Longtime Princeton Ballet School Director to Retire
American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School announce the retirement of school director Mary Pat Robertson. Ms. Robertson began teaching at Princeton Ballet School in 1980, and became director in 1986. She is only the third director in the school's 62-year history. While a nationwide search for a new director is underway, Ms. Robertson will continue in her position through June 2016 to ensure a smooth and successful transition.
According to Patrick Bradley, Chair of the organization's Board of Trustees, "Princeton Ballet School has been guided by Mary Pat's extraordinary leadership for 30 years. The steadiness, depth of instruction and overall stewardship she provided made Princeton Ballet School one of the most highly regarded dance schools in the nation."
"Mary Pat's tenure at Princeton Ballet School has been transcendent," says Vanessa Logan, Executive Director of American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School. "The commitment demonstrated across her career is unrivaled, and her reputation second to none. The Princeton Ballet School family, from the children to the parents to her peers, will miss her valued leadership. We all wish her continued happiness in retirement."
During her 30-year tenure as director, she helped Princeton Ballet School achieve a national and international reputation, especially for its Summer Intensive program. Other significant achievements include the creation of a complete ballet syllabus unique to the school; the successful application to the U.S. Government to be recognized as a school which can accept foreign students for advanced study; and the Trainee Program, an apprenticeship program that links Princeton Ballet School with its affiliated professional company, American Repertory Ballet. Ms. Robertson helped establish the Princeton Ballet School/Rider University program, unique of its kind in the United States, which provides Rider students with access to a degree in dance in part through classes taken at Princeton Ballet School. Additionally, Ms. Robertson has continued to teach and share her love of the art with generations of young dancers.
Educated at Wellesley and Stanford, Ms. Robertson moved to Princeton in 1980 after several years of study and performance in New York City. She started teaching for Princeton Ballet School immediately, while also teaching at Princeton University, New York University, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers and the Lawrenceville and Peddie Schools. Ms. Robertson was founding director of Teamwork Dance, a modern dance repertory company, and has choreographed work for numerous New Jersey arts organizations, including Opera New Jersey, Opera Festival of NJ, Princeton Pro Musica and VOICES. She has been the recipient of a Choreographic Fellowship from the NJ State Council on the Arts, and has been honored by the Arts Council of Princeton and the U.S. Congress for her service to the field. She has also been a consultant to NJPAC, the New York State Council on the Arts and Education Testing Service.
"It has been a great pleasure to have been able to work with so many talented colleagues and young dancers over the years," says Ms. Robertson. "I delight in seeing my former students dancing with our company, as well as with New York City Ballet and a multitude of other groups, and I also am so happy to know that others are finding fulfillment in their lives, both through participating in the arts or enjoying them. I look forward to continuing my contributions to the arts in this vibrant community in many ways."
"I have had the great pleasure of working closely with Mary Pat Robertson as both educator and director for over 22 years," says Douglas Martin, American Repertory Ballet's Artistic Director. "She is highly respected, nationally and internationally, as an educator and the director of one of the largest ballet schools in the country, and I am proud to have worked alongside her to help produce one of the most respected training grounds for professional dancers as well as for dance lovers. Mary Pat has been an inspiration to generations of students and will be dearly missed by all of us."
Princeton Ballet School has gained a national reputation for its excellent dance training since its founding in 1954 by Audrée Estey. It currently serves approximately 1,200 students, starting at age three, and includes a large open enrollment division for adults. Princeton Ballet School has studios in Cranbury, New Brunswick, and Princeton and offers classes in ballet, modern dance, jazz, hip-hop, CardioBallet and CoMBo (Conditioning for the Mind and Body). Students from the school have gone on to dance in professional ballet and contemporary dance companies in the United States and abroad. Graduates have danced with such diverse organizations as New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, Complexions, Mark Morris Dance Company, Twyla Tharp, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet West and on Broadway.