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Eliot Feld to Step Down as Artistic Director and President of Ballet Tech; Board Launches Search for his Successor

Feld will remain at the organization, established in 1978, through June 30, 2021, the conclusion of the current academic year.

Eliot Feld to Step Down as Artistic Director and President of Ballet Tech; Board Launches Search for his Successor

Ballet Tech, which each year introduces hundreds of New York City public school children to the beauty and rigor of classical dance today announces that Eliot Feld, its founder, artistic director, and president, is stepping down. He said, "After 47 years of tightropes and other exhilarations, it's time to pass the baton." The Board of Directors has begun a national search for new leadership to chart the future of the steadily growing organization at a time of seismic change in both the performing arts and education. Feld's successor will build upon his pioneering work, and toward the full realization of his ambition for Ballet Tech to audition students in every public primary school in the city, creating truly universal access to Ballet Tech's training. Feld will remain at the organization, established in 1978, through June 30, 2021, the conclusion of the current academic year.

Patricia Crown, Chair of the Ballet Tech Foundation Board of Directors, said, "Eliot built Ballet Tech on the belief that classical dance instruction should be available to every child with talent, and his leadership and vision will have a lasting impact on both New York City and the dance community. We are grateful to Eliot and excited to honor him in the year ahead."

The idea for Ballet Tech was years ahead of its time when it first came to Feld in 1977. Sharing a subway car at rush hour with a group of giddy public school children on a field trip-kids going somewhere fun and different-Feld had an aha! moment. Surely, sprinkled among the tens of thousands of elementary public school children in NYC there were countless kids with an aptitude for dance, and who had had little or no opportunity to receive the early training necessary to grow into the dancers they might be one day. When he emerged from the train and arrived at the Feld Ballet studios at 890 Broadway, he and Cora Cahan, founding Executive Director (1974- 1991) of the Feld Ballet Company and of soon-to-be-created New Ballet School, conceived the first incarnation of the Ballet Tech School. (Feld's vast legacy also includes the establishment, with Cahan, of both the Joyce Theater and Lawrence A. Wien Center for Dance and Theatre at 890 Broadway.) Just six months later, with the approval of the NYC Department of Education, auditions were being held at elementary schools throughout the city. Soon children with physical potential and enthusiasm for dancing were being bused by the DOE to Feld's studios on lower Broadway to begin their dance education-in genres ranging from ballet to modern dance-tuition-free. Talent, passion, a love to dance, and being a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade student at a NYC public school were the only criteria for admission.

In 1996, in cooperation with innovative educator and District 2 Superintendent Anthony Alvarado, and with the blessing of the NYC Department of Education, Ballet Tech became a freestanding public school, the NYC Public School for Dance. As a cooperative venture between a public entity, the NYC Department of Education, and a private foundation, the Ballet Tech Foundation, the school was a groundbreaking new model. There the DOE provides a rigorous academic curriculum, grades 4-8, and the Foundation provides intensive ballet training augmented with modern dance, tap, jazz, theater dance, and choreographic repertory. The student population includes children from all five boroughs and mirrors the diversity of the city's public school system.

Since its founding, Ballet Tech has grown exponentially. When it was founded in 1977, Ballet Tech was able to audition in eight New York City public schools around NYC. Last year, the organization auditioned 19,891 students in 199 schools for its tuition-free ballet training, and, over the course of its history, 26,589 children have participated in Ballet Tech's Introduction to Ballet classes. The students with physical aptitude and an abundance of enthusiasm for classical dance and the rigors of requisite early training are invited to Ballet Tech's full-time school.

Each year, Kids Dance, a troupe of the school's students, performs at The Joyce Theater, in works choreographed for them by Feld and other celebrated choreographers. The New York Times has called Kids Dance "a New York City treasure." Ballet Tech alumni have gone on to dance with acclaimed companies such as Alvin Ailey, Abraham in Motion, Ballet Hispanico, Charlotte Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Martha Graham, New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and on Broadway.

But Ballet Tech prepares children for future success in any number of fields-not just dance. Academically, the student body ranks in the top percentiles on NYS standardized tests. They go on to study at colleges and universities including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Juilliard, Duke, Brandeis, and NYU, and to pursue a wide range of careers. Ballet Tech alumna Codi-Ann Dyer, now a pediatric nurse practitioner and coordinator for the Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program in the Columbia University Department of Neurology, has said Ballet Tech "built my character and gave me the foundation of discipline and commitment that I have applied to every aspect of my life." Dagny Miller, who went on to become an ovarian cancer researcher at Mt. Sinai Medical School, has said, "The physical and mental foundation that years of intense ballet training imparted is invaluable. The quick thinking, the discipline, and the motivation to push on even when you feel like giving up goes beyond the dance studio." Devin Morgan studied at Cornell before becoming a professional soccer player. He has credited Ballet Tech with "helping me develop from a mental and physical perspective," and said, "without that training, I certainly would not be where I am now."

Former student Rachel Moreno, now VP of Brand & Culture Strategy at Planned Parenthood and a member of Ballet Tech's Board, said, "Access to rigorous arts education expands children's worlds and the opportunities available to them, showing them the limitless potential of what they can achieve. This unique moment in both the performing arts and education presents a remarkable opportunity to advance Ballet Tech's mission, and to reimagine and broaden what equitable access to dance education means."

About Eliot Feld

Eliot Feld was born in Brooklyn and studied dance at the School of American Ballet, New Dance Group, High School of Performing Arts, and with Richard Thomas. At age eleven he danced with the New York City Ballet as the "Child Prince" in Balanchine's original production of The Nutcracker, as well as with the companies of Donald McKayle, Pearl Lang, Sophie Maslow and Mary Anthony. At sixteen, he joined the Broadway cast of West Side Story and appeared as "Baby John" in the movie version; and later danced on Broadway in I Can Get It for You Wholesale and Fiddler on the Roof. Mr. Feld danced with American Ballet Theatre, American Ballet Company and Feld Ballets/NY. Eliot Feld has choreographed 149 ballets since 1967, creating dances for American Ballet Theatre, American Ballet Company, Royal Danish Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, John Curry Skating Company, The Juilliard School, The National Ballet of Canada, Royal Swedish Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, London Festival Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Richmond Ballet, New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, and Ballet Tech, among others.

With the Ballet Tech Foundation, Feld has had an immense impact on the New York City cultural landscape and the national dance ecology. In addition to establishing the Ballet Tech School, he and Cora Cahan founded the Joyce Theater and saved the Renaissance revival building at 890 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, creating the Lawrence A. Wien Center for Dance and Theater, home to ABT and Gibney Dance as well as Ballet Tech.

For more information about Ballet Tech, please visit www.ballettech.org.


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