Jonathan Stafford, Artistic Director

Teaching at SAB, 2013; © Rosalie O'Connor

Dancing Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 at NYCB; © Paul Kolnik

Born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Jonathan Stafford began his dance training at the age of eight with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. He attended the School of American Ballet’s 1996 and 1997 Summer Courses before enrolling as a full time student at SAB in the fall of 1997.

Mr. Stafford became an apprentice with New York City Ballet in October 1998 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in February 1999. He was promoted to the rank of soloist in March of 2006 and became a principal dancer in May 2007. Upon retiring from performing in May 2014, Mr. Stafford was named one of NYCB's ballet masters. From late 2017 through 2018, Mr. Stafford led New York City Ballet's four-person interim artistic leadership team while serving as NYCB's primary artistic liaison with SAB. In February 2019, he was named Artistic Director of both New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet.

During his performing career with New York City Ballet, Mr. Stafford danced featured roles in George Balanchine’s Firebird, The Four Temperaments, Divertimento No. 15, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® (Cavalier, Hot Chocolate, Dr. Stahlbaum, and Mother Ginger), 'Emeralds' from Jewels, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lysander), Orpheus, Symphony In C (First Movement), and Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2; Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, Fanfare (Double Bass), Interplay, and 2 & 3 Part Inventions; Peter Martins’ Octet, The Sleeping Beauty (Prince Desire and Gold), Songs of the Auvergne, and Swan Lake (“Pas de Quatre” and Spanish); and Christopher Wheeldon’s Klavier and Polyphonia. Mr. Stafford originated the role of Paris in Mr. Martins’ Romeo + Juliet.

Mr. Stafford served as a member of SAB’s guest faculty during the 2006-07 school year and joined the School’s permanent faculty in September 2007. In 2015 he was named SAB’s first Professional Placement Manager, a role created to assist students with the transition into their professional careers. Mr. Stafford became only the third Artistic Director in SAB history in February 2019.  In this role he works closely with Chairman of Faculty Kay Mazzo and Executive Director Carrie Hinrichs to ensure that SAB’s students have the training, resources and guidance to develop into world class artists and healthy, well-rounded individuals.

Mr. Stafford was the School of American Ballet’s recipient for Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award in 1999. A graduate of Professional Children's School, Mr. Stafford graduated summa cum laude from the Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies in May with a B.A. in Organizational Leadership. His film work includes Columbia Pictures’ Center Stage.