Chairman of Faculty
Kay Mazzo was born in Chicago, where she received early training from Bernadine Hayes. She first performed with New York City Ballet at the age of eight when the Company brought The Nutcracker on tour to the Chicago Opera House. She was cast by George Balanchine as a Party Scene guest and Polichinelle. She reprised the roles when NYCB returned to Chicago the following year.
Teaching at SAB, 2006; © Ellen Crane
Performing SWAN LAKE with Jacques d'Amboise at New York City Ballet, © Martha Swope
As a student at SAB (far left) circa 1960
Ms. Mazzo auditioned for SAB's Summer Course when she was 12 and attended the program for three consecutive years before moving to New York and enrolling as a full time student in SAB's advanced division in 1959.
Following performances with Jerome Robbins' Ballets U.S.A., Ms. Mazzo became a member of the New York City Ballet in 1961 and was promoted to soloist in 1965 and principal dancer in 1968. George Balanchine created principal roles for her in Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 (1970), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Duo Concertant (1972), Scherzo à la Russe (1972), Union Jack (1976), Vienna Waltzes (1977), and Robert Schumann's "Davidsbündlertänze" (1980), among others. She originated principal roles in the Jerome Robbins masterworks Dances at a Gathering (1969) and In the Night (1970).
Over the course of her nearly twenty-year career, Ms. Mazzo's repertoire included countless roles in the works of Balanchine, Robbins and others choreographers such as Merce Cunningham, Antony Tudor, Todd Bolender and John Taras. Among the many ballets in which she performed principal parts are Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night's Dream, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®, Serenade, Symphony in C, Jewels, Agon, Square Dance, Episodes, La Sonnambula, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, La Valse, Liebeslieder Walzer, Apollo, and Donizetti Variations. Her dancing partners included Jacques d'Amboise, Arthur Mitchell, Peter Martins, Edward Villella, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Sean Lavery.
Upon her retirement from New York City Ballet in 1981, Mr. Balanchine asked Ms. Mazzo to begin teaching at the School of American Ballet, the official academy of New York City Ballet. She joined SAB’s permanent faculty in 1983, serving as a coordinator of curriculum between 1993 and 1997. She succeeded Stanley Williams as Co-Chairman of Faculty in October 1997, and in 2018 was named Chairman of Faculty. She currently teaches advanced classes in addition to managing the School’s artistic staff and overseeing all aspects of SAB’s ballet training programs.
Ms. Mazzo has been a Trustee of The George Balanchine Trust since 1987. She served as President of the Jury of the 2014 Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition.