Half Navajo Indian and half Puerto Rican, Jock Soto was born in New Mexico and raised in Phoenix, Ariz. He began studying ballet at the age of five, after watching Edward Villella dance the “Rubies” section of George Balanchine’s Jewels on television.
And thus a star was born. In 1981, Soto joined the New York City Ballet and, in 1985, became a principal dancer. Over the next 20 years, he danced principal roles in numerous works by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and inspired the creation of roles in new ballets by Peter Martins, Christopher Wheeldon and Lynne Taylor-Corbett, among others.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, Soto, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Washington University, will introduce a screening of Water Flowing Together, a documentary about his remarkable life. Directed by Gwendolen Cates, the film originally was broadcast nationally as part of the Emmy award-winning PBS series Independent Lens.
The screening, which is free and open to the public, takes place in Hurst Lounge, Duncker Hall, and is sponsored by the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences. An informal reception will follow. For more information, call (314) 935-5858.
In addition to the screening, Soto, who is in residence Oct. 23-30, will conduct a series of intermediate and advanced master classes and will work with students to set a piece for Kinetic Field Work, the 2011 Washington University Dance Theatre concert, which takes place Dec. 2-4 in Edison Theatre.
Soto studied at the School of the American Ballet (SAB) beginning in 1977, where he danced the role of Luke in Peter Martin’s The Magic Flute. Major credits with the New York Ballet include principal roles in Martin’s Fearful Symmetries (1990), Jazz (Six Syncopated Movements) (1993) and Morgen (2001); and in Christopher Wheeldon’s Slavonic Dances (1997), Mercurial Manoeuvres (2000) and After the Rain (2005).
Soto retired from dancing in June 2005, though he returned to the stage in May 2007 to originate the role of Lord Capulet in Martins’s new production of Romeo + Juliet. In 2006, Soto staged Afternoon of a Faun for the Royal Ballet of London, on behalf of the Jerome Robbins Trust. He has been a member of SAB’s faculty since 1996.
Soto’s residency is made possible by funding from Washington University’s Distinguished Visiting Scholars program, with additional support from the PAD, the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies and George Warren Brown School of Social Work.