Today The Juilliard School announced that former New York City Ballet star Damian Woetzel will become its next president. Woetzel, who currently serves as artistic director of the Vail Dance Festival and the Aspen Institute Arts Program will transition to his role at Juilliard, arguably the country's most prestigious performing arts conservatory, during the summer of 2018.


Woetzel rehearsing Misty CopelandPhoto by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival


Woetzel is used to working with a variety of artists. "Building on collaboration has been a defining principle of my life in the arts," Woetzel said in a statement. "I can think of no greater privilege than to help shape the future of this extraordinary institution of music, dance and drama." Since retiring from NYCB in 2008, Woetzel has choreographed, produced and directed a number of projects, including the Kennedy Center's interdisciplinary DEMO series and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He's also worked with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma as an advocate for public school arts education. Woetzel has infused Vail with his penchant for collaboration. The festival now boasts an annual series of premieres, international engagement, and increased educational programming. After years of experience in the field, Juilliard seems like a natural next step for Woetzel, and we can't wait to see the future of this famed institution unfold with him at its helm.

Ballet Training
Kali Kleiman performing at YAGP's New York Finals. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

As someone who has judged many ballet competitions, I've had the opportunity to see some breathtaking contemporary solos that combine fantastic technique with well-conceived choreography. Yet it's often hard for us judges to see the artistic intention behind these solos the way we can when watching a classical variation. For one thing, we're simply more familiar with classical ballet's repertoire and characters. But also, when a contemporary solo is just a string of one trick after another, or only delivers one emotion (such as overwrought angst), we don't get to see any artistic depth.

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Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Ballet Stars
Elle Macy in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Cross-training misconceptions: Before Elle Macy became an apprentice with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was apprehensive about cross-training. "I was warned that it might bulk you, or not to do certain activities because they could potentially injure you." But a stress fracture in her foot changed her perspective. Unable to bear much weight, Macy reluctantly tried stationary biking at her physical therapist's suggestion. "What I learned is that you're not going to get injured from being on an elliptical for 20 minutes or by taking a Pilates class," says Macy. Today, it's not uncommon to find the soloist training on the elliptical, doing ankle stability exercises, using the Pilates reformer or taking a hot yoga class.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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