Posted 22 February 2010 - 05:02 PM
if it's cricket to cut'n'paste here's what i cut (and am pasting). if this is not allowable feel free to take it down:
February 23, 2010
Wheeldon Quits Dance Troupe He Created
By DANIEL J. WAKIN and ALASTAIR MACAULAY
Three years after forming the Morphoses company to much excitement in the dance world, the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is walking away from the ensemble amid apparent friction with his executive director.
In an interview Sunday evening Mr. Wheeldon said there was not enough of a cadre of full-time dancers to work with.
“If I have to consider a new crop of dancers for each tour, then the conditions aren’t much different from what I have elsewhere as a freelance choreographer,” Mr. Wheeldon said. “As a freelancer you fly in, you choose your dancers, you make a ballet, you fly out, then you do it all over again with a different company. The beauty of having a permanent company is to have dancers who know just how you like them to move, the way you want them to cut shapes in space, the way you ask them to respond to music.”
Mr. Wheeldon, 36, told the company — formally known as Morphoses/The Christopher Wheeldon Company — of his decision on Feb. 11 but kept it secret until Sunday. He held the title of artistic director.
The company’s executive director, Lourdes Lopez, a former principal dancer at New York City Ballet who danced for George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, said on Monday that Mr. Wheeldon did not give enough time to his company.
“For the rest of 2010 he could give us 10 weeks of his schedule,” she said. “He’s busy making works elsewhere, and I need him to commit himself more fully. I couldn’t book the venues while our artistic director was committed elsewhere.”
She said she planned to continue the company’s work, including performances of Mr. Wheeldon’s own choreography.
“Christopher was very generous: over three years we presented 33 ballets, 15 by him,” she said. “He loved bringing in other artists — choreographers, fashion designers, lighting designers. I loved that too, and I believe it can continue without him.” But Mr. Wheeldon’s name will be dropped as the ensemble’s subtitle.
Later Monday, Mr. Wheeldon disputed Ms. Lopez’s version of events, saying in an e-mail relayed by a publicist that neither she nor the board asked him to give more time to the company. “She only brought it up as a problem after I decided to leave,” he said, also contending that he had made himself available for 17 weeks, not 10, but that the company lacked bookings for some of the weeks he was free.
Mr. Wheeldon also said that Ms. Lopez canceled performance dates in Washington and Paris, and that the cancellation in Paris “precipitated my immediate departure as artistic director having made it very clear that I had planned to honor all engagements through the end of 2010,” when he would have resigned as artistic director anyway.
The company was formed in 2007 to high hopes among dance fans, given Mr. Wheeldon’s status as one of the world’s leading young choreographers. At the time he was resident choreographer at New York City Ballet. But there were questions from the start about whether it could raise enough money to survive.
“In March 2007 we didn’t have a dollar,” Ms. Lopez said. “We didn’t have a bank account. By December 2009, like it or not, we’d had successes, commissions, new audiences, tours, with $1.3 million in the bank. We’d netted $545,000 in 2009.”
She said the company had the resources to offer salaries and benefits to 8 to 10 dancers.
Mr. Wheeldon said that five or six dancers signed on as permanent members, but that there were not enough performers for tours. “It was frustrating, taking on different dancers for each tour,” he said.
The company originally announced a three-year plan, with annual seasons booked at the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado, Sadler’s Wells Theater in London and City Center in New York. Its 2009-10 season included even more touring, in Australia, California and Canada.
“Morphoses is a treasure trove,” Mr. Wheeldon said. “I never wanted the company to be for my work only.”
In the interview he spoke of the successes and satisfactions of the company’s brief run. He recalled a period last summer when he and the choreographer Alexei Ratmansky were both rehearsing on Martha’s Vineyard. “Normally you never have the chance to spend time with another choreographer, but when he came to Martha’s Vineyard, we could,” Mr. Wheeldon said.
“One night after a City Center performance, when we’d performed his ‘Bolero,’ we went out for a drink. He told me ‘I think your ‘Fool’s Paradise’ is a masterpiece — you should be very proud — but to be honest I’m not so keen on your ‘Commedia.’ ” I love that frankness and that exchange.”
Mr. Wheeldon pointed out that 8,000 people came to two open-air performances in Central Park with the singer Martha Wainwright, also last summer. Many of those people also attended the sold-out fall season at City Center, he said.
Yet the history of dance is replete with choreographers who tried and failed to form companies, something Mr. Wheeldon said he is well aware of.
He will continue to be busy despite the end of his involvement with Morphoses. This week he starts work in London on his first full-length commission, a two-act “Alice in Wonderland” for the Royal Ballet, with a new score by Joby Talbot. It will have its premiere in February 2011. San Francisco Ballet gave the world premiere of his “Ghosts” this month. New York City Ballet presents the world premiere of his next ballet on May 29.
And what of Morphoses? Mr. Wheeldon’s withdrawal leaves a question mark over the company’s ability to continue to attract audiences and donors.