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Villella To Step Down from MCB


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#16 Alexandra

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 04:44 PM

I think we've seen over and over again that when something is running well, everyone thinks they can run it. Especially Boards -- Boards have ended directorships in Boston, Hartford and Colorado, to name three that I can think of off the top of my head, in each instance tossing out the person who either founded or developed the company.

I wonder what the reaction is in Miami? Are fans and supporters happy with this, or will there be a Discussion?

#17 Helene

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 05:01 PM

Boards are also tied to institutions, and institutions are often concerned and sometimes obsessed about succession.

#18 Jack Reed

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 07:50 PM

I think we've seen over and over again that when something is running well, everyone thinks they can run it. Especially Boards -- Boards have ended directorships in Boston, Hartford and Colorado, to name three that I can think of off the top of my head, in each instance tossing out the person who either founded or developed the company.
...


Add Chicago, where around 1987 Chicago City Ballet let go the founder, Maria Tallchief, precipitating a financial crisis when her husband withdrew his financial support in response. (Predictably, I would have thought.)

#19 bart

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:28 AM

Disagreements over the changes planned in MCB leadership are going public. I suspect that we will soon be hearing more about them.

One of our Members sent me the following link to an on-line article by Daisy Olivera, a former columnist for the Miami Herald. It seems to be a reliable, accurate report of the way these events look from the position of those who oppose the Board's action. Sources are named, which is always a good sign.:

http://thedaisycolumn.com/home/?p=2958

MIAMI CITY BALLET BOARD UNDER FIRE ABOUT VILLELLA RETIREMENT –
The rumblings grow louder and angrier in and around Miami City Ballet as donors and board members express their outrage at what they feel was the forced retirement of Founding Artistic Director, Edward Villella, who was and is, by all accounts, at the top of his game.

The retirement was announced after many recent successes for the young company: its first nationally broadcast PBS special; the New York debut at City Center in 2009, where the company’s performance was critically praised; and three-weeks of sold-out houses with rave reviews in Paris last summer.


Deciding the post the second article was a bit more difficult, since sources are NOT named. But, after consulting with several other Mods, I've decided to post. Thanks, Helene and dirac.

http://thedaisycolumn.com/home/?p=2891


Miami City Ballet: Dancing Through the Glass Ceiling

Rumors have been swirling wildly, not just in Miami but throughout the worldwide ballet community, since Edward Villella, Miami City Ballet’s Founding Artistic Director, announced last September he would be leaving the company he built. Why did he resign? Who will succeed him as artistic director when he exits in 2013?

Surprisingly, Villella’s abrupt resignation came on the heels of Miami City Ballet’s three weeks of stellar performances this past summer in Paris’s Theatre du Chatelet, to sold-out houses and rave reviews.

According to a source close to the MCB, prima ballerina Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, who has danced with the company for 18 years, is Villella’s choice as a successor. “Villella presented a plan and it seems it was thought out well before his resignation. It described specifics about preparing her and mentoring her for assuming the job of artistic director upon his retirement.”

The source confirmed that the Miami City Ballet board has already formed a search committee to find the replacement for the iconic Villella. Within the company there is growing fear and discontent over the push for a national search because it could spell doom for Villella’s vision and the future of the company.


There are two parallel but distinct stories here, it seems to me. The first story: a possible movement to reverse the Board's decision (possibly the decision of an inner group within the Board). The second story: who should succeed Villella, if his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season is indeed a fait accompli?

Let's keep this thread for discussing both stories. Please don't forget that hearsay and unsupported rumor about events are not permitted on Ballet Alert.

#20 sandik

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 03:20 PM

I don't want to speculate about whether or not Villella will return to Miami City Ballet, but at some point they will have to find a new artistic director, and I would like to think that they will go about the process thoughtfully and deliberately. I don't know Ms Kronenberg's work at all, but to acknowledge the idea that she would need to be mentored as she made a transition into a new position seems a positive step to me.

#21 Jayne

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 04:00 PM

IMHO, it would be best to sign a 5 year contract with Villella and appoint Ms. Kronenberg Associate Artistic Director. This will give the company the "star power" of both of them, provide a stable leadership transition plan, and take some of the work burden off Mr. Villella, by shifting it to someone he trusts.

#22 Ray

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 04:03 PM

Boards are also tied to institutions, and institutions are often concerned and sometimes obsessed about succession.


Boards are strange entities--some are so timid to confront or even question an AD's decisions or behavior; others toss 'em out w/out any discernible justification. To speak up for institutions--in the abstract at least--someone has to think about succession when ADs do not, especially if they are associated with the founding of the company. Problems like this are sometimes referred to as part of "founder's syndrome" or founderitis, as described below (quoted from this link) >>Disclaimer: I am NOT saying these apply to Villella<<.

"Founder's syndrome manifests in numerous ways. The leader who suffers from founderitis
  • Gives short shrift to planning activities, staff meetings, and administrative policies;
  • Is reluctant to relinquish strategies and procedures that worked in the past, although circumstances may dictate new approaches;
  • Neglects to institute new systems, even though the board has formally requested them;
  • Seeks and accepts little input from others in making decisions;
  • Sees all challenges as hostile and drives away staff and board members perceived as disloyal; and
  • Refuses to delegate authority."
Many of these describe most of the people I've worked for! Seriously, though, I think it's worth thinking about the problems on all sides (as Sandik and Jayne are).

#23 bart

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 08:53 AM

Ray, I think it is fair to say that several of your Founderitis symptoms are true of Villella. On the other hand, despite some financial waste and personnel inequities, the results include a remarkable repertoire and fantastic dancers. It is difficult to take a firm, unambivalent position -- for me at least.

#24 Quiggin

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 11:32 AM

The problem is when art becomes a business and the artist becomes a founder. When Tina Brown became editor of the the New Yorker, George Trow left in protest - and later Brown asked another writer to do a piece in his style. I can imagine another director, who does all the right things, being asked to do present a ballet as Villella would: art without the artist's rough-edged temperament, without the danger of art.

#25 bart

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 12:03 PM

I can imagine another director, who does all the right things, being asked to do present a ballet as Villella would: art without the artist's rough-edged temperament, without the danger of art.

Very interesting observation, Quiggan. And one which relates directly to the matter of "the succession."

Jennifer Kronenberg, who seems (or seemed) to have an inside track on the A.D. position is a WONDERFUL dancer and one of MCB's biggest assets. I don't think it would be unfair to say, however, that "the danger of art" is not a part of her dance persona. Not yet anyway. If kronenberg is indeed the choice, it seems that the idea of a defined and structured period of mentoring, as suggested by sandik and jayne, is quite a good idea.

#26 sandik

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 12:47 PM

... To speak up for institutions--in the abstract at least--someone has to think about succession when ADs do not, especially if they are associated with the founding of the company.


I appreciate the link to the Founderitis discussion, but even more your thought here. We have, all of us, seen wonderful parts of the dance repertory -- big chunks of our history -- lost to disregard or fumbling when it comes to issues of succession. The dance history part of my heart is sore just thinking about it.

#27 Ray

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 12:49 PM

The problem is when art becomes a business and the artist becomes a founder. When Tina Brown became editor of the the New Yorker, George Trow left in protest - and later Brown asked another writer to do a piece in his style. I can imagine another director, who does all the right things, being asked to do present a ballet as Villella would: art without the artist's rough-edged temperament, without the danger of art.


Perhaps; but I'm a bit more sanguine about the "let the mad genius run wild" idea. More than a few "visionary" directors have run their companies into the ground, going through many EDs and other staffers (the searches for which cost the company money) becuase of their inability to play well with others, or to delegate responsibilities to those who have common sense (if they don't), because they have control issues. I'm all for risk-taking in the studio and on stage; I'm against institutional megolamania (and, yes, that can come from EDs and boards too). If nothing else, it wastes resources and energy that could be spent on art.
And that does NOT mean devolving to a "business model."
P.S. I really, truly am not speaking of Villella, of whom I know little.

#28 Jayne

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 11:54 AM

Feb.07 article

http://www.miamihera.orylink=addthis

They were hysterical, crying and weeping, and then [MCB principal dancer] Jennifer [Kronenberg] spoke for the company and she said "we want to know why,' " Hand said. "Do you know what the board answered? Nothing




Read more here: http://www.miamihera...l#storylink=cpy



#29 Ray

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 12:36 PM


They were hysterical, crying and weeping, and then [MCB principal dancer] Jennifer [Kronenberg] spoke for the company and she said "we want to know why,' " Hand said. "Do you know what the board answered? Nothing


That's just pathetic. One wonders if they won't answer--which is bad enough, but typical of the board/artist dynamic--or can't, which is worse.

#30 bart

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:15 PM

The story of unhappiness, divisions and tensions have reached the mainstream media in Miami.

Thanks to dirac for posting Jordan Levin's article from The Miami Herald in the Tuesday Links and to Jayne for posting this as well.

For those who did not cllick the link in Links or in Jayne's post, here's the article again..

Hard feelings, questions emerge after Miami City Ballet's director's abrupt exit.

Miami City Ballet is being split by controversy over founder and artistic director Edward Villella’s earlier-than-expected retirement, announced last September in a way that shocked company members and the dance world.

Villella and the ballet’s executive board signed a confidential agreement that set the terms for his spring 2013 departure from the company he founded 26 years. But now, some board members, major donors and dancers are questioning the decision and contend he was forced out at the apex of his career.

They are asking whether having Villella, a former ballet star widely acknowledged as responsible for MCB’s success, retire abruptly could damage the reputation and quality of what has become one of the top ballet troupes in the United States and South Florida’s most famous cultural export.


What surprises me (should it?) is the willingness of so many people to speak to the press and to allow the press to use their names.


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