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RB's new Director announced


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 03:52 AM

The Royal Ballet has announced that Kevin O'Hare, currently the company's Administrative Director, will succeed Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Ballet.

Press release

#2 Mashinka

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 04:21 AM

I was told last year it would be Wayne McGregor, my personal hope was that it would be Alexei Ratmansky, most thought it would be Bruce Sansom: this is a surprise.

#3 Simon G

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 06:00 AM

Ballet flavoured porridge.

#4 mussel

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 08:18 AM

I was told last year it would be Wayne McGregor, my personal hope was that it would be Alexei Ratmansky, most thought it would be Bruce Sansom: this is a surprise.


I don't think Ratmansky would make sense as he doesn't have any connection to RB's heritage but I expect him to succceed Kevin McKenzie as ABT's artistic director. I thought Bruce Sansom was the front runner, so Kevin O'Hare is a surprise to me. The press release also mentioned Wheeldon will be part of RB's articstic team, any further detail on that? Will Wheeldon join RB as resident choreograher in additon to Wayne McGregor?

#5 Jane Simpson

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 11:49 AM

The press release also mentioned Wheeldon will be part of RB's articstic team, any further detail on that? Will Wheeldon join RB as resident choreograher in additon to Wayne McGregor?


There's no more information so far - it will be interesting to see if McGregor retains his current title and responsiblities, and if so how Wheeldon fits in. But I'd guess we won't hear about the details just yet.

#6 JMcN

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 12:37 PM

Congratulations to Kevin O'Hare on his appointment as Director of the Royal Ballet.

#7 Amy Reusch

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 02:19 PM

Well at least he's a dancer! I was afraid we were talking some sort of corporate executive... And it frees the choreographers from administrative duties...which is no small accomplishment.

#8 Simon G

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 05:44 PM

Well at least he's a dancer! I was afraid we were talking some sort of corporate executive... And it frees the choreographers from administrative duties...which is no small accomplishment.



Well, actually, I think that's exactly what they do have in O'Hare. A pleasent, unremarkable, efficient administrator who will do exactly what the board made up of executives tell him to do.

This isn't artistic direction, this is flaccid status quo being preserved.

Kevin O'Hare seems like a nice man. Who is happy to keep the huge onus on three act money spinners danced indifferently, an influx of foreign stars, the odd political promotion of a mediocre RBS product, the egregious wobblings of Mcgregor with a couple of nods to classicism with Wheeldon every other season.

The RB hasn't had a clear artistic goal or purpose in decades, what Mason has done is give some stability in what has been a fairly staid and artistically directionless tenure. What she has done is make the RB a nice place to go, with astronomical prices, which the corporate crowd is happy to pay because it's a "nice" night out, in a "nice" place to go and isn't ballet... "nice".

ADs, good ADs are bastards, they're uncompromising, they have clear vision, they revolutionise companies, their appointment causes excitement and most importantly they make the companies they head places to be, they rejuvenate and galvanise. This appointment is just terrible, Sansom could have been interesting, Nunn & Trevitt would have been extremely interesting, Ratmansky would never have stayed, though he would have been brilliant. O'Hare is just a man in a grey suit doing what the men in grey suits tell him to do.

#9 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 06:52 PM

ADs, good ADs are bastards


And so are bad ones.

Being a ruthless jackass isn't a mark of artistic genius.

It only signifies the intention to wield power.

#10 Rock

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 07:57 PM

Bravo Leigh. How can anyone know so much about Kevin O'Hare before he's even done anything? Let's give the guy a chance.

#11 JMcN

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 11:37 PM

Hear Hear, Leigh and Rock!

I've got many happy memories of Kevin O'Hare as a dancer and as company manager of BRB for three years.

I cried for the first time watching ballet at one of Kevin's performances (in my early ballet watching days) - it was a big tent performance of Giselle with Samira Saidi as Giselle and Kevin dancing Albrecht. He is still my definitive Edward II and one of my most favourite Oberons. He was also terrific as both Beenstock and Prosser in Hobson's Choice.

He and his brother Michael (now ballet master at BRB), along with Joseph Cipolla, were synonymous with BRB for many years until their retirements.

I can also remember him organising a charity gala that was really good fun during his time as a dancer.

As company manager my experience of him was as a member of the public and I think he was a terrific public-facing ambassador for the company.

I do not know him personally but looking back at his education and career who can doubt that the best of the traditions of the Royal Ballet will be in safe and generous hands alongside any plans he may have to move the company forward.

All the BRB fans I know are thrilled by his appointment.

#12 Simon G

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 12:31 AM


ADs, good ADs are bastards


And so are bad ones.

Being a ruthless jackass isn't a mark of artistic genius.

It only signifies the intention to wield power.



That's true Leigh, but the point is that I'm not talking about a ruthless intention to wield power, nor do I think that being power crazed is the mark of a good or bad AD, nor even the mark of a bastard, moreover being a bastard isn't necessarily a bad thing.

But one thing a great AD isn't, and the RB needs a great AD, it hasn't had one in forty years, but great ADs aren't nice men in admin roles who've bizarrely been elevated to top dog position when other better qualified and more exciting candidates were rejected.

Rock asks how can one know so much about him before he's done anything? And that's just it, one doesn't know anything about him except that everyone thinks he's a "good bloke", he's very good at organising a spread sheet and there's a certain partisan zeal (and understandably) from the old BRB audience who are delighted that one of their favourite dancers who went into middle management is now bizarrely AD.

If you look at O'Hare's "outline" of what he intends doing for the RB, it's basically a carbon copy of Mason, who while she has given a certain stability to the RB by turning it into a carbon copy of the ABT model, erosion of company style, stagnation of promoting home talent in favour of starry imports, political home promotions, overwhelming onus on three act moneyspinning classics, reduced performances, increased prices etc Basically turning the RB into a business model rather than a force of artistic direction. Okay, I get that times are hard, but there's no way that the RB can be classed as a world-class company anymore when it had phenomenal home grown talent dancing, choreographing. Though to their credit ABT know in Ratmansky that they have an artistic force who's the real deal.

I've no doubt that O'Hare's fans of which there are many are delighted, and that's cool, I'm not attacking him as a person nor am I attacking his BRB fans. But this is a truly depressing appointment because you know what you're going to get a caretaker, not an AD, who will carry on the same old same old for another 10/15 years. Nice man, doing what he's told, putting his spreadsheets and board meetings and directives before artistic direction. He's not an AD he's an administator, so let him administrate.

#13 Mashinka

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 03:26 AM

I understand perfectly what Simon G. is saying, the RB is in a state of stagnation and drastic measures need to be taken to put things right. I would welcome an iconoclast at this point but I imagine non boat rocking was high on the agenda of the selection committee. I predict further years of mediocrity and boredom ahead.

#14 JMcN

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 04:40 AM

As Rock said earlier "Let's give the guy a chance"!

It's all very well saying that an iconoclast would be welcome (paraphrasing) but I'm equally sure that any Director needs good administrative skills and perhaps the incoming incumbent has spent his time building on these skills while biding his time to lead the company in new directions firmly from the front.

No-one knows how he will perform in the role. The time to discuss that must surely be a couple of years in the future when he has got a season or two of his own under his belt.

#15 Simon G

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 05:25 AM

As Rock said earlier "Let's give the guy a chance"!

It's all very well saying that an iconoclast would be welcome (paraphrasing) but I'm equally sure that any Director needs good administrative skills and perhaps the incoming incumbent has spent his time building on these skills while biding his time to lead the company in new directions firmly from the front.

No-one knows how he will perform in the role. The time to discuss that must surely be a couple of years in the future when he has got a season or two of his own under his belt.



I really have to disagree. Great ADs aren't administrators. The biggest mistake of the post Stretton era was extending Mason's contract from caretaker, which was necessary in the immediate aftermath, to AD lasting 11 years. In that time RB has lost all sense of direction, not just as a producing theatre, but in terms of its identity and purpose. Under Mason seat prices soared, the onus on three act classics became the dominant force, audiences dwindled in terms of ballet fans and the corporate sector was pursued at every other expense. The style of the RB became a homogenised mulch and the starry brought in principals hid the poor state of the school, the increasingly ragged corps, the almost zero chance of promotion and a company that looked, much of the time, as if it were phoning in their performances.

When Dowell got it right he really got it right, The Stravinsky Triple Bill, being a case in point, he also saw the benefit that one or two permanent guests could bring to the general level of technique, he also actively nurtured talent from within the ranks, which made the defections in the late 90s such a bitter blow for him. I'm certainly not saying he was brilliant, he wasn't, but he still saw that the identity of a company was intrinsic to its artistic purpose and direction.

We know what's happening in the coming seasons, another couple of McGregors, maybe another Wheeldon, 80% classics. There are going to be problems as the lions share of the princ.ipals are really reaching retirement, several have gone on too long. And then what's he going to do? He's answerable to the board, and the board aren't going to sanction rapid promotion to unknowns of talent from the lower ranks to three act evening length works where ticket prices now top $200 for a single seat. The RB isn't an artistic vehicle it's a star vehicle or a business vehicle

Saying that "an iconoclast would be welcome" isn't the point. What is an "iconoclast" anyway? What is needed is a strong, forceful, dynamic person capable of pushing a tired institution into a definite and thrilling direction. Look at Hubbe at RDB, Boal at PNB, even Eagling at ENB has dragged an incredibly beleaguered financially company, into a coherent, exciting body of dancers who when challenged really bring out the dancing goods.

Mashinka is right, the RB is mediocre, sure it has some great stars, and great dancers who are never given opportunities, but as an artistic institution it's mediocre and pretty directionless, or rather all directions lead to the boardroom. Where O'Hare, I'm sure looks very nice on a spreadsheet.

Only one ballet professional, Peter Wright was on the selection panel hiring the next AD. With this appointment it really shows.


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