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Death of Ross Stretton


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#16 Helene

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 10:23 AM

This sounds like a classic "two sides to every story" issue, which isn't surprising since people are rarely like characters in Hollywood movies. Both good people and bad people can be treated well or badly -- although we're rarely satisfied by the extent to which bad people are treated badly -- and even dictators have people who truly like love them without fear or a hidden agenda, while very giving people have hangers on who are ready to sell them to the highest bidder. It's to be seen how much of either side is published or spoken about in interviews.

Anna Kisselgoff's obituary in the New York Times speaks to some of the political forces that were in the air during his tenure at Australian Ballet and Royal Ballet, as well as the resistance to his goals at Australian Ballet when he was there, compared to the post-tenure praise of his work. (This article is cited in 17 June Links.)

#17 dirac

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 11:26 AM

Alexandra wrote:

I've seen kinder obits of drug kingpins.


Yes, Pol Pot got more sympathy. I think obituaries should be candid and not shirk the bad stuff, but this was a bit much.

#18 Alymer

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 02:29 PM

Whoever wrote that obituary in the Telegraph doesn't even have the guts to put their name to the piece.


Just to put the record straight, Obituaries in the Daily Telegraph, like those in The Times, are never signed. They are supposed to be an objective record of the subject's life and achievements - warts and all.

#19 dirac

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 02:46 PM

Thank you for making the point about the byline, Alymer. The negative side of the no-byline policy, however, is that it can make an unpleasant obituary look more like a drive by shooting. I agree with you about warts-and-all -- but it did seem to me as if the Telegraph piece was a trifle over the top.

#20 Helene

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 04:42 PM

I agree with you about warts-and-all -- but it did seem to me as if the Telegraph piece was a trifle over the top.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I missed the "and-all" part in the Telegraph obit.

#21 redbookish

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 10:45 PM

Among some of us here (a species known as "Guardian readers" & suspected of eating müsli and wearing sandals), the Daily Telegraph is known as the "Daily Torygraph." The obit of Mr Stretton seems overly exercised by some of those old Tory principles, and particularly snide about Stretton's non-Britishness (I think I detect a whiff of old imperial contempt for colonials ...) and his importation of 'foreign dancers' and imported ballets. As I'm sure many of you already know, the Royal Ballet is not just a ballet company - it's seen by many of its faithful audiences as a specifically British cultural institution, and implicitly expected to reflect this Britishness in the ethnic makeup of its dancers and repertoires. Of course, this is not overt policy, but the cultural (ideological in the broadest sense?) context in whioch the RB operates. But the ethnicity or nationality of the RB causes passionate debate (see ballet.co.uk for some of those debates). I'm not saying either side is right or wrong - just doing my cultural historian's observation thing - but I think that that kind of context would make it tricky for anyone who comes from the perceived 'outside' to try to innovate.

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 04:10 AM

I saw the Telegraph obit less over-the-top than under-the-bottom.

#23 glebb

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 06:19 PM

I'm so sorry to hear this news. Ross was a very sweet, kind friend in our Joffrey days together.
I danced with his wife in A Wedding Bouquet.

I went to ABT's Fokine program today.
What a day of nostalgia.

#24 Cygnet

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 10:21 AM

From what I have heard from an RB insider, Ross Stretton was more sinned against than sinning and it will be interesting to know if now that he has sadly passed away, more information about what was the ugliest period in the Royal Ballet's history will come to light.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I realize that I'm almost a week late with this. I am so sorry to hear of
his death. My deepest sympathy to his family. Mashinka you made an
excellent point here. In Kirkland's second book, she mentioned that she
passed none other than Lynn Seymour in a Covent Garden hallway.
Seymour advised her to, "Watch yourself around here." I also hope that in
death he will be vindicated. Afterall he was the RB's A.D. whether some liked it
or not. As such, he is apart of the RB's history, however short his tenure. In
the Pantheon that is British ballet there are a few critics who are at times a little excessive in their opinions. You've heard of professional Balanchine mourners? Well, the vitriol in this "eulogy" is the English version.

#25 bart

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 10:29 AM

There are echoes of Stretton's experience at the Royal Ballet in Riccardo Muti's recent forced resignation from Teatro alla Scala. Some 700-plus employees of La Scala (talk about padded payroll in some of these state theaters !!!) voted to demand the resignation. Only 3 voted for Muti.

The story's in the July, 2005, Opera News. (Sorry, I could not get a Link.)

#26 dirac

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 09:58 AM

The Sydney Morning Herald gets hold of an oral history interview given by Stretton to the National Library of Australia. It’s quite something. Story by Valerie Lawson.


On the 10th anniversary of Sir Kenneth's death, Stretton programmed nine of his ballets but "Deborah wanted nothing to do with it. She wanted all other ballets, all the things that were dear to her but not to me. So there was another conflict. When I was in Australia [with a tour of the Royal Ballet in the winter of 2002], she flew out to see me and her agent flew out separately to see me about doing Manon [a MacMillan ballet] in the round at the Royal Albert Hall, choreographed by [the former artistic director of the English National Ballet] Derek Deane, and produced by Raymond Gubbay, who is an entrepreneur, who has bad-mouthed the Royal Ballet, hates the Royal Ballet. Derek Deane has bad-mouthed the Royal Ballet, didn't get my position, hates the company. You know, there was bad blood all over the place."

The chief executive of the Royal Opera House, Tony Hall, also flew to Australia to discuss Lady MacMillan's request but Stretton would not budge, "after which, Stretton said, she gave an ultimatum to the board that he step aside or she would pull the MacMillan repertoire from the Royal Ballet".



#27 Dale

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 10:14 AM

Thank you for this Dirac. It's very rare we allowed to hear about the business side or day-to-day practicalities that go into running a ballet company.

#28 Helene

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 10:44 AM

After reading two dance biographies in a row, Rudolf Nureyev's and Vera Volkova's, and seeing the biases and influences of major critics, who are often enlisted in writing obits, and reading this new article, I have to wonder who was feeding info into The Guardian obit and had influence over the tone it took, or whether this was a hatchet job on a public employee, meant to embarass an organization getting public subsidies.

#29 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 11:11 AM

Wow. It is something. I guess it's important to realize we're not seeing it unedited, and also that oral histories aren't necessarily corroborated. It sounds like there was, as Stretton says, bad blood everywhere.

#30 cargill

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 11:22 AM

How interesting--Lady Macmillan does seem like a piece of work though! The idea of restaging Macmillan's Sleeping Beauty is appalling--it was truly one of the worst disasters I have ever seen, at least up to that time. It opened to a gala audience, who simply refused to applaud. I have seen worse since, I'm afraid.


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