronze Idol in La Bayadère, the Prince in Cinderella, Franz in Coppélia, the Dancing Master in Gaîté Parisienne, the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, the Beggar Chief in Manon, the Nutcracker Prince, the Chinese Dance, Russian Dance and the Recruit in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Lensky in Onegin, Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, the Bluebird and a Fairy Knight in The Sleeping Beauty, Benno and the Neapolitan Dance in Swan Lake, The Poet in Les Sylphides, a Goat in Sylvia and roles in Bach Partita, In the Upper Room, Raymonda Divertissements, Seven Sonatas, Symphony in C and Theme and Variations.  He created a Fairy Cavalier in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, Ferdinand in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Tempest and leading roles in Dumbarton and Private Light.

In 2011, Gorak won the Erik Bruhn Prize. Gorak is the recipient of a 2011-2012 Princess Grace Performance Dance Fellowship.

 

Susan Jaffe

Dean of Dance, University of North Carolina School of the Arts; American Ballet Theatre

dancer (1980-2002) and Ballet Master (2010-2012)

Current City: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Hometown: Washington, DC

Trained: Maryland School of Ballet, School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre School

Declared by The New York Times as “America’s Quintessential American Ballerina,” Susan Jaffe was a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre for 20 years, a career which began in 1980. Prominent in the international dance scene as well, her European engagements included performances with The Royal Ballet, The Kirov Ballet, The Stuttgart Ballet, The Munich State Opera Ballet, La Scala Ballet in Milan, The Vienna State Opera Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, The Royal Swedish Ballet, and The English National Ballet. Jaffe’s versatility as a dancer allowed her to tackle a large range of choreographic works, which included her acclaimed interpretations of the classics like Swan Lake, as well as the dramatic works of John Cranko, Antony Tudor, Agnes de Mille and Kenneth MacMillian. She also worked with and danced the works of many prominent choreographers such as Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Lar Lubovitch, Nacho Duato, Glen Tetley, James Kudelka, Roland Petit, David Parsons, Mark Morris, Merce Cunningham, Ronald Hynd, Frederick Ashton, Ulysses Dove and Lynn Taylor Corbett.

In 2003, Jaffe co-founded the Princeton Dance & Theatre Studio in Princeton, New Jersey, where in 2004 she expanded into choreography. Her original creations for the school include a full-length version of The Nutcracker, Pop Sonata, Ballet Studies, Tarantella, Glass Cuts, Carnival of the Animals, and the Cancan. In 2005, Jaffe co-founded DanceVision Inc., a not-for-profit outreach and Youth Company in Princeton New Jersey.

Jaffe choreographed contemporary works for Texas Christian University in 2008 and 2012, and Princeton University in 2010. Her works for professional companies include Lemon Spongecake Contemporary Ballet, Meditations UnCaged, Configurations Dance Theater, Novem Pas de Deux, Velez Pas de Deux and Royenne Pas de Deux. In the 2009 Gala for Youth America Grand Prix, Sognato Pas de Deux was created for Isabella Boylston and Blaine Hoven of American Ballet Theatre. 2011 brought We Insist for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet Theater, a ballet later performed by the studio company of ABT in their 2011-12 season, alongside another work of hers, A Tango Pas de Deux. For the opening night of American Ballet Theatre’s 2012 gala, Jaffe created Blue Pas de Deux for Veronika Part and Thomas Forster. In spring 2013, Jaffe choreographed a newly envisioned Polovtsian Dances for UNCSA, which was performed in Chapel Hill for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Rite of Spring. In September 2013, she choreographed a new contemporary ballet for Company C Contemporary Ballet Company called Weather One, which premiered in the Bay Area in January 2014 and in San Francisco in February. In January 2015, Jaffe created Metallurgy, which was choreographed on American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company and UNCSA students. This work was also a collaboration with composer Bruno Louchuoarn, and Joe Tilford, designer and former Dean of Design and Production of UNCSA, and performed at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem North Carolina in February. Jaffe was also invited to re-stage Weather One for Grand Rapids Ballet in their Move Media Performances in April 2015.

Jaffe’s written publications include Becoming a Ballerina, a children’s book published in 2003.

On December 18, 2010, she received an Honorary Doctorate from Texas Christian University. Jaffe taught corporate lectures on excellence in conjunction with Duke Corporate Education for Lehman Brothers, and PriceWaterHouseCoopers.

She joined the roster of American Ballet Theatre as a ballet master from 2010-2012 until her appointment as Dean of Dance of University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in August 2012, where she currently directs the dance program.

 

Julie Kent

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer

Current City: New York City

Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland

Trained: Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, School of American

Ballet

Julie Kent began her dance training with Hortensia Fonseca at the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet. She attended the American Ballet Theatre II Summer session and the School of American Ballet before joining American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 1985. In that same year, Kent won first place in the regional finals of the National Society of Arts and Letters at the Kennedy Center. In 1986, she was the only American to win a medal at the Prix de Lausanne International Ballet Competition, and she became a member of ABT’s corps de ballet. She was appointed a soloist with ABT in 1990 and a principal dancer in 1993, the year she won the Erik Bruhn Prize in Toronto.

Kent’s roles with the company include the Girl in Afternoon of a Faun, the title role in Anastasia, Terpsichore and Calliope in Apollo, Nikiya in La Bayadère, Zina in The Bright Stream, the third movement in Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, Cinderella in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, the title role in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, the title role in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Medora in Le Corsaire, the Lady with Him in Dim Lustre, Kitri and the Queen of the Dryads in Don Quixote, Titania in The Dream, The Dying Swan, Anne in Christopher Wheeldon’s VIII, the Accused in Fall River Legend, the second girl in Fancy Free, the Glove Seller in Gaîté Parisienne, Giselle in Giselle, Caroline in Jardin aux Lilas, Marguerite in Lady of the Camellias, Manon in Manon, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, Natalia Petrovna in A Month in the Country, His Wife in The Moor’s Pavane, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, Tatiana in Onegin, Desdemona in Othello, the pas de deux Other Dances, the pas de deux in Les Patineurs, Hagar in Pillar of Fire, the Siren in Prodigal Son, the Ranch Owner’s Daughter in Rodeo, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, a Lover in Sin and Tonic, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the Sylph in La Sylphide, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, the second movement in Symphony in C, the Nocturne and Prelude in Les Sylphides, Sylvia in Sylvia, Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, the Woman in Weren’t We Fools? and leading roles in Ballet Imperial, Dark Elegies, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Duets, The Garden of Villandry, Gong, Kaleidoscope,

The Leaves Are Fading, Meadow, Mozartiana, Overgrown Path, Sinfonietta, “…smile with my heart,” Spring and Fall, Stepping Stones, Symphonie Concertante and Theme and Variations.

She created Artemis in Artemis, Sibyl Vane in Dorian, His Memory and His Experiences in HereAfter and leading roles in Americans We, Apothéose, Baroque Game, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Chamber Symphony, C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Clear, Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Cruel World, Getting Closer, Glow – Stop, Known by Heart, Rigaudon, Seven Sonatas, States of Grace, Within You Without You:  A Tribute to George Harrison and Without Words.

In April 2000, Kent won the “Prix Benois de la Danse.” Kent starred in the motion picture Dancers (1987), directed by Herbert Ross, and Center State (2000), directed by Nicholas Hytner.

Kent is married to American Ballet Theatre Associate Artistic Director Victor Barbee.

 

Kevin McKenzie

American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director

Current City: New York City

Hometown: Burlington, Vermont

Trained: Washington School of Ballet (Washington, DC)

Kevin McKenzie was a leading dancer with both the Joffrey Ballet and the National Ballet of Washington before joining American Ballet Theatre (ABT) as a soloist in March 1979. He was appointed a principal dancer the following December and danced with the company until 1991. A native of Vermont, McKenzie received his ballet training at the Washington School of Ballet. In 1972, McKenzie was awarded a silver medal at the Sixth International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.

As a principal dancer with ABT, McKenzie danced leading roles in all of the major full-length classics, including Solor in Natalia Makarova’s full‑length production of La Bayadère, Don Jose in Roland Petit’s Carmen, the Prince in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s production of the full‑length Cinderella, Franz in Coppélia, the Gentleman With Her in Dim Lustre, Basil and Espada in Baryshnikov’s Don Quixote (Kitri’s Wedding), Albrecht in Giselle, a leading role in The Garden of Villandry, Her Lover in Jardin aux Lilas, the male lead in The Leaves Are Fading, the Friend in Pillar of Fire, the leading role in Raymonda (Grand Pas Hongrois), a featured role in Requiem, the Champion Roper in Rodeo, Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, James in La Sylphide and leading roles in Other Dances, Paquita, Les Sylphides, Sylvia Pas de Deux and Theme and Variations. He created Amnon in Martine van Hamel’s Amnon V’Tamar and a leading role in Clark Tippet’s S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A.

During his performing career, McKenzie appeared as a guest artist throughout the world, including Spoleto, Italy, Paris, London, Tokyo, Havana, Moscow, Vienna and Korea, dancing with the London Festival Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the National Ballet of Cuba and the Universal Ballet in Seoul, among others. In September 1989, McKenzie was appointed a permanent guest artist with The Washington Ballet and, in 1991, assumed the position of artistic associate. He has also acted as associate artistic director and choreographer with Martine van Hamel’s New Amsterdam Ballet.

McKenzie was appointed artistic director of American Ballet Theatre in October 1992. His previous choreographic credits include Groupo Zambaria (1984) and Liszt Études (1991), both for Martine van Hamel’s New Amsterdam Ballet, Lucy and the Count (1992) for The Washington Ballet and, for American Ballet Theatre, The Nutcracker (1993), Don Quixote (1995) in collaboration with Susan Jones, a new production of Swan Lake (2000), the conception and direction of a new production of Raymonda (2004) with choreography by Anna-Marie Holmes, and a new production of The Sleeping Beauty with Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov. In 2014, McKenzie, with ABT Ballet Mistress Irina Kolpakova, staged a new production of Raymonda Divertissements.

McKenzie has received numerous awards including an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont (1993) and the Dance Magazine Award (1999). In addition, he appeared in two Emmy Award-winning broadcasts: The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore (1970) and American Ballet Theatre in Le Corsaire (1998), both for PBS’ Dance in America series. McKenzie is a founding board member of Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli, New York.

 

Gillian Murphy

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer

Current City: New York City

Hometown: Florence, South Carolina

Trained: Columbia City Ballet, University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Raised in Florence, South Carolina, Gillian Murphy began her ballet training at the age of three in Belgium and continued her ballet classes at the age of five in South Carolina.

After training in South Carolina as a member of the Columbia City Ballet, she continued her studies at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Under the tutelage of Melissa Hayden, she danced principal roles in several of the school’s ballet productions, including The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Western Symphony, Tarantella and Theme and Variations.

In 1994, at the age of 15, Murphy was a finalist at the Jackson International Ballet Competition. In 1995, she was awarded the Prix de Lausanne Espoir after performing the final round at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. In 1996, she was a National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Level I awardee and a Presidential Scholar nominee. In 1998, she was honored with a Princess Grace Foundation-USA grant. The Princess Grace Foundation awarded her its highest honor, the Statue Award in 2009. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, during commencement ceremonies in May 2014.

Murphy has appeared as a guest artist in Japan, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Canada and throughout the United States. She made her debut with the Mariinsky Ballet in March 2008, dancing Odette-Odile in Swan Lake. Other guest appearances include the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet, the world premiere of a new production of The Nutcracker, directed and choreographed by Ethan Stiefel for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Nikiya in La Bayadère with The Australian Ballet in November 2014.

Murphy joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in August 1996, was promoted to soloist in 1999 and principal dancer in 2002. Her repertoire with the company includes Polyhymnia in Apollo, Nikiya and Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Ballerina in The Bright Stream, Cinderella in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Cinderella in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Swanilda in Coppélia, Medora and Gulnare in Le Corsaire, Kitri in Don Quixote, Titania in The Dream, the Accused in Fall River Legend, the second girl in Fancy Free, Lise in La Fille mal gardée, the pas de deux Flames of Paris, Grand Pas Classique, Myrta in Giselle, the Queen of Hearts in Jeu de Cartes, Known by Heart pas de deux, Manon in Lady of the Camellias, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, Desdemona in Othello, Other Dances, Hagar in Pillar of Fire, Raymonda in Raymonda, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Romeo’s Farewell to Juliet), Princess Aurora and the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Sylvia in Sylvia, the first and third movements in Symphony in C, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, the ballerina in Theme and Variations, and leading roles in Allegro Brillante, Bach Partita, Ballet Imperial, Ballo della Regina, Baroque Game, Birthday Offering, Paul Taylor’s Black Tuesday, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Clear, Désir, Diversion of Angels, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Duets, Études, From Here On Out, Gong, In the Upper Room, Meadow, Les Patineurs, Piano Concerto #1, Pretty Good Year, Push Comes to Shove, Raymonda Divertissements, Sinfonietta, Les Sylphides and Symphonie Concertante. Murphy has also performed featured roles in Company B, The Elements, Overgrown Path and Without Words.

She created Clara, the Princess in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker and leading roles in Glow – Stop, Kaleidoscope, One of Three, Rabbit and Rogue, Thirteen Diversions and Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.

Murphy danced Odette-Odile in the ABT telecast of Swan Lake and also appeared in the ABT telecast of Le Corsaire. Other television credits include the Washington Opera’s Die Fledermaus and, in November 2010, an appearance on the series Gossip Girl. During November 1999, she also participated in the Melissa Hayden Project, part of the Balanchine Foundation’s video series filming dancers who worked with George Balanchine teaching their roles to young performers. The foundation filmed Hayden teaching Murphy the pas de deux from Stars and Stripes and Donizetti Variations. Murphy was seen in the feature film Center Stage and also appeared in the sequel, Center Stage 2: Turn It Up.

 

Hee Seo

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer

Current City: New York City

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Trained: Sun-hwa Arts Middle School, Universal Ballet Academy, John Cranko Ballet Academy

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Hee Seo began her ballet training in her hometown at the Sun-hwa Arts Middle School. She was awarded a three-year full scholarship to continue her training at the Universal Ballet Academy in Washington, D. C. In 2003, Seo won a scholarship to train at the John Cranko Ballet Academy in Stuttgart. She is the recipient of the 2003 Prix de Lausanne Award and the 2003 Grand Prix at the Youth American Grand Prix in New York.

Seo joined ABT’s Studio Company in 2004, the main company as an apprentice in May 2005 and the corps de ballet in March 2006. Her repertoire with the company includes Polyhymnia in Apollo, Nikiya, Gamzatti, a Lead D’Jampe and a Shade in La Bayadère, Cinderella in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Twig in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Prayer in Coppélia, Mercedes and a flower girl in Don Quixote, Glove Seller in Gaîté Parisienne, Giselle and Zulma in Giselle, Olympia in Lady of the Camellias, Natalia Petrovna in A Month in the Country, Clara, the Princess and one of the Nutcracker’s Sisters in The Nutcracker, Tatiana in Onegin, Natalia in On the Dnieper, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Princess Aurora, the Lilac Fairy, the Fairy of Sincerity and Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette-Odile, the pas de trois, the Polish Princess and a big swan in Swan Lake, the Swan Lake, Act III Pas de Deux, the Sylph in La Sylphide, Prelude in Les Sylphides, Ceres in Sylvia, Thaïs Pas de Deux and roles in Ballo della Regina, Birthday Offering, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Chamber Symphony, Dark Elegies, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Duets, From Here On Out, The Leaves Are Fading, Overgrown Path, Raymonda Divertissements, Seven Sonatas and Thirteen Diversions.

She created a leading role in With a Chance of Rain.

Seo was appointed a soloist in August 2010 and a principal dancer in July 2012.

 

Daniil Simkin

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer

Current City: New York City

Hometown: Born in Russia, grew up in Wiesbaden, Germany

Trained: Coached privately by his mother, Olga Aleksandrova, a dancer for Bolshoi Ballet

Daniil Simkin was born in Russia to a ballet family. In 1990, the family left for the West and, after several international engagements, settled in Wiesbaden, Germany, where Simkin first appeared on the stage. From the age of six he often appeared onstage, dancing alongside his father Dmitrij Simkin.

At 10, Simkin began his training under the direction of his mother, Olga Aleksandrova. At 12, he began participating in ballet competitions and galas around the world and, at the same time, he finished his academic education. He joined the ballet company of the Vienna State Opera in 2006 as a demi-soloist and since then has danced many roles in the classical, neoclassical and contemporary repertoire of the company. In 2007, he danced his first principal role, Basilio in Don Quixote, as a guest with the Lithuanian National Opera.

Simkin’s awards include the Senior Gold Medal at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson (2006), Grand Prix International Ballet Competition Helsinki (2005) and First Prize and Gold Medal at the 21st International Ballet Competition in Varna (2004).

Simkin joined American Ballet Theatre as a soloist in October 2008. His repertoire with the company includes the Bronze Idol in La Bayadère, Ballet Dancer in The Bright Stream, a featured role in Company B, Franz in Coppélia, Ali, the slave and Lankendem in Le Corsaire, the Basilio and Lead Gypsy in Don Quixote, Puck in The Dream, the first sailor in Fancy Free, the Flames of Paris pas de deux, the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Lescaut in Manon, Kolia in A Month in the Country, the Nutcracker-Prince in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Lensky in Onegin, the Son in Prodigal Son, Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, Boy With Matted Hair in Shadowplay, Prince Désiré and the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de deux from Stars and Stripes, Prince Siegfried, Benno and the pas de trois in Swan Lake, Gurn in La Sylphide, Eros and a Goat in Sylvia, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and leading roles in Allegro Brillante, Black Tuesday, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Duets, In the Upper Room, The Leaves Are Fading, One of Three, Piano Concerto #1, Sinfonietta and Symphony in C. He created the Chinese Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Puss in Boots in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, Ariel in The Tempest and roles in Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once and Troika.

Simkin was promoted to principal dancer in November 2012.

 

Cory Stearns

American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer

Current City: Jersey City, New Jersey

Hometown: Mattituck, New York

Trained: London Royal Ballet School, Paris Royal Ballet School, Seiskaya Ballet

Born in Long Island, New York, Cory Stearns began his classical training at Seiskaya Ballet with Mme. Valia Seiskaya. At 15, he participated in the Youth America Grand Prix and was offered a full scholarship to The Royal Ballet School in London. During his training there, he performed in Madrid, Moscow, Milan and Germany. His repertory included principal roles in Mark Annear’s Mendelssohn Concerto, Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, Kirk Peterson’s Eyes That Gently Touch, Robert Hill’s Piano Concerto #2 and Barry Moreland’s Fearful Symmetries. In March 2004, Stearns appeared with Kylie Minogue in her music video Chocolate. Upon graduating with honors from The Royal Ballet School, he received, for the second year, the Dame Ruth Railton Award for excellence in dance.

Stearns joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company in September 2004, the main company as an apprentice in January 2005 and as a member of the corps de ballet in January 2006. He was appointed a soloist in January 2009 and a principal dancer in January 2011.

Stearns repertory with the company includes Solor in La Bayadère, The Ballerina in The Bright Stream, a featured role in Brief Fling, Her Prince Charming in Cinderella, Conrad in Le Corsaire, Basilio and Espada in Don Quixote, Oberon in The Dream, a leading role in Études, Second Sailor in Fancy Free, Kaschei in Firebird. Baron in Gaîté Parisienne, Albrecht in Giselle, Grand Pas Classique, Her Lover in Jardin aux Lilas, Armand Duval in Lady of the Camellias, The Leaves Are Fading pas de deux, Des Grieux in Manon, Beliaev in A Month in the Country, His Friend in The Moor’s Pavane, the Nutcracker-Prince in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Onegin in Onegin, a Carnival Dancer in Othello, Man From the House Opposite in Pillar of Fire, Romeo and Paris in Romeo and Juliet, the Terrestrial in Shadowplay, Prince Désiré, the Celtic Prince and a Fairy Knight in The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Siegfried and von Rothbart in Swan Lake, Act III, James in La Sylphide, the Poet in Les Sylphides, Orion and Apollo in Sylvia, Prospero in The Tempest, The Awakening Pas de Deux, leading roles in Allegro Brillante, Duo Concertant, Études, Raymonda Divertissements and With a Chance of Ran and roles in The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Citizen, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Duets, Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once, In the Upper Room, The Leaves Are Fading, Overgrown Path, Rabbit and Rogue, Raymonda Divertissements, Symphony in C and Thirteen Diversions.  Stearns created roles in From Here On Out, One of Three, Piano Concerto #1 and Private Light.

Stearns won the 2009 Erik Bruhn Prize for best male dancer.

 

 

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