Professor of Dance
Bettijane Sills has had an extensive theatrical career. She appeared on the Broadway stage and on television as a child actress, and was invited by George Balanchine in 1961 to join the New York City Ballet. She was promoted to the rank of soloist in 1964, dancing principal roles in many works, including Western Symphony Divertimento #15 and The Nutcracker. She also received critical acclaim as the Wife in Jerome Robbins’ 1972 revival of The Concert.
Now a tenured professor, she has served on the Conservatory of Dance faculty at Purchase College since 1979. She is responsible for staging Balanchine repertory and has choreographed numerous works for the Purchase Dance Corps and for several companies throughout the United States. In 1996, she had the pleasure of staging Balanchine’s Serenade for students at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and in September 2006, was designated by the Balanchine Trust to stage Allegro Brilliante for the Orlando Ballet in Florida. In January 2007, she was back in Asia to stage Serenade for the Taipei National University of the Arts.
From 2003 through 2010, Sills served as the artistic director of the Conservatory of Dance’s production of Nutcracker. In addition to co-chairing the Conservatory of Dance in 2009–10, she was co-artistic director of the 2010 spring concert for which she staged Balanchine’s Serenade. She is currently involved in the filming of a new documentary about George Balanchine, In Balanchine’s Classroom. Her summer teaching regularly includes classes for the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle, PA. She was honored to be asked by Marcia Dale Weary, director of CPYB, to choreograph a new ballet, Masquerade, in May 2009, which was performed in their June Series at the Whitaker Theatre in Harrisburg, Penn., that same year.
Sills was invited by the artistic director of the New Jersey Ballet to set Masquerade on the company; it premiered in November 2010 in Morristown, N.J. The ballet was performed again in March 2011 at a gala black-tie fundraiser at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, N.J. In April/May 2011, Ms. Sills presented Masquerade, performed by the Purchase Dance Company in the annual spring concert produced by the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College. She was invited back to Carlisle, PA to stage Masquerade and revive a work previously choreographed, Voyage Dans La Lune, for the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Both ballets were performed at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg, PA in June, 2011.
In October, 2012, Sills was part of a panel of ballet luminaries from the Balanchine era participating in “Dancers Over 40, Balanchine, Broadway and Beyond!” held in New York City which included members of the first generation of NYCB along with rare footage from Balanchine’s most productive decades. Ms. Sills was interim co-director of the conservatory of dance at Purchase College from fall, 2014-spring, 2015. As a resident of Westchester County, she was formally recognized for her numerous artistic contributions as a choreographer by ArtsWestchester in 2015. Ms. Sills is currently working on her memoir describing her journey as she transitions from child actor into the world of professional ballet and finally into academia.