Karen Gabay began dancing in her hometown of San Diego and later studied at the School of American Ballet. She made her professional debut at the age of eighteen with the former Cleveland San Jose Ballet and her career as a ballerina spans over thirty-five years. Gabay’s favorite roles include Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Giselle, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the title role in Roland Petit’s Carmen, George Balanchine’s “Who Cares?”, and the Gloveseller in Gaite Parisienne. A frequent guest artist, Gabay has danced in Queen Margarethe’s Silver Anniversary Gala in Denmark with Peter Schaufuss, Cynthia Gregory’s “Galaxy” tour to South America, Chautauqua Dance with Patricia McBride and Violette Verdy, and the role of Swanhilda to Rudolf Nureyev’s Dr. Coppelius at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and in Ireland. Gabay also held the position of répétiteur for and assisted in staging the works of Fleming Flindt, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, and Dennis Nahat, among others.
Gabay has choreographed the annual SF Ballet School’s Spring Festival Showcase every year since joining the School’s faculty in 2016. She has also choreographed for Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Works Program, the USA International Ballet Competition’s Reunion Gala, Pointe of Departure, The Cleveland Orchestra’s Family Concerts, and the Youth America Grand Prix. As Artistic Associate of Ballet San Jose, she choreographed The Nutcracker, her first full-length ballet, which led to the creation of her children’s book, The Nutcracker: A Story in Verse. Gabay has been awarded the Artist Fellowship Award for Choreography by the Arts Council Silicon Valley and garnered a nomination in the Outstanding Achievement in Choreography category at the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (the “Izzies”). She is an ABT Certified Teacher (level 7) and is certified as an instructor for Progressing Ballet Technique. Gabay is the founding Artistic Director of Pointe of Departure and can be seen in various films and television.