Ethan Stiefel

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Ethan Stiefel
Born (1973-02-13) February 13, 1973 (age 41)
Tyrone, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation ballet dancer
Years active 1989-present
Current group Artistic Director, Royal New Zealand Ballet
Former groups principal dancer, American Ballet Theatre (ABT, April 1997 - July 2012)
New York City Ballet (1989-April 1997)

Ethan Stiefel (born 13 February 1973 in Tyrone, Pennsylvania) is the artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and was the principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) from 1997 till July 2012.[1] His fiance is Gillian Murphy, also a principal dancer with ABT.[2]

Early life and training[edit]

He is the only son of a Lutheran minister who became a prison warden in New York; their last name is pronounced "Stee-fell" and is German for "boot."[3]

Stiefel began ballet training in Madison, Wisconsin at the Monona Academy of Dance at age eight. He became involved with classical dance through his older sister, who was taking a class. His teacher, Jo Jean Retrum, was interested in getting Ethan to take class because boys in ballet are a rarity. He studied for two years at the Milwaukee Ballet School under Judith Warren, Ted Kivitt and Paul Sutherland, and at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet before moving to New York City to attend ABT's Studio Company (now known as ABT II)' and School of American Ballet on scholarship.[2]

While there, Stanley Williams enrolled him in the company's men's special class where he trained alongside Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Fernando Bujones.[4]

Career[edit]

Dancing[edit]

He started his dancing career in 1989, when he joined the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet, at age 16. In 1992, he took a leave of absence to perform with the Zürich Ballet and returned to the NYC Ballet company one year later as a soloist. By 1995, he was a principal dancer with the company. He ended his tenure with the NYC Ballet in April 1997 when he joined ABT as a principal dancer, from which he retired in 2012.[2] He danced with the short-lived Mikhail Baryshnikov School of Classical Ballet at ABT.[2] His dance repertoire includes many key romantic roles in both classical and contemporary ballet.

He won a silver medal at the Prix de Lausanne in 1989 and also received a Princess Grace Foundation-USA grant in 1991. In 1998, Stiefel was nominated for the Benois de la Danse Award as one of the rising stars in ballet.[2] In 2007, Stiefel made his debut with the Australian Ballet in Nureyev's staging of Don Quixote, for its Melbourne and Sydney seasons, in the role of Basilio.[4] In 2008, Stiefel was a recipient of the Dance Magazine Award along with Pina Bausch, Sylvia Walters, and Lawrence Rhodes for his role as a leader in the dance field.[5]

Stiefel has appeared as a guest artist with many companies throughout his career including the Mariinsky Ballet (Kirov), The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Zurich Ballet, Munich Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, New National Ballet in Tokyo, and Teatro Colón Ballet in Buenos Aires. He gave his final performance as an ABT principal dancer on July 7, 2012 at Metropolitan Opera House, as Ali, the slave, in Le Corsaire.[6][7] He is widely considered right now to be currently "the greatest male ballet dancer in the world or "the most advanced male ballet dancer in the world".[citation needed]

Directing and Teaching[edit]

In 2004, he created a four-week workshop, Stiefel & Students (originally called Stiefel & Stars), for aspiring dancers where dance students train and perform with professional ballet dancers. It is held annually on Martha's Vineyard in the month of August. The program accepts students aged 12 to 18. Its rollcall of star guest teachers include Stiefel, Johan Kobborg, Amanda McKerrow, Elizabeth Parkinson, Scott Wise, Marcelo Gomes, John Gardner, Gary Chryst, Ann Reinking, and Alina Cojocaru.[4][8] The program has been on hiatus since 2008.[9]

In late 2005, Ballet Pacifica, based in Irvine, California, named him as its artistic director with the aim to relaunch itself as a higher-profile ballet company. In conjunction, Stiefel announced elaborate plans for tours, a larger permanent ensemble of experienced dancers, a longer season and Christmas performances of George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. However, after the company failed to raise the US$6.5 million necessary to realize Stiefel's plans, its executive director resigned followed by Stiefel himself in April 2006.[10][11]

He was formally the dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

In November 2010 Stiefel was announced as the next director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. He took up that Position in September 2011.[12]

His first season as director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet saw him oversee a new production of The Sleeping Beauty at the end of 2011 choreographed by former Australian Ballet and English National Ballet principal dancer Greg Horsman. In March, 2014, Stiefel announced that he would not extend his contract with the Royal New Zealand Ballet and would return to the United States.

Television and Movie Appearances[edit]

In 2000, he starred in the film Center Stage, directed by Nicholas Hytner with original choreography by Susan Stroman and featuring Amanda Schull.[13] He also starred in the 2008 sequel Center Stage: Turn It Up. Center Stage features a subplot in which Stiefel's character garners the financial support of a flirtatious female philanthropist (played by Elizabeth Hubbard).[13] A New York Times article entitled "How Much Is That Dancer in the Program?" revealed that Stiefel has a similar real-life sponsorship relationship with wealthy philanthropist Anka Palitz.[14]

In 2007 he appeared in the movie, Born to Be Wild - The Leading Men of American Ballet Theatre with Angel Corella, Jose Manuel Carreno and Vladimir Malakhov directed by Judy Kinberg.

In 2007, Stiefel appeared in an episode of Queer Eye to meet a "straight guy" who considers Stiefel his "idol." In 2010 as himself he appeared in season 4, episode 8 of Gossip Girl with his fiance Gillian Murphy.

Personal life[edit]

He is an avid motorcyclist. He grew up riding dirt bikes, currently owns a Harley-Davidson Wide Glide and once drove 5600 kilometres across the north-eastern US with ballerina Gillian Murphy riding pillion.[4] He is also a Green Bay Packers fan.[citation needed] Gillian Murphy is the longtime girlfriend of Ethan, and in May 2011, after a performance in the Spring Season Opening Gala with American Ballet Theatre, Stiefel proposed to her. Ethan and Gillian also have an Abyssinian cat called Selah.

Quotes[edit]

  • "American ballet, for me, is Stanley Williams."
  • "Baryshnikov was and is my idol. He's the man. He was someone I've looked up to all throughout my life."
  • "I enjoy what I do, so why not just go about it in a good way, a positive way he muses. I dont concern myself with becoming a star. I just go out there and try to give an honest performance and if, when I get offstage, I'm a complete schmuck, then that's me."
  • "I actually quit ballet when I was 14, he says. I had just gotten a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, but it was so far away and there was no other school I liked nearby."
  • "But then my father was transferred to New York, and ... I knew this was it. I saw the bright lights, big city, the professional companies and great dancers. I was in a great school and knew that this was serious business and I had to do it."
  • "Dancing exacts a toll. I don't dance for applause. But there have definitely been moments, when I've been injured, when I say to myself, 'To come back to this, is it really worth it. It's just tough. It takes so much out of you physically and there's a lot of stress involved. Emotionally, it can drain you. I travel around a lot and it's great, it's exciting, but I don't see any of it. I do my shows and I'm off to the next place."

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ethan Stiefel Retires from the A.B.T.:Ethan Stiefel: No Longer "Center Stage"". The New Yorker. July 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "ABT: Dancers Ethan Stiefel". American Ballet Theatre. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  3. ^ Freydkin, Donna (2000-05-11). "In ballet, on big screen, Ethan Stiefel takes 'Center Stage'". CNN.com - Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d Verghis, Sharon (2007-01-29). "Easy rider filling Nureyev's shoes". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  5. ^ http://www.dancemagazine.com/issues/november-2008/Dance-Magazine-Awards-2008
  6. ^ http://www.abt.org/insideabt/news_display.asp?News_ID=384
  7. ^ "ETHAN STIEFEL TO RETIRE AS PRINCIPAL DANCER WITH AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE". January 23, 2012. 
  8. ^ Temin, Christine (2003-10-19). "Another Midwestern male dancer on motorcycle". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  9. ^ "Stiefel & Students". Vineyard Arts Project. Retrieved 2008-10-05. [dead link]
  10. ^ Mattison, Ben (2006-03-27). "Ethan Stiefel's Ballet Pacifica Cancels 2006-07 Season". PlaybillArts: News:. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  11. ^ Segal, Lewis (2007-03-28). "Sad last act for Ballet Pacifica". Los Angeles Times (Print edition E-2 ed.). Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  12. ^ Royal New Zealand Ballet website
  13. ^ a b Ethan Stiefel at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ Kinetz, Erika (2004-08-15). "How Much Is That Dancer In the Program?". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 

External links[edit]