Damian Woetzel, a former ballet star, is the Director of the Vail International Dance Festival.
Woetzel has been married to Heather Watts since 1999.
Under Woetzel's direction, the festival has been widely acclaimed for its innovation and growth as a nationally recognized summer showcase for dance; featuring such performances as the world-wide debut of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, Savion Glover, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, as well as musical collaborations with Philip Glass, Wendy Sutter and the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Woetzel is active as a producer of dance and music performances around the world. Most recently in June of 2009, Woetzel directed the Gala Performance of the World Science Festival at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, creating an arts salute to science which featured performances by musicians Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, and Marin Alsop, and actors Anna Deavere-Smith, Alan Alda, and Glenn Close, among others.
In the fall of 2009, Woetzel helped create and began directing the Jerome Robbins Foundation's New Essential Works (NEW) Program, which supports choreographers and dance companies during the current financial crisis by giving grants to enable the production of new works. Woetzel will also launch as curator and director the new Studio 5 performance series at New York's City Center, which will feature in-depth examinations of today's most compelling dance artists and companies highlighted by in studio performances and demonstrations. Woetzel will also continue working with World Science Festival in New York City, developing programs and events exploring and highlighting the intersection of the arts and science.
Woetzel was a Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet from 1989 until his retirement from the stage in 2008, where he had works created for him by Jerome Robbins, Eliot Feld, Twyla Tharp, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon among others. During his career, Woetzel frequently performed internationally as a guest star and was a visiting artist with numerous companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Woetzel has choreographed a number of ballets for NYCB among other companies. He is the recipient of a Choo San Goh award for new choreography, and he was the artistic director of the New York State Summer School for the Arts School of Ballet from 1994-2007. Woetzel serves on the Artists Committee of the Kennedy Center Honors and as a judge for the Astaire Awards; he has also served as a juror for the Princess Grace Awards. Woetzel sits on the Board of New York City Center.
Woetzel was the 2008 Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence of the Aspen Institute, and he is a frequent speaker on the arts and arts policy. He holds a Master in Public Administration Degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and he served on the recent Harvard Task Force on the Arts. In the fall of 2009, President Obama appointed Woetzel to the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities.