Jacques d’Amboise (Founder) 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: The Governor’s Award for outstanding contributions to the arts and culture of New York State (1986); The Paul Robeson Award for excellence in the field of the humanities (1988); The First Annual Producers Circle Award for public service (1989); a 1990 MacArthur Fellowship: The Capezio Award (1990); The Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1993); The Museum of the City of New York - $24 Award; The National Caring Award, The Caring Institute (1995); The Kennedy Center Honors (1995); NCEA St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award (1996); The National Medal of Arts (1998); The Dance Magazine Award (1999); Town Hall Friend of the Arts Award (2000); The Heinz Award (2001); People First Honoree, People Magazine (2002); The Arison Award (2002); The James Keller Youth Award, The Christophers (2002); The Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture (2004); induction into The American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2007); The Children’s Champion Award, Child Magazine (2007); The Vasterling Award for Artistic Vision and Excellence in Dance (2010); The Fred and Adele Astaire Award (2011); Dance Teacher Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2011); and The Nancy Hank Fellowship - Duke University. He 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 for 11 years as visiting professor at the College of Creative Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara. 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 twenty 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 30 years, NDI programs in New York City and its associates, both nationally and internationally, have reached and influenced over 2 million children, in particular the programs National Dance Institute have integrated with the city of Shanghai, China.
“The arts open your heart and mind to possibilities that are limitless. They are pathways that touch upon our brains and emotions and bring sustenance to imagination. Human beings’ greatest form of communication, they walk in tandem with science and play, and best describe what it is to be human.”
- "They say you can see the universe in a flower. In one hour, teaching a jig to a motley crew of students of all ages, Jacques d’Amboise lays bare the essence of all good education: discipline, effort, beauty, struggle, joy. In the process, he opens up a universe of possibilities for all who participate and reveals why an education in the arts must be the birthright of every human being.”
– Howard Gardner, Director
Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Project Zero
In 1999, Jacques d'Amboise hiked the Appalachian Trail to raise awareness of and funds for NDI.