Stella Abrera will lead the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School for a year

Former American Ballet Theater principal dancer Stella Abrera has been named interim artistic director of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Ona...


Former American Ballet Theater principal dancer Stella Abrera has been named interim artistic director of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, the company announced Thursday. Abrera will oversee all artistic aspects of the school’s children’s division, pre-professional division and national training program.

The ballet theatre, Abrera said in a phone interview, “is like a big redwood tree or a magnificent oak tree. Now I have the opportunity to be part of the team that will nurture the roots, and help it to grow and become more beautiful. I have a deep respect for the lineage of the company and I’m so excited to share that with young artists.

The Onassis School, founded in 2004, has been led by Cynthia Harvey, another Ballet Theater alumnus, since 2016. Abrera said she was waiting until she started the job to formulate specific plans, but hoped follow Harvey’s lead. “She has tiny feet but they are huge shoes to fill,” Abrera said.

Abrera, 44, born in Manila, grew up in South Pasadena, California. She joined the Ballet Theater as a member of the corps de ballet in 1996 and was promoted to soloist in 2001. In 2015, Abrera was promoted to premiere on the same day as Misty Copeland, becoming the first Filipino American director of the company. She retired from performing in 2020. Since June of that year, she has served as Artistic Director of Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in Tivoli, NY, establishing an annual outdoor dance festival there.

A Ballet Theater spokeswoman said Abrera was hired for a one-year acting position due to the change in the Ballet Theater’s artistic director – from Kevin McKenzie, who offered Abrera the job, to Susan Jaffe, who will take over at the end of this year. (The company also recently appointed a new chief executive, Janet RollĂ©.)

At Kaatsbaan, Sonja Kostich, who became general manager and artistic director in 2018, will retain this position. No replacement for Abrera has yet been announced.

Speaking from outside a studio on the idyllic grounds of Kaatsbaan, watching a rehearsal of a project she helped set up, Abrera said her emotions were ‘mixed’ and it was a bit bittersweet to leave. After the Kaatsbaan festival closes on June 19, she will teach in an intensive two-month ballet program. Then she will have a day off, August 21, before starting her new job.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Stella Abrera will lead the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School for a year
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