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Future Directions

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First of all, a disclaimer - I am not a company insider, and all I know is what I see on stage, or read in the papers :D

I am old enough (although I hate to admit it!) to remember Choo-San Goh's tenure and the beautiful dances that he created. But nothing lasts forever, and Choo-San died too young. Afterwards, under the excellent leadership of Mary Day, we saw great dancers in classically-based ballets, although - it must be said - the company continued to strive for an artistic identity.

Fast-forward to Septime Webre's tenure. The last decade has seen incredible growth in the company and the dancers - faster, better, stronger! As a choreographer, Septime is not an innovator. He wants to buff up the classics,

and grow the company. His genius is in development - of dancers and audience - and his ambition for the company knows no bounds.

A glimpse of the future lies in Septime's inclusion for the Coppelia program, which promises Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, and Rite of Spring in 2004-5. We can look forward to a classical company, and the question is simply this - can we make it? (Yes!!) - but do we need it? That is a very difficult question. We here in DC have the ABT, DTH, NYCB, and Kirov. Those are the companies against which the WB will be judged.

In the past decade, we have seen local companies turned into national and international venues - the Shakespeare Theatre, the NSO, the Washington Opera. Septime has laid his cards down on the table. It's a high-stakes sweepstakes, and we wish him, and his company, well.

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Based on what I heard yesterday at lunch in the KC Cafe and during the intermissions, I would say the dance public is getting excited about the Washington Ballet's direction. I enjoy talking to 'ballet' people and the two women I sat with at lunch didn't know a lot about ballet but they had just become interested and have found this season to be exciting and enjoyable.

Having recently seen both the ABT and NYCB I think the WB compares very favorably. We have some very exciting and beautiful dancers and, as you say Mike, Septime Webre is proving to be excellent at developing them.

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Mike, don't forget Suzanne Farrell Ballet which will have a larger and I believe longer prescence at KC this year as her funding expands.

From what I hear , Mr. Webre is the right person for your company: not only the highest of standards, but also a great communicator, storyteller and terrific sense of humor.

I envy you all those classic story ballets. Here at OBT we're being served a lot of chopped salad while you get the main course. Hopefully in a few years, Christopher Stowell will have the company (and the money) for some Three Acts.


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Great comments - thanks - I was especially glad to hear about the lunchtime/intermission conversations, because I think that growing the audience is always important, especially given the company's ambitions - & yes, I do think we have the right dancers and artistic direction to make it all happen, as long as the finances fall into place - audience development, donors, sponsors... probably higher ticket prices too (ouch).

That's right about Suzanne Farrell Ballet - glad to have them, too. I just hope the donors, sponsorship, ticket $$, etc don't get stretched too thin. Sometimes its amazing to me how much support the arts get here; for a community the size of D.C. it's really a high level of commitment. Bottom line... quality attracts support.

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