Yesterday, Kaatsbaan, the Tivoli, NY-based cultural park for dance, announced that Stella Abrera will join the organization as its new artistic director, effective January 1. This news come just weeks after we learned that Abrera will be taking her final bow with American Ballet Theatre in June.
While we'll miss seeing Abrera on the ABT stage, we're excited to see her grow into this new role. As artistic director, Abrera's position will including working with artists to develop their projects and strengthen their ties to Kaatsbaan. She'll also continue to teach and coach dancers in her role as the head of Kaatsbaan's ballet intensives and the Pro-Studio/Stella Abrera program, which launched last summer.
Since its inception, Kaatsbaan has been closely linked to ABT, making Abrera's appointment all the more natural. ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie and ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School faculty member Martine van Hamel are among the organization's four co-founders, and McKenzie still chairs its board. As part of this transition, Van Hamel will take on the role of principal ballet teacher for Kaatsbaan's ballet and special weekend intensives.
Abrera brings much more than her decades at ABT to her new position. In 2014 she founded Steps Forward for the Philippines to benefit victims of Hurricane Haiyan, and since 2018 has directed an annual benefit gala in Manila to raise money for the Stella Abrera Dance and Music Hall at CENTEX (Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education) in Batangas. She was also part of ABT's first Crossover Into Business class at Harvard Business School, and has been recognized by the New York State Assembly and New York's Philippine Consulate General for her service to the community.
"Dancing at American Ballet Theatre for 24 years has been a realization of a dream," says Abrera in a statement, "and now I'm inspired to impact the art form from the other side of the proscenium."