Zippora Karz Biography

Zippora KarzClaim to Fame: Ballet Teacher, Former New York City Ballet Dancer
DOB: June of 1965
Diabetes Type: 1

Bio courtesy of Zippora Karz as seen on

It started as the perfect story. I was a young dancer who left home at the age of 15 and was a member of the NYC Ballet by the age of 18. By 20 I was starring as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, dancing roles by Jerome Robbins, and having new ballets created for me by Peter Martins, the company director following the death of George Balanchine.

It was the stuff dreams are made of. It was a magical time. Then my world came crashing down when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 21. My body fell apart as I tried desperately to hold on to my dancing and my life. My story is about many things. On the one hand, it is about diabetes: the insulin shots, the blood sugar management, the diet, the exercise, and the psychological effects of having a disease. It is about overcoming the hurdles and going on to become a soloist ballerina, performing with the New York City Ballet for 16 years, and then becoming a teacher, coach, and repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust.

I am proud of the career I had as a ballerina, but my real story is about learning how to live with, honor and respect the self and the body.

My story is about living a full life, and not letting obstacles defeat you and dissuade you from following your heart.

Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 1987, just as she was being featured in solo roles, Zippora found a way to continue to live her dream despite her illness. She became as passionate about health and healing as she is about dance. Today she not only teaches and coaches dancers, she motivates and inspires people of all ages to fulfill their dreams and potential through her teaching and public speaking. Zippora is currently working on her memoir, which will be published by Harlequin.

As a Soloist Ballerina, Zippora danced feature roles choreographed by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, as well as works choreographed specifically for her by such choreographers as Peter Martins and Lynne Taylor Corbett.

Some of her featured roles by George Balanchine include: the Sugar Plum and Dew Drop Fairies in The Nutcracker, Agon, Apollo, Coppelia, Divertimento #15, The Four Temperaments, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Serenade, Swan Lake, Symphony in C.

Featured roles by Jerome Robbins include: The Concert, Fanfare, The Goldberg Variations, In G Major, and Gershwin Concerto. Roles created specifically for her by NYC Ballet master in chief Peter Martins include: Les Petit Riens, Mozart Serenade, and The Sleeping Beauty.

Zippora was featured in the documentary Reflections of a Dancer, Alexandra Danilova, Prima Ballerina Assoluta. She can be seen in Dance in America, broadcast on PBS in Balanchines Western Symphony, and was also featured in Balanchines Agon for The Balanchine Celebration, also on PBS.

Upon retiring from The New York City Ballet in 1999, after 16 years of performing, Zippora was asked to represent the George Balanchine Trust as repetiteur of his ballets. This took her across the globe staging the great ballets she was blessed to dance and coaching professional dancers.

In 2000 Zippora helped create an interactive, school age educational program with NYC Ballets education department about the history of music and dance. Representing the NYC Ballet, Zippora taught the program for school systems throughout Edinburgh, Glasgow and the surrounding areas of Scotland.

As dance lecturer Zippora spoke at the Music Center before performances for the New York City Ballet in Oct. 2004 and The Joffrey Ballet in March 2007. She also spoke to the Music Center Dance Arts on being a Balanchine Dancer, Nov. 2006.

Zippora has devoted herself to motivating and inspiring people to become healthy and active. She shares her personal story of overcoming obstacles and inspiring people to move through her series of gentle dance like movements. Zippora has created a series of dance like movements that are fun and motivating for every age, which she shares at diabetes conferences around the world.

Zippora works as a motivator, teacher and speaker with organizations such as Children with Diabetes and The American Diabetes Association. She presently sits on an advisory board for the American Diabetes Associations Advocacy Leadership Council.

Zipporas self-authored work includes; chapter opening for Conquering Diabetes, by Dr. Anne Peters, Dance magazine, and Dancing with Diabetes, 1988. Zippora is a contributing health writer for, a website devoted to lifestyle and healthy eating specifically at the beginning of life.

Zipporas childrens story, Ballerina Dreams, published by Wiley, was launched in NY on Nov. 13th in honor of World Diabetes Day and the UN Resolution.

Zippora is heading the non-profit arm of a new company,, which is a green and organic landscaping/construction company working with leaders in the field of sustainable agriculture and environmental design. As head of the non-profit arm of the company, this initiative is one more aspect of Zipporas dedication to teaching others how to be responsible for their own health.

Zippora says to the dLife Community: I think one of my strongest messages is to find a passion in your life and let that motivate you to take care of your health. Never let anyone tell you that diabetes will stop you from what you love to do, but dont do things that jeopardize your health for the sake of success. Try not to think of exercise and eating healthy as things you have to do because you have diabetes. We are not cursed while every other person gets to pig out on banana splits. Everyone alive needs to eat right and exercise. Find ways to move because it feels good; maybe just turn on some music and dance around like you did when you were young. I know its not always easy. But try to remember how lucky we are to have devices and therapies that help us live full and passionate lives. Be healthy and keep moving in your heart and in your feet.

Reviewed by dLife Staff 04/14  

Last Modified Date: April 28, 2014

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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