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Cynthia Harvey Named Artistic Director of American Ballet Theater Scho


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Cynthia Harvey, the ballerina and teacher, has a busy year ahead. In addition to consulting work, she is to serve as a coach at the Prix de Lausanne, the global competition for young dancers, and continues to run her ballet nonprofit group, En Avant Foundation. But in the spring she will take on one of her biggest projects yet: She has been named the next artistic director of American Ballet Theater’sJacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, effective in May.

Her appointment comes with the retirement in April of the current artistic director, Franco De Vita, who became the school’s principal in 2005 before taking on the directorship in 2013.

Ballet Theater’s artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, first asked Ms. Harvey to accept the job in July. She said she was taken aback; she and her foundation are based in London, where she also teaches and has “a great deal of freedom.” But eventually, she added, she said yes because “I’m like a bull to a red cloth when there’s a challenge in front of me.”

The appointment is a homecoming of sorts for Ms. Harvey. She joined Ballet Theater in 1974, becoming a soloist in 1978 and a principal dancer in 1982. There, she danced lead roles in classics of the repertory, such as “Swan Lake,” “Giselle” and “Romeo and Juliet.” In 1986, she was the first American to be invited to join the Royal Ballet as a principal dancer. Ms. Harvey rejoined Ballet Theater in 1988, and stayed there until her retirement from performance in 1996.

Among Ms. Harvey’s goals for her directorship is to emphasize what she called the “nurturing aspect” of the school, among the faculty and possibly with Ballet Theater company members who could provide support for young dancers. Her top priority, though, is to ensure the students have an ever-important classical base, with room for the versatility new choreography demands.

As for Mr. De Vita, he said he would very likely stay on at the school as a guest teacher. After all, he added, he is at his happiest when teaching, which he has done for more than 30 years. In retiring, he said, he is mostly pulling away from the administrative aspects of his work. “I’m 65,” he said. “It’s time for me to slow down.”

In his time as principal and artistic director, Mr. De Vita has created Ballet Theater’s National Training Curriculum, and has brought numerous honors to the school, including its status as a partner with the Prix de Lausanne. He said the school is in good hands with Ms. Harvey. “She knows a lot of people in the world of dancing,” he said, adding that her personal network will be essential in helping graduating dancers find jobs. “She will be excellent for the school.”

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/07/cynthia-harvey-named-artistic-director-of-american-ballet-theater-school/?ref=dance&_r=0

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The official release:

CYNTHIA HARVEY NAMED

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS SCHOOL

AT AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE

Cynthia Harvey, a former Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theatre, has been appointed Artistic Director of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. Harvey’s appointment, which becomes effective May 2016, was announced today by ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. Harvey will succeed Franco De Vita, who was first named Principal of the ABT JKO School in 2005 and Artistic Director in 2013. De Vita will retire from the position in April 2016.

Harvey was born in San Rafael, California and began her dance training at age eight with Christine Walton in Novato, California. She later attended the American Ballet Theatre School under the direction of Patricia Wilde and Leon Danielian She joined ABT in 1974, was promoted to Soloist in 1978 and became a Principal Dancer in 1982. Harvey performed all of the leading ballerina roles in the classical canon including Kitri in Don Quixote, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Princess Aurora in

The Sleeping Beauty and the title roles in Giselle, Romeo and Juliet and Manon. She created the role of Gamzatti in Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadère, the Western World Premiere of the complete ballet. In 1986, Harvey joined The Royal Ballet as a principal dancer at the invitation of Sir Anthony Dowell, becoming the first American dancer to hold that distinction. She rejoined ABT in 1988 and continued to perform as a guest artist with companies around the world before retiring from the stage in 1996.

“It is an honor to return to American Ballet Theatre as Artistic Director of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School,” said Harvey. “Since 2005, the ABT JKO

School has grown significantly under the artistic direction of Franco De Vita, who,

along with Raymond Lukens, has helped shape ABT’s National Training Curriculum and implement several admirable programs. Over the last two decades, I have devoted myself to teaching, coaching and staging for companies and schools internationally. I have enjoyed mentoring young dancers and being a small cog in the wheel of some extraordinary institutions. I look forward to refining that which my predecessor has put into place and to further advancing the school and fostering young talent.”

“I am so very pleased that Cynthia will be returning to ABT, “ said Kevin McKenzie. “She brings with her a wealth of knowledge, not only of our history, but years of experience teaching and advocating for best practices in teaching methods. This holds such promise for future generations of dancers to be trained here at JKO and can build on the successes of Franco De Vita.”

In her post-performing career, Harvey served as a respected coach and guest teacher with The Norwegian National Ballet and in 2009, staged a complete production of Giselle for the company. Additionally, she staged a full-length production of The Sleeping Beauty for Hong Kong Ballet in 2010, “Kingdom of the Shades” from La Bayadère for The Royal Ballet of Flanders and her production of Don Quixote for Singapore Dance Theatre in 2014. A sought-after guest teacher and ballet mistress, Harvey has conducted classes for American Ballet Theatre,

The Australian Ballet, The Royal Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, Teatro alla Scala and The Zurich Ballet. She is a regular guest ballet mistress at the Semperöper Ballett in Dresden and has served as a Principal guest teacher for the English National Ballet School.

Harvey has appeared at several competitions, including Rosetta Mauri, Tanzolymp, the First International Competition in Sitges, Spain and Dance World Cup Spain. She will serve as Ladies coach for the 2016 Prix de Lausanne and has previously served as Jury President for the competition. In addition, Harvey served on the board of DanceEast, the National Agency for Dance in England and was a

prominent member of the committee that saw major ballet directors and ballet

school directors from around the world gather to discuss issues relating to

improving life for ballet companies and schools. Until 2010, she was standards assessor for The Council for Dance Education and Training in the United Kingdom. She is a member of the International Council of Dance. In early 2014, Harvey formed “En Avant Foundation”, a non-profit foundation for mentoring and coaching ballet for prodigious young dancers. She is the co-author of “Physics of Dance & the Pas de Deux.”

American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School

Established in 2004, the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School aims to provide the highest quality ballet training, consistent with the stylistic requirements of American Ballet Theatre, and to provide dancers with a rich knowledge of classical technique and the ability to adapt to all styles and techniques of dance. The curriculum of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School is ABT's National Training Curriculum, which combines scientific principles with elements from the classic French, Italian and Russian schools of training.
The ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School serves approximately 300 students and encompasses a Pre-professional division for dancers ages 12-18 and a Children’s division for dancers ages 3-14. Classes include classical ballet technique, pointe, partnering, men's class, character, modern technique, variations and Pilates. In addition, students participate in the ABT JKO School Wellness Lecture Series, designed to educate students and their parents on subjects facing aspiring professional dancers.

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Just saw the same article I do wish Mr. De Vita the best in his retirement and Ms. Harvey a successful career with the school. Many wonderful dancers have come out of this school and hope they will have a nice farewell event! :flowers:

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While I think JKO has produced some talented dancers, I feel that it has lacked artistically. I think Harvey's appointment might correct that. IMO, a lot of the current JKO alumni in the company seem to be more technically interesting than artistically. I'm sure this is also worsened by the lack of rehearsal time and limited coaching in the company. To me, I think of JKO as more of a finishing school than a complete "school". They seem to take talented students in their last few years of training, as opposed to producing dancers from the ground up. I hope Harvey also balances the more revenue driving aspects of the school (summer programs, national training curriculum, etc.) with actually training employable dancers. All American schools seem to face this problem. I think Rachel Moore might have helped contribute to the constant use of the school to bring in money. It will be interesting to see if Harvey makes any changes within the National Training Curriculum. I find her appointment very promising. It seems that McKenize is taking back control of the company, with this appointment, this past summer's promotions and the lack of guest artists in the Met season. Amen for that! Not to say that De Vito was a creature of Moore, but more so in McKenize's pick of his replacement.

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While I think JKO has produced some talented dancers, I feel that it has lacked artistically. I think Harvey's appointment might correct that. IMO, a lot of the current JKO alumni in the company seem to be more technically interesting than artistically. I'm sure this is also worsened by the lack of rehearsal time and limited coaching in the company. To me, I think of JKO as more of a finishing school than a complete "school". They seem to take talented students in their last few years of training, as opposed to producing dancers from the ground up. I hope Harvey also balances the more revenue driving aspects of the school (summer programs, national training curriculum, etc.) with actually training employable dancers. All American schools seem to face this problem. I think Rachel Moore might have helped contribute to the constant use of the school to bring in money. It will be interesting to see if Harvey makes any changes within the National Training Curriculum. I find her appointment very promising. It seems that McKenize is taking back control of the company, with this appointment, this past summer's promotions and the lack of guest artists in the Met season. Amen for that! Not to say that De Vito was a creature of Moore, but more so in McKenize's pick of his replacement.

No matter what our own opinion may be I just feel that after years of service to any company, ballet or otherwise, the person deserves a gratitude from whom they spend their life and energy at. Good or bad the school did produce such names as Boylston and Hallberg and many others who have gone onto wonderful companies around the world. The part I like is the hope that this will continue to product more "homegrown" dancers for us. I am sure many have seen this video I found about the school, and another recent interview about one such homegrown:

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I believe and hope that you are correct of this to be a move in the right direction :)

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ABT/JKO did not produce Boylston. She trained as a child at Boulder Ballet, Her next step was The School of the Colorado Ballet for 2 years I believe. She then spent 3 1/2 years at The HARID Conservatory and accepted a Studio Company contract is the middle of her senior year of study. She accepted a 1st year corps contract to ABT after those 6 months in the Studio Company. She finished her academics online and is a HARID Conservatory graduate.

Mr. Hallberg did not study at JKO either. He is a product of The School of the Arizona Ballet and one year at the Paris Opera Ballet School.

While Mr DeVita deserves accolades for his work at ABT, these two dancers never worked with anyone at the JKO school except in their 4 week summer session.

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Thanks for setting the record straight, vrsfanatic.

The JKO School is still very young. The best of the early JKO grads, such as Skylar Brandt, Cassandra Trenary, Sterling Baca, Michaela DePrince, Paulina Waski, Catherine Hurlin, Shu Kinouchi, Hannah Marshall, Zhiyao Zhang, Hannah Bass, Xavier Nunez, etc. all began their schooling in other academies...so we're not able to assess a dancer as a "total JKO Product" just yet. Soon.

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Thank you both vrsfanatic & Natalia for your clarifications, my apologies and probably should have phrased my comment differently as I grouped the Studio Company & Summer Intensives under the JKO umbrella. Nonetheless, I still believe, as in any business, the gratitude to Mr. De Vita for his years of service, and wishing Ms. Harvey all the best in this new adventure.

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I agree with the analysis of the JKO focus on technique vs. well-developed artistry. There appears to be a focus on corps development and uniformity. (This from a recent National Training Scholar who went on to another program and reported, " So glad to move more and be free and expressive."

And I think that it would be important to identify the ABT curriculum as a big part of the dancer being produced by JKO. It's hard to tell why an American curriculum was needed and what it does outside of the other approaches (RAD, Vaganova, Ceccitti (sp?) other than make $ for ABT through trainings and affiliations and exams.

Recent studio company members and apprentices are frequently mostly competition stars or students who trained elsewhere and then were shepherded in to level 7. I think of Rachel DiStassio (sp?), Austin Acevedo, Giselle Bethea, Juliet Doherty, Aaron Bell. Read the apprentice bios. Pretty much the same thing.

The fully ABT trained student is rare, but I guess that is so many places. It just seems that these big company schools may not be the best at early training (years 1-5).

It appears that there is a divide between De Vito and McKenzie.

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I think it was very clear why JKO needed an American curriculum and the efforts to draw schools around the country toward a system of producing dancers. Our training in America has been a ragtag mishmash of other schools since the very beginning, with teachers insisting "my way is the only correct way" all over the place. How is a parent to know who is right? We do not have the sort of state supported systems and cultural traditions that support the Russian and French schools. One might just as well ask why Britain needed to set up RAD or why after the maestro's death Cecchetti technique was systemized as well. De Vito was amply qualified to just set up JKO as a Cechetti school if he had so wished. Instead he toured schools all over the world, choosing the elements he felt worked best. I think the school has a strong Cecchetti base which is appropriate considering the history of the company. McKenzie's Joffrey background influence should not be ignored. Robert Joffrey was adept at bringing the best out of dancers who did not go the full NYCB or ABT route. I think The Harkness school had some influence as well. I heard Lukens speak while the school was still in the planning stage and he said they were very impressed with the dancers coming out of Spain. I am sure Da Vito could talk about Vaganova influences as well, but America has a very different set up with its prospective student base, i do not see how setting up a true Vaganova system from scratch could have worked here, by which I mean the audition pool, the long days and the complete control of the students... JKO could not expect a huge pool of prospects auditioning at an early age hoping to board at the school. Not even SAB has what Vaganova has in it's nine year olds. How many parents would be willing to give up their children to boarding in NYC at such a young age?

The affiliations help set up a stream down which talented students can be sent towards a professional career. Around the fcountry not every locale has the demographics to support a classical school (perhaps "preprofessional" is what such schools are now called?). The affiliations help stream students who might otherwise have gotten lost on the danceteam competition circuit toward more professional training. Sure, several of the big cities have viable professional companies with classical schools, but not every child has access to such a school. JKO reached out to schools all over the place. And while anyone could come take the teacher taining curriculum, not everyone who did so passed the grade and received the affiliation. I believe they are periodically inspected to make sure they are holding up the standards. It is a wonderful thing to encourage every school, even razzle dazzle recital schools, toeard training that does not damage the students.

I doubt very much that the affiliation fees support the ABT company itself, and I don't think anyone at the JKO is befoming wealthy off those funds either. Surely the tax filings are available if it is a 501©3 non-profit. Most schools of that nature are not money makers and require funding income to cover what tuition does not. How many students at JKO are on scholarships? I do not know.

As far as a break between McKenzie and De Vito, I can't see any evidence of that. The school is successfully placing dancers into the company. De Vito is retiring from the administration tasks but not the school. He has earned his retirement, not been forced into it. There have been many posts on facebook about the transition and everyone seems happy about it. If it were an unwelcome event, there would not have been a photo of Harvey, De Vito & Lukens celebrating the transition together posted.

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The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC, now in its 26th year, has the 8-year training system, with mostly boarders but also day students who live nearby. It can be done in the USA, with great success. :)

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Yes, the Kirov Academy has been doing good work, it trains some strong dancers and serves the classic repertoire well. I still am not convinced it is the best training for an ABT school despite the guest artists that grace ABT's stage. Natalia, you could probably even list for us the names of the Kirov alumni currently at ABT. Is it about the same as those produced by JKO?

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I doubt very much that the affiliation fees support the ABT company itself, and I don't think anyone at the JKO is befoming wealthy off those funds either. Surely the tax filings are available if it is a 501©3 non-profit. Most schools of that nature are not money makers and require funding income to cover what tuition does not. How many students at JKO are on scholarships? I do not know.

[ARGHHH. Whatever is autocorrecting my post absolutely insists that the " ( c ) " in 501©3 must be replaced with the copyright symbol. Apologies for how weird that looks.]

Unless something has changed very recently, the JKO School is part of the 501©3 that houses ABT (Ballet Theatre Foundation, Inc.; EIN 13-1882106), not in a separate 501©3 in the way that, say, SAB is in its own 501©3 separate from NYCB's.

Per Ballet Theatre Foundation's 2014 IRS 990, revenue from tuition totaled $4,435,486. (Keep in mind that this amount likely includes fees for summer intensives, not just the JKO school proper.) That represents 18.5% of the company's Total Program Services Revenue of $23.9 million. (Program Services Revenue is what a 501©3 earns from the activities it performs as part of its charitable / public service mission. In the case of a performing arts company, that's things like ticket sales, broadcasting fees, etc. Grants and contributions are not part of Program Services Revenue.) Something labelled "Program Fees - Education" generated revenues of $70,220. I seem to recall ABT's CFO William Taylor stating in the infamous "star strategy" video that the school was in fact a money maker.

Scholarships were provided to 265 recipients. Cash grants totaled $174,025. (I'm guessing stipends intended to cover living expenses or transportation.) Non-cash assistance totaled $605,050. (I'm guessing this is the value of tuition fees waived.) Per the explanation provided in the 990:

"ABT provides scholarships to ballet students. Merit scholarship students are selected from the JKO School, at JKO School auditions and during the summer intensives. The JKO School recruits dancers from across the country and around the world. Students are formally evaluated on a semi-annual basis and must reapply annually. Scholarships and stipends are granted based on merit.

ABT also assists promising young dancers across the country with scholarships sent directly to their local ballet school to assist with tuition. ABT requires verification from each student to ensure that the funds are used for their intended purpose."

From the same IRS 990, some statistics re ABT's education programs:

"ABT's student training programs include the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (334 students); summer intensives in 6 us cities (1,334 students) and ABT studio company (14 students), a pre-professional program. ABT's teacher training program (ABT national training curriculum) had 513 teachers enrolled in its 2014 courses. To date, the program has certified 1,324 teachers in 48 states and 39 countries."

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If you take a look at recent issues of On Pointe or Dance Magazine, they are chock full of ads for summer intensives all over the country, in cities both big and small. It struck me that they must be serious money-makers for most affiliated companies and schools.

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The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC, now in its 26th year, has the 8-year training system, with mostly boarders but also day students who live nearby. It can be done in the USA, with great success. :)

ABT used to get KAB graduates including Michele Wiles and Hee Seo. It seems none of the present company members are from KAB.

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Well, that's more than nothing! Glad it's not a drain. Too bad there isn't a breakdown of how much of that comes from the summer intensives. I'd like to know how much tuition the actual school generates.

Without knowing exactly how many students are at each level in the JKO school or at each summer intensive site, it's difficult to nail down the exact dollar amount each program generates. But for what it's worth, here's the tuition breakout for the JKO school and summer intensives.

JKO School tuition (not including room & board):

Tuition for the JKO children's division for the 2015-2016 academic year starts at $1,100 for the Pre-Primary (3-5 year old) level and hits $5,250 for level 4 (11+). The simple average (i.e., not weighted by the number of students actually in each level) = $2,683.

Tuition for the JKO pre-professional division for the 2015-2016 academic year is $5,550 level 5 / $6,500 level 6 / $8,000 level 7. The simple average = $6,666

Tuition (not including room & board) for each ABT summer intensive site:

New York - $2,800

North Carolina - $1,600

Alabama - $1,300

Texas - $1,600

California - $1,400

The simple average (which assumes the attendees are equally divided among the five sites) = $1,740.

If you multiply that times the number of 2014 summer intensive students, you get $2.32 million, which suggests approximately half from the intensives half from the JKO school. But that is at best a wild-assed guess scribbled hastily on the back of an envelope with a big, fat crayon and it could be just plain wrong.

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Meanwhile the advanced level, its said, is really just a finishing school for students who have come from all over.

This is from a 2009 article about SAB by Alastair Macauley, http://mobile.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/arts/dance/24maca.html?referer=

I know that the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet shows up in many NYCB dancers' bios as an early training ground.

Getting back to ABT JKO I think that Cynthia Harvey's appointment is very exciting news.

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It will be interesting to see how many fully homegrown JKO students get contracts with ABT. I suspect they'll end up in a model similar to that of NYCB, whose ranks include very few dancers who train all the way up the levels, despite having a children's division. At age 11 or 12, SAB starts weaning their students to make way for the dancers they invite from their summer intensive to stay year-round. Even though NYCB has the children's division, it is still essentially a finishing school for dancers, as is HARID, for example, in Boca Raton, which is a stand- alone school for high school aged dancers. While their reputations for training dancers are excellent, it's always important to remember that they are skimming the best of the best from other ballet schools, so their reputations are quite a bit overinflated.

Without a system where students with the physique and intellect are invited from their regular academic schools to enter a dance conservatory ala the Russian system, there are simply too many mitigating factors that keep dancers from being able to progress all the way up to professional level.

So the children's division (through age 12-ish) of a school is a great cash cow, but it doesn't have much luck producing professional ballet dancers.

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Balletforme, I wonder if it has to do with the change as described by Natalia on another BA thread from 2013 about Kirov Academy. My iPad won't let me copy the link or quote, but go to the thread entitled " Help the Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington DC!" Go to post #9. There was a big change in 2009 of directorship and, due to money constraints because The Unification Church cut funding, Kirov began to accept all kinds of body types. Teaching staff also changed as well as directorship, which was no longer Russian.

In effect, they no longer had the financial stability ability to follow the Russian model anymore and were suddenly like all the other very respectable ballet schools who need to work hard to get and keep students.

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