We’re in the middle of Nutcracker season, but we’re already thinking ahead to the New Year! This week, we were joined in the studios by Guest Stager Sandra Jennings, also ballet-mistress and coach at Mariinsky Theatre. Sandra is working with the Company to stage George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations for Ballet San Jose’s MasterPieces program. MasterPieces will be performed at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts February 20-22, 2015.
Sandra Jennings was born in Boston and began her dance training at an early age with June Paxman of the Washington Ballet and later with E. Virginia Williams at Boston Ballet. Later Sandra trained with teachers such as Harriet Hoctor, Shanna Bereska and Margaret Gill.
At the age of thirteen she received a Ford Foundation scholarship to the School of American Ballet in New York. During her three years there she studied with teachers including Diana Adams, Alexandra Danilova, Felia Doubrovska, Suki Schorer and Stanley Williams. Sandra performed lead roles in ballets such as Paquita, The Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake, new ballets by choreographer Richard Tanner, and George Balanchine’s Tarantella at the New York City Center. In spring 1974, Sandra Jennings was asked by Balanchine to join New York City Ballet where she worked with him for the next nine years. During her tenure, she danced an enormous repertoire that included principal and solo roles in many Balanchine and Jerome Robbins ballets. In addition, she danced works by John Taras, Jacques d’Amboise, Sir Fredrick Ashton, and Peter Martins. The dancer also performed in concerts with Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride, Melissa Hayden, Helgi Tómasson, Violette Verdy and Edward Villella. The dancer has, moreover, performed on television in Dance in America, Live from Lincoln Center, Live from Studio 8H, and Canadian television programmes.
In 1985, Sandra Jennings was invited to begin teaching for Robert Denvers and was as assistant to Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux at the Chautauqua Institute, where she began staging ballets by Balanchine. Since then she has staged Balanchine’s works for various companies in the United States as well as abroad in her capacity as ballet-mistress and coach.
Sandra Jennings has taught at many schools and with dance companies through out the world. She worked for Pennsylvania Ballet both as a coach and ballet-mistress for nine years, and as a coach and ballet-mistress for San Francisco Ballet for four years. She is currently on the faculty at the Marin Ballet’s school.