SAB’s vast alumni network includes over 17,000 thousand individuals across the globe. Many have gone on to pursue professional dance careers and many others have flourished in a variety of other vocations. All have, in some way, been shaped by the unique experience of training at SAB. Periodically, SAB will spotlight one of our many alumni through an interview highlighting their experience here at the School. Read the latest of these alumni spotlights below.
Kim Dooley Kittay (1977-1979)
What years did you study at SAB? Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the ballet studios? Who taught you?
I studied at SAB from 1976-79. My teachers were Mesdames Toumakovsky and Dudin. The highlight of my time there was performing in The Nutcracker. And, I will never forget meeting Mr. Balanchine.
Are you still dancing?
I went to Vassar College, where I had the great fortune of studying ballet with Jeanne Periolat Czula. Later, I received my MFA in dance from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. For the past 23 years, I have taught ballet at The Third Street Music School Settlement on the Lower East Side. I don't dance anymore, but I choreograph, teach and write about dance. I also serve as a board member for The Monica Bill Barnes Dance Company.
Tell us about your professional life. How does your SAB training play a role in your career?
Studying at SAB has had considerable impact on my professional life. I find myself invoking Mr. Balanchine frequently in the classroom, in the rehearsal studio and in my writing. At NYU, I wrote my thesis on Mr. Balanchine and also did a project for Deborah Jowitt reconstructing a Balanchine "lost dance" entitled Jeu de Cartes. At SAB, everyone around me had high expectations and high standards--for themselves and for me. I learned how to rise to that challenge and not to be intimidated by it.
You are now an SAB parent. What’s it like to be the mom of current students?
My eight-year old son is in A-1 and my ten-year old son is in Boys 2. I love being connected to the school again. Ballet always gave me the perspective and insight that comes from dedicating yourself to something larger—and I am so happy that my boys get this experience. They are connecting with hundreds of years of tradition, pursuing a classical ideal and creating beauty. Few after-school activities offer such possibilities. We feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the school.
Why do you support SAB? What are your favorite perks of being a member?
I support SAB because the school brings together three of my deeply felt passions: ballet, education and New York City. When Balanchine started the school and then the company, he cemented New York City's place as the world's center of Classical Ballet. By supporting the school, I feel that I am supporting an incredibly important piece of the cultural life of this city. This school—a place where students and teachers alike hold themselves to the highest possible standards and work tirelessly to meet and exceed these expectations—deserves support. Its unwavering commitment to an ideal differentiates it from the many other places one can send a child to learn a skill in this city. To be in such an environment ensures deep personal growth and a prodigious appreciation for education, hard work and commitment.
My favorite part of supporting SAB is being able to watch the advanced classes and attend performances in the studio. I love to see young dancers in class and on stage! Many times, I leave the performances thinking of a dancer I just saw, pointing to the program and saying, "remember this name!"
This year marks the School’s 80th birthday. How do you think SAB has changed or stayed the same over the years? What would Mr. B think of today’s School?
Well, it has certainly become a lot fancier! I couldn't believe how beautiful the new building was. I think that, in some ways, the classes have gotten harder over the years. When I was ten years old, I had a one-hour class twice a week. Now, my ten-year old son has an hour-and-a-half class three times a week. But (as I tell him often), they don't use the teaching sticks anymore! There are also so many lovely community building events, like Family Day, which didn't exist when I was a student. I did not know Mr. B, so I can't say what he would think of today's school. But, I can only guess that he would be incredibly pleased that it remains a revered institution with a world-wide reputation and that it still does exactly what he founded it to do: create beautiful dancers who can do justice to his choreography here and in companies around the world. I also think that he would applaud the amazing choreographers who have come out of the school's initiatives.
What else would you like to say about your relationship to the School?
I was only at the school for a short time, yet I can trace back its major influence throughout my life. My boys have already been there longer than I ever was. I always tell them that, even if they were to stop going to class tomorrow, they have already learned so much about hard work, dedication, delayed gratification and themselves. They have no idea where ballet will fit into their future, but they will always be proud to say that they attended the School of American Ballet.