Ethan Stiefel New Headshot for NZ Ethan Stiefel New Headshot for NZ CREDIT: Rosalie O'Connor
Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy in ABT Don Quixote Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy in ABT Don Quixote CREDIT: Rosalie O'Connor
Ethan Stiefel in ABT's Swan Lake Act III Ethan Stiefel in ABT's Swan Lake Act III CREDIT: Rosalie O'Connor
Ethan Stiefel in Prodigal Son Ethan Stiefel in Prodigal Son CREDIT: Roy Round

Internationally acclaimed dancer Ethan Stiefel appointed Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet

Saturday 30 October 2010, 10:07AM
By Royal New Zealand Ballet

One of the world's most acclaimed dancers has been appointed Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

  • Ethan Stiefel - currently a Principal Dancer with American Ballet
  • Theatre (ABT) and Dean of The School of Dance at the University of North
  • Carolina School of Arts - will take up the position next year


Ethan Stiefel, born in Pennsylvania, is a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre and is Dean of The School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Stiefel began his dance studies in Madison, Wisconsin. His early teachers included Paul Sutherland and Ted Kivitt. He continued his studies at Marcia Dale Weary’s Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. He was awarded a full scholarship at the School of American Ballet, where he studied under Stanley Williams and then studied with Mikhail Baryshnikov at his School of Classical Ballet.

Stiefel began his performing career at age 16 with the New York City Ballet where he quickly rose to the rank of Principal Dancer. He was also a Principal Dancer with the Zürich Ballet and joined American Ballet Theatre in 1997. His repertoire of full-length works includes Florimund (The Sleeping Beauty) Siegfried (Swan Lake), Romeo (Romeo and Juliet), Albrecht (Giselle), Lescaut (Manon), Lenski (Onegin), Jeanne (Raymonda), Colas (La Fille Mal Gardee), Solor (La Bayadere), Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Cassio (Othello), Basil (Don Quixote), Franz (Coppelia), Conrad and the Slave (Le Corsaire). He has appeared in a wide variety of shorter works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Michel Fokine, William Forsythe, Lar Lubovitch, Nils Christe, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Jiri Kylian, August Bournonville, Bob Fosse, Antony Tudor, Christopher Wheeldon, Eugene Loring, Peter Martins, Nacho Duato, Frederick Ashton and Twyla Tharp.

He made his debut with London’s Royal Ballet in Twyla Tharp’s Junk Man pas de deux and returned frequently as a guest dancing the roles of Franz, Solor, Colas, Albrecht, Lenski, the Prince in a new production of The Sleeping Beauty and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated by William Forsythe. The Kirov Ballet first invited him to dance Apollo in St. Petersburg and he later returned performing the role of Solor.

He has made guest appearances with The Australian Ballet, Zürich Ballet, Munich Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Teatro Colon, and toured in the United States, Japan, Russia and throughout Europe. He starred in the feature film Center Stage, and returned to play the role of Cooper Nielsen in Center Stage 2- Turn It Up.

Stiefel’s television and video credits include The Dream, Le Corsaire, Die Fledermaus and the documentary, Born to be Wild. He has been a guest teacher for many institutions including the American Ballet Theatre II, American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, The National Ballet of Canada and The Royal Ballet School.

Stiefel recently staged and choreographed a new version of The Nutcracker for UNCSA.
He has received several awards for his work. In 1999 His Royal Highness Crown Prince Albert of Monaco presented Stiefel with the Statue Award of the Princess Grace Foundation, the foundations highest honor. He received the prestigious Dance Magazine Award in December 2008. He was a juror for the Prix de Lausanne in 2001 and served on the selection committee for the 2010 International Ballet Competition held in Jackson, Mississippi.

He was appointed Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet in October 2010 and begins his role on 1 September 2011.

Ethan Stiefel in his own words

“I am enormously appreciative and enthusiastic about having been appointed the next Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Becoming RNZB’s Artistic Director provides me with an exceptional opportunity to professionally and personally evolve and to contribute to the art form I truly love. It is very encouraging to see how much the company has already achieved, the potential it possesses and how the nation embraces its national ballet company. I look forward to building on the company’s fine reputation, while seeking to be a fresh, innovative and inspiring new leader for the RNZB in any way I can. Both myself and my partner in life; American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer, Gillian Murphy, are ready for this new chapter in our lives and wholeheartedly make a commitment to the new adventures and prospects it holds. Finally, I also look forward to connecting with my relatives living in New Zealand today and, being a sports enthusiast with Kiwi blood, I’m also looking forward to supporting the All Blacks!”

My basic goals are to:
* Build upon the appreciation and pride many New Zealanders already have for their Ballet company and, in turn, use that momentum to further expand audience growth and interest, through continually enhancing the quality of our work and the new innovations we will seek to nurture and promote.

*Provide opportunities for New Zealand artists to share in and contribute to the success of the RNZB.
* Foster strong RNZB relationships within the population and with cultural, creative, political and business leaders on the local and national level.

*Energetically develop and elevate the company artistically by presenting inventive and original programming that embraces both traditional and contemporary sensibilities.
* Utilize the extensive knowledge and connections my prior performing and managerial experiences have provided, so as to engage and present acclaimed artists, choreographers and repertoire that has yet to be seen in New Zealand.

* Achieve more international recognition and acclaim for the RNZB and the country, through increased off shore touring and by seeking to have a greater presence in the American market. Essentially, seek to make the RNZB a primary international ambassador of New Zealand and its inherent qualities.

* Employing a strong work ethic and passion for what I do, see that the RNZB contributes to the quality of life, imagination, culture and economic vibrancy of a nation and its identity.