Samantha Dunster | Photo: Vikki Sloviter
Samantha Dunster | Photo: Vikki Sloviter

Samantha Dunster

Assistant Artistic Director & Interim Principal of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet

The Deborah & Kurt Hilzinger Assistant Artistic Director & Interim Principal of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet
A native of Canada, Samantha began her ballet training with Cristina Pora in Toronto. At the age of 17, Dunster traveled to Havana, Cuba, to train with the National Ballet of Cuba. She continued dancing with the company of Centro Pro-Danza under the direction of Laura Alonso, where she also worked as regisseur and ballet mistress.
In 1996, she 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.  Under the direction of the late Fernando Bujones, Dunster re-choreographed La Fille Mal Gardee for the Orlando Ballet 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 staged the full-length Don Quixote together.
In 2011, Dunster accepted the position of Chair/Artistic Director of the Hartt School Community Division Dance Department at the University of Hartford.  During her time in the school she created and choreographed two new full-length ballets, Snow White and Peter Pan with original score by Kermit Poling.  She founded the Pre-Professional Company, HarttWorks and created the Summer Ballet Intensive Program ‘From Studio to Stage’ which has attracted Guest Artistic Directors such as Bruce Marks, Laura Alonso and Ángel Corella. 
Dunster has danced and taught in countries all over the world such as Sweden, Argentina and Brazil. In 2003, she set her staging of La Fille Mal Gardee for the National Ballet of Korea and for the NBA Ballet Company in Tokyo, Japan in 2009.  She has also staged several of Bruce Marks works including Lark Ascending for Louisville Ballet.  In 2010, Dunster served as the Canadian judge for the International Ballet Competition Jackson, Mississippi.  Dunster began her tenure as Ballet Mistress at Pennsylvania Ballet in November 2014, and was appointed Assistant Director in November 2015. Dunster is married and has a daughter.