Julie Kent: Bio, Net Worth, Contribution to Ballet & More

Julie Kent is one of the most accomplished ballerinas in the United States, whose performances brought a new flavor to American ballet. 

She is also well known for being a ballerina mom who doesn’t compromise either her children or her career for the other. 

Lately, Kent became the artistic director at the Houston Ballet, promising incredible changes and developments in America’s theatrical scene.

Julie Kent’s Biography

  • Birth Name: Julie Cox.
  • Nationality: America.
  • Born: July 11th, 1969.
  • Parents: A physicist father and a flight attendant mother, names unknown.
  • Siblings: A brother and a sister.
  • Spouse: Victor Barbee.
  • Children: A son and a daughter.
  • Height: 5 feet 6 inches (~166 cm).
  • Net Worth: ~$1.5 million.
  • Instagram: juliekentofficial

Julie Kent

Early Life

Named Julie Cox at birth, the first years of her life were attached to Maryland. 

Her father was a physicist specializing in nuclear. Her mother was a flight attendant and former ballet dancer. Hence, they weren’t against the passion and dream their daughter had.

8-year-old Julie started taking ballet classes at the Maryland Youth Ballet Academy, trained by Hortensia Fonseca. She opened up about not having many memories of her life before ballet. 

As she always admired when her mom and older sister danced, it was more or less a dream come true when she could do the same.

During summer, Julie Cox spent her entire break either at the American Ballet Theatre 2 or the School of American Ballet for their intensives. 

Ever since she was so young, Julie Cox soon understood she could dream of being a ballerina all she wanted, yet she had to be selected. The ballet world is highly competitive, and working hard is the most certain path to success.

When she reached age sixteen, she auditioned and got a contract with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Upon his suggestion, she made minor modifications to her name and stepped onto the stage as the Julie Kent we know of.

The Way To Become A Great Ballerina

As a dancer

In 1985, after getting sufficient education and training, Julie Kent joined as an apprentice for the American Ballet Theatre. Not letting herself rest, Kent participated in the Prix de Lausanne and was the only dancer from America to win a medal.

Later in the same year, she became a corps de ballet member. It took her half a decade of effort to be promoted to soloist and another three years to be the principal dancer.

Once again, she paved the way for Americans to aim for the Erik Bruhn Prize and the Prix Benois de la Danse by being the first among them to win the awards.

Aside from performing classical and assigned works by famed choreographers and writers, Kent had created roles with Stanton Welch, John Neumeier, and Alexei Ratmansky.

She bid the dancer’s career goodbye with Romeo & Juliet and partnered with Roberto Bolle. This marked the end of her 29-year bond with ABT and wrote her name in the company’s history as the dancer with the longest serving time.

As a mentor/director

The long career at ABT somewhat turned Julie Kent into a mentor because of the age and experience gap between her and the juniors. 

As someone who has been through all sorts of challenges in this field and come out on top, she feels the need to guide her younger dancers.

This idea motivated Julie Kent to attempt the art director position for ABT’s summer program – a grand project involving 1500 enthusiastic students. It helped Kent solidify what she would like to do after her inevitable retirement. 

Among the different subjects she is interested in, sharing her voice and contributing to dance education is at the top of the list.

American dance companies have a long history of inviting foreign troupes on tour, and Julie Kent wants to change that. 

It is not easy, but supporting the artistic souls attached to their city and representing the local culture originally seems like a very satisfying result waiting ahead.

Contribution to Ballet

There was a certain tender and charming energy about Julie Kent. She incorporated it into her characters so effortlessly.

She had titular roles in internationally acclaimed ballets such as Romeo & Juliet, Giselle, Cinderella, Anastasia, and more. She breathed life and harmony into these characters, the aura of which never failed to amaze her audience.

Romeo & Juliet is her favorite and signature among her credited works. She also performed it as her farewell before retirement.

Throughout her career, Julie Kent acquired an admirably expansive repertoire with the number exceeding 100. 

These ballets contain different genres, marking her collaboration with legendary writers and composers such as George Balanchine, Frederick Ashton, John Cracko, Jerome Robbins, Anthony Tudo, and the like.

At Washington Ballet, she commissioned over 20 new pieces in the hope of giving the company and the entire American ballet industry a more refreshing look. Some of them were also staged by her and her husband.


The first award Julie Kent won in her history, which undoubtedly fueled her passion for ballet and encouraged her to pursue this career, was the regional win at the National Society of Arts and Letters in 1985.

Kent was also the first American to claim the Erik Bruhn Prize in 1993 and the Prix Benois de la Danse in 2000. It surely was a pleasure.

In 2021, Dance Magazine honored Julie Kent with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless dedication to ballet and the arts.

Some other awards she received:

  • Prix de Lausanna Medal (1986).
  • The University of North Carolina School of the Arts Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts (2012).

Personal Life

Julie Kent got into a relationship with her ABT colleague, Victor Barbee. During their marriage, they remained faithful to each other and committed to their careers. 

Julie Kent and her husband Victor Barbee

Barbee stayed at the Washington Ballet as its Associate Artistic Director after Kent left for the Houston Ballet.

While many ballerinas and generally female dancers choose not to have kids as long as they are active in the industry, Julie Kent went her way and became a mother while still dancing for another 12 years.

Currently, the whole family is under the same happy roof with a mutual love for ballet.

Julie Kent’s Retirement

At the age of 45, Julie Kent finally faced the fact that it was a ripe time for her retirement as a dancer, even though it was quite difficult to accept. 

Her last performance was a beautiful show where both the artist and the audience expressed deep gratitude for each other.

Following the end of her time with the ABT, Kent stepped up and took the position of Artistic Director at the Washington Ballet. This event made her one of the few women currently running a renowned dance company.

After a season, Kent transferred to the Houston Ballet for the same position. With her experience and vision, she is now in another chapter of her life with young dancers waiting for her lead.


Julie Kent contributed to the world of ballet through excellent performances and bold ideas to change the ballet world for the better. She has retired from the stage, but the next chapter of her life in the director’s chair is worth anticipating. 

Being a mother of two and still delivering some of the most amazing titles, Kent has certainly redefined the term “mom ballerina”. What’s next?

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