Damian Woetzel is director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence Program. In addition to his role at the Institute, Woetzel is producer and director of dance and music performances, including the artistic directorship of the Vail International Dance Festival, where he presents dance performances and commissions. He also works with Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Project in the New York City Public Schools, and he is the founding director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation's New Essential Works (NEW) Program, which gives grants to enable the production of new works. Among his other recent projects was the direction of the first performance of the White House Dance Series hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, and an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center for the World Science Festival.
Woetzel was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet from 1989 until his retirement from the stage in 2008, where he had works created for him by Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. During his career, Woetzel frequently performed internationally as a guest star and was a visiting artist with numerous companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. He has choreographed a number of ballets for New York City Ballet, among other companies.
Woetzel serves on the artists committee of the Kennedy Center Honors, the Knight Foundation's National Arts Advisory Committee, and was a member of the recent Harvard Task Force on the Arts. He served as the 2008 Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence of the Aspen Institute, and is a frequent speaker on the arts and arts policy. Woetzel holds an MPA degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. In the fall of 2010 he was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School where he co-taught a course on performing arts and the law. In November 2009, President Obama appointed Woetzel to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.