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Ashley Wheater piece in Pointe Magazine


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Our last thread on the Joffrey -- six months ago -- was devoted to the resignation of the Joffrey's Associate Artistic Director Cameron Basden. There was a suggeston that disagreements with new Artistic Director Ashley Wheater were at play.

Now Pointe Magazine *(Feb/March, p. 16) has a brief "as told to" piece by Ashley Wheater. Among the points mentioned are:

-- Plans to stage Lar Lubovitch's Othello in fall 2009 and Ashton's Cinderella in 2010;

-- that he's currently looking for a few "strong" male and female dancers, and that he wants mroe in the way of strong pointe work than Arpino would have cared about;

-- men should probably not even apply if they can't do double tours, attitude turns, and 4-5 pirouettes;

-- he values freedom and athleticism, honesty withot affectation, ability to dance in a group, beauty of upper body movement, etc. He liked the San Francisco Ballet practice of including in adutions a Paul Taylor combination "to see how a dancer could run, roll on the floor and keep moving. That is crucial."

-- if a dancer seems too concerned about job security, he advises them to look for work in Europe. :wink:

So, what's going on at the Joffrey? REcent performances? What plans for the future? And what do you think about it?

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"Go work in Europe" seems an oddly reactionary bit of advice coming from any Joffrey company.
Well, to be absolutely fair, his actual words were:
And if they say they need job security, I advice them to consider a European company.

It is a bit nicer this way. Kind of like ... job counselling? :wink:

On the whole, however, I got the sense that Wheater is quite open about looking at dancers as resources to be used and, when no longer useful, removed. "My way or the highway" is probably the philosophy that most ADs embrace in their hearts. It's rare, however, to find it expressed so openly as in this interview.

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This certainly is the impression one gets from his letting go the much-beloved Maia Wilkins.

I do think the dancing looks sharper and technically better than it did under Arpino. The men, in particular, are more masculine, so I see why he wants those double tours and multiple pirouettes.

As he changes the style of the company, it will be interesting to see what he does with the Joffrey and Arpino rep. After watching Kettentanz today (see my review here), I think it would not be such a loss for much of that rep to quietly languish. On the other hand, Arpino and Joffrey deserve huge credit for floating this company and nourishing it, and if the price is to do a little vanity publishing now and again, why not?

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