Susan Jaffe (born 1962) is an American former ballerina and is a ballet mistress at American Ballet Theatre. Beginning August 15, 2012, she became the Dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC.
|Born||1962 (age 56–57)|
|Former groups||American Ballet Theatre|
Jaffe says she had a lot to overcome to make it as a professional ballerina. She remarked she was too tall. "I had legs up to my ears and big feet," she said. Jaffe studied ballet at the Maryland Youth Ballet, the School of American Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) School. At age 16 she became a member of ABT II, and joined ABT's corps de ballet at age 18. Mikhail Baryshnikov, ABT's artistic director at the time, pulled Jaffe out of the corps de ballet to replace Gelsey Kirkland in a gala performance. With two days of rehearsal, Jaffe danced Pas d'Esclave at the Kennedy Center in Washington with the late Alexander Godunov, a Bolshoi Ballet star whose former partner had been Maya Plisetskaya. Jaffe remained a principal dancer with ABT for the following 22 years.
Jaffe danced many roles: Odette/Odile (she danced her first Swan Lake at the age of 19), Kitri (Don Quixote), Nikiya & Gamzatti (La Bayadère), Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty), Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Swanhilda (Coppélia), Tatiana (John Cranko's Onegin), Kate (Taming of the Shrew), and the title roles in Giselle, La Sylphide and Kenneth MacMillan's Anastasia and Manon. Ms. Jaffe worked with and performed the repertoire of many of the 20th century's most prominent choreographers, including George Balanchine (Apollo, Mozartiana, Who Cares?, Theme & Variations, Ballet Imperial, Violin Concerto, La Sonnambula, and Bourree Fantasque; and as a guest artist with New York City Ballet where she danced Western Symphony and the finale of Symphony in C), Antony Tudor (Jardin aux Lilas, Undertow, Gala Performance, Dim Lustre), Kenneth MacMillan (Manon, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet, Requiem), Jerome Robbins (Afternoon of a Faun, Other Dances, N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz), Agnes de Mille (Fall River Legend), Roland Petit (Carmen), Twyla Tharp (Push Comes to Shove, Everlast, Sextet, How Near Heaven, Bach Partita, Americans We, Known By Heart), Nacho Duato (Without Words), Jiří Kylián (Stepping Stones) and James Kudelka (Cruel World, States of Grace).
While still dancing with ABT, Jaffe became an international guest artist for the Royal Opera House of Covent Garden, the Mariinsky Theatre, English National Ballet, La Scala Ballet in Milan, Bavarian State Opera, Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, and the Vienna State Opera Ballet.
Jaffe was Advisor to the Chairman of ABT's Board of Governing Trustees, 2002–2007, and is on the faculty of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, which she joined in 2002. Jaffe co-founded Long Island University's educational initiative for the dancers of American Ballet Theatre. Jaffe lectures for Duke Corporate Education on "Excellence." In 2003, she became founding partner and co-director of the Princeton Dance & Theater Studio, and Dance Vision Youth Ensemble in Princeton, N.J., where her role is Co-Artistic Director and Choreographer. She gives master classes throughout the United States and Japan. She also guest teaches the dancers of American Ballet Theatre.
Susan Jaffe is a Dance Magazine awardee, and was invited to join Dance Magazine to co-produce and host the weekly television show Dance New York. She has been featured multiple times on the PBS series Dance in America; in the movie Angie, starring Geena Davis; and in the Frederick Wiseman documentary Ballet. In 2002, Jaffe was a guest on the Charlie Rose Show, where she discussed her retirement from the stage. In 2003, her book for children 7 to 13, Becoming a Ballerina, was published by Universe.
Jaffe has choreographed for dance companies and universities internationally. In 2007, she joined Configuration Dance Theatre Artistic Director Joseph Cipolla, and Resident Choreographer, Michael Shannon, as Principal Guest Choreographer and Member of the National Advisory Board. Configuration Dance Theatre has premiered three Jaffe works in New York, Velez Pas de Deux in Fall 2007, Novem Pas de Deux in Spring 2008, and Royenne Pas de Deux in Spring 2009. In the Fall of 2008 Jaffe's work, Uncaged, was premiered in concert at the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. She created Pulse as Guest Choreographer at Princeton University in 2010. In 2011 created two new works for the Studio Company of American Ballet Theatre, called "We Insist" and "A Tango." And, in 2012 Jaffe choreographed a new pas de deux called "Blue" for American Ballet Theatre's gala for the opening night of their Metropolitan Opera House Season. The year 2013 brought a new contemporary work created for the students of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts by Jaffe, Polovtsian Dances, which premiered in Chapel Hill's celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Rite of Spring. In January 2014, Jaffe premiered a new work for Company C Contemporary Ballet called "Weather One" which premiered in the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, followed by a weekend of performances in February 2014 at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco.
- "Susan Jaffe Named Ballet Mistress With American Ballet Theatre". American Ballet Theatre. June 11, 2010.
- "Faculty Biography: Susan Jaffe". The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre.
- Becoming a Ballerina
- School for Classical & Contemporary Dance
- "A conversation with ballet dancer Susan Jaffe". Charlie Rose. June 18, 2002.
- Anna Kisselgoff (June 24, 2002). "Critic's Notebook: An American Mix of Flair And Form". The New York Times.