Julie Kent joined Houston Ballet as Artistic Director in July of 2023. The longest serving Ballerina in American Ballet Theatre’s 84-year history, she danced a vast repertoire of classical and neo-classical roles from 1985-2015, working closely with choreographers John Neumeier, Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, Stanton Welch AM, Alexei Ratmansky, Mark Morris, Nacho Duato, James Kudelka, Jorma Elo, Kevin McKenzie and others.  

Ms. Kent also danced as an international Guest Artist with the Mariinsky Theatre, New York City Ballet, Teatro alla Scala, Stuttgart Ballet, Berlin Staatsballett, Australian Ballet, Houston Ballet, Bayerisches Staatsballett, Teatro Colon, Ballet de Santiago and Tokyo Ballet.  

She won the Prix de Lausanne (1986), Erik Bruhn Prize (1993) and was the first American dancer ever to win the Prix Benois de la Danse (2000). In 2012, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Dance Magazine and was conferred an Honorary Doctorate from American University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2023.  

Ms. Kent also starred in the films Dancers (1987) and Centerstage (2000). 

From 2016-2023, she was Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet where she brought important classical and contemporary masterworks into the repertoire, commissioning over 26 world premieres.

She married Victor Barbee, former Associate Artistic Director and Principal Dancer at ABT and former Associate Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet, in 1996 and they have 2 children.