Just a year ago, Julie Kent and Xiomara Reyes took their final bows at American Ballet Theatre. Now, the two ABT stars will be working together even more closely. Kent, who was named artistic director of The Washington Ballet in March, announced today that she has appointed Reyes as head of The Washington School of Ballet, effective September 1. Reyes' husband, Rinat Imaev, a company teacher at ABT, will also join TWSB as senior faculty.
Outgoing school director Kee Juan Han announced his retirement in April, prompting a nationwide search. “I’ve always loved working with Julie at ABT, so I was very excited when she called and asked if we’d be interested in applying,” Reyes told Pointe in a phone interview. She and Imaev have been directing IBStage, a summer program in Barcelona, for four years, and the Cuban-born dancer is no stranger to Washington audiences: Last year she danced the role of Katrina Van Tassel in the world premiere of Septime Webre’s Sleepy Hollow. Now, she’s getting better acquainted with the school’s workings. “Kee Juan has been amazing and very helpful in explaining everything that the position entails.”
As for any major changes, Reyes says that she and Kent want to focus on deepening the school’s relationship with TWB, “so that the school can nourish the company and so that the students can be inspired by the dancers.” There are no immediate plans to instill ABT’s National Training Curriculum. “It’s the kind of decision Julie and I need to talk about, because it’s a very big decision,” says Reyes. She is, however, excited to share aspects of her Cuban training with students. “I’m very influenced by what I call its ‘fearless approach,’” she says. “In Cuba, it was a wonderful way of making us work very hard and in friendly competition, but without putting people down. That’s one of the things I really cherish and that I look forward to implementing—that security of confidence in a dancer that allows you to be fearless.”