Women Leaders: Julie Kent, Artistic Director, The Washington Ballet

Our spring arts preview featured 20 women cultural leaders in Washington, D.C. We wanted to amplify their voices in our online newsletters, spotlighting each of them individually. Our Thursday April 21 newsletter features Julie Kent, artistic director, The Washington Ballet.

THE GEORGETOWNER: D.C. should have a “spring awakening” of sorts after two long years of Covid. What are you most looking forward to for your institution this season?  

JULIE KENT: My first major production for The Washington Ballet was “Giselle” in 2017, and it marked an important artistic milestone for the company. Later this spring, we’re remounting the production. I’m so looking forward to witnessing how much the company and individual dancers have grown over the last five years and I’m excited to share that growth with our audiences.   

GEORGETOWNER: What led you to become a leader in your organization? Tell us a bit about your career trajectory and inspirations along the way.

JK: Before I moved to New York as a teenager to start my professional career, I lived in Washington and studied at Maryland Youth Ballet. One of my first inspirations, and an inspiration to this day, is MYB’s founder, Ms. Hortensia Fonseca. She’s my teacher, mentor, dear friend and my first example of how to lead an arts organization. I believe it is my responsibility to hold up American ballet as an art form, and to be a part of preserving, celebrating, and advancing the art form whether that’s on stage, in the studio, or in an executive role. In that sense, going from the stage to an artistic administration position felt natural. Leading TWB is my next step in serving as a steward of the art form.  

GEORGETOWNER: How do you feel being among the first women to lead an arts institution?  

JK: TWB has a proud history of woman leaders; our founders, Lisa Gardiner and Mary Day, were considered pioneers in their day. I think of myself as an artist first, but of course I’m also a woman, and one of my proudest roles is that of “mom.” There were generations of professional dancers that didn’t necessarily feel like they could have a thriving career and a family. I hope that part of my legacy is as a role model to other dancers who might want to become parents.  

GEORGETOWNER: What are you most proud of accomplishing while serving in your position?

JK:We talk about always moving forward. That sense of positive momentum, of growth, is baked into The Washington Ballet. I’m especially proud that the Washington Ballet moved forward, resolutely and in spite of the challenges, these past two years. When live performances were cancelled, we found a way to work digitally; when social distancing limited how many people could rehearse, we reorganized into smaller groups; when we couldn’t be inside, we danced outside. We found a way to move forward, always. 

For more information on The Washington Ballet go here.



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