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New Artistic Director

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After an 8th months-search, the RBOF- board of directors, announced the name of the new artistic director : Kathryn Bennets.

Katrhyn Bennets is Australian, former dancer with Australian Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet. She's a pedagogue and currently assistant to William Forsythe at the Ballett Frankfurt. She will take the position in July 2005 for 5 years.

Jan Nuyts is nominated as assistant AD.

I heard this news a couple of hours ago and was hoping that it wasn't true !

So I waited anxiously to the official announcement in the papers : and there it was at 16.27pm :wink:

I'm devastated : today, we lost classical ballet in Flanders too !

Maybe I should seriously consider emigration ? :D

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Thanks Viviane, rather worrying news indeed.

It is said Bennets will start working with the RB of Flanders this May, rehearsing the company - most appropriately so - for "In The Middle Somewhat Elevated".

It is emphasized in the newspapers that Robert Denvers' resignation followed after the government sponsoring for the company was cut down last year.

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This is happening all over Europe -- classical companies are being turned into contemporary companies. (I have no objection to contemporary companies -- let them flourish! I do object to the destruction of the classical tradition, of course.)

I think a large part of it is money. A contemporary company means fewer, or no, toe shoes, much smaller cast works and, hence, a smaller company and in many cases, the end of the orchestra, because for some reason audiences accept taped music for contemporary dance.

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Yes, alas! It is happening all over.

It also rings in the end for many ballet schools, in the long run, for where oh where shall aspiring ballet dancers see that to which they aspire?

On T.V.??

Fat chance.


And, where shall the future ballet dancers then come from?


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We already kind of accepted taped music in classical ballet as well, Alexandra, because the Royal Ballet of Flanders hardly ever performs with orchestra. Well, at least we have to accept it. There's no choice and it's only on very special occasions, like the unforgettable Fabre "Swan Lake" that the orchestra (and it is not a bad one) plays for the ballet company. There is an orchestra, but they play for the opera, not for ballet. And as far as the productions are concerned, they have been of the minimal kind for years. In fact, we have been well prepared over the least years - we only missed the finishing touch.

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I've never seen the Royal Ballet of Flanders, but it's sad indeed to see that yet another ballet company is transformed into a modern dance company. It happened in France with the Ballet du Nord, the Ballet du Rhin, the Ballet de Nancy et de Lorraine (mostly after some budget cuts). That's really saddening indeed. And as diane wrote, that means less and less exposure to ballet for tomorrow's audience- and fewer and fewer jobs for ballet-trained dancers... :)

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I don't understand.

Why can't Bennett who was a dancer with the Australian Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet be expected to direct a ballet company just because she is an assistant to Forsythe? Does working with a contemporary choreographer make it impossible to understand older work? Was there more of a statement? I'm sure you're not saying the Australian Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet can't do Swan Lake... Is it impossible to have a mixed repetoire and have the classics survive?

Please enlighten me. I probably sound imflammatory, but I don't mean to... just asking pointed to get more information... (and I'm too tired to figure out a diplomatic way to ask).

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Amy, we aren't talking about the skills of the new AD, but the new direction our balletcompany is taking. The official statement is that they stay a 'classical' company with a mixed repertory but all interviews are emphasizing the contrarary.

To keep the balance they also nominated Jan Nuyts. Nuyts, a dancer trained in the Antwerp school, former dancer at the RBOF, NDT, Béjart and San Francisco Ballet became co-director of Béjart's Mudra school and is now AD of Yuu Kikaku Ltd in Tokio (?). Not exactly a pure classical career !

Marc, I just read that the next two months Kathryn Bennets will by staging "In the middle..." with the Kirov in Sint Petersburg :)

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Indeed, Amy, the question here is not that Bennets can or cannot run the RB of Flanders, it’s rather what she will do with it and in what degree she is willing or has the means to continue it as a classical troupe with a classical repertoire - which the RB of Flanders is at this moment. Of course, we have to wait until they released her policy plan for the next 5 years, but all seems in place for a turnover into a contemporary company, and we had (as Estelle pointed out) a bit too many examples in the recent past to believe in the contrary.

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Herman, as far as I know Sunal leaves with Denvers. Well, all I can say is that we've seen far too much of her, as she was first cast in almost anything, and she hardly ever delivered the goods. The company will premiere its La Bayadère (staging A-M. Holmes) in a couple of weeks and Sunal will surely dance Nikiya.

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all I can say is that we've seen far too much of her, as she was first cast in almost anything, and she hardly ever delivered the goods.

Why am I not surprised she was first cast in everything, her being Denver's wife? :rolleyes:

Only with the very best dancers this would not be a turn-off.

Recently I spent some time rereading Arlene Croce's old Afterimages, and found she was saying, at the time, one really could see too much of Suzanne Farrell.

And I'm not comparing Sunal with Farrell, obviously.


I might hop over for the Bayadère, though, if it's going to be the last show.

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Why am I not surprised she was first cast in everything, her being Denver's wife? :rolleyes:

Only with the very best dancers this would not be a turn-off.

In this case I always felt it was. Most of all (and there aren't that many performances) because it deprived us of seeing other (more interesting, or more suitable) dancers in leading roles. Some people I know went that far that they systematically avoided first nights and went to Sunday matinees, in which with a bit of luck, others were cast. :grinning:

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Thanks, Marc, for your response.

I guess I really haven't seen the Flanders Ballet often enough.

Don't hesitate, however, to mention some names of those matinee dancers you (or others) so prefer over Sunal.

And, if the he and she Denvers are leaving, shouldn't this then mean that you'd get to see more of the dancers you like? Perhaps there's some good coming with the bad...


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It's obvious that an AD, being married with the principal isn't a good thing for the atmosphere in the company.

Marc, indeed the only thing you could do to avoid Sunal was taking a matinée :).

Herman, I'm not so sure we will see the other dancers more...as it's very likely the repertory will be changed with the new AD.

Among my favourites are Olga Voloboueva and Aki Saito. A young dancer to look out for is Annabelle Hellinckx.

Agalie Vandamme left for 'Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo' and I miss her !

You're right to see Aysem Sunal as Giselle, a role that suited her perfect ! But, that was 8-9 years ago ? and if I'm not mistaken, it hasn't been repeated.

Sunal is a fine technician and I have seen really good performances with her, but she's not the type that can dance it all (who is ?!) ! And after years you really stays hungry when not seeing other dancers. :wacko:

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Olga Volobueva is a name that comes to mind indeed. She is a Vaganova-trained former Kirov soloist, but is hardly ever seen in anything substantial. A few seasons ago we had talented artists like Irina Zavialova (another Vaganova graduate and in my opinion one of the finest soloists the Kirov had in the early 1990's) and Xiomara Reyes, but nothing was done with them, and not surprisingly they left as soon as a better offer came along. (Zavialova is now a principal with Peter Schaufuss' company, Reyes is a principal with ABT.) And there was another soloist whom I felt was neglected, Nadia Dimitrova, who sadly died last year.

Viviane, they did Giselle again in 1999 or so. And guess who was dancing the lead? :)

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Indeed Marc, the case of Nadia Dimitrova was very sad.

Oh dear ! Did they really performed 'Giselle' again in 1999 ?

It's possible, I skipped them a while from my agenda !

Now that I think about it, there was another AD in Antwerp, who's wife was the principal : Valery Panov and his wife Galina ! But that was another story :)

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