Susan Jaffe

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. 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.

Her 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.

I enjoy empowering dancers by giving them the tools they need to know their own bodies and approach to technique, artistry, and movement quality, in a comprehensive way. If a dancer knows how to move with clarity, musicality, and refinement, then artistry can blossom to its full potential without extraneous mannerisms that interfere with the quality of their unique expression.

Susan Jaffe


  • Advisor to the Chairman of the Board of American Ballet Theatre
  • Teacher at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet Theatre 2003-2010
  • Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Princeton Dance and Theater Studio, and Co-Director from 2003-2010
  • Co-Founder and Co-Director of DanceVision Inc., 2007-10
  • Ballet Master at American Ballet Theatre, 2010-12
  • Dean of Dance, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, 2012-present

Career Highlights

  • Debut professional performance danced with Alexander Godunov in a pas de deux in American Ballet Theatre’s 1980 opening night gala at the Kennedy Center
  • Danced first "Swan Lake" as Swan Queen with Baryshnikov
  • Worked with luminaries such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova, Irina Kolpakova, Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, Kenneth MacMillian, George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, José Manuel Carreno and Julio Boca

Awards, Recognitions and Honors

  • New York Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award, 1998
  • Dance Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003
  • Honorary Doctorate, Texas Christian University, 2010


  • Board Member: Youth America Grand Prix
  • Board Member: Dance Magazine Awards