“Where Dancers Shine Beyond Their Usual Specialties”
–The New York Times
Damian Woetzel has taken on multiple roles in arts leadership since retiring from a 20-year career as Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet. Since 2007, Woetzel has been Director of the Vail Dance Festival, which under his direction, has been widely-acclaimed for its innovation and growth as a nationally-recognized summer showcase for dance. In 2011, Woetzel was named the Director of Arts Programs for the Aspen Institute, where he creates programs aiming to further the value of the arts in society, focusing on education, economics, and cultural diplomacy. Woetzel is further active as a director and producer outside these roles.
Other recent projects include: Lil Buck @ Le Poisson Rouge, an award-winning show featuring Lil Buck, Yo-Yo Ma and an array of stellar musicians; an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center; and the first performance of the White House Dance Series, which took place in the East Room of the White House and was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Woetzel works with Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road Connect program in the New York City Public Schools, and on “Arts Strike” events which they have pioneered as a format for artists to engage in public service. In 2012, Woetzel co-produced the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to honoree Natalia Makarova, and for the 2014 Honors, he co-produced the salute to honoree Patricia McBride. In 2009, Woetzel became the founding director of the Jerome
Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works (NEW) Program, which over a five-year period initiated grants to enable the production of 35 new dance works. In November 2015, Woetzel launched a multi-disciplinary new series entitled DEMO at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center.
Woetzel was a Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet from 1989 until his retirement from the stage in 2008. At NYCB, he danced virtually the entire leading male dancer repertory, and had works created for him by Jerome Robbins, Eliot Feld, Twyla Tharp, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon among others. Woetzel also frequently performed as a guest star with companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, and starred in numerous television broadcasts and as the Cavalier in the Time Warner movie version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Woetzel has also choreographed a number of ballets for NYCB and other companies.
Among his awards, in July 2012 Woetzel was honored with the inaugural Gene Kelly Legacy Award – an honor jointly created by the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Estate of Gene Kelly in honor of the 100th anniversary of Kelly’s birth. Woetzel serves on the artists committee of the Kennedy Center Honors, the Knight Foundation’s National Arts Advisory Committee, and was a member of the Harvard University Task Force on the Arts. Woetzel holds an MPA degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In the fall of 2010, he was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School where he co-taught a course on performing arts and the law. In November 2009, President Obama appointed Woetzel to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities where he has worked on creating the Turnaround Arts Program, which now brings arts education to some of the nation’s most challenged school districts. In April 2015, Woetzel received the Harvard Arts Medal.