Declared by the New York Times as “America’s Quintessential American Ballerina” Susan Jaffe was a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre for 22 years, a career which began in 1980. Prominent in the international dance scene as well, her European engagements included performances with The Royal Ballet, The Kirov Ballet, The Stuttgart Ballet, Munich State Opera Ballet, La Scala Ballet in Milan, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, and English National Ballet. Ms. Jaffe’s versatility as a dancer allowed her to tackle a large range of choreographic works which included her acclaimed interpretations of the classics like Swan Lake, as well as the dramatic works of John Cranko, Antony Tudor, Agnes de Mille and Kenneth MacMillian. She also worked with and danced the works of many prominent choreographers such as Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Lar Lubovitch, Nacho Duato, Glen Tetley, James Kudelka, Roland Petit, David Parsons, Mark Morris, Merce Cunningham, Ronald Hynd, Frederick Ashton, Ulysses Dove and Lynn Taylor Corbett.
In 2002, just one month after her retirement from performing, Ms. Jaffe was appointed “Advisor to the Chairman of American Ballet Theatre”, where she worked as advisor and an administrator for the chairman and president of the board until 2007.
In 2003, Ms. Jaffe co-founded and co-directed the Princeton Dance & Theatre Studio in Princeton, New Jersey. In 2004 Ms. Jaffe expanded into choreography. Her original creations for the school include a full-length version of “The Nutcracker,” “Pop Sonata,” “Ballet Studies,” “Tarantella,” “Glass Cuts,” “Carnival of the Animals,” and the “Cancan.” In 2007, she co-founded and co-directed DanceVision Inc. a not for profit outreach and Youth Company in Princeton New Jersey.
Ms. Jaffe choreographed contemporary ballet works for Texas Christian University in 2008 and 2012, and Princeton University in 2010. Some works for professional companies include: Lemon Spongecake Contemporary Ballet, Meditations UnCaged, Configurations Dance Theater, Novem Pas de Deux, Velez Pas de Deux, and Royenne Pas de Deux. She choreographed Weather One for Company C Contemporary Ballet Company, which premiered in the bay area in January and in San Francisco in February of 2014, and was also performed by the Grand Rapids Ballet in 2015. In the 2009 Gala for Youth America Grand Prix, Sognato Pas de Deux was created for Principal Dancer Isabella Boylston and Corps de Ballet member Blaine Hoven of American Ballet Theatre. The year 2011 brought We Insist for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet Theater, a ballet later performed by the Studio Company of ABT in their 2011-12 season, along side of a new work, A Tango pas de deux. On the opening night 2012 gala of American Ballet Theatre, Ms. Jaffe choreographed Blue Pas de Deux for Principal Dancer Veronika Part and Soloist Thomas Forster. In the spring of 2013, Ms. Jaffe created a newly envisioned Polovtsian Dances for UNCSA, which was performed in Chapel Hill for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Rite of Spring. Ms. Jaffe collaborated with composer Bruno Louchuoarn, and set designer Joe Tilford, former Dean of Design and Production at UNCSA to create a new work Metallurgy for UNCSA’s Winter Dance performances at the Stevens Center in Winston Salem in February 2015. This work was also performed in New York City by the Studio Company of American Ballet Theatre for their Royal Ballet/ Studio Company Exchange program, and later in the month for ABT’s Alumni Reunion performance in the spring of 2015. Ms. Jaffe is currently working on new work with composer Bruno Louchouarn. It will premiere in the spring of 2018.
In 2010, Ms. Jaffe was appointed a Ballet Master of American Ballet Theatre, where she coached the soloist and principal dancers, taught company class, and staged ballets, until 2012. Periodically she visits ABT as a guest to stage ballets, teach company class, and coach their professional dancers.
Documentaries and PBS performances where Ms. Jaffe is featured include: Documentary “Ballet” by Fredrick Wiseman, American Ballet Theater in San Francisco”, American Ballet Theatre Now”, Baryshnikov Dances Sinatra and More”, Documentary on American Ballet Theatre’s 75th Anniversary, by Ric Burns.
Written publications include: Becoming a Ballerina, a children’s book published in 2003
In 2010 Ms. Jaffe received an Honorary Doctorate from Texas Christian University
Co-designed and taught corporate lectures on Excellence in conjunction with Duke Corporate Education for Lehman Brothers, and PriceWaterHouseCoopers
Ms. Jaffe was appointed Dean of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in August of 2012 where she currently runs the program, teaches, coaches, and choreographs.