10 May 2017

The Juilliard School Names Former Principal NYC Ballet Dancer Damian Woetzel as its Next President

Woetzel to Succeed Joseph W. Polisi in July 2018

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THE JUILLIARD SCHOOL announced today that it has appointed Damian Woetzel, director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and former principal dancer at New York City Ballet, as its next president. 

Woetzel, who will be just the seventh president in Juilliard's history, will assume office beginning in July 2018, after concluding his work as director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program. He will serve as Juilliard's president-designate during the 2017-18 academic year, after which he will succeed Joseph W. Polisi, who will have overseen Juilliard for thirty-four years at the time of his retirement in June 2018.

"On behalf of the board of trustees, I am pleased to welcome Damian Woetzel to The Juilliard School as our next president," said board chair Bruce Kovner in a statement issued today by the school. "Since beginning our search last October, we have had the privilege of getting to know some of the most distinguished leaders in the arts field and beyond. Damian's vision and optimism are second to none, and we are confident that he will advance Juilliard's mission for the next generation while building on the foundation of artistic and academic excellence established by his distinguished predecessor, Joseph Polisi."

Woetzel retired in 2008 after a two-decade career as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet and as a performer on international stages. As a dancer, he received acclaim for performances across a wide repertory of works, including roles created by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and in pieces created for him by choreographers that include Robbins, Eliot Feld, Peter Martins, Susan Stroman, Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon. 

"It is a tremendous honor to have been selected as the next president of The Juilliard School," Woetzel said. "Building on collaboration has been a defining principle of my life in the arts, and I can think of no greater privilege than to help shape the future of this extraordinary institution of music, dance, and drama. I'd like to extend my thanks to Bruce Kovner, Juilliard's board of trustees, and President Polisi for this tremendous opportunity to join in the tradition of excellence that Juilliard embodies, and I am inspired to work alongside them to foster new generations of emboldened citizen artists for the twenty-first century."

In addition to his work at the Aspen Institute Arts Program, Woetzel serves as artistic director of the Vail Dance Festival, and also works as an independent director, choreographer and producer. While Woetzel has never held a role in an academic administration, his diverse projects have often brought him into civic and educational spheres. Recent endeavors include DEMO, his own interdisciplinary series at the Kennedy Center; Spaces by Wynton Marsalis for Jazz at Lincoln Center; Lil Buck @ Le Poisson Rouge, an award-winning show featuring Lil Buck, Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians; and an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center for the World Science Festival. Woetzel's collaborations with Yo-Yo-Ma also includes his work on Silk Road Connect program—which ventures into New York City Public Schools—and on "Arts Strike" events, which encourages artists to engage in public service. In 2009, Woetzel became the founding director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation's New Essential Works (NEW) Program, which helped commission over thirty-five new dance works over a five-year period. 

From 2009 until 2017, Woetzel served on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, where he helped create the Turnaround Arts Program, which brings arts education to some of the nation's most challenged school districts. Woetzel also oversaw the first performance of the White House Dance Series, which took place in the East Room of the White House and was hosted by former first lady Michelle Obama. 

Woetzel holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and served as a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School. In 2015 he was bestowed the Harvard Arts Medal.

As the president of Juilliard, Woetzel will continue a number of major initiatives begun under Polisi's tenure, including the continued development of the school's scholarship and entrepreneurship programs, K-12 curricula, online education products, and creation of The Tianjin Juilliard School in Chinaspacer 

More information can be found at The Juilliard School.

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