Recognized as one of the finest classical dancers of our time, Jacques d’Amboise now leads the field of arts education with a model program that exposes thousands of school children to the magic and discipline of dance. In 1976, while still a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Mr. d’Amboise founded National Dance Institute in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage and motivate individuals towards excellence.
His contributions in arts education have earned him numerous awards and honors including:
1986 The Governor’s Award for outstanding contributions to the arts and culture of New York State
1988 The Paul Robeson Award for excellence in the field of the humanities
1989 The first annual Producer’s Circle Award for public service
1990 A 1990 MacArthur Fellowship: The Capezio Award
1993 The Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
1995 The Museum of the City of New York’s “$24 Award”
1995 The National Caring Award, The Caring Institute
1995 The Kennedy Center Honors
1996 The NCEA St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award
1998 The National Medal of Arts
1999 The Dance Magazine Award
2000 The Town Hall Friend of the Arts Award
2001 The Heinz Award
2002 A People First honoree, People magazine
2002 The Arison Award
2002 The James Keller Youth Award, The Christophers
2004 The Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture
2007 Induction into The American Academy of Arts & Sciences
2007 The Children’s Champion Award, Child magazine
2010 The Vasterling Award for Artistic Vision and Excellence in Dance
2011 The Fred and Adele Astaire Award
2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, Dance Teacher magazine
2011 The Nancy Hank Fellowship, Duke University
2015 The Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for Creativity
2018 Dance in Focus Award from the Dance Films Association
Mr. d’Amboise holds Honorary Doctorates from the Julliard School, Duke University, Boston College, University of the South, Franklin Pierce College, St. Joseph College, Montclair State University, Monmouth University, Bates College, Saint Peter’s College, the College of New Rochelle, and Bank Street College of Education. Mr. d’Amboise is also an honorary Big Brother.
“He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’,” a 1984 PBS documentary film about his work with NDI, won an Academy Award, six Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award, the Golden Cine Award, and the National Education Association Award for the advancement of learning through broadcasting. He has also served as a full professor and Dean of Dance for two years at SUNY Purchase, and as a visiting professor at the College of Creative Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, for 11 years.
Mr. d’Amboise began his ballet training with Madame Seda in Washington Heights, New York. Within a year, at the age of eight, he continued his studies at the School of American Ballet with George Balanchine, Anatola Oboukhoff, and Pierre Vladimiroff. At age 12, he performed with Ballet Society, the immediate predecessor to New York City Ballet. Three years later, barely 15, he joined New York City Ballet, and the following year, made his European debut at London’s Covent Garden. As Balanchine’s protégé, Mr. d’Amboise had more works choreographed specifically for him by the Ballet Master than any other dancer, including the ballets Stars and Stripes, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Episodes, Figures in the Carpet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jewels, Raymonda Variations, Meditation, and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. Mr. d’Amboise is most remembered for his portrayal of what critics called “the definitive Apollo.” As a choreographer, Mr. d’Amboise’s credits include almost 20 works commissioned for New York City Ballet.
Mr. d’Amboise’s work in dance education has taken him all over the world—from the extremes of Yakutsk, Siberia, to the Danakil Desert in Ethiopia, from over 1,200 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea to the mountains of Nepal, and from the dryness of the Atacama Desert in Chile to rainforests on the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian chain. Over the last 42 years, NDI programs in New York City and its associates, both nationally and internationally, have reached and influenced over two million children.