Lifetime Achievement Award

Mary Margaret Holt

2020 Award Honoree

MARY MARGARET HOLT began her early ballet training in Austin, Texas at Austin Civic Ballet, receiving a Ford Foundation scholarship for study with the San Francisco at the age of 15. Subsequently, she received a Ford Foundation scholarship for study at the School of American Ballet, also appearing with the New York City Ballet. Holt accepted a soloist contract with Houston Ballet upon completing her BFA in Ballet Performance. While a member of Houston Ballet, she danced a wide variety of solo and principal roles in the classical and contemporary repertoire by choreographers including Stevenson, Van Manen, Van Danzig, Petipa, Balanchine, Taras, Dolin, Boris, Clouser, Franklin, Ivanov, de Mille, and O’Donnell. She also performed principal roles in Terekhov’s The Firebird, The Snow Maiden, and Don Quixote. She has performed as a guest artist, teacher, and choreographer with ballet and opera companies across the United States.

Holt joined the dance faculty of the University of Oklahoma School of Dance as an assistant professor, following Miguel Terekhov as chair, with an appointment as director in 1998. As director of Oklahoma Festival Ballet, Holt has choreographed over forty ballets and operas and led Oklahoma Festival Ballet on tours to France (six), the Internationale Haydntage in Austria (2), Mexico (3), Taiwan, China, and Ecuador. Her choreography includes the music of Franck, Haydn, The Beatles, Porter, Weill, Mozart, Ginastera, Ikard, Holley, Satie, and Bartok, and Debussy and her ballets have been seen across the U.S. as well as in South America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Under Holt’s leadership, Oklahoma Festival Ballet performed four works from the national repertoire by Balanchine (4), Joffrey, Arpino, and de Mille. Her students have performed companies including Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Arizona, Ballet Austin, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Orlando Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet, and as finalists and semifinalists in the International Ballet Competition. At the University of Oklahoma, Holt taught every course in the ballet curriculum and her continuing studies in ballet pedagogy include studying Bournonville Technique with Tage Wendt; and Vaganova Technique at the Bolshoi Academy at Vail, and in St. Petersburg and Minsk, Russia. Holt was an honoree at the second national RDA Festival in Pittsburgh in 2007 and she has been a panelist at Oxford on Women in the Academy. Under her leadership, the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, including a new home for the School of Dance and the renovation of Holmberg Hall, opened in 2005.

Holt holds the John and Mary Nichols Chair in Dance at the University of Oklahoma where she is also a Presidential Professor and Regents’ Professor. Recipient of the State of Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award. She was named Dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts in 2015. In 2019, she and associate dean Adrian Fung launched the Certificate Program in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship. Holt remains active as a teacher and coach in the School of Dance.

Criteria & Process

The criteria for the CORPS de Ballet International’s Lifetime Achievement Award candidates is as follows:

Candidates must have furthered the growth of ballet in higher education and/or made valuable contributions to ballet departments, through administration, teac hing, choreography, mentoring or research. Candidates must have worked for or with an academic institution for at least five years.

Candidates must have a prior or current relationship (choreographer,teacher, dancer, writer, historian etc.) with the professional world of ballet.

The process for Award recipient selection is as follows:

  • The body of the CORPS (all members) shall submit nominees to the awards committee, via email, by September30 of the year prior to the year the award will be given. Nominees should be sent to an awards committee member.
  • With the name of the nominee, included a brief (one to two sentence) reason why you are nominating the particular candidate.
  • The awards committee will then narrow the field of candidates to five and send the selection to the board of directors.
  • The board of directors shall vote choosing the top three candidates and then submit the final three to the membership.
  • The membership, via email, will then vote for the final candidate.
  • The president of the CORPS will receive the final count and announce to the membership the next CORPS de Ballet International Inc. award recipient.