Since age 15, Jacques d'Amboise has jeted through a brilliant ballet career, from his start as an eager Balanchine student to becoming New York City ballet's principal dancer and later, creating his own choreography. Now he lands at Westport Library on March 19, to talk about his fascinating autobiography, "I Was a Dancer," in which he recalls his decades of dance triumphs as well as his remarkable colleagues and collaborators.
High spirited, d'Amboise began studying dance at 7, in his Washington Heights, NY, neighborhood. A year later, he transferred to the School of American Ballet under famed teachers including George Balanchine. Their collaboration continued for many years and d'Amboise was chosen by the choreographer and Igor Stravinsky to star in their 1957 ballet, "Apollo."
Many other, ground-breaking interpretations followed during his dancing years but, d'Amboise, a father of four, also chose to take on a parallel career devoted to arts education advocacy. In 1976, while still NY City Ballet's star, he founded the non-profit National Dance Institute (NDI) to "inspire children through the arts." Retired from dancing since 1984, d'Amboise continues to lead the Institute and travels the world on its behalf. According to NDI's website, since its start, more than two milliion children, nationally and internationally, have participated in its programs. In his memoir, D'Amboise pinpoints how his work with children amplified the extraordinary career he's had. "NDI became my way of interpreting Balanchine and (Lincoln Kirstein's) legacy — bringing together the highest caliber of artists from the worlds of music, dance, and the visual arts, in collaborations on the highest level — only applying and evolving this legacy in service to children, and vice versa (children in service to the arts)."
Be sure to catch the ebullient Jacques d'Amboise on March 19, when he regales with ballet lore, warmth and wit. His talk begins at 1 p.m. and is free. For more information, visit the Library's website.
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