American Ballet Theatre has named its first new artistic director in 30 years, and she's a former top ballerina at the company.

Susan Jaffe, who was a celebrated principal dancer at ABT for more than two decades, takes over from Kevin McKenzie in December. McKenzie announced last year that he'd be retiring in 2022 after 30 years at the helm.

The former ballerina, who has been serving as artistic director at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater since 2020, noted in a statement that this would be her seventh role at ABT, starting as a student and moving up through dancing, teaching and other roles.

“What a profound honor it is for me to come back home to lead the artistic helm of American Ballet Theatre,” Jaffe, 59, said in a statement.

In addition to her 22 years as a principal dancer at ABT — one of the top classical ballet companies in the world and, along with New York City Ballet, one of America's two leading ballet troupes — Jaffe danced as a guest with companies like the Royal Ballet, the Kirov, the Stuttgart Ballet, La Scala and many others. She left the stage in 2002.

Jaffe also served for eight years as dean of dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

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