Ethan Stiefel, born in Pennsylvania, is the Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Just prior to being appointed the RNZB’s Artistic Director, Stiefel served as Dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA).
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 trained 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. Stiefel gave his final performance as a Principal Dancer with ABT in July 2012.
His repertoire of full-length works included Florimund (The Sleeping Beauty), Siegfried (Swan Lake), Romeo (Romeo and Juliet), James (La Sylphide), Albrecht (Giselle), Lescaut (Manon), Lenski (Onegin), Jeanne (Raymonda), Colas (La Fille Mal Gardée), Solor (La Bayadère), Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Prince (Cinderella) Cassio (Othello), Basil (Don Quixote), Franz (Coppélia), Conrad and the Slave (Le Corsaire). He appeared in a wide variety of shorter works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Michel Fokine, William Forsythe, Lar Lubovitch, Jiří Kylián, August Bournonville, Bob Fosse, Antony Tudor, Christopher Wheeldon, Eugene Loring, Peter Martins, Nacho Duato, Frederick Ashton, including works created on him by Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, Nils Christe, Susan Stroman, Mark Morris and Christopher Wheeldon among others.
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 Natalia Makarova’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated by William Forsythe. The Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet first invited him to dance Apollo in St. Petersburg. He later returned to perform the role of Solor. Other guest appearances included the Australian Ballet, the Zürich Ballet, the Bayerische Staatsballett, Hamburg Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Teatro Colon, and tours 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, Gossip Girl and the documentary, Born to be Wild.
In 2004, Stiefel founded a summer training program on Martha’s Vineyard, Stiefel and Students, which took place for four years. He was the founding director of the Nantucket Dance Festival.
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.
In 2009, Stiefel created a new staging of The Nutcracker for the UNCSA, which continues to be performed every Christmas season. Most recently, he choreographed Bier Halle and collaborated with Johan Kobborg on choreographing and producing a new production of Giselle for the RNZB. In 2013, Giselle was adapted into a feature film, directed by Toa Fraser, and was selected for screening in the NZ International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Albert of Monaco presented Stiefel with the Statue Award of the Princess Grace Foundation, the Foundation’s highest honor, in October 1999. He received the prestigious Dance Magazine Award in December 2008; 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.