John Gardner was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and began his ballet training at age 12 with Gwen
Ashton in Lafayette, and subsequently trained at the National Academy of Arts in Champagne, Illinois, under the
direction of Michael Maule. He received a scholarship to the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the age of 16 and
joined ABT's second company three months thereafter, in 1977. In 1978 he joined ABT's main company and was promoted
to the rank of soloist in 1984. Mr. Gardner's diverse repertoire included many soloist and principal roles, representing
an extensive range of styles and giving him the opportunity to work with some of the great ballet choreographers
of the 20th century, including Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, and George Balanchine.
In 1991, Mr. Gardner joined Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project, affording him the opportunity to work
closely with choreographers such as Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovitch, and Martha Graham.
Mr. Gardner created numerous roles during his time with the White Oak Dance Project and toured extensively in Europe,
the United States, Asia, and South America. He returned to ABT in 1995, where he danced a wide variety of roles
with the company until 2002. In 2000, Mr. Gardner, together with his wife Amanda McKerrow, began working for the
Antony Tudor Ballet Trust, staging and coaching his superlative ballet, Leaves are Fading, around the country.
During the course of his career, Mr. Gardner has achieved an excellent reputation as a master
teacher and coach for ballet on both the professional and student levels, and has staged numerous ballets for professional
companies and schools across the United States.