1/7/2016 - 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.”
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.