Adam W. McKinney Named Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

By Steve Sucato for Pointe Magazine

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced today that it has named Adam W. McKinney as its new artistic director, effective March 2023. McKinney becomes the company’s seventh artistic director and first director of color in PBT’s 54-year history. He will succeed Susan Jaffe, who recently took the helm at American Ballet Theatre.

The 46-year-old McKinney is a former dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet. He has a BA in dance from Butler University and an MA in dance studies, race and trauma theories from New York University.

“We are so excited to welcome Adam to PBT,” says acting executive director Kathryn Gigler in a statement. “He brings with him incredible creativity, energy and kindness and his leadership is going to have such a positive impact at PBT and in Pittsburgh.”

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, McKinney has traveled the world as a performer, dance educator and U.S. Embassy Culture Connect Envoy through the U.S. State Department. He is the co-director of DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization committed to healing through the arts and dialogue. He leaves his most recent position as a tenured associate professor of Dance at Texas Christian University to come to PBT. Pointe spoke with McKinney shortly after he received the news of his hiring to learn about his vision and plans for the company.

What drew you to an artistic directorship?

I have always wanted to lead in this capacity. Given my background in ballet and work in centering community in dance, it feels like the perfect moment to bring my expertise to leading an organization and supporting, training, nurturing and developing the next generation of dance leaders. 

Why Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre?

My late father lived and worked in Pittsburgh as a federal attorney. While he lived there, I visited Pittsburgh on several occasions. I have taken company class at PBT and have taught in their school. I already love Pittsburgh and when I saw the position opening, it felt like a good fit.

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