||This article needs more links to other articles to help integrate it into the encyclopedia. (December 2012)|
Damian Woetzel was a Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet and frequently performed internationally as a guest star and visiting artist with numerous companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, until his retirement from the stage in 2008. Woetzel currently serves as the Director of Arts Programs for the Aspen Institute, the Artistic Director of the Vail International Dance Festival, and as the Founding Director of the Jerome Robbins New Essential Works Program. Woetzel is also active as a director and producer outside these roles. Among his recent projects, Woetzel produced and directed an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center for the World Science Festival, directed the first performance of the White House Dance Series, which took place in the East Room of the White House and was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, and co-produced the tribute to legendary ballerina Natalia Makarova as part of the 35th annual Kennedy Center Honors in December 2012. Woetzel also works with Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road Connect program in the New York City Public Schools, and has twice directed culminating year-end performances; at the Museum of Natural History in 2010, and for the Central Park SummerStage series in 2011. Woetzel was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities by President Obama in 2009. In July 2012, Woetzel was honored with the inaugural Gene Kelly Legacy Award - an award jointly created by the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Estate of Gene Kelly in honor of the 100th anniversary of Kelly's birth - for his contributions to the arts as a ballet star and director of dance and music performances.
Career as Director and Producer 
Aspen Institute 
In June 2011, Woetzel was named the Director of Arts Programs at the Aspen Institute. Under Woetzel's direction, the Aspen Institute Arts Program brings together leading artists, arts managers, sponsors, government officials and patrons. Through these collaborations, the Program seeks to generate, exchange, and develop ideas and policies in order to encourage vibrancy and dynamism in all artistic realms, and to enrich civic culture in ways only the arts can.
Among the events curated by the Aspen Institute Arts Program under Woetzel's direction (an exhaustive list of past and future programming can be found at http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/arts-program):
• In November 2011, Woetzel curated the inaugural US-China Forum on the Arts and Culture in Beijing, in partnership with Asia Society and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. The four day forum was the first in a series of cultural exchanges seeking to strengthen mutual understanding between Americans and Chinese through panel discussions, lectures, film screenings, museum tours, dinners and performance. American and Chinese artists and cultural representatives engaged in the forum included Joel Coen, Meryl Streep, Yo-Yo Ma, Alice Waters, Liu Ye, Ge You and others. Woetzel also directed a Public Forum in partnership with the Public Theater titled "Does Culture Make Us Who We are," hosted by Anne Hathaway with guests including Bill Irwin, David Brooks and Oskar Eustis.
• In March 2012, Woetzel produced a panel with Howard Gardner, the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Dr. Ellen Winner, Professor of Psychology at Boston College, and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, examining the current state of the arts in education. Woetzel also hosted renowned artists Eric Fischl and Chuck Close in a conversation about artists and their audience at the Mary Boone Gallery in New York.
• In June 2012, the Arts Program for the first time curated multiple sessions at the Institute’s premiere public program, the Aspen Ideas Festival. For nineteen sessions, Woetzel brought renowned artists, policymakers, arts administrators as well as leading Chinese cultural representatives for discussions, film screenings and cultural exchanges focusing on how the arts impact society. Sessions included "Culture and Conflict" with Palestinian-born ballroom star and educator Pierre Dulaine and Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven; a conversation between renowned producer Julie Taymor and former Disney CEO and current Aspen Institute Arts Program chair Michael Eisner; "Radical Creative Spaces" with architect Elizabeth Diller; "Arts and the City: Making Cities Sing" with Rocco Landesman, Dennis Scholl, Darren Walker and Richard Florida; among many others.
Vail International Dance Festival 
Since 2006, Woetzel has been the Artistic Director of the summer Vail International Dance Festival, where he presents dance performances and commissions. He has instituted a number of initiatives as director, including bringing the educational arts program "Celebrate The Beat" - the Colorado associate of Jacques d'Amboise's National Dance Institute - to the Vail Valley, to reach local underserved children in the public schools.
Under Woetzel's direction, the festival has received wide acclaim for its innovation and growth as a nationally recognized showcase for dance, featuring such performances as the debut of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, and the launch of New York City Ballet MOVES. The annual International Evenings of Dance galas have become renowned for Woetzel's curation of first-time partnerships across companies and countries, as well as the presentation of young, emerging stars making their debuts in new repertory. In August 2012, The New York Times' Alastair Macaulay wrote that the 2012 Vail International Dance Festival presentations "were distinguished above all by catholic taste and brilliant programming. They merit superlatives" and that the International Evenings I gala "was simply the best gala I have attended in decades." Writing the same week, Wendy Perron of Dance Magazine compared Woetzel to the legendary impresario Serge Diaghilev, and praised Woetzel for engaging and educating audiences through spoken introductions to each work, and for his commitment to collaboration with live musicians.
Woetzel has also instituted a series of "UpClose" performances: lecture-demonstration events which combine rehearsal, performance and commentary by Woetzel and special guests. Recent UpClose performances have included: "UpClose: Stravinsky by Balanchine," an examination of the legendary collaboration between George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky, co-hosted by Woetzel and New York City Ballet Master-in-Chief Peter Martins (2012); "UpClose: Premieres," which provided a first look at a series of works created in Vail by choreographers including Christopher Wheeldon and Emery LeCrone during the weeks of the 2011 Vail International Dance Festival; among many others.
World Science Festival 
In 2009 and 2010, Woetzel produced and directed the World Science Festival Gala Performances at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. For the 2010 event he created an arts salute to science honoring the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, featuring performances by Yo-Yo Ma, John Lithgow, and Kelli O’Hara among others.
New Essential Works Program 
In the fall of 2009, Woetzel helped create and began directing the Jerome Robbins Foundation's New Essential Works (NEW) Program, which supports choreographers and dance companies during the current financial crisis by giving grants to enable the production of new works.
Studio 5 Performance Series 
In 2009, Woetzel launched as curator and director the new Studio 5 performance series at New York’s City Center, which features in-depth examinations of today’s most compelling dance artists and companies highlighted by in-studio performances and demonstrations. In 2009-2012, guests included David Hallberg, Christopher Wheeldon, Victoria Clark, Rob Berman, Angel Corella, Wendy Whelan, Edward Villella, among others; topics of discussion ranged from musical theatre to collaboration; and featured companies included American Ballet Theatre, the Paul Taylor Dance Company and Dance Theater of Harlem.
Arts Strike 
In June 2010 Woetzel piloted "Arts Strike," a new effort to have celebrated artists engage educators and students, schools and communities, highlighting and sharing the unique power of the arts to empower, enrich and educate. The first events have taken place in Vail, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and have all featured Woetzel with Yo-Yo Ma in schools, engaging with students and their teachers to promote learning through the arts.
Silk Road Connect 
Woetzel works with Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road Connect program in the New York City Public Schools. In June 2010, Woetzel directed the culminating year-end event which took place at New York’s Museum of Natural History, and featured the participation of the Silk Road Ensemble and 450 6th grade students. In June 2011, the culminating year-end event opened the Central Park SummerStage series. Titled “Night at the Caravanserai: Tales of Wonder,” the performance again featured hundreds of 6th grade students from New York-area public schools, Ma with his Silk Road Ensemble, vocalist Bobby McFerrin, the soprano Emalie Savoy, actor Bill Irwin, and author Jhumpa Lahiri, among others.
In April 2011, Woetzel organized an "arts strike" at Inner-City Arts in downtown Los Angeles with Yo-Yo Ma, The Silk Road Ensemble, and Memphis Jooker Charles "Lil Buck" Riley. The event included a demonstration and workshop for more than one hundred elementary school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Highlighting the event was a first-time duet directed by Woetzel between Ma and Lil Buck, who performed a Memphis Jookin' version of The Dying Swan with Ma accompanying on the cello; the performance was immortalized in a video shot by Spike Jonze which reached over one million views within weeks.
Harvard Law School 
In the fall of 2010, Woetzel was a visiting Lecturer at Harvard Law School, where he co-taught a course on Performing Arts and the Law with Jeannie Suk.
New York State Summer School for the Arts 
Woetzel was the artistic director of the New York State Summer School for the Arts School of Ballet from 1994-2007.
Dance career 
New York City Ballet 
Woetzel was a Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet from 1989 until his retirement from the stage in 2008. At New York City Ballet, Woetzel had works created for him by Jerome Robbins, Eliot Feld, Twyla Tharp, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon among others, and danced more than 50 featured roles in the Company's repertory, including: George Balanchine's: Agon, Coppelia, Prodigal Son, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Stars and Stripes, Swan Lake; and Jerome Robbins': Afternoon of a Faun, Fancy Free, Dances at a Gathering, A Suite of Dances, and West Side Story Suite.
Woetzel originated featured roles in: Eliot Feld's The Unanswered Question and Organon, Peter Martins' Jeu de Cartes and The Sleeping Beauty, Jerome Robbins' Ives, Songs and Quiet City, Susan Stroman's "The Blue Necklace" from Double Feature, Twyla Tharp's The Beethoven Seventh, Christopher Wheeldon's An American in Paris, Carousel (A Dance), Evenfall, Morphoses, and Variations Sérieuses. Woetzel also originated roles in ballets by Kevin O'Day, Richard Tanner, and Lynne Taylor-Corbett, among others.
Woetzel appeared in Dance in America's presentation of "Dinner with Balanchine," dancing Union Jack and Stars and Stripes. In October 1998, Mr. Woetzel appeared as one of the stars of the Cole Porter musical Jubilee in a special benefit performance at Carnegie Hall, during which he sang as well as danced. In May 1999, he starred as Prince Siegfried in Peter Martins' Swan Lake on the PBS national telecast "Live from Lincoln Center." Woetzel also appeared in the 2002 nationally televised Live from Lincoln Center broadcast "New York City Ballet's Diamond Project: Ten Years of New Choreography" on PBS and in the May 2004 Live from Lincoln Center broadcast of "Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100." Woetzel starred as the Cavalier in the film version of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™, released in the winter of 1993.
Guest Appearances 
During his career, Woetzel frequently performed internationally as a guest star and was a visiting artist with numerous companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. In his guest appearances, Woetzel danced principal roles in classics such as Don Quixote, Giselle, and La Bayadere, among others.
Woetzel has choreographed a number of ballets for New York City Ballet, among other companies. For New York City Ballet, he choreographed Ebony Concerto to Stravinsky, and Glazounov Pas de Deux to the composer's Les Ruses d'Amour. Woetzel also choreographed the "Polovtsian Dances" for New York City Opera's production of Prince Igor, and in 1998, he choreographed and starred in a new version of An American in Paris ballet for Marvin Hamlisch's Gershwin Centennial Gala.
Honors and Appointments 
Woetzel is the recipient of a Choo San Goh award for new choreography. He serves on the Artists Committee of the Kennedy Center Honors and as a judge for the Astaire Awards. He has also served as a juror for the Princess Grace Awards. Woetzel is a frequent speaker on the arts and arts policy. Woetzel was the 2008 Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence of the Aspen Institute, and in 2011, he became a member of the Knight Foundation's National Arts Advisory Committee. Woetzel also serves on the boards of directors of New York City Center, The Clive Barnes Foundation and The Sphinx Organization, and served on the recent Harvard Task Force on the Arts. In November 2009, President Obama appointed Woetzel to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In July 2012, Woetzel was honored with the inaugural Gene Kelly Legacy Award - an award jointly created by the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Estate of Gene Kelly in honor of the 100th anniversary of Kelly's birth - for his contributions to the arts as a ballet star and director of dance and music performances.
Woetzel holds a Master in Public Administration Degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Personal life 
Woetzel has been married to Heather Watts since 1999.
- At the White House, dancers get room to move in the East Room — The Washington Post
- Eagle County kids invited to White House — The Vail Daily
- Saturday's Yo-Yo Ma Event Shows Cellists' Passion for Art Education — The Vail Daily
- World Science Festival to Start with a Big Bang — The New York Times
- The Jerome Robbins Foundation and Robbins Rights Trust
- Make It Relevant but Make It — The New York Times
- Big Lights Will Inspire You — National Geographic
- Yo-Yo Ma performs for Inner City Arts kids on Los Angeles's Skid Row
- Harvard Law School Faculty
- Bowing Out, but Still Fancy Free — The New York Times
- Aspen Ideas Festival Opens — The Aspen Times
- President’s Arts Group Names 25 Members — The New York Times
- He Parked His Barre in Harvard Yard — The New York Times
- New York Choreographic Institute webpage