Lifetime Achievement Award

Amanda McKerrow & John Gardner

2022 Award Honorees
Amanda_s headshot
John_s headshot

AMANDA MCKERROW has enjoyed a career as one of America’s acclaimed ballerinas. She has the honor of being the first American to receive a gold medal at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow in 1981. Since then, she has been the recipient of numerous other awards, among them the Princess Grace Foundation Dance Fellowship and the New York Woman Award for Dance.

McKerrow was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and began her ballet training at the Twinbrook School of Ballet in Rockville, Maryland, where she completed the syllabus of the Royal Academy of Dance. She then spent two years at the Metropolitan Academy of Dance where she studied the Vaganova syllabus. She then attended the Washington School of Ballet under the direction of Mary Day, where she trained and danced with the company for four years, ultimately touring extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

McKerrow then joined American Ballet Theatre in 1982 under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov. She was appointed Soloist in 1983, and promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer in 1987. Her repertoire included the leading roles in all the major classics and she was also acclaimed for her performances in works by many of the major choreographers of the time including Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins and Juri Killian. She has also created roles in ballets by choreographers such as Agnes DeMille, Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Clark Tippet, Choo San Goh and James Kudelka. She has also appeared as a Guest Artist with ballet companies around the world.

In 2000, after having worked closely with him during his lifetime McKerrow began staging the works of Antony Tudor as a Repetiteur for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust. She was appointed the Sole Trustee of his ballets in 2018. She also stages the ballets of Agnes DeMille, Clark Tippet and Benjamin Millepied, as well as the full-length classics such as Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote. After retiring from performing in 2006 she has devoted her time to teaching, coaching and staging ballets for professional companies and educational institutions around the world. She is married to fellow dancer and repetiteur John Gardner, and together they have directed many workshops and intensives including “From Studio to Stage” at The Hartt School at the University of Hartford in 2016 and the Colorado Ballet Academy Summer Intensive from 2018 to 2021. She is currently a Guest Repetiteur for American Ballet Theatre.

JOHN GARDNER was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he began his ballet training with Gwen Ashton. He continued his training at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois under the direction of Micheal Maule. He received a scholarship to the American Ballet Theatre School Summer Intensive in 1977 and was invited to join the second company thereafter. In 1978 Mr. Gardner joined the main company of American Ballet Theatre and was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1984. His repertoire included many Soloist and Principal roles and represented a broad range of styles which afforded him the opportunity to work with many of the master choreographers of that generation which included Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Sir Kenneth Macmillan, Agnes DeMille, Martha Graham and Twyla Tharp.

In 1991 Mr. Gardner was invited to dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. He danced with the troupe for five years and worked closely with many acclaimed modern dance choreographers including Mark Morris, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch and David Gordon. He was created upon in numerous roles during his time with White Oak Dance Project and toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. He returned to American Ballet Theatre in 1996 and continued to perform with the company until 2002.

After retiring from the stage Mr. Gardner began to pursue a career as a teacher and coach. His initial job was teaching in the graded level program at Ballet Academy East in New York City for three years. During this time, he also taught at various studios around the city, including Broadway Dance, where he had the privilege of working as a substitute teacher for the Master Teacher David Howard upon his request. Mr. Gardner has enjoyed his development as teacher, coach and choreographer over the years and has worked extensively at both the professional and student levels. He is a sanctioned repetiteur for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust and is the Director of the Antony Tudor Dance Studies. He also stages the ballets of Agnes DeMille, Benjamin Millepied and Clark Tippet as well as the full length classics and has been invited to work in these many capacities for professional ballet companies and educational institutions around the world. Mr. Gardner is married to fellow dancer and repetiteur Amanda McKerrow and together have directed many workshops and summer intensives including “From Studio to Stage” at The Hartt School at the University of Hartford in 2016 and the Colorado Ballet Academy Summer Intensive from 2018 to 2021. He is currently a Guest Repetiteur for American Ballet Theatre.

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, teaching, 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 September 30 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 sentences) 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.