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The Company

ABT Artistic

Photo: Fabrizio Ferri.

Susan Jaffe

Artistic Director

 

Declared by The New York Times as “America’s Quintessential American Ballerina,” Susan Jaffe enjoyed a career as a Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theatre for 22 years. She performed on the international stage with the Royal Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, La Scala Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, and the English National Ballet.

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Photo: Rosalie O'Connor.

Clinton Luckett

Associate Artistic Director

 

Clinton Luckett was a dancer with American Ballet Theatre for 10 years, from 1992-2002.  His professional career spanned 15 years and began at the National Ballet of Canada.  As a dancer he created roles in original works by Glen Tetley, William Forsythe, John Neumeier and James Kudelka among others and appeared in featured roles in most of the full-length ballets in the classical repertoire.

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Photo: Sarah Sterner.

Susan Jones

Regisseur

 

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Photo: Gene Schiavone.

Irina Kolpakova

Principal Répétiteur
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John Gardner

Director of Repertoire

 

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Photo: Hanna Bass.

Carlos Lopez

Director of Repertoire
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Amanda McKerrow

Director of Repertoire

 

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Photo: Karolina Kuras.

Nancy Raffa

Director of Repertoire

 

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Susan Jaffe

Declared by The New York Times as “America’s Quintessential American Ballerina,” Susan Jaffe enjoyed a career as a Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theatre for 22 years. She performed on the international stage with the Royal Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, La Scala Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, and the English National Ballet. Her versatility as a dancer brought acclaimed interpretations to ballet classics, such as Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, and dramatic works by Agnes de Mille, Antony Tudor, John Cranko, Ronald Hynd, and Kenneth MacMillan. She also worked with many prominent contemporary choreographers of her time, such as Twyla Tharp, Jerome Robbins, Merce Cunningham, Nacho Duato, Mark Morris, Ulysses Dove, and Jiří Kylián.

After retiring from the stage in 2002, Jaffe taught in the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and served as an advisor to the chairman of the board of ABT until 2007. In 2010 she became a Director of Repertoire at ABT. Two years later, she was appointed Dean of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in Winston-Salem, NC, a position she held for eight years. During her tenure at UNCSA, Jaffe and her faculty implemented a syllabus based on the ABT National Training Curriculum and established the Choreographic Institute of UNCSA. Additionally, she raised $3.5 million in endowed scholarships and other scholarships.

In 2020 Jaffe was appointed the Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She helped to lead the company through the pandemic with digital programs, outdoor performances, and performances in museums. As audiences began returning to theaters, Jaffe curated programs that included classic ballets and diverse, innovative voices of today.

Jaffe was appointed Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre in December 2022.

Clinton Luckett

Clinton Luckett was a dancer with American Ballet Theatre for 10 years, from 1992-2002.  His professional career spanned 15 years and began at the National Ballet of Canada.  As a dancer he created roles in original works by Glen Tetley, William Forsythe, John Neumeier and James Kudelka among others and appeared in featured roles in most of the full-length ballets in the classical repertoire.  Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he began his dance training there, and after two years of study at the National Ballet School in Toronto, joined the National Ballet of Canada in 1987.  1n 1992, Luckett came to American Ballet Theatre where he was featured in the works of Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Agnes De Mille, Martha Graham, Jiří Kylián, Lar Lubovitch, Kenneth MacMillan, Mark Morris and Antony Tudor.  He appeared on television in the PBS/Dance in America programs ABT Now and Le Corsaire, and in the CBC/Rombus Media productions of Glen Tetley’s Alice and La Ronde.

In 2002, Luckett became the Artistic Associate for the Education and Training Department at ABT.  In that position he worked closely with the ABT Studio Company, was a regular faculty member at the ABT New York Summer Intensives, and also served as a Company Teacher at ABT.  In September 2006, he assumed the position of Ballet Master with the artistic staff of ABT.  Luckett has been a guest teacher for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and taught ballet at New York University.

Luckett performs the roles of the Tutor in Swan Lake, Escalus and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote in Don Quixote, Galifron in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, a Dacha Dweller in The Bright Stream and the Duke in Lady of the Camellias.

Luckett was appointed Assistant Artistic Director in August 2016 and Associate Artistic Director in September 2020.

Susan Jones

Susan Jones was born in York, Pennsylvania and began her early dance training there. She continued her studies with Lucille Hood at the Rockville School of Ballet in Rockville, Maryland, and with Mary Day at the Washington School of Ballet in Washington, D. C.

In 1969, Jones made her professional debut with the New York City Opera, Robert Joffrey, choreographic director, and was an original member of Joffrey II.

Jones joined American Ballet Theatre in 1971 and danced with the Company for eight successive seasons. Among her roles were the Cowgirl in Rodeo and The Accused as a Child in Fall River Legend. Her transition from dancer to staff member began in 1976 when, as Assistant Ballet Mistress, she assisted Twyla Tharp with Push Comes to Shove.  She was appointed Ballet Mistress in 1980 and Regisseur in 1982.

During a three year hiatus after the birth of her daughter, Jones mounted Natalia Makarova’s full-length La Bayadère for the Ballet del Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1992) and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s production of Don Quixote (Kitri’s Wedding) for The Royal Ballet (1995)  In 1995, she staged ABT’s most recent production of Don Quixote in collaboration with Kevin McKenzie.  Shortly after, she returned to ABT as Ballet Mistress. Her ABT stagings include George Balanchine’s Symphonie Concertante (2006) and Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend (2007), as well as Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove (1999), Bach Partita (2013) and The Brahms-Haydn Variations (2015). Other international stagings include Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia at the Mariinsky Ballet (2014) and, for Teatro Colon, Sylvia (2015) and Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet (2018). She staged Ashton’s The Dream (2017) and Michel Fokine’s Les Sylphides (2017) for The Washington Ballet.

In addition to her duties as Regisseur, Jones performs the role of the Dacha Dweller in The Bright Stream, Berthe in Giselle, the Nurse in Onegin and Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. She is an ABT Certified Teacher of the ABT National Training Curriculum.

January 11, 2021 marks 50 years since Jones joined ABT.

Irina Kolpakova

Irina Alexandrovna Kolpakova was born in Leningrad and studied at the Leningrad Choreographic School where she was an outstanding member of the great pedagogue Agrippina Vaganova’s last graduating class (1951).  She entered the Leningrad-Kirov Ballet at the age of eighteen and danced her first leading role, the title role in Cinderella, at the age of twenty-two.

Her roles with the Leningrad-Kirov Ballet included the Waltz and Mazurka in Chopiniana (Les Sylphides), Eve in The Creation of the World (to the Andre Petrov score), the title role in Giselle, Maria in Rostislav Zakharov’s The Fountain of Bakhchisrai, Masha in The Nutcracker, Desdemona in Vakhtang Chaiboukiani’s Othello, Natalia in Petrov’s Pushkin, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.  Her created roles included Katerina in Yuri Grigorovich’s The Stone Flower (1957), Shyrin in Grigorovich’s The Legend of Love (1961), and leading roles in Igor Belsky’s Coast of Hope (1959), Georgi Alexidze’s Ala and Lolly (1969), and Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasiliov’s Creation of the World (1971).

Kolpakova was honored with the title of Merited Artist of the R.S.F.S.R. in 1957 and People’s Artist of the R.S.F.S.R. in 1960.  She is married to Vladilen Semenov, who partnered her in many of her most famous roles.

Prior to joining American Ballet Theatre as Principal Coach in 1990 during the Company’s 50th Anniversary season, Kolpakova taught and coached the Company in May 1989. She currently coaches Company dancers in all variations and pas de deux from ABT’s classical repertoire, including La BayadèreGiselleThe Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake, as well as in contemporary classics by choreographers such as Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko, and Alexei Ratmansky.

In 2014, Kolpakova, with Kevin McKenzie, staged a new production of Raymonda Divertissements.

Kolpakova received a 2010 Dance Magazine Award.

John Gardner

John Gardner has distinguished himself in two major dance companies, American Ballet Theatre and White Oak Dance Project. He joined American Ballet Theatre in 1978 and was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1984. Gardner’s diverse repertoire at ABT included numerous Soloist and Principal roles which afforded him the opportunity to work with many of the master choreographers of the 20th century. Gardner was invited to join the White Oak Dance project in 1991, dancing many new and pre-existing works by choreographers such as Mark Morris, Lar Lubovitch, Paul Taylor, and David Gordon, as well as works by many other icons of modern dance including Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham. He currently serves as Répétiteur for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust and as Director of the Antony Tudor Dance Studies. Together with his wife Amanda McKerrow, he stages many of the Tudor ballets around the world. During the course of his career, Gardner has achieved an excellent reputation as a Master Teacher and coach on both the professional and student levels, and for the last 20 years, has enjoyed teaching and directing workshops and intensives, while staging numerous works for ballet companies and universities in the United States and abroad.

Carlos Lopez

Carlos Lopez is currently a Director of Repertoire with American Ballet Theatre.  He began his professional career at the Victor Ullate Ballet in his native country of Spain where he danced for ten years, six of them as principal dancer. His repertory included leading roles in Don Quixote, Giselle, Theme and Variations, Allegro Brillante, Paquita, Les Sylphides, and ballets by Maurice Bejart, Rudi Van Dantzig, Nils Christe, Micha van Hoecke, and Hans Van Manen. With this company he toured to Argentina, Belgium, Cuba, England, Germany, Italy and the United States.

Lopez joined American Ballet Theatre in 2001 and was promoted to Soloist in 2003. His repertoire with ABT included Iago in Othello, the Bronze Idol in La Bayadère, Mercutio and Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, the Nutcracker-Prince in The Nutcracker, Birbanto in Le Corsaire, Puck in The Dream, Benno in Swan Lake, the second sailor in Fancy Free, Alain in La Fille mal gardée, Eros in Sylvia, the Lead Pontevedrian dancer in The Merry Widow, the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty, the Joker in Jeu de Cartes, the Profiteer in The Green Table, and roles in Offenbach in the Underworld, Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, Dark Elegies, In the Upper Room, Gong, Company B, Seven Sonatas, Symphonic Variations, Glow–Stop, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison and workwithinwork.

In 1996, he won the Silver Medal at the Paris International Ballet Competition and in 2004 was awarded the Les Etoiles de Ballet 2000 Prize in Cannes.

As a guest artist, Lopez has performed with the National Ballet of Georgia, National Ballet of Cuba, Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, among others.  He has appeared in the World Stars Gala in Budapest, the Miami International Ballet Festival, Stars of the 21st Century in Toronto and the Havana International Ballet Festival.

Lopez is an ABT Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum.  He joined the faculty of ABT Studio Company in 2013 and was appointed ABT Studio Company Director of Repertoire in September 2014. During this time, he participated in ABT and Royal Ballet School Exchanges in London and was a Mentor at YoungArts Miami.

Lopez was appointed Director of Repertoire at American Ballet Theatre in August 2016. He has work closely with Twyla Tharp, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon, Jessica Lang, Cathy Marston, Benjamin Millepied, Darrell Grand Moultrie, and Sonya Tayeh. During this time, Lopez has been invited to teach at Harvard University, Ballet West, Boston Ballet, and Compañia Nacional de Danza of Spain. Lopez serves as Artistic Coordinator of the ABT Summer Intensive in California and, since 2018, has choreographed his first two works, Painting Stories and Raíces, for the Saint Paul’s School Dance Company.

In March 2020, during the “stay at home” order for the Covid-19 pandemic, Lopez became a pioneer in teaching ballet classes online, being recognized by press around the world including The New York TimesThe New YorkerNational Geographic and the Chicago Tribune. He was included among other creators and personalities in the Apple campaign “Creativity Goes On.”

Amanda McKerrow

Amanda McKerrow has the honor of being the first American to receive a gold medal at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow in 1981. Since then, she has received numerous other awards, including the Princess Grace Dance Fellowship. She had the honor of training with Mary Day at the Washington School of Ballet and was a member of that company until she joined American Ballet Theatre under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1982. McKerrow was appointed to the rank of Soloist with ABT in 1983 and became a Principal Dancer in 1987. With ABT, she danced leading roles in all the major full-length classics, as well as one-act repertory works including George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, and Antony Tudor’s Pillar of Fire. In addition, she has had numerous works created for her by many of the great choreographers of the 20th century. She has also appeared as a guest artist throughout the world. McKerrow is now the sole Trustee of the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust, and together with her husband John Gardner, stages Tudor ballets around the world. McKerrow is in demand as a Master Teacher for both students and professional dancers and has enjoyed staging numerous other ballets for professional companies and universities both in the United States and abroad.

Nancy Raffa

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Nancy Raffa received her early training with Madame Gabriella Darvash. In 1980, she became the youngest and first American female to win the Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne competition in Switzerland. New York Times Dance Critic Anna Kisselgoff wrote of her: “(she is)…a young and extremely talented dancer” who “made mini-history in ballet. The dance is in her.”

Raffa joined Makarova and Company on Broadway and then, at 16, became a member of the corps de ballet with American Ballet Theatre. She went on to become principal ballerina at Ballet de Santiago, Chile and Ballet National Française de Nancy, France. She returned to the U.S. as principal ballerina with Miami City Ballet. During her career, Raffa partnered with ballet legends Rudolph Nureyev, Patrick Dupond and Fernando Bujones. She has also worked with prominent choreographers including Twyla Tharp, John Neumeier, Roland Petit, Hans Van Manen, Merce Cunningham, Birgit Cullberg, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Ben Stevenson, Ulysses Dove and George Balanchine. Her repertory as a principal dancer has been extensive and diverse.

Raffa began her teaching career as an adjunct faculty member in Miami at the New World School of the Arts. Transitioning from dancer to coach and stager, she became Senior Faculty member and Assistant to the Director at Miami City Ballet School, directing its Summer Intensive and Apprentice Program.

In 2005, Raffa was named Director of American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) Summer Intensive programs, Company teacher, Director of Repertoire for ABT II and faculty member for the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.

Raffa was appointed Director of Repertoire at ABT in June 2007. In addition to her Repertoire duties, she performs roles in ABT’s Cinderella, Giselle, La Sylphide, Onegin, On the Dnieper, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.

At ABT, Raffa has assisted Ratmansky on nearly all of his work since his appointment as Artist in Residence in 2009. She has re-staged many of Ratmansky’s creations for ABT at Atlanta Ballet, Het National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, The Paris Opera and The Washington Ballet.

Raffa assisted Twyla Tharp in the workshop production of Tharp’s Tony Award®-nominated Broadway show Come Fly Away. She has also staged Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove for Tulsa Ballet and In the Upper Room for ABT in collaboration with Shelley Washington.

Raffa has judged the Prix de Lausanne and Youth America Grand Prix in several countries. She delivers Master Teacher Classes by request and has taught all over the United States, Europe, South America, Japan and Asia.

In 2019, Raffa was nominated for the Isadora Duncan Dance Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Restaging/Revival/Reconstruction” for her re-staging of Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy (2013) for San Francisco Ballet.

Raffa holds an Ace certification in exercise physiology, graduated magna cum laude in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. Thomas University in Miami and is certified as an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Ayurvedic Medicine.