Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced today that former American Ballet Theatre principal Susan Jaffe will succeed Terrence Orr as artistic director of the company, effective July 1. Jaffe becomes PBT's seventh artistic director and only the second female director in the company's history.
Dubbed "America's Quintessential American Ballerina" by The New York Times, Jaffe comes to PBT after eight years as dean of the dance program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, Jaffe joined ABT II at age 16. joining ABT's corps de ballet in 1980, at age 18. She was promoted to principal dancer just three years later, and was a company star until her retirement in 2002. Jaffe has held a wide range of teaching and leadership positions since then, and has also choreographed for ballet companies and colleges around the country. She recently launched The Effect of Intention, a series of live and online wellness workshops and audio meditations.
Pointe spoke with Jaffe shortly after receiving the news of being named to her first artistic directorship.
Jaffe during an ABT performance of Giselle.
Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of PBT<p><strong>Why leave UNCSA?</strong></p><p>I love UNCSA and debated leaving, but being the artistic director of a professional ballet company has been a lifelong dream of mine. I knew I would regret it if I didn't throw my hat in the ring. When the headhunter called to say the search committee had chosen me, I was so overwhelmed with joy and emotion and a little bit of fear. This is a really big deal for me. </p><p><strong>What are you most looking forward to?</strong></p><p>Being back in the studio. As a dean, I didn't get to be in the studio as often as I wanted. I am really good in the studio and am thrilled to be able to do that.</p><p><strong>What was your pitch to the search committee on why they should hire you?</strong></p><p>I took a long time researching the company, the city and the other arts organizations there. I talked to the committee about collaborations with those other arts organizations, diversity and inclusion, dancer health and well-being, and my artistic vision.</p>