Franco De Vita Passes the Baton to Cynthia Harvey

De Vita received the Dance Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

Franco De Vita retires from his position as artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School this month. Former ABT principal Cynthia Harvey will take his place in May.

As leader of the JKO School since 2005, De Vita helped elevate the school to one of the preeminent ballet training institutions in the world. De Vita considers it one of his greatest accomplishments that more than 20 JKO graduates now hold positions in ABT’s main company.

Additionally, in 2013 JKO established a partnership with the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition, thanks in large part to De Vita. “That, I am very proud of,” he says. “It’s one of the bigger competitions, and it’s not easy to become a partner school.” Prix de Lausanne winners can receive ABT apprenticeships, scholarships and training as a result.

As for his plans for the future, De Vita anticipates guest teaching at ABT and elsewhere and continuing to stay involved with the ABT National Training Curriculum, which he co-authored with Raymond Lukens.

After more than a decade of leadership, De Vita is happy to hand over the reins to Harvey. “I know Cynthia will do fantastic work,” he says. “I think she is the perfect person to take over.”

Harvey danced with ABT from 1974 to 1996, rising to the rank of principal in 1982. She also danced with The Royal Ballet, 1986–88. Since retiring from the stage, Harvey has served as a coach and guest teacher at ballet companies around the world.

Harvey (center) with JKO students

Photos (from top): by Kyle Froman; by Franco De Vita, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre

Don't miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.