This man is on a journey into the future and he is taking us with him for a season

Published September 22, 2021, 8:30 AM

by Marie Buenaventura

Ballet Philippines welcomes John McFall as guest choreographer and mentor

38 YEARS OF DANCING John McFall brings with him 38 years of experience into his new role as guest choreographer and mentor for Ballet Philippines’ 52 nd season (Paige McFall)

Ballet Philippines (BP) is privileged to welcome John McFall as guest choreographer and mentor for Ballet Philippines’ 52nd season. “It is a true honor to be working with a visionary such as McFall who, beyond his experience as artistic director, guest teacher, and choreographer over the last 38 years, has also advocated and promoted engagement in the arts while helping to define and shape the future of the arts,” says BP president Kathleen Liechtenstein. “We at Ballet Philippines couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome John McFall as our guest choreographer and mentor!”

In his earliest years, McFall was trained and mentored by Tatiana Dokoudovska who was a protégé of the Fokine era. From 1964 to 1985, the artist began his professional career as danseur and choreographer for the San Francisco Ballet. He joined the company at age 17 where he became a principal dancer and stayed for 20 years. While training under the Christensen brothers, Anatole Vilzak, Erik Bruhn, Terry Westmoreland, Sasha Minsk, Kathleen Crofton, and Sally Streets, he learned virtuosic technique filled with brightness. More important, learning from their illustrious experience and deep sensibility paved the way for his artistic development as both a dancer and choreographer for companies such as American Ballet Theater, Dance Theater of Harlem, National Ballet of Canada, Hubbard Street Dance Company, San Francisco Opera, Oakland Ballet, Seattle Opera, and of course, San Francisco Ballet. He had the privilege of working with exceptionally talented dancers such as Fernando Bujones, Cynthia Gregory, Kevin McKenzie, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Virginia Johnson, and Robert LaFosse.

From 1986 to 1994, McFall worked as artistic director, teacher, and choreographer for BalletMet. Realizing the importance of dance education, he built a large facility, expanded the Dance Academy, and assembled a repertoire of new premieres that attracted significant touring opportunities, thereby expanding the number of weeks the dancers were employed while doubling the budget during his tenure.

Trained and mentored by Tatiana Dokoudovska, John McFall joined the San Francisco Ballet at age 17 where he became a principal dancer and stayed for 20 years.

McFall founded the Atlanta Ballet Center for Dance Education in 1994, recognizing that teaching is at the heart of developing artists and promoting excellent dance theater. His teaching approach transformed students into superb dancers, becoming members of professional companies, including Atlanta Ballet, collaborating and presenting choreography by the likes of Wayne McGregor, Ohad Naharin, James Kudelka, Alexander Ekman, Twla Tharp, Jorma Elo, Annabelle Lopez Ohoa, and many more on stages around the world. McFall served as artistic director, CEO, and choreographer for the Atlanta Ballet from 1994 to 2018.

From 1983 to present, McFall has applied his experience as student, professional dancer, choreographer, member of the Board of Governors of the Union, and other alliances to inspire cities and philanthropic leaders to invest substantially in building arts infrastructure. He has led three campaigns to build arts facilities for dance schools that empower artistic vision in major metropolitan cities. He has choreographed productions that included students, thereby contributing to the storytelling, resulting in enchanting performance development. Through his work and advocacy, McFall has proven that the synergy of a professional dance company with outstanding repertoire representing the best choreographers in the world, coupled with a dance center of 1,400 students, is a powerful voice for the arts.