Jock Soto, who is half Navajo Indian and half Puerto Rican, was born in Gallup, New Mexico, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. At the age of five, he began studying ballet with local teachers after seeing a television special featuring Edward Villella in the Rubies section of George Balanchine’s Jewels. Mr. Soto continued his studies at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet. While at the School, Mr. Soto danced the role of "Luke" in Peter Martins' The Magic Flute, which was choreographed for the School's 1981 Workshop performances. That year he became a member of the Company's corps de ballet. In June 1984 he was promoted to the rank of soloist, and one year later he became a principal dancer.
Mr. Soto's extensive repertory includes featured roles in many of George Balanchine's ballets, including Agon, Allegro Brillante, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (first, third, and fourth movements), Bugaku, Cortege Hongrois, Danses Concertantes, Donizetti Variations, Episodes, Firebird, The Four Temperaments, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, Glinka Pas de Trois, Rubies from Jewels, Kammermusik No. 2, Liebeslieder Walzer, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Mozartiana, Orpheus, Robert Schumann's Davidsbundlerdanze, Scotch Symphony, La Sonnambula, Stars and Stripes, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, Symphony in Three Movements, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Union Jack, Vienna Waltzes, and Western Symphony. He has also danced featured roles in a number of ballets by Jerome Robbins, including Afternoon of a Faun, The Cage, Dances at a Gathering, The Four Seasons, Glass Pieces, I'm Old Fashioned, In the Night, Moves, Opus 19/The Dreamer, and West Side Story Suite, as well as Peter Martins' Barber Violin Concerto, Swan Lake, Symphonic Dances, and Valse Triste, and Robert La Fosse’s Concerto in Five Movements.
Mr. Martins has created principal roles on Mr. Soto in a number of his ballets, including Adams Violin Concerto, Bach Concerto V, Concerto for Two Solo Pianos, Delight of the Muses, Ecstatic Orange, Fearful Symmetries, A Fool for You, Guide to Strange Places, Harmonielehre, The Infernal Machine, Jazz (Six Syncopated Movements), Morgen, A Schubertiad, Sinfonia, Songs of the Auvergne, Them Twos, and Thou Swell. During New York City Ballet's Spring 1988 American Music Festival, Mr. Soto originated featured roles in Mr. Martins' Black and White, Robert Weiss's Archetypes, Laura Dean's Space, and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's Five, and performed in Richard Tanner's pas de deux Sonatas and Interludes. In addition, he originated roles in Miriam Mahdaviani's Urban Dances; Kevin O'Day's Huoah; Mr. Tanner's Ancient Airs and Dances, Operetta Affezionata, and Schoenberg/Wuorinen Variations; Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Chiaroscuro; Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain, Liturgy, Mercurial Manoeuvres, Morphoses, Polyphonia; Shambards, and Slavonic Dances; and Damian Woetzel’s Ebony Concerto.
Mr. Soto made his Broadway debut in the Encore Series of Ziegfeld Follies, also choreographed by Mr. Wheeldon, at City Center.
Mr. Soto has appeared as a guest artist with the Kirov Ballet in Jewels in 2003 and at the Bolshoi Theatre with stars from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in 2003.
Mr. Soto's television appearances with New York City Ballet include five Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts on PBS: "A Choreographer's Notebook: Stravinsky Piano Ballets by Peter Martins," "Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream, "Swan Lake" choreographed by Mr. Martins; Ray Charles in Concert with the New York City Ballet, reprising his role in A Fool for You; New York City Ballet's Diamond Project: Ten Years of New Choreography, dancing in Chiaroscuro, Mercurial Manoeuvres, and Them Twos; and Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100, dancing in Liebeslieder Walzer. Mr. Soto also appeared in Mr. Bonnefoux's Five, as part of the Guggenheim Museum's Works in Process series on PBS. He has appeared on seven episodes of Sesame Street, including three in which he appeared with former NYCB principal dancer Lourdes Lopez. Mr. Soto was a celebrity guest-chef on the TV Food Network's Talking Food, hosted by Robin Leach, and has appeared as a celebrity judge on Channel 13's Masterchef. He has also been featured on A&E's Breakfast with the Arts as Artist of the Week.
In addition to his performing career, Mr. Soto has been a member of SAB's permanent faculty since 1996. He teaches partnering class to intermediate and advanced students during SAB's Winter Term and Summer Course. He also regularly teaches one Advanced Men and one Intermediate Men's technique class per week during Winter Term.
Mr. Soto is an active fundraiser on behalf of AIDS research and other charitable foundations. He is also a contributing writer for Interview and Travel & Leisure.
Mr. Soto was the recipient of the Casita Maria Award for Hispanics and The First Americans in the Arts Trustee Award. Friends In Deed recognized Mr. Soto for his patronage of AIDS research, and in 2002, the School of American Ballet presented him with the Mae L. Wein Award for Distinguished Service.
Our Meals, a cookbook written by Mr. Soto and former NYCB principal dancer Heather Watts, was published by Riverhead Books in October 1997.