Mr. Soto, who is half Navajo Indian and half Puerto Rican, was born in New Mexico and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. At the age of five, he began studying ballet with local teachers after seeing a television special featuring Edward Villella in the “Rubies” section of George Balanchine’s Jewels.
Mr. Soto continued his studies at the School of American Ballet beginning in 1977. While at SAB, Mr. Soto danced the role of “Luke” in Peter Martins’ The Magic Flute, which was choreographed for the 1981 Workshop Performances. That year he became a member of New York City Ballet's corps de ballet. In June 1984, he was promoted to the rank of Soloist, and one year later he was named Principal. After an acclaimed 24-year performing career, he retired from dancing in June 2005. He has been a member of SAB's faculty since 1996.
Mr. Soto’s extensive repertory at New York City Ballet included principal roles in numerous works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins. He also inspired the creation of roles in many new ballets, including Peter Martins's A Schubertiad (1984), Ecstatic Orange (1987), Fearful Symmetries (1990), Jazz(Six Syncopated Movements) (1993), Sinfonia (1993), and Morgen (2001); Christopher Wheeldon's Slavonic Dances (1997), Mercurial Maoeuvres (2000), Polyphonia (2001), Morphoses (2002), Liturgy (2003), Shambards (2004), and After the Rain (2005); and Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Chiaroscuro (1994). Mr. Soto returned to the stage in May 2007 to originate the role of Lord Capulet in Peter Martins's new production of Romeo + Juliet for New York City Ballet.
In 2006, Mr. Soto staged Afternoon of a Faun for the Royal Ballet of London on behalf of the Jerome Robbins Trust.
Mr. Soto was the recipient of the Casita Maria Award for Hispanics and The First Americans in the Arts Trustee Award. Friends In Deed recognized Mr. Soto for his patronage of AIDS research, and in 2002, the School of American Ballet presented him with the Mae L. Wein Award for Distinguished Service.
In addition to his full time position at the School of American Ballet, Mr. Soto, who graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in 2006, oversees the catering events company Lucky Basset Events with his partner Luis Fuentes.
Mr. Soto’s life is the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Gwendolen Cates, Water Flowing Together, which will be broadcast nationally on the Emmy award-winning PBS series Independent Lens on April 8, 2008, and screened at upcoming film festivals around the U.S. The film explores Mr. Soto’s roots and documents the final years of his performing career with New York City Ballet.