flipsy

Peter Martins successor

68 posts in this topic

Boards are needed to raise funds to further an institution's mission. They're are not there to defend or define that mission and generally they aren't qualified to. It's the artistic director's job. If it isn't happening there, one needs a new artistic director, not for the board to fill the vacuum.

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Boards are needed to raise funds to further an institution's mission. They're are not there to defend or define that mission and generally they aren't qualified to. It's the artistic director's job. If it isn't happening there, one needs a new artistic director, not for the board to fill the vacuum.

Found this explanation of a non profit board's responsibilities at Hurwit & Associates website. They are legal counsel for nonprofits.

B. General Responsibilities:

• Governance: Oversee/Evaluate Review/Monitor

• Leadership: In partnership with CEO and management, guide the mission and direction

• Stewardship: Ensure dedication to, and use of assets for, benefit of public

C. Specific Responsibilities:

• Hire/support/evaluate/discharge CEO

• Review and approve annual budget

• Review and approve major organizational decisions, commitments, and plans including expenditures, loans, and leases.

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The current board may be hesitant to challenge Martins, because he was handpicked by Balanchine. It might seem like they are challenging Balanchine.
At the time of the aforementioned stamping of little foot, someone raised the fact here* that NYCB's board members have limited terms. This is, to the last (or first) member, Peter Martins' Board. None of them trace back to the Balanchine -- or even, I believe, Kirstein -- era. They are there to support Martins.

*I searched in vain for citation but will keep trying.

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Haglund's - what you've cited (down to the description of the head as a CEO) is more applicable to a charitable organization than an artistic one. The Board should not define an artistic mission except in the broadest terms. It does have oversight.

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Speaking as one who has worked in Not-for-Profits for over 20 years, in (nearly) every not-for-profit, the Board is there to "give or get," that is, to give their own money, or bring in their contacts to give (tickets to a gala, gifts to a particular fund....). But as well, in every not-for-profit, the head honcho, whatever he/she is called, HAS to get out there and shake hands, kiss cheeks, have tea, waltz around and otherwise shake the tree. Peter Martins is quite good at this, in part because he was Balanchine's pick, and (maybe) because he is so good looking. That never hurts with the ladies.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Balanchine's remark: "Apres moi, le Board."

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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.

But between ABT and whoever else lands at the Met each year, the full length fans already have a lot to choose from. I would think the board would have enough familiarity with and love of NYCB history to want the company to follow NYCB tradition, not glom on to someone else's.

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It always seems to me when a dance company shows signs of being Board driven, that its engine has begun to stall, and one might want to put one's seatback in the upright position before the nosedive. Sometimes the pilot can regain control, but there's an awful lot of crash & burn in the dance world.

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I would think the board would have enough familiarity with and love of NYCB history to want the company to follow NYCB tradition, not glom on to someone else's.

I wish I had your faith.

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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."
I also don't see how a neo-classical version of Romeo and Juliet is antithetical to fulfilling the mission to "preserve the aesthetic" of its founders. It's not as if Balanchine didn't choreograph The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pulchinella, or Coppelia, all multi-act narrative ballets, as well as several versions of Firebird. Balanchine dreamed of producing Sleeping Beauty, and if he had lived longer, we might have seen Darci Kistler's Aurora in the Master's version. Lincoln Kirstein was instrumental in supporting a number of choreographers -- not only at NYCB, but with Ballet Caravan and some of his other ballet ventures during Balanchine's Broadway and Hollywood periods -- who created works with narratives and characters.

I don't see where Martins would have had to justify R&J from a mission perspective at all. To speculate that he did has no foundation in official news.

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I don't see where Martins would have had to justify R&J from a mission perspective at all. To speculate that he did has no foundation in official news.

Yes, and I am glad they're making it. I also think that his SB and SL will be seen to have been important things to do at some point. Unfortunately, I've seen neither, and that will be my next NYCB project. I wish I'd gotten to the SB last week, but no time. This is an area in which he may have been very wise. They could always be revised too, couldn't they? I've heard a lot of complaints about them, but I don't care, can't be much worse than that Mackenzie thing ABT televised. I definitely think NYCB needs every single one of these ballets in the repertory, and Nutcracker and Coppelia and Midsummer Night's Dream are the same sort of thing, as Helene pointed out. Nothing distasteful in this, and there is simply no way to ignore that the theater is almost never full anymore. One 'Jewels' I saw at a Sat. matinee in 2004, other than that, I've seen plenty of 2/3-3/4 full houses. That's a serious problem.

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I also think that his SB and SW will be seen to have been important things to do at some point. . . . I've heard a lot of complaints about them, but I don't care, can't be much worse than that Mackenzie thing ABT televised.
Wow, you have no idea how far out on a limb you've just gone, comparing Swan Lake to Swan Lake.

NYPL's Dance Collection may have a video of Martin's SL available for viewing. It, too, was televised.

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I also think that his SB and SW will be seen to have been important things to do at some point. . . . I've heard a lot of complaints about them, but I don't care, can't be much worse than that Mackenzie thing ABT televised.
Wow, you have no idea how far out on a limb you've just gone, comparing Swan Lake to Swan Lake.

NYPL's Dance Collection may have a video of Martin's SL available for viewing. It, too, was televised.

I had edited my wrong 'SW' to read 'SL'. You mean really, though? I thought all sorts of people here had already said they hated Mackenzie's, but some hated Martins's even more. Will they do Martins's 'Swan Lake' in the spring? I'll go then if they do. I don't really want to see them except live. In the meantime, do his SB an SL bring in good audiences, better than the ones I've been seeing at other things (even Nutcracker)?

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A couple of comments -- as far as husband/wife directorships are concerned, their success depends entirely on what skills they bring and what tasks the company needs filled. Stowell and Russell at PNB filled a variety of roles that a young and growing company had need of near the beginning of its life. Stowell contributed a significant amount of choreography that was tailored to the abilities of the dancers (both highlighting their particular skills and helping to groom them as performers), as well as working within budget constraints. At the beginning, Russell closely supervised the development of the school curriculum and the selection of its teachers, as well as nurturing performers. Her credibility as a Balanchine stager meant that the company had access to a significant repertory, constantly maintained, without needing to spend great sums on outside stagers or coaches. As a couple they created a very supportive environment for dancers in the company -- their particular skill set and the needs of that ensemble meshed extremely well. Russell didn't have the title of co-director until later in her tenure with the company, but in fact she acted as one for most of her time there.

This doesn't mean that all husband and wife teams bring the same attributes, nor does it mean that every company has the same job description for their artistic director. NYCB is a very different institution, with specific needs. It has been run by choreographers for its entire life -- I would suggest that, whatever you think of Martins as a dancemaker, that perspective is very different than a caretaker/curator director. I don't know if Woetzel thinks of himself as a choreographer, but at this point I believe that Boal does not. It's very interesting to see the transition here in Seattle from a director who makes dances to a director who commissions/buys them -- I'm not sure if that's a path that NYCB wants to travel.

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Will they do Martins's 'Swan Lake' in the spring? I'll go then if they do.
Unfortunately -- or fortunately -- no. Maybe next winter?

The houses do tend to be fuller for the evening-length ballets. I'm always taken aback by the number of empty seats at some Nuts. They used to sell out completely weeks in advance.

There are things I like very much in Martins' Beauty. Things I dislike, too. On a pass/fail basis, it easily passes.

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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.
Apart from when there are dissenters, like Robert Gottlieb, or scandals, like when Anne Bass resigned, or around the succession to Martins and Robbins, we rarely hear about the workings of the Board from official sources. Ultimately, we don't know what they do, what areas outside finance they influence -- they have a fiduciary responsibility to do the latter, and I assume they do so -- whether their influence is specific or general, or whether and how this has changed over the years.

We don't know who initiated the surveys, what the results were -- except that, according to an article in The New York Times, college aged peers of a dancer didn't recognize the names of great choreographers -- whether they actually pointed to any clear conclusion, and, most importantly, to your question, whether the Board took note of them in any or all details, and if they had any influence whatsoever on Board actions, suggestions, or influences.

There's been nothing, however, to suggest that the Board does not support Mr. Martins in his roles as artistic director, even if that is not his title.

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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.)

The NY Times today announced that Mark Morris is choreographing Prokofiev's Romeo, so it could be that it's just in a lot of people's minds that now is the time to re-visit this score. According to the Times, it will "include six new dance numbers, 15 minutes of new music and a radically different ending to the ballet, which was conceived in 1935 and changed to meet the demands of Soviet cultural officials". Do you suppose they have Friar Lawrence's wacky plan succeed, and Romeo and Juliet skip happily out of the tomb and into the sunset? Another plus for Cliff's Notes - they don't change the end of the story!

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Going for the demolition derby angle of attraction?

Oh, I will be very interested in seeing what he does with this!

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