Vail Dance Festival’s Damian Woetzel named next president of Juilliard School
Damian Woetzel, artistic director of Vail Dance Festival and director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program, will serve as the seventh president of the Juilliard School beginning July 2018. Juilliard announced the appointment on Wednesday.
Woetzel, former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, will serve as president-designate during the 2017-18 academic year, during which time he will conclude his work as director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program, finishing in June of 2018 at the end of the Aspen Ideas Festival. He will continue to serve as artistic director of the annual Vail Dance Festival at least through summer 2018.
Juilliard’s current and longest-serving president, Joseph W. Polisi, announced in October that he will be stepping down at the end of June 2018.
“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,” Juilliard board chair Bruce Kovner said in the announcement. “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.”
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Woetzel, who turns 50 next week, retired in 2008 from an illustrious career with New York City Ballet, and was celebrated internationally for his performances across a wide range of repertory. In addition to his positions at the Vail Dance Festival and Aspen Institute, Woetzel is also an independent director, choreographer and producer. His many projects include the Kennedy Center’s interdisciplinary “DEMO” series; “Spaces” by Wynton Marsalis for Jazz at Lincoln Center; an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center for the World Science Festival; and the first performance of the White House Dance Series during the Obama administration. From 2009 to 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 holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School. In 2015 he received the Harvard Arts Medal.
“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.”
The appointment marks the second high-profile Juilliard hiring from Aspen this spring. In March, the school tapped Aspen Music Festival and School vice president for development Alex Brose as the first executive director and CEO of the new Tianjin Juilliard School in China.