The Immigrants Who’ve Inspired Us

Yuan Yuan Tan, photo by Matthew Karas

As many have pointed out, the United States is a country of immigrants. Recently, however, access to our country has been threatened. So it makes us appreciate the times when people from all over the world were welcomed here.

I’ll bet each of you could come up with a long list of dancers, teachers or choreographers who came to the U.S. to start a new life and have inspired you. My list is below. But first, two quotes:

“In America, the foreigner is “more American than anybody,” — George Balanchine, quoted in Dance Ink, Winter 1992/93

“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” — Jean Rhys

One could say the same of dancing, as it has a way of finding aesthetic homes for those who are committed to their dance lives.

Here is my list, organized alphabetically:

Historical Figures

George Balanchine

Asadata Dafora

Hanya Holm

José Limón

Pearl Primus


Current Artistic Directors

Angel Corrella, Photo by Jim Lafferty

Angel Corella

Garth Fagan

Lourdes Lopez

Peter Martins

Mikko Nissinen

Helgi Tómasson

Eduardo Vilaro

Stanton Welch

Ashley Wheater



Danielle Agami

Souleymane Badolo

Rohan Bhargava

Ananya Chatterjea

Nora Chipaumire

Yoshiko Chuma

Ori Flomin

Simone Forti

Zvi Gotheiner

Patricia Hoffbauer

Miro Magloire


Cynthia Oliver

Eiko Otake

Koma Otake

Yuri Possokhov

Alexei Ratmansky

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro

Willy Souly

Sri Susilowati

Olivier Tarpaga

Sergio Trujillo



Soledad Barrio, PC Chris Bennion

Soledad Barrio

Joan Boada

Fabrice Calmels

Peiju Chien-Pott

Herman Cornejo

Lorena Feijóo and Lorna Feijóo

Marcelo Gomes

Karina Gonzalez

Victoria Jaiani

Yuriko Kajiya

Kazunori Kumugai

Maria Kochetkova

Carla Körbes

Misa Kuranaga

Forsythe working with Misa Kuranaga. Photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet.

Pascal Molat

Veronika Part

Maki Onuki

Hee Seo

Daniil Simkin

Yuan Yuan Tan

Living Legends

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Natalia Makarova

Margalit Oved


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