Ballet AZ Blog

Celebrating Jacque d’Amboise

For the month of July, and in celebration of Jacque d’Amboise birthday on July 28th, we will look into the life of this widely famous dancer and educator! Jacques d’Amboise was born on July 28th, 1934 in Dedham, Massachusetts. At age seven, d’Amboise was sent to his sister’s ballet class and within six months he entered George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet. In 1946 he started performing child roles with Ballet Society and three years later he left high school at the age of fifteen to join the New York City Ballet.

After being recruited for the New York City Ballet, he was cast in lead roles and was promoted to principal dancer in 1953. George Balanchine created 24 roles for him, including Western Symphony (1954), Jewels (1967), and Who Cares (1970). D’Amboise not only danced for Balanchine, but he choreographed 17 ballets for the company.

While still a principal dancer, he established National Dance Institute in 1976, bringing his artistry to impact the lives of children and he led the field of arts education with his program. At first, the institute only had 30 children participate and as of 2021 the program has reached over 2 million children.

D’Amboise retired from the New York City Ballet in 1984, shortly before he turned 50 and then shifted his entire focus to the National Dance Institute. D’Amboise was celebrated for his contributions in arts education for which he earned over 25 distinguished awards and honors including, The New York Governor’s Award, The Kennedy Center Honors and The Nelson A. Rockefeller Award. D’Amboise was recognized with Honorary Doctorates from 12 universities and colleges. He traveled all over the world to promote dance education and his philosophy of teaching dance.

On May 2, 2021, d’Amboise passed in his home in Manhattan. The National Dance Institute continues to impact the lives of young dancers and continues d’Amboise’s legacy. 

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