Hamilton E. James Chair
A native of Vermont, Kevin McKenzie received his ballet training at the Washington School of Ballet. In 1972, Mr. McKenzie was awarded a Silver medal at the Sixth International Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. He was a leading dancer with both the National Ballet of Washington and The Joffrey Ballet before joining American Ballet Theatre as a Soloist in March 1979. McKenzie was appointed a Principal Dancer the following December and danced with the Company until 1991.
As a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, McKenzie performed leading roles in all the major full-length classics including Solor in La Bayadère, Don Jose in Carmen, the Prince in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s production of the full-length Cinderella, Franz in Coppélia, Basil and Espada in Don Quixote (Kitri’s Wedding), Albrecht in Giselle, Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, and James in La Sylphide. His repertoire also includes the Gentleman With Her in Dim Lustre, Her Lover in Jardin aux Lilas, the Friend in Pillar of Fire, the Champion Roper in Rodeo, leading roles in The Garden of Villandry, The Leaves Are Fading, Other Dances, Paquita, Raymonda (Grand Pas Hongrois), Les Sylphides, Sylvia Pas de Deux and Theme and Variations, and a featured role in Requiem. He created the role of 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 performed as a guest artist in cities throughout the world, including 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, he was named Artistic Associate of that company. He also acted as Associate Artistic Director and a choreographer for 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 (1991), both for van Hamel’s New Amsterdam Ballet, and Lucy and the Count (1992) for The Washington Ballet. His choreography for ABT includes the full-length classics The Nutcracker (1993), a new production of Swan Lake (2000), and a new production of The Sleeping Beauty (2007, with Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov). His staging credits include Don Quixote (1995, in collaboration with Susan Jones), Raymonda (2004, with choreography by Anna-Marie Holmes), and a new production of Raymonda Divertissements (2014, with Irina Kolpakova).
McKenzie holds honorary degrees of Doctor of Arts from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont (1993) and Doctor of Fine Arts from Adelphi University (2019). He received the Dance Magazine Award in 1999. 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’ Dance in America series. McKenzie is a founding board member of Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli, New York.