John Magnus received his training at the University of Cape Town Ballet School. After completing his training he joined the Cape Town City Ballet Company.
In 1980 Mr. Magnus came to the United States and served as ballet master for the Nevada Dance Theatre and upon moving to New York City taught for the New Jersey Ballet for both the school and company.
In 1986 he joined the faculty of the Joffrey Ballet School being the last teacher to be chosen by Mr. Joffrey (before his death in 1988) to teach at the Joffrey School. He taught master classes for the Joffrey Ballet Company and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet.
In 2005 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet School creating a full length Nutcracker performed at the Skirball Theatre, New York and reviewed by the New York Times as “ glorious and sweetly inventive.” This review was the first time the N.Y.Times reviewed a non-professional/student production of the “The Nutcracker”.
Mr. Magnus has served as the Artistic Director for the Joffrey Midwest Dance Summer Intensive since it’s inception in 1996 and after 14yrs the program has been renamed Magnus Midwest Dance. He also served as the Artistic Director for the Great Lakes Summer Workshop and the Joffrey/Midland Summer Workshop.
Mr. Magnus guest teaches throughout the States and for the Regional Dance America South West, Mid States and North East regions.
He has choreographed for West Virginia Opera ( Faust and Der Fledermaus ) and collaborating with A.R.T. (American Readers Theatre) new works for the NEA funded literacy program called the“Big Read”. Mr. Magnus created two new ballets one based on the John Steinbeck novel “Grapes of Wrath” and the other ballet is based on the Edgar Allen Poe poem “Annabel Lee“.
Other works include Simple Symphony (Benjamin Britten) and Overture (Schubert) created for the collaboration between the Joffrey Ballet School and Arts Umbrella School in Vancouver and new works for the Joffrey Ballet School Dance Ensemble performed at the Boch Centre for the Performing Arts in Massachusetts.
Mr. Magnus is the current Artistic Director for the Portland Festival Ballet.