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Born in Kansas City, Missouri, John McFall began his ballet studies at the Conservatory of Music with Tatiana Dokoudovska. In the Fall of 1964, he accepted a Ford Foundation scholarship with the San Francisco Ballet School, and, in the following year, became a member of the San Francisco Ballet, performing under the direction of Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin. During his 18 years with the company, McFall rose to prominence as a dancer, becoming a principal in 1969.
McFall is also recognized in the field of choreography and has created works for the National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, San Francisco Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Co., and the Atlanta Ballet, among others. He has created choreography for such notable artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Cynthia Gregory. McFall has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships — in 1978, 1980, and 1985.
He became artistic director of BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, in 1986 and spent eight years building a fine academy, company and facility to accommodate all the activities there. On November 11, 1994, McFall joined the Atlanta Ballet as the Company’s artistic director.