Ethan Stiefel was born in Tyrone, Pennsylvania and grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. He began his training at age 8. When his family returned to Pennsylvania, Mr. Stiefel commenced his dance studies at the Marcia Dale Weary's Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. He spent a summer at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet where he later studied full-time on a full scholarship. Mr. Stiefel also studied with Mikhail Baryshnikov at his School of Classical Ballet.
At the age of 16, while still finishing high school at the Professional Children's School, Mr. Stiefel was offered a place in the New York City Ballet. In order to broaden his artistic experience, he took a leave of absence from the New York City Ballet in 1992 to dance with the Zürich Ballet. The company celebrated Mr. Stiefel's arrival with a new version of The Nutcracker, staged by the Company Director Bernd Bienert.
Mr. Stiefel joined American Ballet Theatre as a Principal Dancer in 1997. He has appeared in the Company's extensive repertoire of full length classics, including: Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Florimund in The Sleeping Beauty, and the Prince in The Nutcracker. He created leading roles in the world premieres of Twyla Tharp's Known by Heart and Christian Holder's Weren't We Fools? A television production of Mr. Stiefel's performance as Conrad in American Ballet Theatre's production of Le Corsaire was seen on the PBS' television series Dance In America. The program won the 2000 Emmy Award as Outstanding Classical/Dance Program.
In May, 2000 he won wide praise for his feature film debut in Center Stage, portraying Cooper Nielson, a star dancer, who faces crises in his artistic and romantic lives. He danced excerpts by George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan and two dances created for Mr. Stiefel by Tony-Award winner Susan Stroman. The film was directed by Oscar nominee and Tony Award winner Nicholas Hytner and produced by Laurence Mark.
Mr. Stiefel's association with The Royal Ballet began in November 1999 in Twyla Tharp's Junk Man Pas de Deux from Known by Heart. He performed the Tharp piece on the opening programs presented in the two theaters at renovated Covent Garden - the newly created Studio Theater and the Opera House. His subsequent repertoire with The Royal includes Franz in Ninette de Valois' Coppelia, Colas in Ashton's La Fille mal gardée, both in London and on a United States tour, and the company premiere of John Cranko's Onegin.
Mr. Stiefel has received many honors for his artistry including a silver medal at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne in 1989. The Princess Grace Foundation-USA awarded him an "Emerging Artist" grant in 1991. The committee for the 1998 Benois de la Danse Award considered Mr. Stiefel "one of the rising stars of ballet." His Royal Highness Crown Prince Albert of Monaco presented Mr. Stiefel with the Statue Award of the Princess Grace Foundation at a gala dinner in October 1999. The award, the Foundation's highest honor, is given "in recognition of exceptional and continuing professional achievements."