There is certainly a pleasing circuity to the appointment. O'Hare trained at the Royal Ballet School and joined Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet in 1984 before becoming a principal dancer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, as it then became, in 1990. He retired from dancing in 2000 and, after a brief spell with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he returned to Birmingham as company manager, joining the Royal Ballet in the same role in 2004. He became administrative director in 2009 and has played a leading role in trying to widen the Royal Ballet's audience through experiments such as this weekend's performances of Romeo and Juliet at the O2.
Compared to most of those widely touted as his competition, Kevin OHare looks an immensely unexciting choice as the new director of the Royal Ballet. He has never directed or choreographed for a major-league company (as David Bintley has done, at Birmingham Royal Ballet), turned a company dramatically around (à la Ashley Page, at Scottish Ballet), or formed his own breakaway troupe (as the Ballet Boyz did). Although a former principal dancer himself with Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet and then (as it became) BRB he never had remotely the profile of the Royal Ballets Tamara Rojo or Johan Kobborg. In short, he is not a name.
The New York Times
But Mr. OHares appointment reflects the Royal Ballets liking for insiders who are intensely familiar with the troupes administrative and artistic workings. Ms. Mason, a former principal dancer with the company who has spent her entire career there, was herself the assistant director during the tenure of the Australian Ross Stretton, one of the few artistic directors appointed from outside the inner circle with results generally considered to be disastrous.
Comment in The Guardian's blog.
The fact that O'Hare comes without any artistic ego or agenda of his own can, I'd suggest, be a positive. There are several ballet companies in the world who have had to suffer from the "creative input" of their directors either their fag-end-of-a-career dance performances or their not-very-good choreography. In O'Hare the Royal has a director apparently interested only in developing the creativity of others. High on his press announcement today is the fact that Wheeldon will be taking a far more active role in the Royal under O'Hare's direction. O'Hare also wants to maintain close ties with Wayne McGregor, who has been resident choreographer at the Royal since 2006, and a dynamic, transformative influence on other younger choreographers in the company.