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Peter Martins Retired; Succession Discussion

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has anyone from the company said the interim team can't promote? the only hurdle i see is stafford having any say in his wife's advancement or lack thereof, but otherwise i don't see why they can't (especially as to apprentices). 

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On 5/23/2018 at 11:37 AM, E Johnson said:

has anyone from the company said the interim team can't promote? the only hurdle i see is stafford having any say in his wife's advancement or lack thereof, but otherwise i don't see why they can't (especially as to apprentices). 

It's unlikely that there are any policies in place saying that 'interim' directors cannot promote dancers. Of course the NYCB board could always raise objections to choices made by staff, but I'm not sure how explicit their written policies are about who gets to do what, and when, in this kind of unusual circumstance.

An A.D. policy document would be a fascinating document to read.

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6 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

Will the new AD also be head of SAB?

Yes:

Quote

But one matter has been settled: The next leader will continue to serve as the artistic director of both City Ballet and the School of American Ballet, a plan made by the institutions’ boards more than a decade ago.

 

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I found her comments about the succession interesting as well.  I think there are a few things at play:

Even when there was a single figure of authority in NYCB -- Robbins was running a boutique within the Company -- there were times in NYCB's history where the company members and staff were running it.  In the Balanchine era, there were times of temporary leadership, formal and informal, when insiders kept it together:  when Balanchine was gone a year to care for Tanaquil Leclerq, when he was hospitalized with heart trouble, and during his last illness; there were times he threatened to pick up his football and move to Switzerland, like when the dancers voted not to go to Germany one summer to film.  While the company hoped that he would return from all but the last, they held it together among themselves, even when they were in limbo, but they assumed that someone was going to come back and run the place, and if they didn't play nicely in the sandbox, they could be held accountable.

When Martins was chosen to replace Balanchine, The Powers That Be forced the narrative that rallying behind Martins was the only chance the Company had to survive, while at the same time, dancers, like Heather Watts, have described a fervor in which they performed to hold on to Balanchine's memory and legacy.

While there are dancers who are profoundly loyal to Martins and feel they owe their careers to him, that's not an artistic hold: it's a management and institutional one.  (This was actually strengthened by the loudly decried decade-long lull, during which most of the dancers from the Balanchine era were cleared out as dancers and not asked to coach.  The School then started to release a geyser of talent that fed into the Company, and these dancers have known nothing else.)   Martins doesn't have much of an artistic legacy.

Now, the Company seems solid as a rock:  when Martins was ousted, while there has been turmoil, there has been no threat, real or imagined, to the Company's future.  (Chances are, it's such a solid social status plus, that if the current Board walked, there would be others to replace them.)  It isn't surprising if at least some of the dancers aren't particularly loyal to an interim team chosen for them and are self-organizing.  Even if it had been a single interim AD, unless that person was someone with an inside track to take over, it's really not in anyone's best self-interest to invest in that person, other than acting professionally, and the influence of four people sharing is dissipated.  

 

 

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I read this article last night, but I came away from it thinking she's sounds very young.  ;)

Which is fine, and since she's had few things standing in her way, her confidence level is high. This statement seems to pretty much sum up her general state of mind: “I feel like this is my time,” she said. “I had to wait for things and people can wait for things, too.”

But I don't think it's necessarily accurate to imply that only the principal dancers are teaching the younger dancers and carrying "these ballet forward". This kind of comment just makes it sound like the vast managerial staff is hibernating in some closet on the 3rd floor until the return of the patriarchal leader. I don't think that's right. What happened to all the Ballet Masters/Mistress? The SAB teachers and guest teachers? Peck's focus seems very narrow to me. And as for running a company - to do that successfully is not an easy task. Enthusiasm alone doesn't guarantee much.

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11 minutes ago, pherank said:

What happened to all the Ballet Masters/Mistress? The SAB teachers and guest teachers?

NYCB Principals are not getting extensive coaching from the staff, who are staging scores of ballets each season.  (There's one Ballet Master dedicated to the corps.)  Dancers have always coached other dancers at NYCB, passing down roles and teaching them to last-minute replacements, right up to curtain.  It's part of the Company legacy and is nothing new.  Nor is a dancer believing that by doing so, it's not just teaching a bunch of steps and running: it's actually coaching and passing on legacy.  I would guess that Peck, who has been mentored by Watts and Woetzel, has had a deeper legacy passed to her than your average NYCB dancer.  She's no more likely to defer to a peer who is passing it on third-hand than someone who was coached in "Rubies" by Patricia McBride, for example.

SAB teachers and guest teachers are only relevant to Company members if those dancers return to SAB to take someone's class, like many Company members took Stanley Williams' classes.

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4 minutes ago, Helene said:

SAB teachers and guest teachers are only relevant to Company members if those dancers return to SAB to take someone's class, like many Company members took Stanley Williams' classes.

Regarding SAB staff, I was thinking only in the larger sense of carrying the legacy forward - not that they would be teaching company members the older ballets.

"Dancers have always coached other dancers at NYCB, passing down roles and teaching them to last-minute replacements, right up to curtain.  It's part of the Company legacy and is nothing new." - that of course makes Peck's statements unremarkable. What is interesting to me, is how this relates to accusations of "lax standards" during a good part of the Martins era. That would mean company principals should shoulder more of the blame.

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I disagree:  the buck stops with the AD.  If he -- because it's, sadly, almost always a "he," -- needs more staff, needs to train dancers to teach other dancers, needs to be more hands on with coaching himself, etc. - that's his discussion with the staff, dancers, Board, or himself.

The legacy in institutions is set by example and one-on-one.  (It's not a lecture/publishing kind of profession.) If the staff isn't doing the coaching/teaching, then the only influence they have is by example, and if the role principals are elsewhere, I'm not sure how that would work.

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24 minutes ago, Helene said:

I disagree:  the buck stops with the AD.  If he -- because it's, sadly, almost always a "he," -- needs more staff, needs to train dancers to teach other dancers, needs to be more hands on with coaching himself, etc. - that's his discussion with the staff, dancers, Board, or himself.

The legacy in institutions is set by example and one-on-one.  (It's not a lecture/publishing kind of profession.) If the staff isn't doing the coaching/teaching, then the only influence they have is by example, and if the role principals are elsewhere, I'm not sure how that would work.

Sounds like you are saying, "that's the way it is done at NYCB, but that's not the ideal approach". And if that is the case, I would agree. I would have to guess that the 'dancers coaching other dancers' approach simply came about due to the enormity of the NYCB repertoire and the number of performances per year, and of course the lack of Ballet Masters and répétiteurs to go around.

Regarding the "interim" A.D. staff - I wonder how many changes/ fixes they have in the works? Or are they just coasting along?

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There is nothing inherently wrong with the mastery model, where a person solidifies their knowledge by teaching it.  It's never ideal if the teacher only has the time or inclination to teach the steps/schema, and like in any situation where there are teachers and pupils, there is going to be a mix in quality, resources and inclination.  But when Balanchine was alive and watching, he was there to make corrections and adjustments, which is very similar to what dancers routinely describe when an existing work/production is staged for the Company:  a stager(s) come in and set the work, and then the choreographer zooms it at the end to polish things up. If there isn't that oversight, then you get what you get.

I'm not sure Peck was saying she was inventing the role: I think she was saying that her approach is to pass on legacy, not just steps, and, again, having  been mentored by Watts and Woetzel, I think she has a different approach than dancers who didn't have the opportunity to be mentored or coached by dancers from the Balanchine generation.  (Woetzel was in the middle, so he would have heard early and often how easy it would be to lose the chain, and from hearing him speak, he and Watts are on the same page, at least at the meta level.)  And like many people who have a calling in what they might perceive as a void, they are self-selecting

There hasn't been any intel on what the interim staff has been doing, but, again, none of them worked with Balanchine directly, and Peck is getting the intel from Watts, who got it directly from Balanchine, or at least Balanchine for the last few decades of his life.

 

ETA:  I wouldn't hire Watts to be an historian, though, I kept wanting to talk back to her TED Talk from 1916.

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8 hours ago, Helene said:

ETA:  I wouldn't hire Watts to be an historian, though, I kept wanting to talk back to her TED Talk from 1916.

I know she's from a previous generation, but not quite that old...

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That is a great photo and a wonderful message from Fairchild.

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On 7/15/2018 at 3:56 PM, Helene said:

NYCB Principals are not getting extensive coaching from the staff, who are staging scores of ballets each season.  (There's one Ballet Master dedicated to the corps.)  Dancers have always coached other dancers at NYCB, passing down roles and teaching them to last-minute replacements, right up to curtain.  It's part of the Company legacy and is nothing new.  Nor is a dancer believing that by doing so, it's not just teaching a bunch of steps and running: it's actually coaching and passing on legacy.  I would guess that Peck, who has been mentored by Watts and Woetzel, has had a deeper legacy passed to her than your average NYCB dancer.  She's no more likely to defer to a peer who is passing it on third-hand than someone who was coached in "Rubies" by Patricia McBride, for example.

SAB teachers and guest teachers are only relevant to Company members if those dancers return to SAB to take someone's class, like many Company members took Stanley Williams' classes.

Another way things get passed down is by short outside gigs. Lauren Lovette is taking a group to Vail, and has done so in the past. Jared Angle performed with a group in Nantucket, as he's done in the past. Tiler Peck is dancing Tchai Pas with Roman Mejia (a debut for him. He also worked with Lovette). Ashley Bouder Project had Mejia, Olivia MacKinnon, Claire Kretschmar and India Bradley (she's also working with Lovette)... both in Martha's Vineyard and at the Joyce. A lot of coaching goes on during these summer outside gigs. If you look at the dancers' Instagram feeds, and at summer performance schedules the world over, you'll see  a lot of growth opportunities for promising young NYCB dancers. I think the NYC Choreographic Institute also employs any NYCB dancer who volunteers. They get paid union scale for two weeks of rehearsal, and a chance to create a role for an up and coming choreographer.

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