James Jordan, Ballet Master & Repetiteur
Hailing from Staunton, Virginia, James Jordan’s early years revolved around music and theatre before beginning his formal dance training at the Richmond Ballet during his freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Theatre Department. Ballet scholarships took him to North Carolina School of the Arts where he studied under Duncan Noble, Gyula Pandi, Mimi Paul and Joysanne Sidimus. It was there that Todd Bolender recruited Jordan for his first company of dancers at Kansas City Ballet, where he continued to train under Bolender, Diana Adams and Una Kai. Those years as principal dancer with Kansas City Ballet provided both classical and contemporary features in the works of Bolender, Balanchine, Tudor, Bournonville and Ailey. Summer hiatus’ provided opportunities to perform with the Santa Fe Opera and the Santa Fe Dance Company.
Career opportunities then led him to press relations and event planning for public television in New York while continuing to perform in the northeast. Jordan appeared as guest artist for the Berkshire Ballet and the New Jersey Ballet, and for a Dances Patrelle series, New York Times critic Jennifer Dunning proclaimed his New York debut in a Romeo and Juliet pas de deux as being “absolutely dazzling.”
In 1991 Bolender invited Jordan to return as ballet master. Over the next 23 years, under Bolender and later artistic director William Whitener, Jordan would restage or rehearse classical, neoclassical and contemporary works of these aforementioned masters and other notable choreographers including Robbins, Tharp, Cunningham and Taylor. He also assisted numerous choreographers creating for Kansas City Ballet, including Robert Hill, Margo Sappington, Jody Gates and Lila York.
In 2000 Jordan received his BFA in dance from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance where he also served as president of their alumni board. He has taught and choreographed on students at UMKC and also for Kansas City Ballet School during summer intensives and in staging Bolender’s annual Nutcracker production.
Also in 2000, Jordan worked alongside Bolender in recreating Balanchine’s lost ballet Renard for New York’s Wall to Wall Balanchine Festival, as well as Kansas City’s Stravinsky Festival. He assisted Bolender in staging many of his works on Kansas City Ballet and also his comedic hit Souvenirs for Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2003. At his passing in 2006, Bolender appointed Jordan to the role of Artistic Trustee of all of his ballets.
Jordan’s work as repetiteur for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust began in 1997. Under the leadership of Trustee Sally Bliss, he traveled across the nation studying five Tudor ballets as they were being staged by either Airi Hynninen or Donald Mahler. He began with Gala Performance in 1993 in Kansas City and grew impassioned about learning and preserving these masterworks. Continued exposure to Tudor’s Lilac Garden, Offenbach in the Underworld, Dark Elegies and Echoing of Trumpets occurred under Mahler’s careful watch through the years at Ballet West, The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, San Francisco Ballet, San Jose Ballet and Miami City Ballet.
Jordan has independently staged Gala Performance for San Francisco Ballet, Tulsa Ballet Theatre, Kansas City Ballet, and most recently for The Sarasota Ballet in spring of 2014. He has also staged Offenbach in the Underworld for Milwaukee Ballet and Dark Elegies for UMKC and Washington University in St. Louis. Jordan also serves on the Antony Tudor Ballet Dance Studies committee, which garnered a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for developing Tudor-themed university residencies.
In February 2014 he performed the role of Dr. Van Helsing in Kansas City’s production of Michael Pink’s Dracula. In November 2014 he staged Bolender’s Nutcracker for the final time while also being honored by the organization, serving as Honorary Chair for their annual Nutcracker Ball on 5 December 2014.
Jordan sees his July 2014 appointment as Ballet Master for The Sarasota Ballet as opening a new chapter of artistic excellence under the leadership of Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri.