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Peter Martins Retired; Succession Discussion

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4 minutes ago, balletforme said:

I agree that he is a strong candidate but he isn't really a choreographer. .  is he? And that appears to be part of the NYCB tradition/

A fair point, but I don't think anything Martins choreographed really made huge gains for the company. I think Ratmansky, Peck, Wheeldon, and some of the newer choreographers could definitely fill in the rep without having the AD choreograph too. Nevertheless, I'd like to see a return to more Balanchine and Robbins. The last few seasons have been lacking in both. 

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2 hours ago, Fleurfairy said:

A fair point, but I don't think anything Martins choreographed really made huge gains for the company. I think Ratmansky, Peck, Wheeldon, and some of the newer choreographers could definitely fill in the rep without having the AD choreograph too. Nevertheless, I'd like to see a return to more Balanchine and Robbins. The last few seasons have been lacking in both. 

I think Martins clearly demonstrated the downside of having the position include choreographic responsibilities.  It's difficult enough to find someone who can recognize and nurture talent, both in dancers and choreographers, fundraise successfully and oversee the marketing, finances, administration and all the other organizational issues that go into running a major organization like NYCB.  Asking them to choreograph on top of that is almost guaranteeing that you will end up with subpar choreography that has to be performed regularly because it is part of the job of the AD.  Yes, there are organizations where one person does it all, but I would argue that they are much smaller and less complex organizations than NYCB and do not need the same level of "management" talent, which is an equally rare and valuable commodity as choreographic talent.

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Posted (edited)

I far prefer a choreographer run company... the director-choreographer has insights that bring out qualities in dancers in a very different way than an artistic director cultivating a museum/choreographer-of-the-day repertory...   a director-choreographer has a long term influence.  NYCB would be like the current ABT if it hadn't been for the artistic-director choreographers.  Even with a choreographer like Ratmansky in residence, it seems like he is globe hopping so much, it is a different situation than a choreographer-director's influence on the shape of a company.   Balanchine took his company classes very seriously and used them to  deliver a very different type of dancer and technique.    Now, in the early days of ABT, perhaps Tudor & deMille had more influence on the shape of the company than a resident choreographer now?       Also, a choreographer having their own company of dancers with long standing muse relationships has an entirely different creative nourishment situation.     

Edited by Amy Reusch

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Martins didn't have administrative experience when he became Ballet Master in Chief.

The dancers at PNB had nothing but accolades about Whelan's staging of Pictures at an Exhibition and working with her in the studio.  What I found most interesting was her preparation:  she said that since she had difficulty remembering steps when she was learning them, she used to go home and write them down, and she prepared copious note.

I think it speaks well to her sense of responsibility, first as a dancer to go home after an exhausting day of rehearsals and performances and to document choreography, and second in preparing for her first job as a stager in such a responsible way, taking into consideration the time she had and that it was part of a mixed bill and while dancers were rehearsing for the year-ending Encores program.

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From the company's email today announcing th resignation: 

 

All of us at New York City Ballet thank Peter for his tremendous contributions to the Company as ballet master in chief for more than three decades, and for leading the Company to exceptional artistic heights and accomplishments. We also wanted you to know that New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet will promptly convene a committee to begin the search for Mr. Martins’ successor. In the meantime, we have full confidence that the interim artistic management team of Jonathan Stafford, Justin Peck, Rebecca Krohn, and Craig Hall, working in conjunction with Executive Director Katherine Brown and NYCB’s exceptional artistic and administrative staff, will continue to provide the guidance that the Company’s artists need to create the unparalleled artistic product for which we are renowned.

Also, you may have seen recent press reports of an independent investigation into matters raised in an anonymous letter that was received concerning past conduct by Mr. Martins, and we would like to assure you that the board of directors of NYCB takes these allegations very seriously and has launched an independent investigation into these allegations, which is ongoing.

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3 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

I far prefer a choreographer run company... the director-choreographer has insights that bring out qualities in dancers in a very different way than an artistic director cultivating a museum/choreographer-of-the-day repertory...   a director-choreographer has a long term influence.  NYCB would be like the current ABT if it hadn't been for the artistic-director choreographers.  Even with a choreographer like Ratmansky in residence, it seems like he is globe hopping so much, it is a different situation than a choreographer-director's influence on the shape of a company.   Balanchine took his company classes very seriously and used them to  deliver a very different type of dancer and technique.    Now, in the early days of ABT, perhaps Tudor & deMille had more influence on the shape of the company than a resident choreographer now?       Also, a choreographer having their own company of dancers with long standing muse relationships has an entirely different creative nourishment situation.     

ABT has always been a rep company -- the early mission statements had wish lists as long as your arm or longer.  Other choreographers came and went at NYCB, but the signature, ongoing influence was facilitating George Balanchine's ongoing research into neo-classical ballet.

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3 hours ago, Helene said:

Martins didn't have administrative experience when he became Ballet Master in Chief.

The dancers at PNB had nothing but accolades about Whelan's staging of Pictures at an Exhibition and working with her in the studio.  What I found most interesting was her preparation:  she said that since she had difficulty remembering steps when she was learning them, she used to go home and write them down, and she prepared copious note.

I think it speaks well to her sense of responsibility, first as a dancer to go home after an exhausting day of rehearsals and performances and to document choreography, and second in preparing for her first job as a stager in such a responsible way, taking into consideration the time she had and that it was part of a mixed bill and while dancers were rehearsing for the year-ending Encores program.

I think it would be a risky choice -- she certainly has the people skills, but I don't know that she's ready to stop dancing.  And while she would do some wonderful work in the studio, I'm not sure how she'd fair in the fundraising aspect of the job.

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3 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

I far prefer a choreographer run company... the director-choreographer has insights that bring out qualities in dancers in a very different way than an artistic director cultivating a museum/choreographer-of-the-day repertory...   a director-choreographer has a long term influence.  NYCB would be like the current ABT if it hadn't been for the artistic-director choreographers.  Even with a choreographer like Ratmansky in residence, it seems like he is globe hopping so much, it is a different situation than a choreographer-director's influence on the shape of a company.   Balanchine took his company classes very seriously and used them to  deliver a very different type of dancer and technique.    Now, in the early days of ABT, perhaps Tudor & deMille had more influence on the shape of the company than a resident choreographer now?       Also, a choreographer having their own company of dancers with long standing muse relationships has an entirely different creative nourishment situation.     

A very good point, Amy Reusch. A choreographer A.D. has an extra tool in the bag to shape a company aesthetic (and create a native dance style/approach), while the 'curator' A.D. must show great instincts for assembling disparate pieces together in an exciting, eclectic fashion. NYCB and ABT are pretty good examples of the two different approaches.

Edited by pherank

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12 minutes ago, sandik said:

I think it would be a risky choice -- she certainly has the people skills, but I don't know that she's ready to stop dancing.  And while she would do some wonderful work in the studio, I'm not sure how she'd fair in the fundraising aspect of the job.

On that basis, Martins was a risky choice.  He was running the company before he retired from dancing at NYCB the winter after Balanchine's death.  No one knew whether he could raise a dime.  

I'm not saying she's the best choice, but NYCB is at less risk now than it was in 1983 as an institution, and they took a chance on Martins.

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2 hours ago, E Johnson said:

From the company's email today announcing th resignation: 

 

All of us at New York City Ballet thank Peter for his tremendous contributions to the Company as ballet master in chief for more than three decades, and for leading the Company to exceptional artistic heights and accomplishments. We also wanted you to know that New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet will promptly convene a committee to begin the search for Mr. Martins’ successor. In the meantime, we have full confidence that the interim artistic management team of Jonathan Stafford, Justin Peck, Rebecca Krohn, and Craig Hall, working in conjunction with Executive Director Katherine Brown and NYCB’s exceptional artistic and administrative staff, will continue to provide the guidance that the Company’s artists need to create the unparalleled artistic product for which we are renowned.

Also, you may have seen recent press reports of an independent investigation into matters raised in an anonymous letter that was received concerning past conduct by Mr. Martins, and we would like to assure you that the board of directors of NYCB takes these allegations very seriously and has launched an independent investigation into these allegations, which is ongoing.

Thank you. I just saw my email a minute ago. I assume that promptly convene doesn't mean hire quickly! Funny, but I always expected Kevin be gone from ABT before Peter was gone from NYCB!

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2 hours ago, Helene said:

On that basis, Martins was a risky choice.  He was running the company before he retired from dancing at NYCB the winter after Balanchine's death.  No one knew whether he could raise a dime.  

I'm not saying she's the best choice, but NYCB is at less risk now than it was in 1983 as an institution, and they took a chance on Martins.

I agree that Martins was a risky choice. The first years of his tenure were quite rocky in fact. That's part of what makes this whole mess heart breaking. There were a number of bad years after Balanchine died but Martins grew as a leader and brought the company to a point of fiscal success, great dancing and a deep, deep talent throughout the ranks.  The situation he is in is sad in so many ways.

That said, I think a number of people would be more prepared that Martins was. More and more former dancers are out there running dance companies, starting their own dance companies, studying business and arts administration, and gaining experience in a lot of different ways. Lordes Lopez for example, aside from dancing, teaching, staging worked as cultural arts reporter for NBC. She's savvy in a lot of ways and knows media. Please understand I'm not pushing for Lordes necessarily. I don't know if she'd be the right person. I'm saying that many former dancers of today have skills to bring to the table that were not so common back in the day.

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3 hours ago, canbelto said:

I've realized that Martins' NYCB is the only NYCB I've ever known. I saw the company through some very bad times, and some very good times. Some general memories here:

http://poisonivywalloftext.blogspot.com/2018/01/a-post-martins-city-ballet.html

Quote

Peter Martins did a lot of good for the company, and it would be foolish not to acknowledge that...

I was young and foolish. Back then Romeo and Juliet was the pinnacle of ballet. Today I can barely stand the thing.

He did indeed do a good job in difficult times -- my big hope right now is that the company calm down and get to work with the winter season.  Then we might be able to sort out the artistic work and the personal shit.

And no, you weren't foolish -- you were learning, just as we all have. 

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4 hours ago, vipa said:

That said, I think a number of people would be more prepared that Martins was. More and more former dancers are out there running dance companies, starting their own dance companies, studying business and arts administration, and gaining experience in a lot of different ways. Lordes Lopez for example, aside from dancing, teaching, staging worked as cultural arts reporter for NBC. She's savvy in a lot of ways and knows media. Please understand I'm not pushing for Lordes necessarily. I don't know if she'd be the right person. I'm saying that many former dancers of today have skills to bring to the table that were not so common back in the day.

Yes -- it's been 30 some years since Balanchine died and Martins stepped up.  The industry has change in many significant ways, and dancers have changed along with it.  Honestly, if this snafu hadn't erupted, we would be having this conversation within the next five years or so -- we're just doing it now.

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We've been having it based on age for a few years now right here, as Martins hit his late 60's.   It's the Board that clearly hadn't planned for a succession if they're starting a search committee now. 

In the Paris Opera movie, there's that great scene where you hear Lissner's side of a phone conversation with Millipied in which he tells Millipied that of course he had Millipied's successor lined up.  Different preparedness for different institutions.

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13 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

I far prefer a choreographer run company... the director-choreographer has insights that bring out qualities in dancers in a very different way than an artistic director cultivating a museum/choreographer-of-the-day repertory...   a director-choreographer has a long term influence.  

Interestingly enough 2 of the 4 "big" ballet companies in England are choreographer led and that has been criticised because it is perceived in some quarters that there is too much reliance on their own work.

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On ‎1‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 12:59 PM, Dennis1954 said:

Wendy would be the best choice.  She is currently teaching at Ballet Academy East. I believe she will be the successor to Peter Martins. 

I totally agree that Whelan would be the best choice, from among those cited so far. Millepied? Absolutely positively NOT.

 

Those leading major troupes splendidly (e.g., Lopez, Boal) should continue their good work where they are now.

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10 hours ago, JMcN said:

Interestingly enough 2 of the 4 "big" ballet companies in England are choreographer led and that has been criticised because it is perceived in some quarters that there is too much reliance on their own work.

Yes... there is that issue...  we do have to put up with mediocrity in order to glean out the masterpieces that will become classics.. one can't just assume every new work will be a masterpiece equal to the classics... that would be to misunderstand the environment that produced those classics...  and I accept that was not your point..

 But, is there a word for the kind of choreoographer in residence that Ashton was?  It would be hard to say he fid not influence the look of the Royal Ballet dancers, even though he was not director until after DeValois' death...

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Wikipedia- Ashton was chief choreographer to Ninette de Valois, from 1935 until her retirement in 1963, in the company known successively as the Vic-Wells Ballet, the Sadler's Wells Ballet and the Royal Ballet. He succeeded de Valois as director of the company, serving until his own retirement in 1970.

Think of Nureyev, whose choreography has not been universally loved, even his choreographic efforts shaped the Paris Opera dancers...  

If there is a way to give the resident choreographer that kind of influence with an artistic director involved in the design of the season... ok...  but I'm not sure how to design that kind of relationship unless they were together at the founding of the company.   A choreographer has a different stake in the abilities of the dancers than does an artistic director hoping to do justice to other people's masterworks...   i wonder if Peter Martins would have been as good a director if he had not also been a choreographer... even if his work was not quite equal to the other masterpieces his company presents.  It is a slightly different situation if one's own personal expression is involved...

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I feel like the best years of Peter Martins' tenure were when he gave up or curtailed his choreographic efforts. I think it probably freed up time to coach. 

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I wonder if Danny Ulbricht is being considered. He has run a small touring company for several years; attended and teaches at SAB; teaches at several other institutions; has taught company class at NYCB & has danced a good deal of the appropriate repertoire of Balanchine and Robbins.

His (not very up to date) website: http://danielulbricht.com/

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I will be happy just to see the title "Ballet Master in-Chief" retired------it has been stuck in my craw for too many years.....

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How about Kyra Nichols? She's currently on the faculty of Indiana University but she certainly would be a great link to Balanchine and Robbins.

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28 minutes ago, canbelto said:

How about Kyra Nichols? She's currently on the faculty of Indiana University but she certainly would be a great link to Balanchine and Robbins.

Kyra Nichols has much to offer. I wonder what Jennifer Ringer has been doing since her retirement. I don't know how much experience she has other than organizing a "Dancer's Choice" event some years ago but she could have the right temperament for the job. Of course we don't know who wants the job and who would absolutely reject the idea. I really do hope it's a woman. It would be a refreshing change in many ways.

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Jenifer Ringer is the dean of dance at Coburn School in LA. I think she cited her desire to move out to LA with her husband as a reason for her retirement. 

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I think the Fayette-Ringer partnership would be an attractive option for the board-- both artistic and administrative experience. I think the only negative is that neither worked with Balanchine (not many candidates will have that bonus though) and that Fayette's background with the artists union. (He was the company's representative to the AGMA while he was still with the company, and went to work for AGMA after his retirement.) That could go either way though-- on one hand, he has experience in the workplace negotiations world, on the other, he doesn't appear to have used that leverage to advocate for better treatment during his tenure there.

Strong history in both administration and coaching for both... but would they give up the California sunshine if asked though?

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