flipsy

Peter Martins successor

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Sorry Carbro, I'll to the appropriate forum re the link thing.

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As the topic starter, I’d like to weigh in on the question of taste and propriety.

I decided to open the discussion because it had already been started in the media, with Woetzel’s rather impolitic confession to wanting the job, and Wheeldon’s thinly veiled jabs at Martins. (He’s leaving to start his own company because he doesn’t like the way things are run in big companies, the casting isn’t always sensitive, etc.)

I also have had several frissons of profound terror, at what I perceived to be hints that Nilas Martins was also angling for the job, or being angled by someone. In a company that has been rightly accused of nepotism and insensitive casting, it could happen.

My fears were specifically set off by the appearance of the Nilas Martins Ballet Company, a pickup troupe of NYCB dancers performing at Central Park’s Summerstage the last two Augusts. And then, the recent cover shot on the NYCB website of N. Martins as Apollo, being anointed by three lovely muses.

I think it’s legitimate to bring these questions out into the open, rather than have them raised darkly or subliminally. And I do feel strongly that this very important decision, whenever it comes, should not just come from the powers-that-be at NYCB in a closed room. The public has an interest in this, no?

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At this moment I'm speaking as a moderator and the answer is Yes.

Just so we won't keep discussing the discussion, Yes. Period.

The basic no-nos in a discussion that require a moderator's intervention are ad hominem comments and news not substantiated publicly. For everyone, if you have a question about an appropriate discussion, please ask a moderator via the "report" option or private message, rather than derailing the discussion into a discussion of whether we should be having the discussion. That's why we're here.

And with that, I'd like to ask that this branch of the discussion stop. This is completely appropriate.

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To get back to the discussion at hand.....

I think it would be a disaster to have two equal heads to run any

organization. Especially an artistic one. The AD or Ballet Master or

Ballet Master in Chief or whatever needs complete and total control

and support of the Board. Anything else will lead to problems. That

is not to say that there shouldnt be lots of assistants to share the running

of such a huge organization. And there are now. And there will

always be there in the future.

So who should replace Martins when the time comes......

First I think it needs to be a Choreographer. This

should be a choreographer led company. It is the tradition and I think

a choreographer looks at a company in a different way than a dancer.

That would lead me to Wheldon as a first choice assuming this is not anytime

soon. Woetzel has done some choreography as has others in the company

(Liang did some great stuff that was shown at the Joyce last year). Maybe

Milessa Barak way down the road. She did some really nice stuff for SAB a

while back. And I think she would like to continue doing that.

But we may be many many years from having to deal with this. Martins

could easily continue for another 20 or 25 years. So assuming that you would

want to follow Martins with someone say in their 40's - that would suggest we

should be looking to the SAB students and the Corps dancers..... :blush:

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I disagree. I do not think that a choreographer would be the natural or best successor to Peter Martins. In picking a successor I think it is important to remember that Balanchine can never be replaced, and that his choreographic genius coupled with his amazing ability to lead a company and shape and nurture dancers is basically an anomaly in the ballet world that has yet to be paralleled. Also, he had Lincoln Kirstein with him, always.

I would say that it would be best not to have a choreographer leading the company. As we have seen from Martins' repeated choreographic endeavours, good choreography is hard to come by. And while Martins feels the need to choreograph each and every season, sometimes more than one ballet per season, plus revive various of his earlier works, an Artistic Director who does not choreograph would have more time to spend working with the dancers, rehearsing other ballets (like the Balanchine works!), and dealing with the multitidue of other issues at hand. Directors who double as choreographers, especially those to follow in Balanchine's stead, must inevitably feel pressured to live up to their predessecors' genius, an impossible task. So why not try to better preserve the multitude of Balanchine ballets, nurture and develop the talent in the company, coach the principals in prime roles, and play a more active role in the daily company life.

I am not saying that NYCB should not perfrom new works, but the Artistic Director should not be compelled to choreograph them, merely recruit those more talented who should.

The main problem with post-Martins NYCB era speculation is that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. Essentially, whoever succeedes Martins could prove to be an even more divisive figure than Martins. And as highly coveted as the position is, it is also a thankless job -- it is impossible to please all of the avid NYCB fans and attendees. My personal pick would be a Heather Watts - Damien Woetzel team. They are savvy, clearly ambitious, and fearless of provocative decisions.

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Well, I don't know how interested they would be.....in working as a team, that is.....and I'm not advocating the idea, but they are both very bright, intellectually curious, and well informed.

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My personal pick would be a Heather Watts - Damien Woetzel team. They are savvy, clearly ambitious, and fearless of provocative decisions.
There would just be such irony in that.

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A fascinating discussion. But I want to ask, with respect, a question -- Although I frequently saw Watts dance in the late 70s and the 80s -- and although I am aware of the relationship issues re Martins -- what other qualifications or experience has she had to be paired with Woetzel as a possible candidate for running the Company?

I remember Watts because, on that huge stage in that vast barn of a theater, her distinct personal style of movement made her stand out among the others. I looked for her.

As to running an institution of the size, complexity, tradition, and potential as the NYCB, however .... ? Or is there a touch of irony in this that I have missed?

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A fascinating discussion. But I want to ask, with respect, a question -- Although I frequently saw Watts dance in the late 70s and the 80s -- and although I am aware of the relationship issues re Martins -- what other qualifications or experience has she had to be paired with Woetzel as a possible candidate for running the Company?

I remember Watts because, on that huge stage in that vast barn of a theater, her distinct personal style of movement made her stand out among the others. I looked for her.

As to running an institution of the size, complexity, tradition, and potential as the NYCB, however .... ? Or is there a touch of irony in this that I have missed?

She certainly did stand out, and, though, in terms of her dancing, I was a "Heather Basher" as it was then called, I met her several times, and was always impressed by her intelligence and understanding of issues in ballet management and fundraising. She did, to my thinking, have a very sardonic/ironic outlook/attitude, which is very foreign in the ballet world, and I don't know how constructive that would be in a position of authority.

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A fascinating discussion. But I want to ask, with respect, a question -- Although I frequently saw Watts dance in the late 70s and the 80s -- and although I am aware of the relationship issues re Martins -- what other qualifications or experience has she had to be paired with Woetzel as a possible candidate for running the Company?

As to running an institution of the size, complexity, tradition, and potential as the NYCB, however .... ? Or is there a touch of irony in this that I have missed?

I wasn't the one who made the suggestion, my guess, however, is that they were suggested as a pair because they are married. Not this necessarily qualifies them to run a company together, but they are both experienced in NYCB and she did have the experience of dancing under balanchine.

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"I definitely need to lie down with a cold compress."

LOL. See what happens when you open this can of worms! In the early years of Martins' leadership, some disgruntled fans were certain that Heather Watts was running the company. As for her qualifications - other than her personal relationships - for a number of years she ran a pickup company with NYCB dancers and others that toured in this country and abroad. So no doubt she does have experience and skills in the area of administration, casting, etc.

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"I definitely need to lie down with a cold compress."

LOL. See what happens when you open this can of worms! In the early years of Martins' leadership, some disgruntled fans were certain that Heather Watts was running the company. As for her qualifications - other than her personal relationships - for a number of years she ran a pickup company with NYCB dancers and others that toured in this country and abroad. So no doubt she does have experience and skills in the area of administration, casting, etc.

She also ran the summer institute (I don't know what it was called) affiliated with SPAC and Skidmore college.

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As for her qualifications - other than her personal relationships - for a number of years she ran a pickup company with NYCB dancers and others that toured in this country and abroad. So no doubt she does have experience and skills in the area of administration, casting, etc.

Experience, yes. But that pickup company showed up at George Mason University one year billed to dance Balanchine, but substituting Martins and The Dying Swan and I forget what else instead. In the pre-performance talk Watts made some sort of excuse, but the real reason for the change was that the Balanchine Trust wouldn't give them permission for the Balanchine.

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People give up too easily, act as if one major new development--such as Wheeldon's current plans-- are to be figured into some future which really is not less vague than Peter Martins's own plans, which may not include retirement for quite a long time.. Kay Denmark may be right to point out that he should be thinking of it even if youthful and in good shape, but maybe he's not even if he should, and I frankly want to keep thinking of him doing it--at least instead of some neat, businesslike-sounding formation like Woetzel/Watts--as long as he can. This, even with tempi that seem like they'd be better used for 'Mighty Mouse' in the operatic caricatures rather than in the Nutcracker. He's still part of the Balanchine tradition, and grew up imbued with Danish ballet, descended from ballet dancers; and if Wheeldon doesn't change his mind over the next 5 or 10 years, who says Peter and Suzanne won't? They might figure out a way to cooperate. She'd certainly slow down those hysterical tempi. Much of this has to do with people's dissatisfaction with Peter Martins, of course, many valid. The Farrell/Martins problems surely must have to do with both their egoes, not just his, even if his seem more distasteful. Egoes come in different varieties. He makes messes, but I think what he's done with the company is at least always alive and has some dynamism to it. He's mediocre in some ways, but the company definitely sparkles a lot of the time, and sometimes just as it used to.

Well, this just came to mind after finally reading the whole article about Woetzel's retirement. He's a good dancer, but I don't see the charisma that others find so compelling. He's got all that administrative background also. It's true I've only seen him a couple of times, and he's very good, that's true. That article is not all that impressive. The Harvard stuff doesn't seem to be to be a selling point for being head of NYCB at all. He has a nice, prosaic personality outside of his dancing. 10 years ago, Robin McNeil joined the board (very nice, I don't know what his connection is currently) and we saw him talk to Peter Martins on PBS, now we've got David Gergen as Woetzel's mentor (that's a little less interesting, at least to me--no, it's a lot less.) We have a thoroughly embarassing moment in one of Woetzel's classes when he tries to gloss over Kofi Annan's (non-)involvement with Rwanda at the important moment (the one Clinton regrets most) reported by ththe Times writer (surprisingly, I must say.) If people don't think Martins is much of a romantic figure, then some triumvirate with Martins/Farrell/Kistler might have some Balanchine punch to it (I don't mean this necessarily literally, for one thing I wouldn't know how to, just pointing to some kind of direction that has some resonance to it, some musical and artistic resonance). Kistler's not going to dance all that many more years either. Kistler knows stuff, and again, Wheeldon may not do his Morphoses forever. Is there any reason to think he's written off NYCB forever?

What I've just said is a mess, too, but Woetzel/Watts just sounds so anticlimactic, and the ambitious tone in Woetzel's words was off-putting as well, sort of like a twit. It sounds like a real diminution, another mutation of the continued anti-romantic period we seem to be stuck with unless every stone is not left unturned.

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Maybe Ratmansky will defect. That would solve all problems.

(Only wishful thinking.)

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How important will the daily job of courting the wealthy and keeping the Board happy be in these calculations?

Also -- if considering couples -- does the Stowell/Russell partnership at PNB have anything to suggest?

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How important a role will the daily job of courting the wealthy and keeping the Board happy play in these calculations?

It probably shouldn't play any role. It's the board's and executive director's responsibilities to find donors and raise money while the artistic director is the guardian of artistic output. A much stronger board may be what NYCB needs, not an artistic director who functions like a king and oversees all things. A stronger board would be able to say 'no' to new, expensive productions that do not fit within the realm of the institution's mission. (I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Martin's production of Romeo and Juliet will be one example as I expect it will be another stripped down, revved-up, Cliff's Notes version of a classic. There is nothing wrong with Cliff's Notes. They are just not the same as literature.)

For artistic director, we might hope for someone with the talent and human relations skills of a Peter Boal.

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I was also going to suggest Peter Boal. If Martin's has 20 or so years left as AD...maybe at that point Mr. Boal will leave PNB and move back to NYCB.

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I was also going to suggest Peter Boal. If Martin's has 20 or so years left as AD...maybe at that point Mr. Boal will leave PNB and move back to NYCB.

Yes, that does sound good for the long term.

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. A much stronger board may be what NYCB needs, not an artistic director who functions like a king and oversees all things. A stronger board would be able to say 'no' to new, expensive productions that do not fit within the realm of the institution's mission. (I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Martin's production of Romeo and Juliet will be one example as I expect it will be another stripped down, revved-up, Cliff's Notes version of a classic. There is nothing wrong with Cliff's Notes. They are just not the same as literature.)

This is my way of thinking. R&J pushes NYCB in the wrong direction in terms of adding new rep. Do we need another "streamlined" production?

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Pushing that question - if we're going to get more narrative ballets from NYCB are they going to start grooming and training dancers to do them? How will it affect the rest of the repertory?

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Isn't it more likely that it is the NYCB Board, and not Peter Martins, that wants a new R and J? No doubt their marketing surveys indicate that this would bring in considerable revenue from the full length ballet fans. Because everyone is familiar with the story and/or the score, Romeo looks like the most logical candidate for a box office winner.

The relationship between a board and an artisitic director is crucial to the vitality of any arts enterprise. But the artistic director should always be a first among equals. The problem is that decisions that seem to make perfect sense to lay people, could have disastrous consequences in the long term for a company. And it's very distasteful - to me, anyway - when some society figure stamps her little foot, and decides that she knows more than professionals who have dedicated their lives to the art. (Or he. No sex bias intended!)

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Isn't it more likely that it is the NYCB Board, and not Peter Martins, that wants a new R and J? No doubt their marketing surveys indicate that this would bring in considerable revenue from the full length ballet fans. Because everyone is familiar with the story and/or the score, Romeo looks like the most logical candidate for a box office winner.

The relationship between a board and an artisitic director is crucial to the vitality of any arts enterprise. But the artistic director should always be a first among equals. The problem is that decisions that seem to make perfect sense to lay people, could have disastrous consequences in the long term for a company. And it's very distasteful - to me, anyway - when some society figure stamps her little foot, and decides that she knows more than professionals who have dedicated their lives to the art. (Or he. No sex bias intended!)

:) @ "when some society figure stamps her little foot". To complete your visual - ". . . and shakes her blond head." That's precisely why strong boards are needed - not with society ladies, but with thinking, accomplished (and wealthy) business people who have a passion for the institution's mission.

The NYCB institutional mission is: 1) to preserve the ballets, aesthetic and excellence of its founders, and 2) "to develop new work that draws on the creative talents of contemporary choreographers and composers, and speaks to the time in which it is made." So where does R&J fit into this mission? A strong board would have said "No, not unless it can be accomplished in accordance with the mission."

The current board may be hesitant to challenge Martins, because he was handpicked by Balanchine. It might seem like they are challenging Balanchine. Presumably that will change when the next artistic director comes on board, and I suspect the artistic focus of the company will regain clarity. OR someone could decide to change the institution's mission. Uh oh.

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