Our beloved Ballet Mistress and Costume Mistress, Sue Perry Jordan has passed away.
Susan Perry Jordan, best known as Ms. Sue, passed away peacefully April 8, 2016, age 62, from cancer. Ms. Sue served the North Star Ballet as ballet mistress, principal teacher, and costumer from 1995 until her death.
Ms. Sue received her early ballet training from George Skibine and Marjorie Tallchief in Dallas, Texas. She danced professionally with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and Ruth Page’s Chicago Ballet. From 1979-1986, she was a principal dancer with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, as well as directing BalletMet’s education program and teaching for the BalletMet Academy. She also taught for the Irish National Ballet, Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Alaska Dance Theater in Anchorage, and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. Ms. Sue was well-versed in the art of theatrical costuming. She studied at the Columbus College of Art and Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology and worked at Parsons-Meares in New York City.
Over the past 21 years, Ms. Sue worked with North Star Ballet’s faculty and staff to deliver the highest quality ballet training and performance to thousands of Interior Alaskan students and audience members. Ms. Sue regularly choreographed new works to showcase young dancers, including Four Carefree Capers, which was premiered during North Star Ballet’s 2015 Spring Gala.
As an accomplished costumer with a trained eye for elegance and detail, Ms. Sue oversaw volunteers who made, modified, and maintained over 500 costumes for 48 ballets, as well as constructing many outstanding costumes herself. In 2015, she almost single-handedly made completely new costumes for the 15 Mice in The Nutcracker. Ms. Sue’s extraordinary costuming work was shown in two very successful Fairbanks Arts Association exhibits in 2012 and 2013.
Any of Ms. Sue’s past or present students will happily tell you that much of their understanding of ballet technique, as well as the discipline, confidence, ability to work as part of a team, and overall aesthetic awareness needed for success in dance– and in life–comes from their time in the studio with Ms. Sue. Her teaching style was rigorous but supportive, mixing high expectations with honesty, energy, humor, and compassion. She inspired and mentored her students both as dancers and as individuals.
Ms. Sue received the Interior Alaska Mayors’ Award for the Arts in Youth Arts in 2015. In her acceptance, she said, “I am a very lucky woman…I followed my heart into a life and career that was meant to be…I am right where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Ms. Sue is survived by Juniper and Puffin and by several hundred students. North Star Ballet will organize a memorial gathering in Fairbanks on August 6, 2016.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ms. Sue Scholarship Fund at North Star Ballet, PO Box 73486, Fairbanks, AK 99707, or online at TheNorthStarBallet.org. Use the “Donate” Button on this page and in the “note” field state that your donation is for the Ms. Sue Scholarship Fund.
At her death, Ms. Sue’s sewing room contained more than 120 pounds of unused fabric. She said, “that means I win!”
We will celebrate Ms. Sue’s life on Saturday August 6 at Musher’s Hall in Fairbanks. More information to come!