National Dance Institute founder visits Eagle-Vail

Special to the Daily

VAIL –Legendary dancer Jacques d’ Amboise will drop in on the Colorado affiliate of his celebrated arts education program, National Dance Institute today as the master teacher pays a visit to The Youth Foundation’s Celebrate the Beat class at Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail at 4 p.m.

The Colorado branch of the program, VVF Youth Foundation’s Celebrate the Beat initiative, was founded by Artistic Director Tracy Straus and uses the award-winning teaching method developed by d’Amboise for the National Dance Institute. The program was introduced to the Vail Valley in 2007 by Damian Woetzel in his first year as artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival, at the suggestion of Woetzel’s wife, ballerina Heather Watts.

Since its inception as a week-long workshop for young children, Celebrate the Beat currently provides 1,000 elementary school students throughout Eagle County the chance to dance as part of the year-round school curriculum.

“Jacques is a living legend for so many reasons,” Woetzel said. “He is an incredible dancer who was a huge part of making ballet thrive in America, and a brilliant educator who has led the way in using the arts to spur creativity, excellence and confidence in children. Having the genius behind the National Dance Institute work with the kids here in Vail is wonderfully inspiring.”

The visit to the Vail Valley will be the third for d’Amboise. During the summer of 2010, he taught a Celebrate the Beat class at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, while also attending a CTB class during last summer’s Vail International Dance Festival.

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D’Amboise joined the New York City Ballet in 1950, and he performed with the company as a principal dancer for more than three decades. In 1976, while still dancing with New York City Ballet, he founded the National Dance Institute in the strong belief that the arts have a unique power to engage and motivate young people toward excellence.

D’Amboise has received numerous honors and awards, including the 1990 MacArthur Fellowship, a Kennedy Center Honors Award, a National Medal of the Arts, a New York Governor’s Award and an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Boston College.

“He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’,” a 1984 PBS documentary film on d’Amboise’s work with the National Dance Institute, won an Academy Award, six Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award, the Golden Cine Award and the National Educational Association Award for advancement of learning through broadcasting.

For additional information on Celebrate the Beat or the Vail Valley Foundation, visit

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