Performing with New York City Ballet in BOURNONVILLE DIVERTISSEMENTS; © Paul Kolnik
Born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Abi Stafford began her dance training at the age of six with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. Ms. Stafford attended three consecutive SAB Summer Courses beginning in 1996 before enrolling as a full-time student in September 1998. She was invited to become an apprentice with New York City Ballet in November 1999 and joined the corps de ballet in January 2000. Ms. Stafford was promoted to the rank of soloist in January 2002 and principal dancer in December 2007.
Ms Stafford’s repertoire at New York City Ballet includes principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. Among the ballets in which she has performed featured roles are Ballo della Regina, Concerto Barocco, Coppélia, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Divertimento No. 15, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Jewels (“Emeralds”), Square Dance, Symphony in C, Theme and Variations, Episodes, The Four Temperaments, Raymonda Variations, La Source, Valse Fantaisie, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Who Cares?, Dances at a Gathering, Glass Pieces, The Goldberg Variations, Klavier, and Mercurial Manoeuvres.
Ms. Stafford has originated principal roles in ballets by Stephen Baynes (Twilight Courante), Jiři Bubeniček (Toccata), Peter Martins (Bal de Couture, Viva Verdi), Kevin O'Day (Swerve Poems), and Alexei Ratmansky (Namouna, A Grand Divertissement; Pictures at an Exhibition, Russian Seasons).
Ms. Stafford was named NYCB’s Janice Levin Dancer for the 2000-01 season. In the spring of 2003, she was awarded Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, which acknowledges the exemplary achievement of young artists. Ms. Stafford was a Teaching Fellow at SAB from 2012-16 and joined the School’s permanent faculty in September 2016.