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Damian Woetzel

Damian Woetzel is the seventh president of The Juilliard School, where he is championing excellence and prioritizing affordability and access to the highest level of artistic education. One of the foremost ballet dancers of his time, Woetzel retired in 2008 from a 20-year career as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and as a dancer on the international stage. During his distinguished dance career, he was lauded for performances in a range of roles created by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and he had works choreographed for him by Robbins, Eliot Feld, Susan Stroman, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon among others. Since leaving the performance stage Woetzel has taken on multiple roles in arts leadership, including artistic director of the Vail Dance Festival since 2007, and director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program from 2011 to 2018. As an independent director, choreographer, and producer, his projects have included DEMO, his own series at the Kennedy Center; Spaces by Wynton Marsalis for Jazz at Lincoln Center; Kennedy Center Honors tributes to Natalia Makarova, Patricia McBride, and Carmen de Lavallade; an arts salute to Stephen Hawking for the World Science Festival; two Turnaround Arts performances bringing together public school students from around the country at the White House, and the White House Dance Series hosted by Michelle Obama. Woetzel has collaborated on numerous initiatives with Yo-Yo Ma, including the Silk Road Connect program in the New York City public schools. In 2009, Woetzel became the founding director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works (NEW) Program, which initiated grants to support new dance works over a five year period. President Obama appointed Woetzel to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 2009, and he served throughout the Obama administration, focusing primarily on national arts education including the formation of the Turnaround Arts initiative. Woetzel holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School. He received the 2015 Harvard Arts Medal, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Woetzel serves on the boards of New York City Center, Sing for Hope, and Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Alliance. Woetzel began his tenure as president of The Juilliard School in July 2018.

Read the press release naming Damian Woetzel as Juilliard's seventh president

Institutional Focus

Juilliard has for many years worked to increase the affordability of attending the school, and as the second five-year term began under the leadership of President Woetzel, this focus became a primary goal of becoming an ever more tuition-free institution. This emphasis was highlighted with the announcement in September 2023 of the Drama Division’s MFA program as the latest area of the school to become a tuition free program. The board and administration of the school are focused on efforts—such as the recently completed $10 million Greene Foundation Scholarship Challenge—to extend this progress to other areas of the school, and to the student body overall over the next years.

This effort is built on the belief that Juilliard’s unparalleled education demands that it be affordable to all who qualify to attend the school. The school currently provides scholarships and financial aid to over 90% of the student body. Over 25% do not pay any tuition at all, and our aim is to increase that number steadily through sponsorship of individual programs, as well as general funding for scholarship overall. At the same time, and integrally related to this scholarship effort, are the ever-expanding efforts to support the work of the school’s peerless faculty, the excellence of the educational offerings overall, and the connectivity of new generations of young students in music, dance, and drama to the fields which they become the leaders in generation after generation.

Read more about the recent Drama MFA announcement HERE.

To make a scholarship donation or to learn more about how to be a part of funding the future of the arts through scholarships, please contact [email protected]

“Our commitment to our students must be to provide an evolving platform that offers them the fullest range of opportunity for their individual futures.” - President Damian Woetzel

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Bolero Juilliard | April 2020

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