Ethan Stiefel was born in Tyrone, Pennsylvania and grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. He began his training at age eight. His early teachers included Paul Sutherland and former ABT principal dancer Ted Kivitt. When his family returned to Pennsylvania, Mr. Stiefel commenced his dance studies at Marcia Dale Weary's Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. He spent a summer at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet, where he later studied full-time on a full scholarship. Mr. Stiefel also studied with Mikhail Baryshnikov at his School of Classical Ballet.
At the age of 16, while still finishing high school at the Professional Children's School, Mr. Stiefel was offered a place in the New York City Ballet. In order to broaden his artistic experience, he took a leave of absence from the New York City Ballet in 1992 to dance with the Zürich Ballet. The company celebrated Mr. Stiefel's arrival with a new version of "The Nutcracker," staged by the company director Bernd Bienert. The Zurich Ballet also featured him in other works, including "Les Doigts Chauds". During the 1999-2000 season, he returned to Zürich to appear in the company premiere of Twyla Tharp's "Push Comes to Shove". After a year in Switzerland, Mr. Stiefel rejoined New York City Ballet and immediately assumed a prominent position in the company. His repertoire of George Balanchine works included "Harlequinade", "The Four Temperaments", "Apollo", "Symphony in Three Movements", "Stars and Stripes", "Theme and Variations", "Divertimento #15", "Symphony in C", "Tarantella", "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux", "Valse Fantasie", "Chaconne", "The Nutcracker," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Mr. Stiefel was equally important in the company's vast repertoire of works by Jerome Robbins, including "Dances at a Gathering", "West Side Story Suite", "The Goldberg Variations", "2 + 3 Part Inventions", "Interplay", "The Cage", and "Quiet City". He also appeared in the New York City Ballet world premières of works by David Allan, William Forsythe, Kevin O'Day, Robert LaFosse, and Richard Tanner. Peter Martins accorded Mr. Stiefel the rare honor of appearing as a guest artist in "The Nutcracker" with the New York City Ballet during the 1998-99 season celebrating the company's 50th anniversary.
McKenzie on Stiefel: "I knew he was a force to be reckoned with."
Mr. Stiefel joined American Ballet Theatre as a Principal Dancer in 1997. He has appeared in the company's extensive repertoire of full-length classics: Siegfried in "Swan Lake"; James in "La Sylphide"; Prince Florimund in "The Sleeping Beauty"; Albrecht in "Giselle"; Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet"; Lar Lubovitch's "Othello"; Franz in "Coppelia"; the Prince in "The Nutcracker"; Lensky in "Onegin"; the Prince in "Cinderella"; Conrad and Ali, the Slave, in "Le Corsaire"; Solor in "La Bayadère"; and Basil in "Don Quixote." His other repertoire with the company includes George Balanchine's "Apollo," "Prodigal Son," and "Theme and Variations"; Jerome Robbins's "Fancy Free" and "Other Dances"; Frederick Ashton's "Les Patineurs"; Twyla Tharp's "Push Comes to Shove" and "Brahms-Haydn Variations"; Paul Taylor's "Black Tuesday"; Harald Lander's "Etudes"; Eugene Loring's "Billy the Kid"; Anton Dolin's "Variations for Four"; Antony Tudor's "Dim Lustre"; Mark Morris's "Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes" and "Gong"; Stanton Welch's "Clear"; Nacho Duato's "Without Words"; and Jiri Kylian's "Sinfonietta". He appeared in Clark Tippet's "Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1" on a Ballet Theatre telecast during the 1998 Dance in America season. He created leading roles in the world premieres of Twyla Tharp's "Known by Heart," Jean-Christophe Maillot's "In Volo," and Christian Holder's "Weren't We Fools?" In 2001, he appeared in the American Ballet Theatre premieres of two works by Frederick Ashton: as Colas in "La Fille mal gardée" and Oberon in "The Dream". A television production of Mr. Stiefel's performance as Conrad in American Ballet Theatre's production of the full-length "Le Corsaire" was seen on the PBS television series Dance in America. The program won the 2000 Emmy Award as Outstanding Classical/Dance Program.
He won wide praise for his feature film debut in Center Stage, portraying Cooper Nielson, a star dancer who faces crises in his artistic and romantic lives. He danced excerpts by George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan, and two dances created for Mr. Stiefel by Tony Award winner Susan Stroman. The film was directed by Oscar nominee and Tony Award winner Nicholas Hytner and produced by Laurence Mark. The film was released in May 2000. According to Sony Pictures, the DVD and video of Center Stage are among the company's fastest selling releases.
Mr. Stiefel's association with The Royal Ballet began in November 1999 in Twyla Tharp's "Junk Man Pas de Deux" from "Known by Heart". He performed the Tharp piece in the opening programs presented in the two theaters at the renovated Covent Garden -- the newly created Studio Theater and the Opera House. His subsequent repertoire with The Royal includes Franz in Ninette de Valois's "Coppelia"; Colas in Ashton's "La Fille mal gardée", both in London and on a U.S. tour; Solor in "La Bayadère"; Albrecht in "Giselle"; "In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated"; and the company premiere of John Cranko's "Onegin". Sir Anthony Dowell, former artistic director of The Royal, invited Mr. Stiefel to appear as Oberon in the Scherzo from Ashton's "The Dream" in a gala honoring Sir Anthony's years with the company.
In the summer of 2001, Mr. Stiefel produced a concert program, "Stiefel and Stars", for the Vail International Dance Festival. Ballerina Amanda McKerrow and other American Ballet Theatre dancers were featured in a varied repertoire including a complete performance of "The Sleeping Beauty" Act III. Mr. Stiefel made his debut with the Kirov Ballet in February 2001, appearing as Apollo with three St. Petersburg ballerinas. His first appearance at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, was in December 1999, dancing Prince Florimund in "The Sleeping Beauty" in a production by Sir Peter Wright.
Ethan in "Le Corsaire".
Mr. Stiefel has received many honors for his artistry, including a silver medal at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne in 1989. The Princess Grace Foundation-USA awarded him an "Emerging Artist" grant in 1991. The committee for the 1998 Benois de la Danse Award considered Mr. Stiefel "one of the rising stars of ballet." His Royal Highness Crown Prince Albert of Monaco presented Mr. Stiefel with the Statue Award of the Princess Grace Foundation at a gala dinner in October 1999. The award, the foundation's highest honor, is given "in recognition of exceptional and continuing professional achievements."
Mr. Stiefel has toured extensively in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea, Denmark, Italy, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia, and throughout the United States.
Ethan Stiefel appeared in the world premières of two works during American Ballet Theatre's 2002 October season at New York's City Center: "A Tribute to George Harrison" with choreography by Natalie Weir and David Parsons, and an untitled work by Lar Lubovitch to the music of Richard Rodgers. Mr. Stiefel will be seen on tour with Ballet Theatre in Boston, Cleveland, and the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California.
During February-March 2003, Mr. Stiefel will dance with The Royal Ballet in London as Prince Florimund in "The Sleeping Beauty," a new production by Natalia Makarova. He returns to the Metropolitan Opera House with Ballet Theatre in May-June 2003 dancing Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet", Oberon in "The Dream", Colas in "La Fille mal gardée", Siegfried in "Swan Lake", Basil in "Don Quixote", and Solor in "La Bayadère".