Ballet Careers

Ballet Memphis Names Steven McMahon as Its Next Artistic Director

Steven McMahon will take the helm of Ballet Memphis on July 1. Trey Clark, Courtesy Ballet Memphis.

Ballet Memphis announced some major news yesterday: Steven McMahon, a former company dancer, will become its next artistic director on July 1, 2019. Current artistic director Dorothy Gunther Pugh, who founded the company in 1986, will remain as Ballet Memphis' CEO.


McMahon, who is only 34, has big shoes to fill. Since starting Ballet Memphis nearly 33 years ago, Pugh has helped build its operating budget to $4 million (dancers receive 38-week contracts), and the company recently opened a $22 million rehearsal and performance space. But she has prepared McMahon well by increasing his leadership responsibilities within the company over time. He currently serves as associate artistic director, and before that held positions of artistic associate and choreographic associate. (He retired from the stage in 2016.) "I long ago recognized that I needed to groom the right person to guard what we have built and what we value at Ballet Memphis," Pugh said in a statement. "Steven has come up through this organization and grown as a dancer and dance-maker; he's the best choice as well as the right choice."

McMahon in rehearsal at Ballet Memphis. Jenny Myers, Courtesy Ballet Memphis.

A native of Glasgow, Scotland, McMahon moved to the U.S. to finish his training at The Ailey School before joining Ballet Memphis in 2004. Since then, he has created over 30 works for the company, including three full-lengths: The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and Romeo and Juliet. He has also overseen Ballet Memphis' New American Dance Residency, a two-week program for emerging choreographers that immerses them in the city's local culture to encourage community-oriented work.

"My goal is to keep doing the vital work that has been the hallmark of Ballet Memphis," McMahon said in a statement. "Not only creating original, meaningful dances on, what I believe to be, the best and most diverse company in America but dismantling the barriers that have been inherent in classical ballet."

News
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

Keep reading... Show less
News
Kevin Lloyd Photography, Courtesy Ballet Jörgen

Canada's Ballet Jörgen is committed to telling Canadian stories by Canadian choreographers. For its next full-length ballet, director Bengt Jörgen turned to what he calls "perhaps the most quintessential Canadian story" of all time: Lucy Maud Montgomery's beloved 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, about the flame-haired, precocious orphan Anne Shirley. Jörgen is choreographing the work, which will debut in Halifax, Nova Scotia (not far from Anne's fictional home in Avonlea, Prince Edward Island), on September 28 before embarking on a two-year tour of Canada and the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Original photos: Getty Images

We've been dying to hear more about "On Pointe," a docuseries following students at the School of American Ballet, since we first got wind of the project this spring. Now—finally!—we know where this can't-miss show is going to live: It was just announced that Disney+, the new streaming service set to launch November 12, has ordered the series.

Keep reading... Show less