De Vita received the Dance Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
Franco De Vita retires from his position as artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School this month. Former ABT principal Cynthia Harvey will take his place in May.
As leader of the JKO School since 2005, De Vita helped elevate the school to one of the preeminent ballet training institutions in the world. De Vita considers it one of his greatest accomplishments that more than 20 JKO graduates now hold positions in ABT’s main company.
Additionally, in 2013 JKO established a partnership with the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition, thanks in large part to De Vita. “That, I am very proud of,” he says. “It’s one of the bigger competitions, and it’s not easy to become a partner school.” Prix de Lausanne winners can receive ABT apprenticeships, scholarships and training as a result.
As for his plans for the future, De Vita anticipates guest teaching at ABT and elsewhere and continuing to stay involved with the ABT National Training Curriculum, which he co-authored with Raymond Lukens.
After more than a decade of leadership, De Vita is happy to hand over the reins to Harvey. “I know Cynthia will do fantastic work,” he says. “I think she is the perfect person to take over.”
Harvey danced with ABT from 1974 to 1996, rising to the rank of principal in 1982. She also danced with The Royal Ballet, 1986–88. Since retiring from the stage, Harvey has served as a coach and guest teacher at ballet companies around the world.
Harvey (center) with JKO students
Photos (from top): by Kyle Froman; by Franco De Vita, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre