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Pennsylvania Ballet is pleased to announce that James K. Payne has been appointed as Director of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet.

James Payne brings 18 years of teaching and arts management experience along with an 11-year professional dancing career.

His ballet training began in Phoenix, AZ in a small school directed by Michael Fokine’s great niece, Nina Marlow, and on full scholarship at San Francisco Ballet School. At 17, he was invited to join Ballet West, where he danced ballets by George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, Paul Taylor, Ben Stevenson, and many others. In 1994, he was invited by Ben Stevenson to join the world-renowned Houston Ballet, where he performed ballets by William Forsythe, Glen Tetley, Jiri Kylian, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and many others, and was promoted to soloist. Jim has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and China. While a dancer, he served on the National Board for the American Guild of Musical Artists and was Union representative for both Ballet West and Houston Ballet dancers.

Upon his retirement from the stage, he transitioned to the management side of Houston Ballet, serving as Company Manager for 2 years. Although successful in this position, he realized he needed to return to the studio to share his knowledge and passion for dance through education.  He and his wife created a ballet academy from the ground up, utilizing his experience gained as both an administrator and an artist.  Overseeing all artistic and administrative aspects of the school, Jim has developed a thriving program for over 200 ballet students that has been successful artistically and financially for 17 years. Students from his academy have gone on to dance at Houston Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, and been accepted to prestigious ballet programs at University of Oklahoma, Indiana University, and University of Utah. Jim takes great pride in having created a positive training environment for both professional and recreational students.

Jim has been a Summer Instructor for Houston Ballet since 2008, teaching technique, pointe, pas de deux, variations, and repertory, and ,since February of 2018, has taught all levels of the Houston Ballet’s Boys’ Program.  Jim has also been guest teacher for Ballet West Summer Intensive since 2012. Additionally, Jim was repititeur for choreographer Trey McIntyre setting ballets on Milwaukee Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Ballet Florida, and Queensland Ballet in Brisbane Australia.

Jim is married and has two children; one studies animation at Texas A&M University and the other is on scholarship at the University of Oklahoma in the Ballet department. He is thrilled to join the team at Pennsylvania Ballet and is looking forward to growing the solid program they have built.

Read the Press Release

Read the Inquirer article

Photo: Christopher Jean-Richard

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