Dancer Damian Woetzel Named Arts Medalist

The ballet artist will receive the award in an April 30 ARTS FIRST festival kick-off event.

Damian Woetzel

Damian Woetzel, M.P.A. ’07, a ballet dancer whose career spanned nearly two decades as a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, is the 2015 Harvard Arts Medalist, the Office for the Arts announced Monday. Woetzel will receive his award in an April 30 ceremony in Farkas Hall. The event, which will include a conversation with Woetzel and Harvard’s “Master of the Arts,” John Lithgow ’67, Ar.D. ’05, kicks off the University’s twenty-third annual ARTS FIRST festival.

During his ballet career, Woetzel debuted works created for him by Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon, and was a visiting artist with the Kirov Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. After retirement, he earned a degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government and served as a Harvard Law School visiting lecturer in 2010, co-teaching a course on law and performing arts. He was a member of the Harvard University Task Force on the Arts.  

Woetzel is currently the director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence Program and the artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival. He has collaborated recently with fellow Harvard Arts Medalist Yo-Yo Ma ’76, D.Mus. ’91, working with Ma’s Silk Road Connect program in New York City’s public schools, and directing a performance, featuring the cellist, of jookin dancer Lil Buck at the New York cabaret (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Past Arts Medal recipients—Harvard or Radcliffe alumni or alumnae or faculty members honored for their excellence and leadership in the arts—include actor Tommy Lee Jones ’69, composer and songwriter Bonnie Raitt ’72, singer Pete Seeger ’40, and author John Updike ’54, Litt.D. ’92.

Read more articles by: Stephanie Garlock

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