The Colburn School Appoints Margaret Tracey as Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute

(Tuesday, May 9, 2023) Los Angeles—Colburn School announced today that international dance educator, former New York City Ballet principal, and former Director of Boston Ballet School Margaret Tracey will become Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute (TZDI), effective August 2023.  

Colburn School’s Trudl Zipper Dance Institute offers comprehensive dance programs for youth and adult students, and includes the Dance Academy, a rigorous ballet training program for young people ages 14–19, as well as sequential programs in ballet, modern, and tap dance. Graduates of the Dance Academy go on to top pre-professional training programs and perform in prestigious ballet companies. 

“I’m thrilled to join the Colburn School, and be part of a community and institution dedicated to the future of dance,” said Tracey. “It is a privilege to build upon the exceptional work of my predecessors and help young dancers achieve their personal and artistic goals at an institution that empowers and gives voice to the next generation of artists. Envisioning a future that supports the Colburn value of creating equitable access to excellence in arts education excites me as I work with the team to provide students a space to discover authentic belonging within our beloved art form.”

Tracey joins Colburn School’s esteemed staff and faculty after an extensive international search, and succeeds Silas Farley, who announced this fall that he would be leaving his role as Dean to pursue new artistic opportunities and devote more time to the creation of new works. Darleen Callaghan will continue her tenure as Associate Dean at TZDI. 

“Margaret Tracey’s distinguished career as both a dancer and internationally renowned educator make her the ideal person to lead Colburn School’s aspiring dance students,” said Sel Kardan, President and CEO. “Her appointment signals the start of an exciting new chapter at the School that includes the Colburn Center, our transformational campus expansion project that will include state-of-the-art spaces for dance training and performance.”

The Colburn School’s Colburn Center, a 100,000 square-foot campus expansion in downtown Los Angeles designed by Frank Gehry, will include a 1,000-seat in-the-round concert hall named Terri and Jerry Kohl Hall and five professional-sized dance studios, including a 100-seat studio theater, all enveloped in glass to provide a literal window into the beauty and rigor of dance training and performance. The expanded dance spaces will more than double the School’s existing facilities dedicated to dance.

Tracey will continue the long-held Balanchine tradition in the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute. Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette, Dean and Associate Dean from 2017 to 2021, were former principal dancers with the New York City Ballet and trained at the School of American Ballet, founded by George Balanchine. Silas Farley and Darleen Callaghan also trained at the School of American Ballet. Tracey excelled in the Balanchine repertoire as a New York City Ballet principal dancer from 1991 until her retirement in 2002. In addition, her broad knowledge of other dance styles including modern, contemporary, and tap will complement and enhance the training that Colburn offers in the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute.  

Farley is grateful for his time at the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute and thrilled for its future with Margaret Tracey as dean. “I have gained so much from my work with this extraordinary community of artists, educators, families, administrators, and supporters,” said Farley. “I am grateful for my time here at Colburn, particularly the intense dedication of the students, the remarkable talent of the faculty, and the incredible support from our wonderful community of donors. The Colburn dance program is poised for great things. I am excited for this next chapter as Margaret Tracey leads dance at Colburn to new heights.”

Adrian Daly, Provost of the Colburn School, said “We would like to thank Silas Farley for his artistic leadership of our program over the last two years as we returned to in-person instruction following the pandemic. His creative brilliance, teaching artistry, and inspirational choreography will be missed. We look forward to his return in the future to work with our students and faculty.”


Photo by Igor Burlak

Since retiring from New York City Ballet in 2002, Tracey has become an admired and dedicated teacher and arts advocate. She served as the Director of Boston Ballet School (BBS) from 20072021 and was profiled in a 2009 issue of Dance Teacher Magazine. During her tenure at BBS, Tracey drew upon her teaching experiences, studies in psychology, and ties to community clinicians to initiate a comprehensive Wellness Program at BBS. She also created the Next Generation, a year-end performance showcasing pre-professional students, which has become an annual highlight that spotlights BBS as a leader in local and regional arts education. Her stature in the dance world brought BBS extraordinary access to the Balanchine and Robbins repertoire, enhancing the training and performance experience for students. In addition, Tracey committed to commissioning underrepresented voices in choreography by amplifying the work of women and BIPOC choreographers such as Jill Johnson, Lia Cirio, and Ja’ Malik, among others. Tracey further distinguished BBS internationally by establishing exchange programs with Canada’s National Ballet School, Paris Opera Ballet School, the Royal Danish Ballet, and Dresden’s Semperoper Ballet. And under her leadership, BBS also became a partner school with the prestigious Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition. 

Tracey continues to dedicate her efforts as a dance educator with a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access to champion change. She has served on panels for MoBBallet’s annual educational symposiums (2019, 2020, and 2022) and has worked with colleagues at Dance USA School Directors Affinity Group to share learning around culturally responsive teaching practices to better support faculty.  Tracey’s work as an international arts educator continues as she serves on the organizing committee for World Ballet School Day (2020 and 2021), and the 2023 edition of Assemble Internationale; an Olympic-caliber gathering of pre-professional students and directors from schools around the globe empowering young artists to develop their voices, hosted by Canada’s National Ballet School. 

Born in Pueblo, Colorado, Tracey began ballet studies with her mother, Nancy Tracey, at age six. In 1982, she was accepted as a student at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet (NYCB). At SAB, she was the recipient of an Atlantic Richfield Foundation scholarship (198285) as well as a Princess Grace Foundation award (198586) that cited her “exceptional promise and dedication to excellence.” 

In 1986, Tracey joined the NYCB corps de ballet, launching a celebrated 16-year stage career. A principal dancer from 1991 until her retirement in 2002, she excelled in the Balanchine repertoire, appearing frequently in such core works as Apollo, Allegro Brilliante, Ballo della Regina, Concerto Barocco, Serenade, Square Dance, Symphony in C, Vienna Waltzes, Western Symphony, and Who Cares?, among others. She was also featured in a range of Robbins’ ballets, including Andantino, Afternoon of a Faun, The Four Seasons, and The Goldberg Variations, and created a role in the choreographer’s Ives, Songs (1988). She originated roles in works by William Forsythe, Richard Tanner, Ib Andersen, Trey McIntyre, and Peter Martins, including his Les Petit Riens, Fearful Symmetries, Zakouski, and his production of The Sleeping Beauty, in which she appeared both as Princess Aurora and Princess Florine. With NYCB, Tracey toured Europe and Asia, appeared in the PBS “Live from Lincoln Center” series, and danced the Marzipan Shepherdess in the 1993 film of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

As a Balanchine Repetiteur, Tracey has staged several of his works including, Concerto Barocco, Theme and Variations, Scotch Symphony, Raymonda Variations, and Divertimento #15, among others in both professional companies and schools. And in 2011 she was recognized with a Jerome Robbins Foundation award for her distinguished interpretation as a Robbins’ dancer.  


A performing arts institution located in the heart of Los Angeles, the Colburn School trains students from beginners to those about to embark on professional careers. The academic units of the School provide a complete spectrum of music and dance education united by a single philosophy: that all who desire to study music or dance should have access to top-level instruction.

  • The Community School of Performing Arts welcomes students of all ages, from seven months old to adults. It offers over 120 classes each year in orchestral instruments, piano, guitar, voice, jazz, music theory, drama, and ensembles including orchestra, choir, and chamber music.
  • The diploma- and degree-granting Conservatory of Music is distinguished by a unique all-scholarship model, renowned faculty, and outstanding performance opportunities. It prepares the very highest level of collegiate musicians for professional careers.
  • The Trudl Zipper Dance Institute develops performers of all levels, from aspiring professionals in the Dance Academy to beginners starting in Youth Dance. Students of all levels receive training in ballet, tap, and modern genres as part of a comprehensive dance education.
  • The Music Academy is a highly selective training program for gifted young pre-collegiate musicians, designed to prepare students for conservatory study and performing careers at the highest levels of achievement. This residential program balances performance, musical instruction, and academics.
  • Created to serve all units of the School, the Center for Innovation and Community Impact empowers the musical and dance leaders of tomorrow by nurturing students’ passion and ability to serve their communities, preparing them for sustainable careers, and embracing the development of new ideas. The Center embodies Colburn’s commitment to developing young artists with the curiosity, skills, and commitment to make a difference in their field. 

Each year, more than 2,000 students from around the world come to Colburn to benefit from the renowned faculty, exceptional facilities, and focus on excellence that unites the community.

The Colburn Center, designed by Frank Gehry, is a multi-faceted campus expansion of the Colburn School. Located across the street from the School’s existing campus at the intersection of Olive and Second Streets, the Colburn Center will enable the School to expand its mission of presenting programs for the public. Gehry’s design includes a 1,000-seat in-the-round concert hall named Terri and Jerry Kohl Hall, five professional-sized dance studios including a 100-seat studio theater, and gardens that bring fresh air and green spaces to the downtown landscape. 

The dance spaces housing the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute will create the most comprehensive dance education complex in Downtown Los Angeles. Transparent walls of five oversized dance studios on the corner of 2nd and Hill streets provide a window into the beauty and hard work of dance training. The studio theater—the largest dance studio in the School—will be equipped to be used as a professional-level performance venue as well as a rehearsal studio. Seating platforms in the studio theater will offer approximately 100 seats while allowing for 30 feet of stage depth with scrims, and a cross-over lighting grid will allow refined lighting design for performance. These greatly expanded dance facilities will accommodate the School’s growing programs in classical ballet, tap, and modern dance.

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Jennifer Kallend

Lisa Bellamore