In the ballet world, Damian Woetzel is a rock star. A one-time New York City Ballet principal, he retired in 2008, his last performance marked by a burst of critical praise, a shower of blooms and an ovation that lasted ten minutes. Since then, he's been busy. It's impossible to list all his projects, awards and enthusiasms, but here's a sample: Woetzel serves on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, is director of Arts Programs for the Aspen Institute, co-founded the Jerome Robbins Essential Works Program, worked with Yo-Yo Ma on Silk Road Connect, a program in New York City schools that focuses on "passion driven education"; directed an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center for the World Science Festival; and helps bring music to wounded veterans through Arthur Bloom's MusiCorps program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center -- not by bringing in artists to perform, but by getting the vets themselves involved in the intense work of music making.
"Arthur is incredibly perceptive," Woetzel says. "He went to visit the vets and noticed that in the afternoons they didn't have much to do; their tests were all in the morning. He thought some of these guys might like to play music. It's a great tool for rehabilitation even of injuries to digits or brain injuries. Most important to the guys was the work. They didn't want this to be an enlightening thing. It was about rehearsal, and it re-energized them. When I brought Yo-Yo Ma to play with them, they wanted to know, How long will he play with us? How long will we get to work?"More »
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