1. Kyle Abraham, 2. Robert Garland, 3. Francesca Harper, 4. Amy Hall Garner, 5. Darrell Grand Moultrie, 6. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, 7. Katy Pyle, 8. Christopher Wheeldon, 9. Micaela Taylor, 10. Claudia Schreier. There have always been modern choreographers who have added their own unique touches to ballet over its lengthy history. And here are the most famous contemporary ballet choreographers.
- Kyle Abraham
- Robert Garland
- Francesca Harper
- Amy Hall Garner
- Darrell Grand Moultrie
- Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
- Katy Pyle
- Christopher Wheeldon
- Micaela Taylor
- Claudia Schreier
Kyle Abraham is a choreographer and dancer from the United States. He founded his own company, A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, in New York City in 2006, and he has produced numerous unique works for A.I.M. Though this artistic director and founder of A.I.M by Kyle Abraham is not well-known as a contemporary ballet choreographer, Taylor includes him on this list because he has created three works for the New York City Ballet that she describes as “classical ballet companies shifting into a space that is more contemporary.”
Kyle Abraham is well recognized for his dynamic phrase work, which is based on his own self-intuitive movement sensibility and is generally described as a combination of Hip Hop, Limon, and Cunningham method. Taylor, who received the Princess Grace Statue Award in 2018 and was a MacArthur Fellow in 2013, describes himself as a choreographer “whose cultural references are so authentic and nostalgic that it really transcends whoever is in the audience.” Abraham has choreographed works with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theater.
The Kennedy Center
A.I.M by Kyle Abraham
Robert Garland would be the following the most famous contemporary ballet choreographers. Dance Theatre of Harlem’s current resident choreographer, Robert Garland, is also “steeped in classical ballet history and tradition, who creates works that beautifully and intricately balance the classical and more contemporary movement vocabulary.” Garland, a former principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, has created works for the New York City Ballet, The Royal Ballet in the United Kingdom, the San Francisco Ballet, the Oakland Ballet, and more commercial work for various advertising and award ceremonies.
Robert Garland is the first African-American choreographer to create a piece for The Royal Ballet of London. In London, the Telegraph newspaper named two of his works among the “Top Ten Dance Events” of the London dance season. His commercial work includes music videos, commercials, and short films for Sesame Street, a Nike commercial starring New York Yankee Derek Jeter, the NAACP Image Awards, a short film for designer Donna Karan, and the “Charmin Cha-Cha” for Proctor and Gamble. Mr. Garland received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York City’s Juilliard School.
Photo on Wikmedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Choreographer_Robert_Garland.jpg)
Fosse, The Producers, and the Tony Award-winning classic The Color Purple are among her Broadway credits. She had leading roles in Sweet Charity and Sophisticated Ladies at the regional level. “The Look of Feeling,” her most recent solo work, has been regarded as “a piece rich in truth and authenticity.” She is currently appearing in Punchdrunk’s performance of “Sleep No More” in New York City.
Francesca Harper has choreographed works with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ailey II, Tanz Graz, Hubbard Street II, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and The Francesca Harper Project, among others. The Francesca Harper Project has evolved into a vehicle for Harper’s own artistic vision.
Amy Hall Garner
Next one in the list of the famous contemporary ballet choreographers is Amy Hall Garner. Amy Hall Garner is a New York City-based international choreographer who creates works in the ballet, modern, and theater genres. Her work has been commissioned by numerous schools and companies, including Ailey II, Collage Dance Collective, The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, Barnard College, The University of the Arts, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.
She is a native of Huntsville, Alabama, and a Juilliard School graduate. She has also choreographed for the Columbia Ballet Collaborative and coached Grammy Award winner Beyoncé, providing additional choreography for The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. Her theatrical choreography credits include the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of The Color Purple and the Off-Broadway musical Invisible Thread, directed by Tony Award nominee Diane Paulas.
Amy is forging up an outstanding career as she builds her own choreographic signature, from Beyonce to BalletX. Amy Hall Garner was among the first to receive the Joffrey Ballet’s Choreography of Color Award (now known as Winning Works). Taylor includes Garner on the list because her “choreography has a real pure, classic look and a romantic feel to how she phrases movement.” Taylor also expresses interest in watching Garner’s choreographic career develop.
Works & Process
Darrell Grand Moultrie
Darrell Grand Moultrie is a multi-talented choreographer and master teacher in America. He is one of the few choreographers working in the Theater, Modern, Ballet, and Commercial Dance genres at the same time, having received a Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award.
Darrell has created and staged works with The Juilliard School, Colorado Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, BalletMet Columbus, Ailey 2, Sacramento Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Tulsa Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and Smuin Ballet, among others. He has taught and choreographed at numerous universities, including The Ailey School of Ballet at Fordham, Point Park University, CalArts, New York University, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and Boston Conservatory.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Talking about the famous contemporary ballet choreographers, Lopez Ochoa is not to be missed. Lopez Ochoa completed her dance training at Antwerp’s Royal Ballet School. After a 12-year performing career in numerous European dance groups, she decided to focus completely on choreography in 2003. Colombian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa was named a “rising star of the Dutch dance scene” in 2003 and is currently well on her way to conquering the world. Her choreographic works have been commissioned and performed all around Europe.
In general, Ochoa’s choreography links feelings by means of an abstract but inextricably linked style, which at times relies on outstanding technique. While most of her movements are contemporary, she occasionally throws in a classical virtuosity, like a soaring grand jeté. Her compositions lack clear plot lines or characters due to her usage of the abstract form. She does, however, desire that the dancers “tell a story” inside the work. She accomplishes this by accentuating the eyes and using them as a connecting point between the dancers on stage and the audience.
Before After, a seven-minute duet that “delineates the last moments of a relationship,” was Ochoa’s first highly recognized piece in the United States. Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Dutch National Ballet, Djazzex, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, Ballet du Grand Theatre du Genève, Ankara Modern Dance Theater, BalletX, Pennsylvania Ballet, Luna Negra Dance Theater, and Istanbul Modern Dance Theater have all commissioned works by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.
San Francisco Ballet
The Joffrey Ballet
Katy Pyle, a graduate of UNCSA’s High School Program, is the founder of Ballez, a ballet group that describes itself as “lesbians doing ballet” and “not just lesbians, but all the queers that ballet has left out.” Ballez promotes an inclusive future for classical ballet by incorporating the experiences of queer, lesbian, trans, and gender nonconforming persons into large-scale tale ballets, open lessons, and public conversations.
Pyle began ballet lessons at the age of three and danced with the Texas Youth Ballet. Pyle is the Artistic Director of Ballez and has performed and choreographed for the company in important works such as The Firebird, a Ballez, Variations on Virtuosity, a Ballez Gala, and Sleeping Beauty & the Beast. Pyle also collaborated with Paulina Olowska to choreograph Slavic Goddesses for six soloists with Ballez for a performance series at the Kitchen. Pyle created a dance de deux for PILLOWTALK with Kyoung H. Park at The Tank in January 2018, which toured to Chicago in August 2018.
Katy Pyle was a BAX Artist in Residence from 2013 to 2015, and has also received residencies from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Mount Tremper Arts, Rockbridge Artist’s Exchange, the Bushwick Starr, the Dragon’s Egg, Abrons Arts Center, and La Mama, among others.
The New School
The Royal Ballet welcomed Christopher Wheeldon, OBE in 1991 when he completed his training there and received the Prix de Lausanne Gold Medal. He joined the New York City Ballet in 1993 and was given the soloist title in 1998. In 1997, Wheeldon started choreographing for the New York City Ballet while also pursuing his performing career. He stopped dancing in 2000 so he could concentrate on his choreography.
Wheeldon was hired as the first resident artist and resident choreographer of the New York City Ballet in 2001. In this role, he produced well-received choreographies, the first of which was Polyphonia, for the ensemble. His skill as a choreographer immediately gained him recognition, and a number of other prestigious ballet organizations, including the San Francisco Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, and the Royal Ballet of London, have requested dances from him.
In addition to producing a unique section for the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony, Christopher Wheeldon acted as the artistic director of the Fashion Forward show at La Musée Arts et Decoratif in Paris in April 2016. Wheeldon won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Choreography as well as the Outer Critics Award for Best Choreography and Direction for his work on the Broadway production of An American in Paris, which played in New York, Paris, and London and toured the United States, China, Japan, and Australia.
Photo on Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christopher_wheeldon_2022_1.jpg)
Royal Opera House
Dancer, choreographer, and founder of the TL Collective, Micaela Taylor is also the artistic director. She was trained in both ballet and hip-hop, and she has developed her own style of dance called Expand Practice, which expresses one’s true emotions through a variety of physical shapes and textures. Her unique brand of exaggerated facial expressions, gestures, and dramatic athleticism distinguishes her work.
Taylor developed her own method and is creating The TL Collective from scratch. She won the first Springboard EMERGE Choreographic Award, was included in Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2019, and appeared on the April 2020 cover of the publication. Taylor, a millennial, is an inspiration to young BIPOC artists and is doing ground-breaking work that fuses concert dance with commercial genres.
The Broad Stage, Ford Amphitheatre, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, among other venues, have all hosted performances of Micaela Taylor’s work. The Rambert Dance Company, The Getty Museum, BODYTRAFFIC, Springboard Danse Montreal/Gibney Dance Company, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, B12 Festival Berlin, Carlos Acosta’s Acosta Danza, and other companies have hired Taylor to choreograph for them as well as to teach.
To end the list of the famous contemporary ballet choreographers, Toplist would like to mention Claudia Schreier. In the United States and abroad, Claudia Schreier has choreographed, directed, and produced works for dance, opera, and film. Ms. Schreier, who was raised in New York and studied dance at the Ballet School of Stamford under the tutelage of Stephanie Marini, graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in sociology and a secondary degree in dramatic arts.
She is the winner of the Breaking Glass Project choreography competition as well as the Princess Grace Award for Choreography, NEFA National Dance Project Award, Dance/NYC Dance Advancement Fund grant supported by the Ford Foundation, Lotos Foundation Prize for Dance, and Suzanne Farrell Dance Prize in recognition of Outstanding Artistry in the Field of Dance. She was an NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts Virginia B. Toulmin Fellow in 2017.
2020 will be Ms. Schreier’s first year as Atlanta Ballet’s resident choreographer. Claudia Schreier has created over 45 pieces of choreography and received commissions from a variety of companies and organizations, such as the San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Vail Dance Festival, Guggenheim Works & Process, Richmond Ballet, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Juilliard Opera, New York Choreographic Institute, Cathedral Choir Society, New York Choral Society, and Joffrey Winning Works.