Ballet Renaissance: A Conversation with Maria Kowroski, Artistic Director of the New Jersey Ballet

The former NYC Ballet principal dancer brings her artistic vision to NJ

by Mike Ham

Navigating the graceful realms of ballet, it’s quite apparent that I’m not donning ballet shoes or twirling across the stage anytime soon or in my past. Yet, the magnetic allure of the art form, coupled with the insightful conversation with Maria Kowroski, New Jersey Ballet’s Artistic Director, managed to captivate even a non-dancer like myself. Exploring Maria’s journey, filled with passion, dedication, and artistic evolution, fueled my intrigue and appreciation for the ballet world, transcending the boundaries where anyone can appreciate it.

Our conversation with Maria unveiled the intricate tale that makes the New Jersey Ballet a standout gem in our cultural landscape. Maria’s journey from Michigan to the prestigious School of American Ballet and her subsequent role in the New York City Ballet unfolded as a story where passion conquered hurdles.

Navigating the twists of keeping the ballet flame alive, especially post-pandemic, Maria shared insights into her dual role as the Artistic Director of both the company and school, providing a sneak peek into the ballet world’s backstage hustle. The New Jersey Ballet’s intimate setting with 22 dancers sets it apart, offering audiences a personal dance experience.

As Maria revealed her personal dance expedition, I couldn’t help but marvel at the challenges she faced and the unyielding support that fueled her artistic journey. Her unexpected leap from a professional dancer to an artistic director during the pandemic added a touch of unexpected passion and commitment to her story.

Maria’s detailed breakdown of auditions, recruitment tactics, and the company’s inner workings offered a comprehensive view of the ballet universe’s intricate dance. The collaboration with seasoned figures to inspire today’s dancers and contribute to the company’s growth showcased the community and camaraderie within the ballet sphere.

Photo via @greetingsfromthegardenstate

Insights into revamping the New Jersey Ballet’s repertoire struck a chord. Maria’s vision of blending familiar pieces with contemporary ballets to captivate audiences with innovative programs painted a vibrant picture of the company’s artistic expedition. The challenges and thrills of shaping unique programs emerged as an exciting tale for both dancers and audiences alike.

As we wrapped up the episode, Maria’s zest for upcoming programs, especially the Repertory Evenings, reflected a genuine passion for providing diverse experiences beyond traditional ballet stories. Her invite for audiences to explore the New Jersey Ballet’s offerings highlighted affordability, variety, and the immersive joy of live performances.

In exploring the intricacies of ballet and witnessing the dedication, passion, and innovation that Maria injects into the New Jersey Ballet, the Garden State’s cultural scene undeniably sparkles with her presence. I’m eager to see how her vision continues to pirouette through the future of dance in our region.

Learn more about the New Jersey Ballet at

About the Author/s

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Mike Ham is the voice behind the popular podcast, "Greetings From the Garden State". Traveling up and down New Jersey, Mike brings his listeners the stories of the people and places shaping the Garden State. Not only is he a Jersey diehard, he is also a respected member of the podcast community and has spoken at several podcasting conferences. As he continues to amplify the voices of New Jersey, Mike Ham remains a passionate advocate for the diverse narratives woven into the fabric of the Garden State.

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