SMheadshotSARA MEARNS is one of today’s most internationally celebrated dancers in classical ballet.  As a principal dancer with NEW YORK CITY BALLET, Mearns has performed featured roles in beloved ballets such as Firebird, The Nutcracker, Symphony in C, and Jewels (Emeralds and Diamonds), amongst countless others.Two of her signature roles for which she has received repeated critical acclaim are the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty and the well-known swan queen in SWAN LAKE, for which New York City Ballet Artistic Director Peter Martins first chose her to perform the role while she was still in the corps de ballet at the age of 19. Mearns’ love and passion for ballet stems back to her youth in Columbia, South Carolina, when she began her dance training at the age of three with Ann Brodie at the Calvert-Brodie School of Dance. At the age of 13, Mearns trained with Patricia McBride at Dance Place, the School of North Carolina Dance Theatre, in Charlotte. She continued her studies at age 14 with Stanislav Issaev at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville.

Mearns entered the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, full time in the fall of 2001. By the fall of 2003, Mearns became an apprentice with New York City Ballet. As an apprentice, Mearns danced a featured role in Michel Fokine’s Chopiniana, performed by SAB as part of New York City Ballet’s winter 2004 season.In June of 2004, Mearns joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet and was promoted to the rank of soloist in March of 2006. In June 2008, Mearns was promoted to principal dancer.

Mearns has originated featured roles in Melissa Barak’s A Simple Symphony, Martins’ Ocean’s Kingdom and The Red Violin, Benjamin Millepied’s Why am I not where you are, Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, A Grand Divertissement, Susan Stroman’s Frankie and Johnny…and Rose, Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s The Seven Deadly Sins; and Wheeldon’s Les Carillons, The Nightingale, and the Rose and Rococo Variations. She has also originated corps roles in Martins’ Chichester Psalms and Friandises, and Susan Stroman’s Double Feature.

In addition to Mearns’ busy career, she is committed to exposing young people – boys and girls – to the wonders of classical ballet, from fitness and health to developing discipline and a love for the arts. A frequent speaker at schools, Mearns is proud of her ability to touch young people with a positive message, with the hope that they, too, will pursue their dreams to the fullest.

She has also become an advocate for injury prevention. After suffering a painful back injury during the summer of 2012 while on stage, Mearns was forced to take eight months off from dancing. This time allowed her to re-prioritize and re-evaluate her life and goals. She realized that talking about injury prevention when it comes to dance is just as important as spreading the message about the art form itself. Mearns has participated on numerous panels and in conferences talking about this very issue, which has helped raise awareness about the need for better physical therapy options for professional ballet dancers and is poised to launch a partnership with a prestigious healthcare organization.

Mearns, who has a weekly video blog on Huffington Post Arts Culture that takes viewers behind the scenes of her life as a ballerina and posts every Friday, will perform in June 2013 with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic for a special engagement titled “A Dancer’s Dream.” The production will feature two works by Stravinsky and will be loosely based on Mearns’ life as a ballet dancer.