Robert La Fosse was born in Beaumont, Texas, and received his ballet training at the Marsha Woody Academy of Dance. He continued his studies in New York with David Howard at Harkness House and Stanley Williams at The School of American Ballet. He joined American Ballet Theatre in 1977, where he danced as a Principal Dancer for nine years. In 1986, he was invited by Jerome Robbins to joined New York City Ballet as a Principal Dancer.
Throughout his career, he has danced leading roles in many full-length ballets including Albrecht and Hilarion in GISELLE, James in LA SYLPHIDE, Franz and Dr. Coppelius in COPPELIA, Prince Siegfried in SWAN LAKE (Act II), Solor in LA BAYADERE and the U.S. premiere of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s ROMEO AND JULIET. His enormous repertory includes leading roles in works by world-renowned choreographers, including Eugene Loring’s BILLY THE KID, Agnes de Mille’s RODEO, Anthony Tudor’s JARDIN AUX LILAS, Twyla Tharp’s PUSH COMES TO SHOVE, THE LITTLE Ballet, DEUCE COUP, THE GOLDEN SECTION and NINE SINATRA SONGS. With the New York City Ballet, Mr. LaFosse has danced in George Balanchine’s DONIZETTI VARIATIONS, IVESIANA, PRODIGAL SON, SCOTCH SYMPHONY, SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE, UNION JACK, VIENNA WALTZES and WHO CARES?, Jerome Robbins’ AFTERNOON OF A FAUN, BRAHMS/HANDEL (choreographed with Twyla Tharp), THE CONCERT, DANCES AT A GATHERING, FANCY FREE, FANFARE, THE FOUR SEASONS, GERSHWIN CONCERTO, THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS, I’M OLD FASHIONED, IN G MAJOR, INTERPLAY, IVES, SONGS, OTHER DANCES, PIANO PIECES, OPUS19/ THE DREAMER, WATERMILL; and Peter Martins’ CONCERTO FOR TWO SOLO PIANOS.
He originated roles in Jerome Robbins’ QUIET CITY, PICCOLO BALLETTO and WEST SIDE STORY SUITE; Twyla Tharp’s BACH PARTITA, OCTET, SEXTET; Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s GREAT GALLOPING GOTTSCHALK; and Peter Martins’ A FOOL FOR YOU and TEA-ROSE.
In addition to his work in classical ballet, Mr. La Fosse has also starred in Broadway productions of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’ and JEROME ROBBINS’ BROADWAY, for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor. In 1992 he was a guest artist with Twyla Tharp and Dancers at City Center. He also serves as Artistic Director of “Stars of American Ballet,” a small touring group consisting of principals and soloists from American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet.
In addition to performing, Mr. LaFosse is also a choreographer. His first ballet, a pas de deux, choreographed in 1985, RAPPACINI’S DAUGHTER, was created for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Company’s tour. For the School of American Ballet Workshop he choreographed YESTERDAYS (1987). For the New York City Ballet’s American Music Festival, he choreographed WOODLAND SKETCHES (1988). In 1989 he was awarded a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts to choreograph a work to Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E Flat. In 1990, at the invitation of Lincoln Kirstein, he created the ballet PUSS IN BOOTS to a commissioned score by Larry Spivack, for the School of American Ballet. In that same year he created GRETRY PAS DE DEUX for the New York City Ballet. In 1991 he received the Mae L. Wien award for choreography, and choreographed WALTZ TRILOGY for the New York City Ballet. He was then commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum’s “Works in Process” series to create new works OSIRIS and FOUR FOR 4. In 1992 he choreographed I HAVE MY OWN ROOM for NYCB’s Diamond Project. In 1993, he choreographed a pas de deux, OCTOBER as part of “A Demand Performance,” for the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS (DIFFA). In the same year, he collaborated with John Kelly and Company in “Light Shall Lift Them” for Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival. In 1994 he choreographed ADRIANA LECOUVREAR for the Metropolitan Opera, RAGS for the Bavarian State Opera Ballet and DANSES DE COUR for NYCB’s Diamond Project. In 1995 he choreographed the musical SPLENDORA at the American Place Theatre. In 1996 he choreographed STARS & STRIPES FOREVER for Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo and a pas de deux THE DUEL. Mr. LaFosse choreographed CONCERTO IN FIVE MOVEMENTS for the Company’s Diamond Project in 1997 and TRIBUTARY for the Company’s 2000 Diamond Project. In 2001, he choreographed the dance sequences for CAROUSEL at the Paper Mill Playhouse.
In 1987 Robert LaFosse wrote his autobiography entitled Nothing to Hide published by Donald I. Fine.
Mr. LaFosse’s television appearances include “American Ballet Theatre in San Francisco,” Anthony Tudor’s JARDIN AUX LILAS and Lynne Taylor Corbett’s GREAT GALLOPING GOTTSCHALK, “the ABT Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast dancing Kenneth MacMillan’s TRIAD, and in “Baryshnikov Dances Tharp,” in Twyla Tharp’s PUSH COMES TO SHOVE. Mr. LaFosse appeared in the “Live from Lincoln Center” telecast of “Ray Charles in concert with the New York City Ballet” in the role Peter Martins created for him in his ballet A FOOL FOR YOU and the “Dance in America” program, “Balanchine in America” in WESTERN SYMPHONY. For “GREAT PERFORMANCES’ 20th Anniversary Special” he danced with Kyra Nichols in Peter Martins’ NOT MY GIRL. In the winter of 1993, Mr. LaFosse appeared as Dr. Stahlaum in the film version of GEORGE BALANCHINE’S THE NUTCRACKER, produced by Elektra Entertainment/Reency Enterprises.