Jo-Ann Sundermeier – From the Canadian Prairies to the Bay Area


Photo by David Cooper


What was the pivotal moment that Jo-Ann Sundermeier decided she wanted to become a ballerina? When she watched the Miami City Ballets production of the Nutcracker and decided that she too wanted to be a part of that world.

Jo-Ann loved ballet from a young age

Jo-Ann loved ballet from a young age


Born and raised in Pompano Beach, Florida, Jo-Ann started dancing at the Dance Academy of Deerfield Beach Florida at age five. Although Jo-Ann’s older sister took up jazz and tap lessons, Jo-Ann was always attracted to the gracefulness of ballet.  At age thirteen Jo-Ann left home and moved to Winnipeg, Canada, to train with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and became an apprentice with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 2003.



Jo-Ann dancing the lead in her favorite ballet, Swan Lake




Jo-Ann was then invited to became a company member at the Royal  Winnipeg Ballet and soared through the ranks to Principal Dancer. Jo-Ann’s favorite dance memories include her first lead role as “Tinkerbell”, in Jorden Morris’s Peter Pan, “Giselle” and “Myrtha” in Giselle and the lead role in her favorite ballet Swan Lake. Jo-Ann says that when she was given the chance to dance the principal role in Swan Lake, she was ecstatic. Jo-Ann even recalls crying in the final moments on stage, because she knew how hard she had worked and how much she had accomplished – “it took a lot out of me, but I loved every minute out there!”



Jo-Ann in Balanchine’s Serenade. Photo by Bruce Monk

Additional repertoire under Jo-Ann’s belt includes works by Val Caniparoli, Twyla Tharp, Toer van Schayk, William Forsythe and Mark Godden to name a few. Jo-Ann particularly enjoys dancing Balanchine ballets, as she loves the intricate musicality yet the feeling of freedom the choreography gives, which she describes as perfect.


Jo-Ann and TJ at their wedding in Pompano Beach




When Jo-Ann isn’t in the studio she enjoys hanging out with her husband, watching football and eating chicken wings. Jo-Ann and her husband TJ, got married in January 2008 in her hometown of Pompano Beach, Florida. They recently moved to California from Canada where TJ is currently attending Life West Chiropractic College. Jo-Ann and TJ also recently became season ticket holders for the Oakland Raiders, seeing as though they live right around the corner from the stadium. Now living in the Bay Area, Jo-Ann hopes to make it out of the city to explore and visit some the famous Californian wine country and other surrounding areas.


Jo Ann's dog

Izzy dressed up just like her Mom


Jo-Ann also goes in the running for the cutest dog ever! Izzy is a pug mix and we can see why Jo-Ann describes her as “adorable and such a sweetheart!” Izzy can often be seen sporting a tutu that the wardrobe department at Royal Winnipeg Ballet made for her.

Jo-Ann also enjoys teaching ballet and hopes to pass her knowledge and love of ballet onto young students after her stage career. This is Jo-Ann’s first season with Smuin Ballet and she is particularly looking forward to dancing Jiří Kylián‘s piece Return to a Strange Land as she has always admired Kylián’s work. We are very excited to have Jo-Ann’s bubbly personality and stunning technique in the Smuin studio. Welcome!

** Written by Darren Anderson Smuin Ballet’s Community Relations Manager

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