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Kevin McKenzie was a leading dancer with both The Joffrey Ballet and the National Ballet of Washington before joining American Ballet Theatre as a Soloist in March 1979. He was appointed a Principal Dancer the following December and danced with the company until 1991. A native of Vermont, McKenzie received his ballet training at the Washington School of Ballet. In 1972, McKenzie was awarded a silver medal at the Sixth International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.
As a Principal Dancer with ABT, McKenzie danced leading roles in all of the major full-length classics including Solor in Natalia Makarova’s full‑length production of La Bayadère, Don Jose in Roland Petit’s Carmen, the Prince in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s production of the full‑length Cinderella, Franz in Coppélia, the Gentleman With Her in Dim Lustre, Basil and Espada in Baryshnikov’s Don Quixote (Kitri’s Wedding), Albrecht in Giselle, a leading role in The Garden of Villandry, Her Lover in Jardin aux Lilas, the male lead in The Leaves Are Fading, the Friend in Pillar of Fire, the leading role in Raymonda (Grand Pas Hongrois), a featured role in Requiem, the Champion Roper in Rodeo, Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, James in La Sylphide, and leading roles in Other Dances, Paquita, Les Sylphides, Sylvia Pas de Deux, and Theme and Variations. He created Amnon in Martine van Hamel’s Amnon V’Tamar and a leading role in Clark Tippet’s S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A.
During his performing career, McKenzie appeared as a Guest Artist throughout the world, including in Spoleto, Italy; Paris, London, Tokyo, Havana, Moscow, Vienna, and Korea, dancing with, among others, the London Festival Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the National Ballet of Cuba, and the Universal Ballet in Seoul. In September 1989, McKenzie was appointed a permanent guest artist with The Washington Ballet and, in 1991, assumed the position of Artistic Associate. He has also acted as Associate Artistic Director and choreographer with Martine van Hamel’s New Amsterdam Ballet.
McKenzie was appointed Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre in October 1992. His previous choreographic credits include Groupo Zambaria (1984) and Liszt Études (l991) both for Martine van Hamel’s New Amsterdam Ballet, Lucy and the Count (1992) for The Washington Ballet and, for American Ballet Theatre, The Nutcracker (1993), Don Quixote (1995, in collaboration with Susan Jones) a new production of Swan Lake (2000), the conception and direction of a new production of Raymonda (2004, with choreography by Anna-Marie Holmes), and a new production of The Sleeping Beauty with Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov. In 2014, McKenzie, with ABT Principal Répétiteur Irina Kolpakova, staged a new production of Raymonda Divertissements.
McKenzie has received numerous awards including honorary degrees from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont (1993) and Adelphi University in Garden City, New York (2019), the Dance Magazine Award (1999), and the Medal of Honor for Achievement in Dance from the National Arts Club (2019). In addition, he appeared in two Emmy Award winning broadcasts, The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore (1970) and American Ballet Theatre in Le Corsaire (1998) both for PBS’s Dance in America series. McKenzie is a founding board member of Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli, New York.
In December 2022, McKenzie retired as American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director, after three decades of leadership.