Suzanne Lopez

Head of the Joffrey Academy of Dance since 2023; formerly a Company Artist with The Joffrey Ballet.


Suzanne Lopez was born and raised in Summit, New Jersey, to Cuban parents. She first began training at the Garden State Ballet School under Fred Danieli and later studied at the New Jersey School of Ballet. Her introduction to the Joffrey Ballet started at age 12 when she attended her first summer intensive audition taught by Robert Joffrey. From that moment on, her training was steeped in his founding traditions and methodology taught to her by Robert Joffrey himself and his team of former Joffrey dancers, who became his protégés and her mentors. 

After starting her professional career for a year and a half with the Joffrey II Dancers, Lopez joined The Joffrey as a Company Artist in 1991 and moved to Chicago with the company in 1995. During her nineteen-year career, Lopez danced principal roles in ballets by such choreographers as Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Alonzo King, John Cranko, José Limón, Antony Tudor, Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, and Sir Frederick Ashton. She was featured on the cover of Pointe magazine as the Sugarplum Fairy in Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker. In addition to dancing, Lopez assisted Gerald Arpino in rehearsals for his ballets. She taught classes for the Arpino Apprentice Program and was one of the first instructors to begin teaching at the inception of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet.   

After retiring from dancing in 2010, Lopez continued teaching and coaching at the Joffrey Academy, among other Chicago-area schools. In 2016, she was thrilled to return to The Joffrey as a Rehearsal Director, where she worked on a diverse repertoire, including new creations with John Neumeier, Yuri Possokhov, and Christopher Wheeldon. She has also been a guest teacher, répétiteur, and coach at schools and companies worldwide. As the Abbott Academy Director, Lopez embraces all her experiences as a student, dancer, educator, and rehearsal director and imbues Robert Joffrey's vision into every facet of the Academy's specialized curriculum. With her unique lineage and perspective, Lopez sets a firm foundation for the next generations of dancers.