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Former Ballerina Wants to Make Inclusive Changes As New Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre

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The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) has picked a new artistic director after 30 years.

Susan Jaffe, once called “America’s Quintessential Ballerina,” started dancing at 18 years old at the ABT and now 40 years later, the former ballerina has been picked to lead the company.

As of 2020, Jaffe has been the artistic director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and will be succeeding Kevin Mckenzie in December when she steps into her new role at the ABT.

Jaffe has also served as dean of dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Her goal is to make the “white ballet world” more inclusive and accessible, as the Associated Press writes.

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“I’m going to preserve the beauty and the depth of classical ballet, but with an eye toward where we are today in the ballet world. And we want to be mindful of making sure that we are inclusive and doing everything we can to try to make ballet accessible and loved by everyone — because I love ballet and I want everyone to love it,” Jaffe said in an interview with the AP.

Jaffe has been honored for her work receiving New York Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award in 1998, Dance Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, and became an Honorary Doctorate at Texas Christian University in 2010, according to UNCSA.

“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,” Jaffe said, according to UNCSA.

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