Ethan Stiefel to Leave Royal New Zealand Ballet

Ethan Stiefel's sojourn abroad will soon come to an end: The former American Ballet Theatre principal has not renewed his artistic director contract with Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Many in the ballet world expressed surprise when Stiefel first joined the RNZB team in 2011. Moving halfway around the world to direct a company unfamiliar to most people outside of New Zealand seemed an unusual move for an American star. But during his tenure as artistic director, Stiefel has revitalized the company, freshening its repertoire with contemporary works and a new production of Giselle (co-staged with his friend Johan Kobborg). During the company's New York visit last month, its first since 1993, the RNZB dancers looked clean, crisp, invigorated—many of the qualities that characterized Stiefel's own dancing.

What's next for Stiefel? Well, choreographing the new Starz ballet drama "Flesh and Bone," for starters. He's also said that being away from family and friends has proved difficult, so odds seem good that he'll end up based in the U.S. once again.