Great post, Sandy, but I don’t think that those here who are questioning the omnipresence of Balanchine are suggesting that. No one is saying that the next great genius of ballet, assuming there is one, will be unable to cut his way out of the forest raised by Balanchine’s heirs.
I think that was what Kaufman was saying about the influence of Artistic Directors. Genius doesn't sit around waiting for an invitation or a contract. A creative genius creates because he or she has to, and s/he gets a bunch of like-minded people to collaborate, if s/he needs performers. S/he rents a warehouse, or in Balanchine's case, a high school, or finds another place to perform. Or s/he has a day job (Balzac, Ives, Zola, Tharp) and funds his/her work. If they are inspired by narrative, they'll choreograph narrative ballets.
A very talented choreographer/Principal Dancer at PNB, Olivier Wevers, is forming his own small company to perform his choreography. He's making it happen, not waiting to be handed a main stage.
The concern is that over-emphasis on the work of one man and one aesthetic limits the vision of contemporary choreographers, who may not be geniuses but might be doing more varied and interesting work if ADs and other lesser beings were more open to the different approaches represented by Ashton and Tudor.
Ashton was very varied in his work, and did abstract as well as story ballets. Assuming this means narrative ballets, Artistic Directors are chomping at the bit for new story ballets, to which I can attest having done the Calendar for the last three years, some of which makes me cringe.
Balanchine protegees are cited as having a single aesthetic, but I don't think that is borne out by the rep or by the most talented resident choreographers (Possokhov, formerly Wheeldon, Ratmansky). The more workman-like AD choreographers might, but Ballet Arizona's programs this year included three full-lengths, a Wheeldon/Fokine/Tharp triple bill, and an all-Balanchine. (I think we lost a new Andersen ballet when program six was canceled.) Robert Weiss at Carolina Ballet is the principal choreographer, but the rep this year was five full-length story ballets, a Robbins/Weiss/Bongar triple bill, and a Weiss/Taylor-Corbett program. Taylor-Corbett's work is described as "inspired by Amnesty International...At times dark and disturbing, this piece also explores our ability to endure and persist, allowing hope for humanity to flower in our hearts." Hard to imagine which Balanchine ballet that would describe.
This year's PNB triples bills have been "Jewels", an all-Tharp (including two new works), a Broadway mixed bill (Robbins/Stroman/Wheeldon/Balanchine), and a Robbins/Wheeldon/Balanchine closer. Next season, we get Maillot's "Romeo et Juliette", three full-length story ballets, a Kylian/Goecke/new Caniparoli/Robbins program, a 4-Dove program, and an all-Balanchine. The only things I've seen by Caniparoli are "Lambarena" and "The Bridge", neither of them terribly Balanchinean, and the latter with a story.
The throw-out-the-baby-with-the bathwater syndrome happened in those companies that were tied to the legacy of their genius choreographers: the Royal Ballet with Ashton, who was accused of quelching the young, maverick talent of MacMillan and was quelched himself, and ABT with Tudor. The closest thing to protegees who are protecting the seedlings are New York Theatre Ballet with Tudor and Iain Webb in Sarasota for Ashton, if choreographers need exposure to these.