Brooklyn Heights

Another Brooklyn connection to ABT & history: Principal Ballet Mistress Susan Jones & Makarova

May 18, 2020 Editorial Staff
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One of the most notable figures in ballet history, Natalia Makarova was a Russian-born superstar who gained international prominence as a ballerina in the 1960s.

While on tour with the Russian ballet in London in 1970, she decided to remain in the West and later that year joined the American Ballet Theatre (ABT).

Today, the ABT is forced to stay in touch with an adoring audience virtually, as the 2020 spring season was cancelled. This week, ABT is featuring a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Makarova’s magical production of “La Bayadère,” which broke records in its universal, and international, praise from fans and critics.

The virtual celebration, available online to all dance fans, begins Monday, May 18 with ABT Principal Ballet Mistress Susan Jones, who shares her memories of working with Makarova for several years. Jones, who danced with ABT for a decade during the 70s before becoming a ballet mistress, lives in Brooklyn Heights when ABT is in season.

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ABT Principal Ballet Mistress and Brooklyn Heights resident Susan Jones worked alongside Natalia Makarova for several years. Photo courtesy of Susan Jones

Those not familiar with the workings of ballet might ask “what is a ballet mistress?”

The job involves “shaping and overseeing the integrity of the staging, as envisioned by the artistic director and the choreographer,” said Jones. “The dancers come to us fully trained, sometimes with half a lifetime of hard work,” she added, “and we guide them to honor the choreographer, especially one from another era who cannot  be present, to keep the artistic torch burning.”

Among Jones’ favorite things about Brooklyn Heights, in addition to the 19th century scale, are the restaurants. “When I come home late from a hard day of working with the dancers,” she said, “I can always find the perfect salad for a light supper.”

A segment of Susan Jones’ memories of great ABT performances is available beginning today, Monday, May 18, and the salute to legendary Makarova continues all week.

Click here to read our past article about distance learning program ABTKids Daily and ABT co-founder and former Brooklyn Heights resident Oliver Smith, who worked alongside co-founder Lucia Chase. 

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