Stella Abrera is leaping her way into the history books. The South Pasadena-born dancer is the first Filipino American to be made a principal dancer – the highest rank a ballerina can hold – for the elite American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Founded in 1937, ABT is renowned as one of the world's greatest classical ballet companies and was recognized as "America's National Ballet Company" by Congress in 2006.
Abrera began dancing at the age of 5, and though her family moved to San Diego and later to Australia, her dance training was always a priority. By age 10, she was dancing at least five hours a day.
When she was 16, an adjunct at her ballet school and assistant artistic director of ABT, Ross Stretton, helped her land an audition with the prestigious dance company. Abrera joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 1996, and was made a soloist in 2001 when she was 23.
Then at the age of 30, Abrera sustained an injury that nearly ended her career. She injured her back, as well as her sciatic nerve, and it took her 18 months to be well enough to return to the stage.
Not only did Abrera return, but she came back better than ever. In August 2015 she received the honor of being named a principal dancer with ABT at the age of 37. NBC News described her rise to the pinnacle of ballet as "nothing short of a miracle."
Earlier this year, Abrera, Care.com founder Sheila Lirio-Marcelo, and New York City Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis were honored by the Philippine Consulate General New York as Distinguished Filipino Women of 2016.
Celebrating her 20th anniversary with ABT, Abrera will be performing this summer at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion along with her fellow principal dancer and Southern California native, Misty Copeland, on July 8, 9 and 10.
The American Ballet Theatre program is choreographed entirely by ABT Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky. Highlights include Ratmansky’s 2012 Firebird, set to Igor Stravinsky’s famous score; Symphony #9, set to music by Dmitri Shostakovich; and the West Coast Premiere of a new piece set to Leonard Bernstein's Serenade after Plato's Symposium.
FIREBIRD - SPECIAL BENEFIT PERFORMANCE (JULY 7, 2016)
On July 7, The Music Center celebrates a new generation of powerful young artists who are transforming the arts with a special benefit performance of Alexei Ratmansky's Firebird, starring ABT principal dancers, Misty Copeland and Stella Abrera. This captivating ballet, set to the music of Igor Stravinsky and performed by a live orchestra, tells the enchanting tale of a mythical bird who possesses magical powers and helps two lovers overcome an evil sorcerer. Complete with stunning sets and costumes, Ratmansky’s Firebird packs a powerful punch of intricate dance and witty storytelling that’s sure to delight and inspire.
This special benefit performance is part of a multi-dimensional fundraising event, The Music Center's Summer Soiree. Proceeds will benefit The Music Center’s arts education, dance and community programs, which collectively impact more than 100,000 students, teachers and families annually.
"This is a momentous time for the arts and Los Angeles, and The Music Center is proud to salute the boundary-breaking performers whose dedication and innovative artistry result in new, amazing audience experiences,” said Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit The Music Center website.