Elie Lazar is currently the Montgomery Ballet Artistic Director. Before moving to Montgomery to direct The Montgomery Ballet, Mr. Lazar founded and directed the Joffrey Ensemble Dancers; the performance group associated with the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and founded LazarBalletNYC. Born in Israel, Mr. Lazar began his ballet training at age 17, with the Israel National Ballet Company. This led to appearances with the Israel National opera, the Haifa Ballet and the Inbar Dance Company. Dance fans are familiar with Mr. Lazar’s work as a principal dancer with the New Jersey Ballet where, beginning in 1986, he was known for athletic roles in ballets such as Balanchine’s Tarantella and Stars and Stripes, both coached by Edward Villella. He also danced the role of “Mercutio” in Romeo and Juliet and the principal role in Le Corsaire. In addition to his acclaim as a dancer, Mr. Lazar is building a reputation as a versatile and inventive choreographer. He received commissions to create ballets for the New Jersey Ballet Company, the Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre, Atlanta’s Georgia Youth Ballet, and Japan’s Kumamoto Ballet. He was awarded a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts to create a new work for the Berkshire Albany Ballet. Mr. Lazar organized and trained students from the Joffrey Ballet School to form his first company. Since its inception in 2000, he has expanded the company’s repertoire and commitments. Performances include works that Mr. Lazar choreographed specifically for the ensemble. Among them are “Surrender @ Love”, “A Night in the Tropics”, “Concerto for Dancers and String Orchestra” (known as “Ripples”), “Come In”, “Dance with Me to the End of Love” and “Masa”. Also to his credit, Mr. Lazar designed a program of lecture demonstrations to educate school children about dance and the commitment required to pursue the art as a career. He teaches master classes and develops intensive dance programs that are presented as summer workshops or as part of week-long residency seminars that include public performances, lecture demonstrations, master classes and pas de deux classes, as well as general instruction. His teaching commitments include classes at the Joffrey Ballet School, Broadway Dance Center, Peridance NY, New Jersey Ballet, East Carolina University, University of Kansas City, Tokyo Ballet, Kumamoto Ballet, and SERBA. Mr. Lazar directs and supervises the Summer Intensive he founded. He strives to dispel the idea held by viewers that their individual preferences for one genre of ballet or another cannot be challenged. He contends that those who love traditional story ballets can enjoy modern “abstract” ballets (and visa versa) and endeavors to expand viewer’s horizons to enjoy all types of dance.