New Pittsburgh Ballet Artistic Director Susan Jaffe to talk career, future plans for Cocktails, Concerts and Conversations with Chautauqua Dance

Sasha Janes, Chautauqua Dance’s director of contemporary studies, met Susan Jaffe in the early 2010s when she was the dean of dance at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Jaffe came to a performance at the Charlotte Ballet while Janes was working as an artistic director.


“We became friends and created a working relationship,” Janes said. “We’ve been working together on and off ever since.”

This April, Jaffe was named as the new artistic director for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

She will join Janes for this week’s Cocktails, Concerts and Conversations with Chautauqua Dance, starting at 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 28, on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch.

They will discuss and screen clips from Jaffe’s extensive career, from her 22 years as the principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre to her retirement in 2002 and transition to teaching and choreographing, and now her plans for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. The event will end with an audience Q-and-A.

“I’m just really excited to see what she’s doing with the company,” Janes said. “She’s got some fantastic ideas about how to get through (the pandemic shutdown).”

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is currently holding a number of virtual events, from online dance and fitness classes to Dance the Story, a free children’s program.

There is also a plan in the works for a live performance featuring dancers who have been cohabitating performing pas de deux.

“(That way) there are no quarantine problems,” Janes said. “They can actually touch each other.”

Janes will be contributing to the performance with his ballet “Lascia La spina, Cogli La Rosa,” which Jaffe has also used with her students at the North Carolina School of the Arts. 

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has performed at the Institution twice since 2017, and Janes is excited to see the company’s evolution under Jaffe’s leadership.

“Once (she) gets the company looking the way she wants it to look and feels like it has her brand, it would be nice if they can come back and perform in Chautauqua again,” he said. “I think there are lots of opportunities there.”

This program is made possible by the Carnahan-Jackson Dance Endowment.

Tags : chautauqua danceCocktailsConcerts and ConversationsdanceNorth Carolina School of the ArtsPittsburgh BalletSusan Jaffe

The author Eleanor Bishop

Eleanor Bishop is a Cincinnati native and rising senior studying journalism at Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College. She is excited to (virtually) return to the Daily for her second year, where she is covering visual arts, opera and dance. When she’s not writing, Eleanor enjoys comedy, pop music and staring wistfully out windows, thinking about how she should probably be writing.