Daniel Ulbricht, born in Florida, is known as “the Billy Elliot of St. Petersburg” for his meteoric rise from local karate kid to international dance star. He began his training at the age of 11 at the Judith Lee Johnson Studio of Dance, studying with Leonard Holmes. He also studied at Les Jeunes Danseurs with Javier Dubrocq, from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and attended the Chautauqua Summer Dance Program, training with former New York City Ballet principal dancers Jean Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride.
In 1999, at the age of 16, Ulbricht was invited by the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of the New York City Ballet, to continue his training during their Winter Program. While still a student at SAB, Ulbricht was selected to debut an original role with City Ballet as a Jester in Peter Martins’ new production of The Sleeping Beauty. In December 2000, he became an apprentice with City Ballet and in November 2001 joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet and was chosen to be the Janice Levin Dancer Honoree for 2003-2004. In January 2005, Ulbricht was promoted to the rank of soloist and then to principal dancer in May 2007.
Ulbricht has performed featured roles in many ballets in NYCB’s repertory, including George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, Tarantella, Stars and Stripes, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mozartiana, Nutcracker, Symphony in 3 Movements, La Sonnambula, Ivesiana, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and Rubies, Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, Interplay, Fanfare and Four Seasons, Peter Martins’ Jeu de Cartes, Hallelujah Junction, Eight More, Fearful Symmetries, Friandises, Grazioso, Les Gentilhommes, Harmonielehre, Naïve and Sentimental Music, Ocean’s Kingdom, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Romeo + Juliet, Christopher Wheeldon’s Les Carillons and Shambards, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, A Grand Divertissement and Concerto DSCH. In a number of these ballets, Ulbricht has originated principal roles.
Critics have expressed high praise for Ulbricht’s dancing, including the respected British dance writer Clement Crisp, who in his review of Tarantella praised Ulbricht’s “exact phrasing and his engaging freshness, as if inventing on the very moment the delights he shows us.” Senior dance critic of The New York Times Alastair Macaulay wrote, “[The] audience gave Daniel Ulbricht a big ovation for his delivery of the title role in Prodigal Son (1929). You couldn’t miss how the amazing height and force of his jumps in the first scene caused excitement. He also showed, as ever, ace timing and utter commitment to the action.”
Ulbricht has appeared in many national and international festivals and galas. One highlight in the United States was his performance of Tarantella at the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors, to celebrate the Balanchine Centenary. Most recently and thrillingly, his international appearances included the 12th International Mariinsky Ballet Festival in 2012, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he performed Prodigal Son for audiences in George Balanchine’s homeland, in the theater where Balanchine first danced on stage as a child.
In 2008, Ulbricht formed his own small touring company, Daniel Ulbricht & Friends, and began to perform in the United States in places such as Santa Fe, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and several Florida locations. The company roster featured established Principals and Soloists from America’s foremost dance companies, with a repertory designed to showcase the artistic excellence and versatility of American dancers. In 2013, the company was renamed and expanded and is now known as Stars of American Ballet, and its mission has grown to not only include excellence in performance and programming, but also to present ballet to underserved areas, making it both affordable and accessible. In addition to performing in a given location, Ulbricht intends to offer dance education programs consisting of master classes, pre – performance lectures and community outreach projects to help develop and cultivate current and new generations of dance audiences. The Company will appear in Mongolia, Dallas, Santa Fe, and Mobile in 2013.
Ulbricht is currently the Artistic Advisor to Manhattan Youth Ballet and the Associate Artistic Director of the New York State Summer School for the Arts in Saratoga Springs, NY. A guest teacher at the School of American Ballet and Ballet Academy East, he also teaches at many well-known dance schools, private schools and universities throughout the United States and has taught company class at NYCB and for the Youth America Grand Prix. In addition to many other charitable community activities, Ulbricht is the co-founder, co-producer and artistic director of the annual Dance Against Cancer Benefit for the American Cancer Society.