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Villella To Step Down from MCB

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Gee, I can't imagine who would have leaked it. Wait, the article quotes "A company staffer who did not want to be named." (Different from the "MCB spokesperson" who confirmed the leak.) So it makes sense to assume that the leak originated with someone with the company. Now note that Villella is reported to have been promoting Kronenborg for the position. You do the math.

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Gee, I can't imagine who would have leaked it. Wait, the article quotes "A company staffer who did not want to be named." (Different from the "MCB spokesperson" who confirmed the leak.) So it makes sense to assume that the leak originated with someone with the company. Now note that Villella is reported to have been promoting Kronenborg for the position. You do the math.

"A company staffer who did not want to be named said the troupe’s dancers were torn." This staffer is then quoted as given the pros of both women, and didn't take sides. There's nothing in the article to suggest that this staffer was the source of the leak.

Since according to the article, the company is divided on whom they prefer, Villella has promoted Kronenborg, and Lopez is "favored by some executive board members and advisors", it seems that there are lots of people who might feel it is in their side's best interest to leak this. Of course, it could have been leaked by someone to whom any person knowing of the situation confided, and there are a lot of stakeholders in this. The math could go either way.

And there was considerable controversy about making that short list visible at the time, for that reason.

It seemed so odd at the time, but perhaps they thought, in addition to the typical Seattle bias towards transparency, a leak would be inevitable.

Boal has told the story several times that he hand-delivered his application on the deadline day, and he was spotted by one of his former students. The company knew immediately why he was there.

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And there was considerable controversy about making that short list visible at the time, for that reason.

It seemed so odd at the time, but perhaps they thought, in addition to the typical Seattle bias towards transparency, a leak would be inevitable.

And that's what I told colleagues, who were calling from all kinds of places, in various states of disbelief.

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The New York Times is reporting that Lourdes Lopez is close to being named the next director:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/newdirector.imminentfor-miami-city-ballet/

Two people with knowledge of the search, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid alienating company officials, said on Monday the committee was in favor of Ms. Lopez, 54. And as late as Thursday, the executive director, Nicholas T. Goldsborough, said in an internal email that it was clear "The board is set to choose Lourdes." But a company spokesman, Roberto Santiago, cautioned against anointing Ms. Lopez. "She may be the odds-on favorite, but don't count Jennifer out yet." Company officials said some opinions on the search committee could still be swayed, and the entire board could overrule the committee.

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If Lopez is good at her job, then it sounds like a great fit: a Latina--a Cuban emigree, no less!--a Balanchine pedigree, and experience outside of the NYCB bubble. And she doesn't seem to have the urge to choreograph.

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If Lopez is good at her job, then it sounds like a great fit: a Latina--a Cuban emigree, no less!--a Balanchine pedigree, and experience outside of the NYCB bubble. And she doesn't seem to have the urge to choreograph.

If she's selected, I hope that she could finally build a bridge to the great Cuban exiled balletic potentia CURRENTLY RESIDING IN THE CITY and so largely and historically ignored and unused by MCB and for which the classics could finally find a permanent home within the Miamian repertoire via proper experienced ballet mistresses and appropriate coaching. Lourdes knows about it...she's been and danced in Havana...she knows the value of what has been so sadly wasted over here so far.

Let's just pray.

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If she's selected, I hope that she could finally build a bridge to the great Cuban exiled balletic potential CURRENTLY RESIDING IN THE CITY and so largely and historically ignored and unused by MCB and for which the classics could finally find a permanent home within the Miamian repertoire via proper experienced ballet mistresses and appropriate coaching.

With respect, Cristian, you are talking about a serious re-invention of a company that already has developed a following and some renown with a quite different schooling, coaching, and repertoire.

I am sure that there are people in the Miami area who wish for such a transformation. On the other hand, I don't think this has played a part in the transitions going on in MCB right now. The experience of Cuban Classical Ballet, a start-up venture committed to just the kind of repertoire you mention, had difficulty establishing an audience and donor base. Their story is not encouraging.

I am not familiar with the history of Lopez's involvement with traditional classical works or with what is going on at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. On the other hand, it's pretty clear that the reason she IS being considered for the MCB position is related to her long personal involvement and familiarity with the Balanchine and related reps, and her continuously renewed contacts with what is being created and produced in contemporary classical ballet.

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I am sure that there are people in the Miami area who wish for such a transformation. On the other hand, I don't think this has played a part in the transitions going on in MCB right now. The experience of Cuban Classical Ballet, a start-up venture committed to just the kind of repertoire you mention, had difficulty establishing an audience and donor base. Their story is not encouraging.

You are very right. The usual audience you would see at the CCBM had nothing to do with the parade I get to see at the Arsht Center the most of the times. Yes, there were not rich donors, there was no theater, and it was definitely a romantic project heading to failure, Still, I really remember with much pleasure performances of works that I will probably never ever see again-("Spectre", "Graduation Ball", "Grand Pas de Quatre", Herte's "Fille", Ivanov "Nutcracker PDD" and so on)-, and everytime I see an Odile-(Hayna was, BTW, the last one I saw , right at CCBM)-I can't understand the lack of the very basis of the art form in a a company that projects to become international. I know Odile and Raymonda, and Lissette and Nikiya, and you too, and everybody else in this board also, but...is it fair to deprive dancers and audiences of them...? Haven't every single major company in the world included them as a matter of NECESSITY, both to show the very four legs of the ballet table and to give the chance to dancers to show that they can do fouettes...? Don't you realize that a carreer like that of Kronenberg and Albertson is an extremely limited one, due to the absences..? I would hate to see Jeanette ending up like that-(or like Ileana)-, to be honest, while the rest of the world talks about the wonderful Kitris of Osipova and Valdes, the amazing Beauties of Cojocaru and the triumph across the sea of Novikova's Raymonda.

SOMETHING has to change. The classics NEED to be part of a company, and they ought to be in the dancers and audiences view at all times, and I really believe that there are coaches out there that could do wonders with this dancers, without loosing their Balanchinean training.

Wouldn't be better for them to become more than "Balanchine babies"...?

Just a thought...

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I suppose this is OFF-TOPIC, but Cristian raises an excellent question. I'd love to hear what others who follow MCB think about this question. What part DO the 19th-century classics have in the repertoire of MCB?

The dilemma for many smaller companies seems to be: there is definitely an audience for these works, but not always enough to subsidize the tremendous costs of presenting them at the highest level.

Note that I say "at the highest level." Regionally, in the U.S., there is no shortage of dumbed down Giselles or Swan Lakes and mediocre to abysmal Corsaires and Don Quixotes. My own feeling is that maintaining this repertoire requires a company with vast resources, a specialized staff, a sophisticated audience, and a long-term commitment. It may be that only the big artistic capitals of the world will be able to produce them in a manner faithful to the originals.

The rest of us may have to depend for the most part on DVD's, especially since theatrical releases of filmed ballet from places like the Bolshoi and La Scala seem largely restricted to larger U.S. cities and university towns.

What MCB could do is rethink their current full-length productions (Giselle, Coppelia, Don Quixote) and commit to the effort to remount one a year (with money and coaching) just as they did with the new production of Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, or as they consistently do with Balanchine's Nutcracker. It should be possible to find a donor willing to fund a serious remounting of something , keeping the sets and costumes but blocking time for coaching and extra rehearsal.

Another thought: ABT is supposed to be coming to the Kravis Center next season for several performances. I'm not sure whether this will be a full length ballet or, less likely, a group of shorter works. Anyway, this will fill a gap in classical ballet performance down in our part of this state. Miami a few years ago did not support a run of ABT Sleeping Beauties, and the company has not come back since. If there is indeed a large Latin market for the classics in Miami, how about inviting Latin American companies to bring classical full-length ballet to Miami? I can understand that this might be impossible, given politics, for Ballet Nacional de Cuba. But what about lesser and less well-known national companies from Brasil, Chile, Bkuenos Aires?

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Congratulations to Ms. Lopez :flowers:

MCB has presented "Don Q" and "Giselle", two works with which National Ballet of Cuba are associated. Coaching is often in short supply in NA companies, and the company could use the deep resources of the Cuban ballet community in Miami for that purpose.

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In response to Christian and bart's points, we have the opposite situation in the UK where companies are expected to put on full length works and mixed programmes don't sell! It is an ongoing dilemma but I think it would be a mistake to expect a company to change away from its established rep and audience too quickly.

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Yes, Congratulations to Lourdes Lopez. The article promises that it "will be updated as more information becomes available." One thing that has not been clarified is the point at which she will indeed take over.

Edward Villella put together the 2012-13 program, and his contract lasts until the end of that season. Often, I know, this does not mean that the person involved will actually stay on the job until the contract runs out.

I hope that the disagreements subside and that everyone pulls together for a deserved tribute to Edward Villella, the man who created and defined MCB, during the 2012-13 season. I also hope that we will see a lot more dancing for years to come from Jennifer Kronenberg. Despite the outcome of this job search, Kronenberg, as dancer, teacher, and "public face" for the company, remains and should remain a very big asset for MCB.

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As someone whose first love in ballet is Balanchine, I'm pleased that Lopez has been selected. But as someone whose first love is Balanchine, I'm also deeply grateful to Villella for what he's accomplished in Miami, and her selection seems like another slap in his face. I hope he stays busy coaching and staging here, there and everywhere for appreciative dancers and directors.

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One thing that has not been clarified is the point at which she will indeed take over.

The Miamia Herald story says:

Lopez, 54, will take over when Villella steps down in May 2013, at the end of the company’s 27th season.

But I would assume she will be active long before then to smooth the transition. For one thing, she will be responsible for the 2013-14 season.

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I asked the head of the local ballet company in my town if she would ever consider doing Raymonda, and she said they are too small for such a ballet. There are lots of roles and a need for a big corps, I assume. I suspect MCB has to also consider things like this, even though it is a decent sized company. Not everyone can dance every night, and squeezing in 3-4 performances in a weekend like they do, I suspect it is hard to perform some of the story ballets without working the corps to death and some of the soloists. If South Florida were more concentrated like a huge city instead of a sprawling megalopolis where nothing is centrally located they could probably do lots of performances throughout the month on other days besides just weekend days and still fill seats, but I suspect some of these issues keep them from staging some of the classics. I could be wrong. I know Palm Beach Opera tends to squeeze the entire run in one weekend requiring two casts since singers can't sing a huge role two nights in a row. Anyway, I assume issues like that might play a part. It is probably easier to sell seats to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday performances than other nights of the week in Florida. New York City can probably fill seats on a Tuesday night.

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Another thought: ABT is supposed to be coming to the Kravis Center next season for several performances. I'm not sure whether this will be a full length ballet or, less likely, a group of shorter works. Anyway, this will fill a gap in classical ballet performance down in our part of this state. Miami a few years ago did not support a run of ABT Sleeping Beauties, and the company has not come back since. If there is indeed a large Latin market for the classics in Miami, how about inviting Latin American companies to bring classical full-length ballet to Miami? I can understand that this might be impossible, given politics, for Ballet Nacional de Cuba. But what about lesser and less well-known national companies from Brasil, Chile, Bkuenos Aires?

Great news to hear that! Like Cristian I would like to see more story ballets by MCB, but it might be difficult for them, so if ABT could tour down this way it would be great!

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Link No. 1. An interesting article on Lopez's connection with Cuba, as of 1998. From the NY Times. I hope the LINK works for those who do not have a subscription.

http://www.nytimes.c...lopez%22&st=cse

Lourdes left Cuba at the age of 10 months and spent her life as a child, student, and performer in the U.S. In 1998, after she had retired, Lourdes was invited by Alicia Alonso to return to Cuba, where she performed Balanchine's "Pavane for a Dead Princess."

The depth of Ms. Lopez's feelings for Cuba are unusual for a woman who has lived nearly her entire life outside the island. She grew up in Miami, where she began studying ballet at 5 because she had flat feet and her doctor recommended exercise. Her problem was corrected, but Ms. Lopez, who by then was in love with ballet, kept dancing.

By the time she was 14, Ms. Lopez had moved to New York with an older sister to pursue her dancing career. Shortly after her 16th birthday, she began dancing for New York City Ballet, where she stayed until June of last year. Critics called her a dancer with flair and intensity.

For her trip to Cuba, she chose ''Pavane for a Dead Princess,'' a ballet created by George Balanchine for Patricia McBride, a former colleague who has allowed Ms. Lopez to use it. Throughout the piece, Ms. Lopez fingers a long scarf that sometimes hides her face, seemingly in tears, as she raises her hands, imploring. Free of the scarf for part of the performance, she soars, only to end as she began, her head covered, her hands concealing tears.

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Link No. 2: Here is MCB's Press Release about the appointment, from the company website.

http://miamicityball....php?NewsID=344

Please note Robert Gottlieb's prominent role in the search process and the selection.

The process of selecting her as Artistic Director has been an intense and long one (it took five months). Spearheading the search as an advisor to the selection committee was Robert Gottlieb, a noted New York dance critic and long time friend and associate of MCB, who considered thirty-five or so potential candidates, interviewing a number of them directly as well as consulting other critics, heads of other companies, the choreographic Trusts for whom we acquire our repertory, and other centrally placed figures in the national dance community. He made several recommendations to the selection committee, but indicated that he believed that Lourdes Lopez was of all of the outsiders he had considered, the one with the most outstanding qualifications for the job.

The statement's emphasis on Gottllieb, Executive Director Nicholas T. Goldsborough, and company co-founder and Board of Trustees Founder Toby Lerner Ansin may give us an insight into who is in charge during the transition.

The "choreographic trusts" referred to in the paragraph quoted above must be the Balanchine and the Robbins.

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New York City can probably fill seats on a Tuesday night.
Oh? Not to get too Clintonian on this, but what do you mean by "fill"? I frequently see many empty seats on weeknights and even weekends, especially at NYCB during those weeks when it is in direct competition with ABT across the plaza.

I congratulate Lourdes and wish her all the best. flowers.gifflowers.gif I am pleased that the position, if it had to go to someone, went to a person who for many years worked directly with Mr. B.

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New York City can probably fill seats on a Tuesday night.
Oh? Not to get too Clintonian on this, but what do you mean by "fill"? I frequently see many empty seats on weeknights and even weekends, especially at NYCB during those weeks when it is in direct competition with ABT across the plaza.

I congratulate Lourdes and wish her all the best. flowers.gifflowers.gif I am pleased that the position, if it had to go to someone, went to a person who for many years worked directly with Mr. B.

I guess I should have said that New York City has a better chance of filling seats on a Tuesday night. Or even a better chance programming something rare like Il Pirata (opera) at the Met (although there were empty seats in the performance I saw many years ago). You can't put on Il Pirata in Florida and expect sold out audiences even on Saturday night. I think that even in NY the weeknights do not sell as well as weekends, but they sell enough to actually do them, I assume, or I can't imagine they would continue to program during the weeknights.

It is no coincidence that Miami performs its ballets during weekends (Friday to Sunday) in all 3 cities that it regularly performs in.....they have a better chance of selling tickets on those days and nights.

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So now we know. Gottlieb has a pretty good eye for Balanchine, having been writing for years in The New York Observer about how his ballets are disappearing - Gottlieb's word - from NYCB: He considers how a ballet is danced to be an essential part. On the other hand, he may have been the "New York critic" who, Villella told us one evening, had advised him against presenting Ballet Imperial, the name they marketed Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 under, because the company wasn't up to it. But they rehearsed it on and off for seven months, he said, and (I say) they looked very, very good in it. (Some stories have been told by dancers who worked with Balanchine that when they told him they thought they weren't ready, he told them, let him worry about that, or, that's why they had to do it, that was how they would get ready.) Whoever it was who opposed Villella seems a little naive about how a company is built, especially if they were the long-time associate of Balanchine Gottlieb was - even arranging Balanchine's programs.

What's not made plain here, from within the company, is why Gottlieb considered only outsiders, but we can surmise - have surmised - that Villella's endorsement of Kronenberg may have put her candidacy at a disadvantage, and Gottlieb was trying to do the best he could under circumstances where so many were at odds with Villella.

Also someone whose first love in ballet is Balanchine, I worry when I look at the exclusively contemporary repertory of Morphoses, Lopez's previous project. And when I think of her years as a principal under Martins, I wonder what her preference is for how Balanchine is danced. (Although watching NYCB was something I had to have in Balanchine's day, after 1985 it does nothing for me.)

And Toby Lerner Ansin, who was instrumental in bringing Villella in the first place, if I remember what I've read correctly, speaks of Lopez's "wish to expand the repertoire" of the company, which gives me some concern because I agree with bart that there's a potential problem here of trying to embrace more styles than can be done at the highest level, while also agreeing with cubanmiamiboy that some older classics would be great to have available.

This is a familiar problem with "regional" companies which try to do everything - it takes a little while for dancers to re-learn their style, if they can, and performance quality suffers, although a cynic might ask, "In Florida, who will know?". (MCB gets better applause in New York and Paris than in Ft. Lauderdale. Maybe they need to become more provincial, not try so hard to be so good...) And the inclusion of dances with a contemporary tone to bring in the trendy crowd may fit the company's marketing ability - these efforts usually get a better reception from the rest of the audience than they do from me, but how many am I?

We'll know for sure what Ms. Lopez will do when she does it, but the choice between the two women may not be entirely either/or. Somehow, I would be surprised if Kronenberg were suddenly let go entirely. Surprised and saddened.

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From Daniel Watkins' article in the NYT:

Ms. Lopez currently runs Morphoses, a New York-based company she founded with the prominent choreographer Christopher Wheeldon in 2007. Mr. Wheeldon left the company three years later amid a falling-out with Ms. Lopez.

But Ms. Lopez said she wanted to consider some sort of merger or partnership of Morphoses and Miami City Ballet, and was open to including Wheeldon works in her new company.

An MCB / Morphoses partnership -- I wonder how that would work? Morphoses still a laboratory for new dance run on a "curatorial" model, but now with a more-or-less stable roster of dancers recruited from MCB during the off season, with performances scheduled for venues outside of Florida? A run at Aspen, a week at the Joyce, etc ...

Deep in my heart-of-hearts I was hoping that Morphoses would somehow turn into the Lyon Opera Ballet. The "Bacchae" Luca Veggetti did for them was a misfire, but I'm grateful that it introduced me to some terrific dancers I didn't know (especially Frances Chiaverini).

And of course Lopez is open to including Wheeldon's work in MCB's repertory -- doesn't every AD in possession of a budget for comissions find him or herself in want of a Wheeldon, a Ratmanksy, and an Elo?

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Also someone whose first love in ballet is Balanchine, I worry when I look at the exclusively contemporary repertory of Morphoses, Lopez's previous project. And when I think of her years as a principal under Martins, I wonder what her preference is for how Balanchine is danced. (Although watching NYCB was something I had to have in Balanchine's day, after 1985 it does nothing for me.)

Understandable concern. I don't know what year she joined the company, but she was 16 at the time, and I just watched my tape of her terrific performance in Who Cares? in '83 when she looks to be in her 20's, So I think she probably absorbed the style from the man himself.

We'll know for sure what Ms. Lopez will do when she does it, but the choice between the two women may not be entirely either/or. Somehow, I would be surprised if Kronenberg were suddenly let go entirely.

Yeah, I can't imagine any new director could be so dumb as to want that, for her own sake or the company's.

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Congratulations to Lopez.

The dilemma for many smaller companies seems to be: there is definitely an audience for these works, but not always enough to subsidize the tremendous costs of presenting them at the highest level.

Note that I say "at the highest level." Regionally, in the U.S., there is no shortage of dumbed down Giselles or Swan Lakes and mediocre to abysmal Corsaires and Don Quixotes. My own feeling is that maintaining this repertoire requires a company with vast resources, a specialized staff, a sophisticated audience, and a long-term commitment.

the dilemma is sort of tricky. The chain of points you mention as reasons for a company not to present the classics is interesting. For many years Alonso's ballet has been touring world wide presenting very cheap productions in terms of props and costumes, some of them so old that they have fallen to pieces right onstage. Still, the success of the company is right there. The only way to consolidate the art form in the public memories and to make them part of a culture is just dancing them, dancing and dancing them. Props and costumes can be better or worse. Still, among all the material ugliness, there could probably be one memorable ballerina dancing Giselle, and that could probably be a magical night for a new ballet goer who will never forget her. I don't think a story like the Bolshoi's luxurious "Pharaoh's daughter" reconstruction is, on the other side, a succesful one. The ballet is NOT owned by the people. It became a curiosity, for which is hasn't been performed ever again. That's not what we need. We just need sensitive personnel that realizes that the only way to make a continuity in the lorm term is by not ceasing to present the works. I still get amazed when I hear all the news on "new sets and costumes" for this or that...I go like..."do they REALLY need them..?". We don't need that many new designs...what we need is to educate the audiences, dancers, and on the way, the rich donors will probably come along.

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