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American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie to retire after 2022 season

American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. Photo by Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times.
American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. Photo by Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times.

Following three decades of leadership, Kevin McKenzie announced on March 25, that he will retire as artistic director of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the end of the 2022 season. He will oversee ABT’s creation of new works and performances throughout 2021 and 2022, ensuring ABT’s vitality and artistic integrity, while working with the Board of Governing Trustees to provide a seamless transition to the company’s next artistic director. A search for McKenzie’s successor will begin this summer. 

“As we enter a time of renewal, I find this is the moment to plan thoroughly for it,” McKenzie said. “ABT has given me my artistic identity and taught me the lessons of aspiration, guidance and responsibility from the age of 15 through nearly 30 years as its artistic director. ABT defined my aspirations as a student watching the greats from the ‘60s and early ‘70s. These examples guided me through a performing career and informed my sense of responsibility as a director, as I guided future generations and inspired them to consistently deliver excellence. I am proud of the programs I helped pioneer for the company, the generations of dancers I helped develop into leaders in the field and the incredible range of work that Alexei Ratmansky has contributed to ABT’s repertoire. And now, it is time to pass the torch – to new leadership and to the next great leaps in ABT’s history. I look forward to guiding the company through 2021 and 2022, re-entering the exciting world of live performances, reinvigorated and ready for the challenge. Im eager to apply the lessons over the past year, to relish in our newfound agility to create new works in dedicated residencies, to pick up the planning of long-anticipated commissions still waiting in the wings and, once a transition is made to new leadership, swell with pride for having led one of our nation’s artistic institutions. I am ever grateful for the trust instilled in me by trustees, colleagues and artists.” 

Kara Medoff Barnett, ABT executive director for five years, said, “Kevin has extraordinary knowledge and keen insights, and he shares both, generously and patiently. I am deeply grateful for his collaborative spirit and have learned so much from observing his unflappable leadership. He has devoted three decades to renewing and strengthening America’s National Ballet Company®, and he has done so guided by an unwavering commitment to excellence.” 

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