John Clifford Founder / Artistic Director
Los Angeles native, John Clifford, is best known as the founder / artistic director of the original Los Angeles Ballet and the chamber sized touring ensemble, Ballet of Los Angeles. Before that time however, Mr. Clifford was a world-renowned principal dancer and choreographer with George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet and was widely considered to be Balanchine’s protégé (Saturday Review). But even before his Balanchine years Mr. Clifford had a varied and extensive career as a jazz dancer and actor on television, and as a choreographer in Los Angeles. He worked with the legendary choreographers, Hermes Pan (Fred Astaire's choreographer) and Tony Charmoli, and was a regularly featured dancer on the Danny Kaye Show and Dinah Shore Show. At 15 he choreographed and appeared as "Baby John" in a Los Angeles youth co's production of WEST SIDE STORY (conducted by a young Leonard Slatkin) and received raves in the Los Angeles Times.
Before he founded the Los Angeles Ballet, Mr. Clifford was the first American male guest artist in history to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet. He was also a popular guest star on numerous European and American galas, dancing on the same programs as the great Russian dancers Yuri Soloviev and Irina Kopalkova to name but two legendary artists. During these years, he was also commissioned to choreograph new ballets by the San Francisco Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Deutsche Oper Ballet (Berlin), and was also invited by this same company, at the age of twenty-five, to become their artistic director. He felt he was too young at that time, and did not want to leave Balanchine’s tutelage, or the New York City Ballet, so he declined their offer. He was also offered to direct and choreograph several Broadway musicals by the legendary producers David Merrick and Cheryl Crawford, but he chose to stay with Balanchine and the New York City Ballet.
Established under his direction, the Los Angeles Ballet performed five critically successful U.S. National tours, including New York City (Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic); danced in the Far East, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Canada, and appeared in numerous films and television programs. His company performed his more commercial choreography with the rock band CHICAGO and with the Jazz virtuoso George Benson at the Greek Theater, and Mr. Clifford found time to direct and choreograph a national tour of the Broadway musical, "L'ill Abner." He has choreographed dances to music of The Police to Bach, and from Van Halen, to Mozart. Leonard Bernstein also gave him permission to choreograph to his music for the New York City Ballet...a rare honor.
This company also appeared twice at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and at the Greek Theater, the Los Angeles Music Center, Ambassador Auditorium, the Shrine Auditorium, the Pantages Theater, and virtually every theater and University of note in Southern California. They also renovated the John Anson Ford Theater thus transforming it into a major dance venue. The company performed approximately 100 times locally each year, as well as offering free performances to over 150,000 local school children. This company also supported the largest ballet school in Southern California, the Los Angeles Dance Center, which supplied numerous dancers to not only the Los Angeles Ballet, but also to the NYC Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Zurich Ballet, and American Ballet Theater.
As a free-lance choreographer Mr. Clifford has created new ballets for Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, (4) Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, (4) Deutsche Oper Ballet, Berlin, (2) Zurich Ballet, (2) Maggio Danza, (Florence, Italy) and has staged his works for the Ballet du Nord, France, (4) the Rome Opera Ballet, (2) and Ballet British Columbia. In America, in addition to his eight works for the New York City Ballet, his ballets have been commissioned by the San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet (Seattle), Dallas Ballet, Santa Fe Festival Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater, Atlanta Ballet, Chicago Ballet, Oakland Ballet, and the Sacramento Ballet.
Mr. Clifford is also a Ballet Master/Repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust. In that capacity he has staged the master choreographer’s ballets for: The Bolshoi Ballet, (3) The Paris Opera Ballet, (10) The Kirov Ballet, (2) The Royal Ballet, (2) Ballet of La Scala, (3) Rome Opera Ballet, (2) Ballet di Opera San Carlo, (Naples, Italy) Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, (4) Deutsche Oper Ballet and Staats Oper Ballet, (Berlin) The Universal Ballet, and the National Ballet (Korea) The Zurich Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, (Montreal) Ballet Belles Artes, (Mexico City) National Ballet Theresa Carreneo, (Caracas, Venezuela) and virtually every major American company. Mr. Clifford has also been a most popular guest teacher for all of these companies.
Mr. Clifford was also the artistic director of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute Video/Choreographer Program and produced “The Art of the Pas De Deux,” a video distributed by VIA (Video Arts International).
At the request of Warner Bros. Studio's new live theater division, "Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc." Mr. Clifford founded the new LOS ANGELES DANCE THEATER to produce an all-dance and sung version of their classic film, "Casablanca." This was after Mr. Clifford and his agent Hal Ray (legendary William Morris and ICM agent) approached the studio with Clifford's idea to adapt "Casablanca" in this manner for the stage. Entitled "Casablanca, The Dance," this state-of-the-art $4 million dollar production was fully financed by Warner Bros. and was the first time in history a major Hollywood movie studio provided the funds to create a dance company. It was also the first time, after 60 years, that Warner Bros. allowed any live stage adaptation of their most famous film.
Based on the success of the premier performances at, "The Great Hall of the People" in Beijing, China, where over 15,000 people attended the three sold-out shows, Mr. Clifford and his partner Harvey Kresky, have been developing more large-scale dance events.
It is the intention of our company to create more hybrid dance-musical productions to meet the needs of the current dance and theater going public.