Stella Abrera, the former Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, has been named Acting Artistic Director of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. The appointment, effective from August 22, was announced by Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre. He said:
I’m thrilled to welcome Stella back to the ABT family, where she can share her knowledge of this amazing art form and teach a new generation through the lens of her experiences as a celebrated artist of ABT.
Abrera has served as Artistic Director of Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in Tivoli, New York since June 2020, following a 24-year performing career with ABT. As Acting Artistic Director of the ABT JKO School for the 2022-2023 academic year, Abrera will oversee all artistic aspects of the School’s Children’s Division, Pre-Professional Division, and National Training Curriculum.
It is an honour to succeed Cynthia Harvey, whose illustrious career as a ballerina, educator, and leader I have long admired. I look forward to bringing to this post my passion for nurturing new generations of dancers and my understanding of ABT’s rich history and new imperatives. Through a robust and well-rounded curriculum, world-class instruction, and an environment in which students can explore their own artistic voices, I will aim to advance the School’s tradition of excellence.
Thank you to ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie and CEO Janet Rollé for their trust and examples of leadership, and for the support of Artistic Director Designate Susan Jaffe. I am grateful to my colleagues and the Board of Trustees at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park. I have taken pride in being part of the visionary team leading this multidisciplinary artist sanctuary and presenting venue, and I look forward to following its continued achievements.
Stella Abrera was born in Manila, Philippines, and grew up in South Pasadena, California. She joined ABT as a member of the corps de ballet in 1996 and was promoted to Soloist in 2001. In August 2015, she was appointed Principal Dancer. She has performed as a guest artist with The Australian Ballet, The Washington Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, and Ballet Philippines. She retired from performing in 2020.
As a répétiteur of works by Alexei Ratmansky, Abrera has been invited to stage his works for the Mariinsky Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and ABT Studio Company. Prior to her appointment as Artistic Director of Kaatsbaan, Abrera served as Associate Director of the summer Kaatsbaan Ballet Intensive and spearheaded Pro-Studio, a coaching program for professional ballet dancers in the formative years of their careers.
Abrera’s philanthropic work includes the founding of Steps Forward for the Philippines, an organization created to benefit typhoon victims in the Philippine province of Guiuan, and the co-founding of Artists for Aveni to benefit the Aveni Foundation’s mission to cure cancer. She also curated and danced in a series of galas in Manila to benefit disadvantaged Filipino children of CENTEX elementary schools, which resulted in the building of the Stella Abrera Dance and Music Hall in Batangas, Philippines.