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Alexandra

Anne Bass leaves SAB Board

44 posts in this topic

Thanks to Mark D for sennding this link to me. (It's to the homepage, but you'll notice a large Nutcracker. Click on him to get to the article, taking care to notice his visage.)

Nutcracked

Here's the permalink:

Nutcracked

This is old news -- Ms. Bass resigned in September -- but I don't think there was anything in the press about it.  (Or did I miss a story in the Times?)  Lots of history here.

And finally, it is Mr. Martins—and his leadership of the school and the company—that she blames for her exit.

“For me, [the New York City Ballet] feels irrelevant now,” Ms. Bass told The Observer. “It seemed like such an integral part of life years ago.”

In her resignation letter, she was more specific.

“Over the past few years, my escalating concerns over serious issues of governance made it impossible for me to continue,” she began. “I am no longer willing to support an institution that increasingly bears so little resemblance to the one that George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein bequeathed to their successors, and to which I have been committed for over twenty years since my Chairmanship of the 50th Anniversary campaign in 1984.”

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"Dashing & tempestuous", eh? Grey eyes? Don't think so.

Lovely photo of Darci, though.

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That underwear must have been awfully big on Ms. Watts.....

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I can't comment on the details, but it seems that -- even though Ms. Bass's fortune is based in Fort Worth -- the affairs of the SAB and NYCB owe a great deal to story lines from "Dallas."

Also, as I struggled to make sense of the dreadful writing and disorganization of this piece (eg: "It was in January of this year that ..." "Finally, it was ___ who replaced ___". "It would be _____ who... ") the thought occurred to me: does the New York Observer employ copy editors?

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[D]oes the New York Observer employ copy editors?

Couldn't get in due to transit strike? :wink:

Short staffing on site is a real possibility, but wouldn't most employees internet access?

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Would it be possible, just once, to have a discussion on the substantive points of an article? Just a thought.

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The comment from Villella surprised me, with its implicit criticism of Martins, since I was under the impression the two of them were friends (or at least enjoyed a good professional relationship). But I'm very glad he made it. From my own depressing experiences at other organizations, I'd say it's hard to know, even from this lengthy article, what really is going on with the board, though things certainly don't sound good. But one thing is clear: currently, nobody is addressing (*can* address?) such a fundamental problem as the lack of coaching, in Balanchine's company, from Balanchine's own dancers. It breaks my heart.

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Anthony, I also wish the artistic issues were aired. And they never are, because the media doesn't care about ballet enough to air the issues (much more interesting to stir the dirt. There's nastiness here -- some Source threw mud anywhere it would stick, each story dutifully checked and included.) But if something like this had happened in something important -- say, table tennis or rhythmic gymnastics, much less football or the stock market -- it would have been covered thoroughly in all the major news media.

If all politics is local, arts politics is nearly always very local: i.e., personal. Someone has a disagreement, perhaps, but then there's an Issue that pushes them over the wall and they resign -- leaving their spot to be filled by someone who will most likely share the views that the Leaver is leaving to protest. I think the School would be able to defend disciplining a student who was disruptive (which seems to be the Issue here, although the workshop was several months before the resignation). There must have been other policy issues. How much say do donors have in either day to day operations or general policy? How much do Board members?

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Well......I don’t know how much food for serious discussion there is here (“dashing and tempestuous playboy,” etc.) bart has a point -- one is distracted by the poor writing and organization. It seems quite gossipy (although I noted one bit of old gossip left out, which I won’t repeat for obvious reasons), and for the most part, as anthony_nyc notes, it’s he-said-she-said stuff – very hard to judge on the basis of the article what happened. I'm not necessarily complaining -- I like a bit of dish as much as the next person -- but it's hard to take this piece too seriously. Horowitz seems to want to tie in complaints about the company’s dancing with the Bass departure, but the complaints have been around a very long time. Not everyone likes the way Martins runs the company. He has a lot of old girlfriends. People he fired don’t like him. And so forth.

That underwear must have been awfully big on Ms. Watts.....

atm711, I fear I had the very same thought. Safety pins? a belt, perhaps?

I was posting simultaneously with Alexandra, and I agree with her comments. It's unfortunate that Horowitz didn't seem to be very interested in the issues she raised....

Edited by dirac

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The great teacher Wilhelm Burmann certainly DID address key artistic issues. The section of the article involving his teaching of a City Ballet ballerina concludes with:

Mr. Burmann explained how Balanchine “didn’t just teach the student and dancers; he elevated them, he developed them. “You need a director, a coach, and that is a little bit lacking now,” he said.

Like many of his critics, Mr. Burmann said that Mr. Martins seemed resistant to bringing in the great dancers of the past to help the younger generation. “Now they are so insecure in their position that they don’t surround themselves with equals or even betters,” he said of artistic directors generally.

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The comment from Villella surprised me, with its implicit criticism of Martins, since I was under the impression ghe two of them were friends (or at least enjoyed a good professional relationship).

I am trying to recall the source, but I know I've read this statement by Villella -- or something almost identical -- in another publication within the last 6 months. Will try to track it down.

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I also remember Villella expressing similar sentiments previously -- can't recall when, unfortunately.

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This isn't the first time that Villella has said something contrary to the PC line. After Dancing on My Grave was published, he argued that Gelsey Kirkland should not be ostracized for writing the book, which was far from a popular view at the time.

When Anne Bass said, “I am no longer willing to support an institution that increasingly bears so little resemblance to the one that George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein bequeathed to their successors, and to which I have been committed for over twenty years since my Chairmanship of the 50th Anniversary campaign in 1984,” it was interesting that the reported final straw came when her sponsored pupil threw a tantrum, since Kirstein ignored less than stellar behavior when he thought a student was talented, even attributing part of his/her talent to the larger-than-life temperament. In general, places of employment and schools have processes by which students/employees are warned over time, and when no one else is endangered by bad behavior, it's usually not the first infraction that gets someone kicked out. When it is, there's often a swift reaction, up to a lawsuit.

In my opinion, the substantive points in the article are not artistic. I think just about anyone who has worked in an office can recognize -- in Mr. Horowitz' portrayal -- Mr. Bellas as a type who takes reports out of context and cites documentation that contradict other copies of the same in order to further his aims, and Mr. Martins as a leader whose reasoning is belied by the paper trail. The situation is the standard-issue political one: the people in power say "good riddance" to those who aren't in line with them, and the people who are unhappy talk about the abuse of power. The people in this case have incredible amounts of money and power, and unlike former employees who don't necessarily have the same, are less likely to be politic -- or be silenced by the terms of severance agreements -- when discussing the situation.

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What is most disturbing is for a self syled high falutin' publication such as the Observer to dig up all this old dirt & regurgitate it as though it has something to do with the subject of the article.

I'm surprised they didn't throw Frances Schreuder in there while they were at it.

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On the whole, I thought it was a good article, even though it told me more about the infighting at SAB than I really want to know. Thanks for posting it, Alexandra. I never thought I had anything in common with Anne Bass, but her sentiments about how NYCB and SAB were once the most important things in her life and are now irrelevant, pretty much reflect mine.

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Perhaps in terms of throwing her weight around -- to push the advancement of students at the school and the casting in the company of students whom she "discovered" or "adopted," Ms. Bass herself hasn't been exactly guiltless. If it's no longer the Balanchine Kierstein company, she's not without blame herself.

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It looks to me rather like a succession of skirmishes over various sorts of protégé(e)s over an extended period of time. So, ah, what else is new?

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Twenty-five years is a long time to support an organization though a load of money. I remember the notes in many a program that noted that a production was sponsored by Anne Bass.

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What is most disturbing is for a self syled high falutin' publication such as the Observer to dig up all this old dirt & regurgitate it as though it has something to do with the subject of the article.

I'm surprised they didn't throw Frances Schreuder in there while they were at it.

If l’affaire Schreuder could in some way be blamed on Martins, trust me, she’d be there. :wub:

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Yes, there was a lot of irrelevant dirt in the story. What didn't get addressed and is of great interest to me is Anne Bass' continuing (or not), friendly (or not) participation on the Company's board. The sourness of her departure from SAB's must leech into NYCB's.

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Two things about the article, the first one is this quote from Ms. Thompson,

"I think there might be people who want to teach at the school, but teaching is quite different from being a superstar dancer. You need something more-intuition, openess, dedication."

If she's talking about Farrell, Kent, etc. then this woman is completely clueless. Scary clueless!

The second thing that struck me about the article is it's strong gossipy tone. It made me feel dirty after I read it.

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The situation described in the article sounds so much like infighting at other non-profit/volunteer boards, not limited at all to the dance world. It seems to me that the author included much extraneous/dated detail about NYCB to pad the story.

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