Recipient of the New Mexico Music Commission’s 2017 Lee Berk Award, Catherine Oppenheimer, a former professional dancer with the New York City Ballet, has provided opportunities for talented young musicians throughout the state to receive top-quality music education. In 1994, she co-founded the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, a statewide organization annually teaching nearly 10,000 children throughout the state. In 2010, she was also the driving force behind the creation of New Mexico School for the Arts, the state’s first residential high school for the performing and visual arts.
NDI is recognized for “Teaching Children Excellence,” and has introduced thousands of New Mexico children to dance training and performance experiences as an effective catalyst for character development and artistic expression.
Oppenheimer was also the driving force behind the creation of the New Mexico School for the Arts, New Mexico’s first chartered residential high school for the performing and visual arts. The charter school is dedicated to arts mastery and academic excellence assisting passionate young artists in developing their full potential.
An impressive artist in her own right, Oppenheimer danced with the New York City Ballet under the leadership of choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and with the Twyla Tharp Dance Company.
Oppenheimer came to New Mexico to teach residencies with NDI in Santa Fe and in selected rural communities. NDI provides classes at its Dance Barns to all children who desire to study the performing arts regardless of financial capabilities.
In 2008, Oppenheimer was honored by the MS Society of New Mexico with its Award of Distinction and by the New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts for her dedication to the arts.
In 2005, the readers of The Santa Fe New Mexican named Oppenheimer to its annual “Ten Who Made a Difference” list.
Under Oppenheimer’s leadership, NDI received a prestigious Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which was awarded by then First Lady Laura Bush.
above: New Mexico School for the Arts Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Carla Lehmeir, 2016.
for more information: NDI New Mexico
source: Governor’s Arts Awards