We’ve seen more than a few new faces around the Ballet San Jose studios in recent weeks. During the staging of Paquita, we’ve been especially lucky to have Susan Jones of American Ballet Theatre with us. An alum and current Ballet Mistress of American Ballet Theatre, Susan has shared her incredible experience and vision with our dancers over the past couple of weeks.
Born in York, Pennsylvania and trained in dance from an early age, Susan studied with Lucille Hood and Mary Day from the Rockville School of Ballet and Washington School of Ballet, respectively. After an apprenticeship with the Joffrey Ballet, Susan danced with American Ballet Theatre for eight successive seasons, after which she retired in 1980. Since then, Susan has staged a number of ballets for ABT as Ballet Mistress of the company.
Ballet San Jose Artistic Consultant Wes Chapman knows Susan very well and says he is extremely excited to have her on board.
“I met Susan in 1984 when I started dancing for American Ballet Theatre,” he told me during a conversation last month. “She was the Principal Ballet Mistress of the company at the time, and I got to know her well. Susan is extraordinarily smart with an incredible brain for this kind of ballet work.”
Wes returned to American Ballet Theatre in 2006, this time as Principal Ballet Master. From there, his relationship with Susan developed an entirely new dimension.
“After I went back to ABT in a management capacity, I got to know Susan from a very different point of view,” Wes said. “I was always fond of her as a coach, but I became even more fond of her as we worked together to stage several ballets and run ABT summer programs.”
He added: “This will be the first time I’ve had the pleasure of hiring Susan to stage a ballet for a company that I’ve been a part of. She brings an amazing amount of experience to the table.”
Susan has come to Ballet San Jose to stage the classical ballet Paquita after Marius Petipa’s 1881 revival. Wes hinted that this Paquita will definitely be the ballet we know and love but from a slightly different perspective: “Susan will be staging her own vision of Paquita after Marius Petipa’s choreography. It will be Petipa’s Paquita the way she sees it. It’s really going to be something to see.”
Thanks to Susan’s dedication and the hard work of Ballet San Jose’s dancers, Paquita will open this Friday, March 2, along with Jerome Robbins’s Interplay and David Lichine’s Graduation Ball. We are so excited to see the finished product, and we sincerely hope you’ll join us for the event.
See you there!