The Capezio Ballet Makers Dance Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of Cynthia Gregory as the recipient of the 63nd annual Capezio Dance Award. The Foundation is a philanthropic organization funded by the world's premier dance and apparel manufacturer, Capezio Ballet Makers.
Awarded annually since 1952, the Capezio Dance Award recognizes significant contributions to American dance by an individual, company or institution. It is awarded to those who bring respect, stature and distinction to dance and who exhibit qualities such as innovation, creativity and imagination. Since Miss Gregory now resides in Las Vegas, this year's award will be presented in that city at the Smith Center on November 17th.
Cynthia Gregory, whom Nureyev called "America's prima ballerina assoluta," was celebrated as one of the world's greatest ballerinas during a career that spanned more than a quarter of a century. Much of Miss Gregory's early training was in her native Los Angeles with Carmelita Maracci. Awarded a Ford Foundation scholarship at age 14 to study with Lew Christensen's San Francisco Ballet, she quickly rose to soloist and then principal status in that company while also dancing with the San Francisco Opera.
Miss Gregory joined American Ballet Theatre in 1965. In 1967, when ABT was on tour in San Francisco, Miss Gregory made an auspicious debut as Odette-Odile in Swan Lake
. Her New York debut in the dual role later the same year marked her emergence as a major ballerina.
Miss Gregory danced in more than 80 works at ABT. Her classical repertoire included lead roles in Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, Raymonda, La Bayadère, Don Quixote and La Sylphide
. She also danced in such notable twentieth-century ballets as Balanchine's Theme and Variations, Apollo
and Prodigal Son
, Tudor's Jardin aux Lilas
and Dark Elegies
, DeMille's Fall River Legend
, Tetley's Voluntaries
, Limon's The Moor's Pavanne
and Culberg's Miss Julie
. Roles created for her include Feld's Harbinger
and At Midnight
, Ailey's The River
, Tharp's Bach Partita
, Smuin's The Eternal Idol
and Nahat's Brahms Quintet
Miss Gregory performed as a guest with many of the great dance companies of the world, including National Ballet of Canada, Zurich State Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires and Stuttgart, Munich and Berlin State Opera Ballets. A few of her favorite partners were Rudolf Nureyev, Erik Bruhn, Fernando Bujones, and Big Bird on a PBS special fundraiser.
Miss Gregory was the recipient of the 1975 Dance Magazine Award, the Harkness Ballet Foundation's first annual Dance Award, and two annual awards from Dance Educators of America—in 1981 and 1988. The New York Public Library designated her a "Lion of the Performing Arts" in 1989 and she received the lifetime achievement Certificate of Merit from the National Arts Club in 1991. Hofstra University awarded Miss Gregory an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1993, and she received an honorary doctorate from State University of New York–Purchase College in 1995.
Miss Gregory is the author of two books, "Ballet is the Best Exercise" and her children's book, "Cynthia Gregory Dances Swan Lake". In 1991, Miss Gregory became Chairman of the Board of Career Transition for Dancers, a not-for-profit organization that provides valuable services free of charge to dancers who are changing careers. To this day she continues her involvement in the role of Chairman Emeritus. Eager to pass on her knowledge, passion and wisdom to future generations, Miss Gregory coaches, stages ballets, and gives master classes for dance companies and schools in the U.S. and internationally. She also enjoys expressing herself in pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings. Her work has been shown at the Gallery at Lincoln Center, at art shows in New York and Connecticut, and on greeting cards, posters and CD covers. When all is said and done, her favorite role is the proud mother of Lloyd Gregory Miller.
Lisa Giacoio Egan, the President of the Capezio Ballet Makers Dance Foundation says of Cynthia Gregory, "Miss Gregory's body of work has brought great pleasure and inspiration to so many audiences worldwide. Her long and illustrious career and tremendous talent has made an enormous impact in the field of dance. We are thrilled to be presenting our 63rd award to the very deserving, Cynthia Gregory."
Photo © & courtesy of Virginia Trudeau