Harkarvy, Benjamin

American dance teacher, choreographer, and artistic director, Benjamin Harkarvy (1930-2002), earned an international reputation for his eclectic approach to dance education (as demonstrated most notably in his tenure as the director of the Juilliard School Dance Division), as well as through his leadership of a number of prominent dance companies.

Born in New York City, Harkarvy began to study dance at the age of thirteen, already focused on the goal of teaching. Among his principal teachers were two highly regarded Russian expatriates: Edward Caton and Elizabeth Anderson-Ivantzova. Harkarvy studied primarily at the School of American Ballet. He had only a brief performing career, making his debut with the Brooklyn Lyric Opera at the age of eighteen and appearing in summer stock productions. From 1951 to 1955, he taught at Michel Fokine's school in New York City, and, in 1955, he opened his own school. Harkarvy's first post with a dance company came in 1957 with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The following year he was named ballet master of the Dutch National Ballet. Unhappy over problems with that company, he and a number of the dancers broke away and formed Nederlands Dans Theater in 1959. Harkarvy and Hans van Manen co-directed this new company, which combined ballet and modern dance in its repertory, for a decade. In 1969, Harkarvy became co-director, with Lawrence Rhodes, of the Harkness Ballet, which was disbanded the following year. He then returned to the Dutch National Ballet for a year, but, from 1973 to 1982, he was affiliated with the Pennsylvania Ballet. During this period, Harkarvy helped to raise the profile of the Philadelphia-based troupe, but he left after it began to experience financial difficulties. He subsequently held a variety of teaching positions before joining the Juilliard faculty in 1990. As director of the Juilliard's Dance Division from 1992, Harkarvy expanded existing programs and created innovative new ones, remaining with the school until the time of his death.


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