Samantha Dunster

Assistant Artistic Director & Interim Director
of the School of Pennsylvania Ballet

The Deborah & Kurt Hilzinger Assistant Artistic Director

Meet Samantha

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Samantha Dunster began her ballet training with Cristina Pora in Toronto, Ontario. Then, at age 17, she traveled to Havana to train with the National Ballet of Cuba. She continued dancing with the company of Centro Pro-Danza, under the direction Laura Alonso, where she also worked as regisseur and ballet mistress.

In 1996, Samantha accepted the position of artistic director and principal dancer of Bale da Ilha in Brazil, where she staged numerous full-length ballets. By 2000, she became ballet mistress of Orlando Ballet, where, under the direction of the late Fernando Bujones, she re-choreographed La Fille Mal Gardee for the company. In 2004, she was commissioned by Orlando Ballet to create a world-premiere production of Camelot, the success of which broke ticket sales records. In 2007, she accepted the role of assistant to the artistic director of Orlando Ballet, under the direction of Bruce Marks. The following year, the pair together staged the full-length Don Quixote.

In 2011, Samantha accepted the position of chair/artistic director of the Hartt School Community Division Dance Department at the University of Hartford. During that time, she created and choreographed two new full-length ballets: Snow White and Peter Pan with original score by Kermit Poling. She also founded the pre-professional company HarttWorks as well as created the summer ballet intensive program From Studio to Stage, which has attracted guest artistic directors such as Bruce Marks, Laura Alonso, and Angel Corella.

Samantha has danced and taught in countries all around the world, including Sweden, Argentina, and Brazil. In 2003 and 2009, she set her staging of La Fille Mal Gardee for the National Ballet of Korea and the NBA Ballet Company in Tokyo respectively. Additionally, she has staged several works of Bruce Marks, including Lark Ascending for Louisville Ballet, and, in 2010, served as the Canadian judge for the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS.

Samantha began her tenure as ballet mistress with Pennsylvania Ballet in November 2014 and was appointed assistant director in November 2015. She is married and has a daughter.

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