Mike Gunther

Washington Ballet - New Executive Director

7 posts in this topic

This just announced. Russell Allen, currently ED of Orlando Ballet, succeeds Kay Kendall as ED of WB. Allen is a Va. native and experienced arts leader who formerly managed the Virginia Opera.

"Allen said his plans for the Washington Ballet include developing a second home for it in a nearby city, similar to what he had arranged for the Orlando Ballet, which performs regularly in Tampa. Allen also said he wants to expand the Washington School of Ballet. This would require a new facility, or renovation of the Wisconsin Avenue NW building, which houses the company and the school, he said."

Washington Post article

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"Allen said his plans for the Washington Ballet include developing a second home for it in a nearby city, similar to what he had arranged for the Orlando Ballet, which performs regularly in Tampa.Washington Post article

A wonderful idea, already being taken up by other companies, Los Angeles and Miami for example. If you cannot get sufficient audiences to come to you, you have to bring your programs to them.

Anyone have any thoughts about which city (cities) might make a good partner?

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Anyone have any thoughts about which city (cities) might make a good partner?

Richmond, I'd guess, although that is just my guess.

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Richmond has a company. Baltimore?

This multi-city base is a clever adaptation as our metro areas sprawl and begin to bleed one into the other.

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Richmond has a company.
Based on Miami's experience, you have to watch out for being perceived as a carpetbagger. There are still people in West Palm Beach who will never forgive MCB for moving in to what was perceived to be Ballet Florida's home turf, especially with competing Nutcrackers. Even though BF is on an entirely different level as to size, quality, and most of its rep there are apparently those who have never forgiven -- and will never support -- the interloper. :)

MCB this season is finally giving up on the Nutcracker head-to-head. On the other hand, their regular programs are remarkably successful and have started to gain "home town" support from the wealthy arts supporters. Being a first-class company that is clearly on a roll obviously doesn't hurt.

kfw, Alexandra, Hans, and others in the DC area: what do you think about this new development?

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According to statistics from Dance USA, Baltimore is the largest metropolitan area in the nation without a dance company with a million dollar plus budget. Washington is third in the nation with the number of million dollar companies with 4.

Baltimore supports an opera and a symphony and is the home of several art museums and schools, including the prestigious Maryland Institute of Art and the Maryland Conservatory of Music. Probably about the only thing it lacks is a major ballet company.

I don't know if Baltimore is what Washington Ballet has in mind but it certainly seems that it would be a logical market for a ballet company to expand into.

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