Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel’s VARIANTS is set to Brahms’ “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24.” Both the music and choreography consist of a set of twenty-five variations and a concluding fugue.

One minute promo reel

Choreographer | Ethan Stiefel

Ethan Stiefel is an internationally recognized Instructor, Coach, Director, and Choreographer. Stiefel became American Repertory Ballet’s Artistic Director in July, 2021. In 1989, Stiefel began his professional dance career at age 16 with the New York City Ballet where he quickly rose to the rank of Principal Dancer. Stiefel was also a Principal Dancer with Ballett Zürich followed by being a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) from 1997-2012. Stiefel has served as Dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) as well as the Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. During his celebrated performing career, Stiefel danced leading roles in all the full-length classics and performed in an extensive range of shorter classical, contemporary, and modern works. Guest appearances include dancing with The Royal Ballet, The Mariinsky Ballet, New York City Ballet, Teatro Colon, The Australian Ballet, and many others. He has appeared in numerous film, video, and television productions including the feature film Center Stage and the documentary Born to be Wild. As a choreographer, he has created new works for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, The Washington Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, ABT Studio Company, Northern Ballet (UK), The Royal Ballet School, UNCSA, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the television series Flesh and Bone on the STARZ network. Stiefel has received a number of prestigious awards such as the Statue Award of the Princess Grace Foundation and the Dance Magazine Award.

Music | Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a German composer and pianist of the Romantic period, who wrote symphonies, concerti, chamber music, piano works, choral compositions, and more than 200 songs. Brahms was the great master of symphonic and sonata style in the second half of the 19th century. He can be viewed as the protagonist of the Classical tradition of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven in a period when the standards of this tradition were being questioned or overturned by the Romantics.

Scenic Designer | Howard C. Jones

Howard C. Jones was the Director of Scene Painting, Assistant Dean of Academics and on the Design faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts since 1996. He retired from teaching in 2018. Before that he was one of the founders of Cobalt Studio, an apprentice painting studio in New York. He was recognized in 2000 in Boston with the Elliott Norton Award for his body of work in the New England area and in 2005 received an honorable mention for scene design in the World Stage Design Expo. Last year he was honored by USITT as a distinguished educator for scenic artists. He has designed over 300 shows over the course of his career. He has designed at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Royal Ballet and Opera of Romania, North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Missouri Repertory Theatre, State Ballet of Missouri, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Eglevsky Ballet, Ballet Trocadaro, Weston Playhouse, NC Shakespeare Festival, American Heartland Theatre, Goodspeed Opera, and the Coterie Theatre.

Costume Design | Janessa Cornell Urwin

Janessa Cornell Urwin began her career as a ballet dancer before transitioning into costuming. She has designed costumes for numerous classical ballets and contemporary dance pieces for American Repertory Ballet, Stockton University Dance Program, Traverse City Dance Project, The Nutmeg Ballet, Rutgers University, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, and Nacre Dance Company, among others. She has worked with esteemed choreographers Kirk Peterson, Starr Foster, Riccardo De Nigris, Michael Nickerson-Rossi, and Meredith Rainey. Urwin also has a short film design credit and has designed for Athena Theatre Company. She holds a certificate in Costume Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her recent credits include Ethan Stiefel’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s Giselle.

Lighting Design | Jason Flamos

Jason Flamos Credits include: (Mile Square Theatre) Pipeline, I and You, It’s a Wonderful Life, The 39 Steps, Betrayal; (Shakespeare Theater NJ) William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play; (10 Hairy Legs) Heist, Cruise Control, Brian, Quadrivium; (Thingamajig Theatre Company) The Pillowman, Cabaret, The Little Mermaid, A Few Good Men. Flamos was the Associate Lighting Design for the Off-Broadway productions of Clever Little Lies and The Other Josh Cohen at Westside Theater, F***ing A at Signature Theater, The Producers and Benny and Joon at Paper Mill Playhouse, and Rags at Goodspeed Opera. He was the lighting supervisor for 10 Hairy Legs and is the current lighting supervisor at American Repertory Ballet.

Photos by Kyle Froman

Video editing by Michelle Quiner


25 minutes, 59 seconds

Number of performers

15 dancers

Tech Rider

Available upon request

Link to full performance video

Available upon request