Kent praised Reyes, saying in a statement: "Xiomara's warmth and dynamic personality will be a great asset as she leads the school, bringing joy and sharing her love and knowledge of classical ballet to students and parents."
Reyes, born in Cuba, will take over from Kee Juan Han, who directed the school for nine years. Han announced in April that he would be returning to his native Singapore. About 700 students train at the Washington School of Ballet's campus on Wisconsin Avenue, NW, and 350 more at the school's Southeast campus.
Reyes is no stranger to the Washington Ballet. She made a guest appearance with the company in February 2015, dancing the leading role in the world premiere of "Sleepy Hollow," created by then-director Septime Webre. Reyes stepped into the role on scarcely a week's notice, after company member Sona Kharatian was injured.
Reyes retired from ABT in May 2015 after 14 years with the company, 12 of them as a principal dancer. Petite and high-spirited, she was a commanding technician and an expressive dancer-actress with a great range, starring in dramatic works by Agnes de Mille and Antony Tudor, as well as crisp technical showcases by George Balanchine and Marius Petipa. She trained at Cuba's National Ballet School, then danced with the Royal Ballet of Flanders, where she met her husband, before joining ABT.
Reyes has directed the summer intensive ballet program at the Hartt School in West Hartford, Conn., as well as a student program in Barcelona, and is teaching this summer at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. In an interview with The Washington Post last year, Reyes voiced concern that young dancers focus too much on technique, and not enough on artistry.
"This is an art," Reyes said, "and if you don't cultivate your soul, and if you don't cultivate your education and your knowledge of life and beauty and other things, there are limited things you can share on the stage with other people."
The Washington School of Ballet was founded in 1944 by Mary Day and Lisa Gardiner. In 1976, Day established the Washington Ballet.