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Peter Martins Retired; Succession Discussion

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2 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

 

 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...

 

I should point out that Sir Frederick Ashton became Director when Madam retired.  She died at the grand old age of 102 in 2001.  Sir Frederick Ashton died in 1988.

Yes, I agree with you about a choreographing director knowing his own dancers and being able to meld the company to his vision.

 

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How about Bart Cook and Maria Calegari? I know both did not leave the company on good terms but Maria Calegari staged Mozartiana for ABT and usually ABT and Balanchine are like oil and water but I thought she did an excellent job coaching the dancers. 

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Posted (edited)

Ok if John Clifford wants to be taken seriously as a contender to take over NYCB, I wonder if he doesn't see the horrible optics of posts like these. First conducting a sort of casting couch via Instagram. Then joking about sexual harassment. 

 

Edited by canbelto

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Posted (edited)
On 1/3/2018 at 11:09 AM, 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/

I don't think the next AD needs to be a choreographer, as long as the AD continues to promote good new choreographers. Alastair Mcauley wrote a NYT piece saying it could be a good time to divide up the AD duties.

NYCB will be better off without Martins' choreography, for example.

Edited by BalanchineFan

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On 1/3/2018 at 6:12 PM, pherank said:

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.

Imo, the problem with a choreographer AD is that the position automatically competes with Balanchine. The NYCB needs to keep his repertory alive, and you need a choreographer that is somehow part of that aesthetic tradition, taking it further, but not contradicting it or obliterating it. When I imagine the board looking for someone to "shape a company aesthetic and create a native dance style or approach" it worries me that Balanchine would get lost. NYCB already has an aesthetic -Balanchine's- and there are hundreds of very experienced former Balanchine dancers with experience running ballet companies that can teach to that aesthetic. NYCB also has some good choreographers (Peck, Wheeldon, and I'd include the young Lauren Lovette) and good programs like the NY Choreographic Institute in place to nurture more.

It might also be helpful at this juncture if they avoided the choreographer-muse dynamic.

I loved Kyra Nichols dancing and I'm glad to hear that she's been working in a prominent university. I hope this change in leadership allows NYCB to perform Balanchine ballets that have been missing from the rep due to Martins' bad relations with the various women who own the rights. Or maybe I'm confused about how the Balanchine Trust works.

Here's the link to Alastair Macauley's article

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/arts/dance/peter-martins-city-ballet-balanchine.html?_r=0

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Posted (edited)
Quote

I loved Kyra Nichols dancing and I'm glad to hear that she's been working in a prominent university. I hope this change in leadership allows NYCB to perform Balanchine ballets that have been missing from the rep due to Martins' bad relations with the various women who own the rights. Or maybe I'm confused about how the Balanchine Trust works.

This has been one of the major criticisms of Martins' tenure from Croce and other critics – that he fired (in the case of Farrell) or simply didn't make use of the many former NYCB dancers who knew the great Balanchine roles inside out – and from different stages of their evolution. It was a sad waste of good will, and great resources, over a thirty year period.

In defense of Clifford, I believe his complaint was that he wasn't able to coach City Ballet dancers in the roles he originated or knew well after Martins got demonstratively angry with him. Was he really lobbying to run the company?

Edited by Quiggin

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1 hour ago, BalanchineFan said:

I hope this change in leadership allows NYCB to perform Balanchine ballets that have been missing from the rep due to Martins' bad relations with the various women who own the rights. Or maybe I'm confused about how the Balanchine Trust works.

What ballets do you mean?  Most of the dancers who owned the rights at least gave them to the Trust for administration, and one of the great worries after Balanchine died was that the rights owners (and later the Trust) would pull those rights from NYCB, since the company didn't own them.  Leclercq was given many, so that she had a reasonable living, but she wasn't doing the day-to-day decision-making.  Farrell was given very few.  Symphony in C was given to someone on Balanchine's staff -- I think it was Betty Cage -- who gave the rights to John Taras as a living trust.  He insisted on a version that NYCB no longer did.  Francia Russell said that Peter Martins told Taras he would stop programming the ballet if Taras insisted on his version.  Taras might have folded on that -- I can't remember the ending of the story -- but I know PNB got to perform a different version, because Taras died and the rights reverted back.

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Suzanne owns the rights to Tzigane, which was always great fun and I'd love to see it again in New York. 

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9 hours ago, Helene said:

 Symphony in C was given to someone on Balanchine's staff -- I think it was Betty Cage -- who gave the rights to John Taras as a living trust.  He insisted on a version that NYCB no longer did.  Francia Russell said that Peter Martins told Taras he would stop programming the ballet if Taras insisted on his version.  Taras might have folded on that -- I can't remember the ending of the story -- but I know PNB got to perform a different version, because Taras died and the rights reverted back.

This is interesting... Helene do you have a link on this?

2 hours ago, bobbi said:

Suzanne owns the rights to Tzigane, which was always great fun and I'd love to see it again in New York. 

Bobbi-- Did you see this last month at the KC? Meditation was also on the program and I was in near tears at the end. It is a true tragedy for Balanchine's legacy that it isn't in the NYCB rep anymore.

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DC Export, I was too thinking about Meditation, which Suzanne also owns.  I think its over-the-top display of emotion just might appeal to today's audience.  It was met by much squeamishness "back in the day."  Glad you enjoyed it, and I also wish it would come to New York as well.  And, by the way, I think Means would "eat up the stage" in Tzigane along with Amar as her partner.  Alas and alack, it doesn't hurt to fantasize about casting....
 

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13 hours ago, Quiggin said:

This has been one of the major criticisms of Martins' tenure from Croce and other critics – that he fired (in the case of Farrell) or simply didn't make use of the many former NYCB dancers who knew the great Balanchine roles inside out – and from different stages of their evolution. It was a sad waste of good will, and great resources, over a thirty year period.

In defense of Clifford, I believe his complaint was that he wasn't able to coach City Ballet dancers in the roles he originated or knew well after Martins got demonstratively angry with him. Was he really lobbying to run the company?

His recent posts do seem to hint that he is, well, qualified and available. But I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt with regard to his statements about Martins.

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3 hours ago, DC Export said:

This is interesting... Helene do you have a link on this?

No -- Francia Russell said it in a Q&A in Seattle.

 

5 hours ago, bobbi said:

Suzanne owns the rights to Tzigane, which was always great fun and I'd love to see it again in New York. 

And Don Quixote, but I don't think that's been on the table since after a revival.

I remember that she staged Tzigane for Paris Opera Ballet, and was dismayed when the new costume was green.  I think that scene was in Elusive Muse.

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It seems to me that there are three very important functions that the person or persons who take over the top position at NYCB would be expected to fulfill:

1.  Curator of the works of Balanchine and Robbins. Deciding which works to perform, programming issues, keeping up the quality of those works, etc.

2.  Quality of the dancers and their performing. Including teaching, making sure they are "Balanchine ready" for his works, casting, etc.

3. Choreography, both their own and that of others, as well as nurturing new choreographic talent within the company.

This does not include overall management of the company, fundraising, being the 'face' of the company, etc.

It's a huge job, obviously, requiring widely varied skills. What if there was a 'tripartite', if that's the right word, directorship, with three people, each exceptionally gifted and dedicated to one of these areas, with the other duties spread out between them? It might be very challenging to find those three people, who could all get along and put the good of the company first over individual interests, but what if you could??

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I know that during Balanchine's life, Lincoln K did an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes work, as did Betty Cage and Robert Gottlieb.  Has Martins had a similar relationship with anyone in the current administration of the company?

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On January 5, 2018 at 12:07 AM, Helene said:

What ballets do you mean?  Most of the dancers who owned the rights at least gave them to the Trust for administration, and one of the great worries after Balanchine died was that the rights owners (and later the Trust) would pull those rights from NYCB, since the company didn't own them.  Leclercq was given many, so that she had a reasonable living, but she wasn't doing the day-to-day decision-making.  Farrell was given very few.  Symphony in C was given to someone on Balanchine's staff -- I think it was Betty Cage -- who gave the rights to John Taras as a living trust.  He insisted on a version that NYCB no longer did.  Francia Russell said that Peter Martins told Taras he would stop programming the ballet if Taras insisted on his version.  Taras might have folded on that -- I can't remember the ending of the story -- but I know PNB got to perform a different version, because Taras died and the rights reverted back.

I was thinking of Suzanne Farrell and Tzigane, or Meditations. I've also been curious to see the full length Don Quixote. If I remember correctly, she has rights to those three. It would be interesting to view Don Q without all the media heat of Balanchine's Farrell obsession. Somehow I assumed that she wasn't letting NYCB perform them after her "break" with Martins, but I have absolutely no proof.

After I posted above, I read a bit about the way the Trust works and I'm not sure it's possible for the rights to be denied to NYCB. Can anyone explain how it works?

How is the PNB Symphony in C different? I've never seen it. I saw a youtube clip of Paris Opera Ballet performing it and they use very different choreography. I think they also use the original title, Palais de Cristal.  The adagio doesn't have the big balance a la seconde and the choppy steps on pointe in the last act aren't there.  Overall there are fewer steps per minute.

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Rosemary Dunleavy is the ballet mistress and does a lot of the day to day class/rehearsal stuff especially with the corps.  

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I went to a symposium on the Ballet Masters in the past few years. You're right about Rosemary Dunleavy.

Glenn Keenan also works with the corps.

Jean-Pierre Frohlich is focused on Jerome Robbins repertory.

Craig Hall is focused on Justin Peck's ballets, at least prior to the new quad leadership. Albert Evans also worked with Peck in his day. They've got a bunch of experienced ballet masters, they didn't all come to the event. Now I wish I'd taken better notes.

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1 hour ago, BalanchineFan said:

How is the PNB Symphony in C different? I've never seen it. I saw a youtube clip of Paris Opera Ballet performing it and they use very different choreography. I think they also use the original title, Palais de Cristal.  The adagio doesn't have the big balance a la seconde and the choppy steps on pointe in the last act aren't there.  Overall there are fewer steps per minute.

I wish I could remember exactly, but I don't remember it being very different from the staging I'd last seen NYCB do in the '90's.  I don't have the programs from the first time I saw it at PNB, but I'm pretty sure Russell staged it.  I know she danced it, because she talked about having to do corps and Third or Fourth Movement lead to cover for someone, and she had to tear one crown out to put the other on mid-performance, and she staged the ballets that she danced in or knew as a ballet mistress working for Balanchine.

PNB just performed it in Fall 2016, but that was under Peter Boal, and I'm assuming the staging was the current NYCB staging or very similar to it.

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Francia Russell staged Symphony in C for PNB the way she learned it with Balanchine at New York City Ballet in the late-50s and 60s, a time when she also staged it for a number of companies as Balanchine's repetiteur. In 2016, Victoria Simon staged Symphony in C for PNB, Francia having stopped staging (for the most part). Simon's staging included 8 (rather than 6) corps women in the fourth movement, an addition made by Balanchine after Francia's time with the company. After Taras' death, the rights for Symphony in C went to the School of American Ballet. (Related to this, after Kirstein's death, the rights for Concerto Barocco and Orpheus went to New York City Ballet.)

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Thank you Doug!  I know Russell said that Balanchine told her to stage the ballets in the version she knew them, similar to what Tallchief said in the "Dancing for Mr. B" documentary.  I don't remember being struck my many differences, but it had been a long time between seeing the Russell stage and the last time I saw NYCB perform it. 

I didn't know that SAB or NYCB owned the rights to any ballets: I thought they reverted to the Trust.  "Symphony in C" could be a good revenue stream for SAB, while NYCB owning Concerto Barocco, especially, is security.

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5 hours ago, canbelto said:

Rosemary Dunleavy is the ballet mistress and does a lot of the day to day class/rehearsal stuff especially with the corps.  

And has been for many years -- I think she's been working hard to pass on her knowledge to a larger cohort.

I'm more curious about the administrative side.  We've pretty much established that the AD job is almost too large for a choreographer, unless (like Balanchine) they have some substantial assistance.  Who, if anyone, has Martins worked with in terms of planning, programming, and development?

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Deborah Koolish was listed as Peter Martins' assistant. She was dancing when I first saw NYCB in the late 1970's so she would have a lot of knowlege of repertory and programming, along with whatever she learned as an assistant. Is that what you were asking?

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1 hour ago, BalanchineFan said:

Deborah Koolish was listed as Peter Martins' assistant. She was dancing when I first saw NYCB in the late 1970's so she would have a lot of knowlege of repertory and programming, along with whatever she learned as an assistant. Is that what you were asking?

Well, sort of.  I'm thinking of a larger picture -- Lincoln K was many things, but he was not Balanchine's personal assistant.

I know I could wade through the org chart on the website, but all that tells us is who has what title -- not what they actually do.  I cannot imagine that Martins has done all the long-range planning, development, and programming alone -- that would qualify him for a spot in a Marvel comic franchise.  Who has been doing the work?

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I haven’t posted in a while but have some time today.  I’m interested to see if NYCB hires an AD from a regional company, if it creates a ripple effect.  

I think Lourdes Lopez has a good shot.  The #metoo movement may inspire the board to hire a woman.  She danced for Mr. B and rose through NYCB’s ranks.  

She has run two companies, commissioned interesting work, hired the best modern choreographers, fund-raised, won significant grants, and she peograms a lot of neo-classical works.  

If she gets the job, who does MCB hire?  

 

If Peter Boal gets the job - who gets the PNB job?  And isn’t it weird that he might be out of the running because his spouse was one of Martins’ complaining witnesses?  

Does the same logic apply to Damian Woetzel because his wife may have been physically abused by Martins?  

Could Nikolaj Huebbe be chosen?  Can you believe he appeoaches his 10 year anniversary at RDB this year?  RDB had a long string of short term directors.  Maybe he’s interested in the post?  

 

 

Edited by Jayne

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Woetzel has the Juilliard job, but even if here interested anyway, Watts has never said a bad word about Martins, and has denied physical abuse.  Anything physical she's admittef she blames on herself, because she provoked it (which may imply that he did it to keep her from being able to attack him).  She's also refused comment or said she doesn't remember anything else. That's very different from Kelly Boal having accused him directly and described it both to the NYT and at least one of the investigations.

If Watts is a reason Woetzel is out of the running, it was not this.  She's been raised as a issue he might not be considered when Martins' retirement was long theoretical, ie, for at least a decade, even as he has gained vital administrative experience and reknown as a programmer, coach, and career/artistic developer.

I think that the longer the Board takes to make a decision, the less #MeToo will make a difference.  It may still, but the immediacy is no longer there.

 

 

 

 

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