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Job posting for artistic director

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None is needed, but apparently yet more proof that Clifford is unfit to lead. Seriously?

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He was always a “magnet” and some of the people in love with him would shock most people, but he always behaved like a gentleman and NEVER, EVER, “succumbed”...not even to Rudolph Nureyev! Rudy and many more adored him...but Victor always kept his head (not easy for a young guy in those years) and now is happily married to Julie Kent, one of ABT’s most beautiful ballerinas and now director of The Washington Ballet. 

 

Edited by nanushka

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He followed up with this. Besides the ick factor that he doesn't seem to think is a problem at all (Nureyev being "all over" a teen SAB student), would Victor Barbee appreciate having his personal business spread over social media in this way? 

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So talented but completely taken with Nureyev (whom he resembled quite a bit, and Rudy was all over him when he was still a student at SAB).

 

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11 minutes ago, canbelto said:

...would Victor Barbee appreciate having his personal business spread over social media in this way? 

Exactly my thought! Talk about professional courtesy.

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He lacks the diplomacy filter that most of us have (or learn to have with more time).  Sometimes that filter fades as people age.  

Still no announcement from NYCB for the new AD?  Maybe in the new year. 

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Yes, the timing has likely been very well-calculated.  My bet is on Wendy Whelan? We shall see. 

OR maybe they will go with a "team?" 

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If Clifford entertained any hopes for the appointment, they're gone by now. Very nice picture of Barbee (he does look like Rudi in that shot) and Johnna Kirkland.

I find Clifford's oversharing  amusing at times, and this is one of them. Nobody else is likely to tell us that Barbee never had to close his eyes and think of England. :) I somehow don't think that Barbee will be clutching his pearls at the release of this information or the bit about his "magnetic" quality. 

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Hadn't checked Clifford's Instagram in a while, and wow. Recent posts constitute a real masterclass in how not to pitch oneself or one's ideas, and it seems like he's become more unprofessional since he accepted the fact that he was out of the running for AD. (Seems like he still wants to be involved with the company in some capacity, though?) In addition to the post that @nanushka linked to, I'm struck by a few things:

  • A few instances in which he's discounted Balanchine's late-life decisions and statements on account of the latter's "brain problems." What's that about?
  • Peter Martins was obviously no saint, but Clifford doesn't seem to realize that publicly and continuously attributing his own absence from New York to Martins' personal jealousy and vindictiveness is not what the board, the company, or members of the public want to see. You're not going to get a hero's welcome in New York simply in virtue of being different from Peter and more personally in awe of Balanchine.
  • He's suggested that the board's decision represents a capitulation to "PC culture." Nope. Sorry. Being involved in the company in any capacity is going to require you to answer questions about gender and power in the ballet world -- including and especially from SAB parents -- with maturity and seriousness. Nobody -- donors, parents, press, board -- wants to talk to a spoilsport who rolls his eyes at the problem.
  • He often says things like, "Everyone is interpreting these comments as a criticism of the dancers and boards." Tough cookies? When you're in a public-facing leadership position, you take ownership of the impact that your words have on others. Words such as:
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 So now what am I supposed to do? Deny it? Play dumb and accept the mediocrity I see disguising itself for greatness? Allow Hubris to win the day? No thank you! Even if I’ve made some enemies with my recent posts, that’s their problems; not mine. 

Eek, sorry for the rant. 😮It seems I'm annoyed by historical nostalgia and hagiography and entitlement of all sorts these days.

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1 hour ago, sappho said:

A few instances in which he's discounted Balanchine's late-life decisions and statements on account of the latter's "brain problems." What's that about?

Balanchine was suffering from and died of Kreutzfeldt/Jakob disorder.  From the NIH website:

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Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative, fatal brain disorder.  It affects about one person in every one million per year worldwide; in the United States there are about 350 cases per year.  CJD usually appears in later life and runs a rapid course.  Typical onset of symptoms occurs at about age 60, and about 70 percent of individuals die within one year.  In the early stages of the disease, people may have failing memory, behavioral changes, lack of coordination, and visual disturbances.  As the illness progresses, mental deterioration becomes pronounced and involuntary movements, blindness, weakness of extremities, and coma may occur.

In retrospect Balanchine was one of the 30% of people who had it longer than a year. According to this long article that discusses the course of the disease for Balanchine, various tests and diagnoses along the way, and the post-mortem biopsy that finally produced an answer, he noticed the symptoms as early as 1978:

https://www.nytimes.com/1984/05/08/science/the-doctor-s-world-the-mystery-of-balanchine-s-death-is-solved.html

This is not a matter of Clifford speaking offhand without facts.

The Board is still a very pro-Martins board: they've simply been backed into a corner and have to find someone else to run the company.  Being vocally anti-Martins would not be a strategy with them.  IMO, if there is going to be a change to NYCB culture, they should err on the side of PC, ie., listening to what people value and what they think demeans them and treating them with respect.

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I knew about the Creutzfeldt/Jakob, although thanks for the fascinating NYT link @Helene; I hadn't known about how it specifically distorted his music & color perception.

This is the sort of thing I had it mind when I flagged Clifford's references to Balanchine's waning health, which he sometimes seemed to invoke as evidence that his (Clifford's) few years in the company represented a more quote-unquote authentic period of the Balanchine style. I suppose I'm wondering if Balanchine's late-life health factors into how other répétiteurs interpret Balanchine's aesthetic. To this casual observer, the comments seemed like a really dodgy way for Clifford to position himself as the repository of 'true' Balanchine knowledge, but I could be totally off-base here given how much I still have to learn about this period of B's life.

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From various recollections, among the people who knew Balanchine well, there seem to be the people who recognized his decline as being different from other health crises he had, and others who were in (understandable) denial, at least in anything they said publicly.

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10 hours ago, Helene said:

Balanchine was suffering from and died of Kreutzfeldt/Jakob disorder.  From the NIH website:

In retrospect Balanchine was one of the 30% of people who had it longer than a year. According to this long article that discusses the course of the disease for Balanchine, various tests and diagnoses along the way, and the post-mortem biopsy that finally produced an answer, he noticed the symptoms as early as 1978:

https://www.nytimes.com/1984/05/08/science/the-doctor-s-world-the-mystery-of-balanchine-s-death-is-solved.html

This is not a matter of Clifford speaking offhand without facts.

The Board is still a very pro-Martins board: they've simply been backed into a corner and have to find someone else to run the company.  Being vocally anti-Martins would not be a strategy with them.  IMO, if there is going to be a change to NYCB culture, they should err on the side of PC, ie., listening to what people value and what they think demeans them and treating them with respect.

Just wanted to mention that the science in the NYT article is out of date--Creutzfeldt-Jakob is not caused by a slow virus, but is now known to be a prion disease: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease-Fact-Sheet, caused by an abnormal protein that causes other proteins to misfold. I believe that I read somewhere that he may have received injections of animal glands when he was younger that were speculated to be the source.

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Many thanks, @FPF!

He was reportedly have gone to Switzerland at one point to get the animal gland injections that restored youth.

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The fact is though Clifford will be inheriting a company that dances many ballets that were created after he left the company in 1973, and with ballets that have changes Balanchine instituted himself after he left the company. Also there are Robbins ballets, there are the contemporary works, there are the new works. Clifford seems to want to return NYCB to a time capsule of 1972-ish and it just isn't going to happen. 

I would also add that Clifford's views on sexual propriety and his attitude that it's on the onus of a young SAB student not to "succumb" to advances is very 1972-ish. It's 2018. 

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I think that's "would be inheriting..." Unless there is inside information to which people are responding that I'm unaware of...no-one thinks Clifford is a contender for this job.

But honestly, I still am sort of puzzled why Clifford's Instagram is drawing so much attention here in this discussion of NYCB's next artistic director.  I take what he says for what it's worth like any other "talky" interview in which dancers break the unspoken rule that everyone in the arts/entertainment business sound as if they were scripted by a publicist. Things just as pertinent on the one hand and just as problematic on the other have been said by other Balanchine dancers of past generations. Are they less self-aggrandizing? Probably (most of them), but they also don't share such a treasure trove of video.

It is 2018. The next artistic director has to know what that means (insofar as anyone can know) including when it comes to issues of gender, diversity, and mutual respect among people who work together. Still, the single greatest trust NYCB holds is its dancing of Balanchine. Nothing on the artistic side--not even the Robbins legacy--competes.  I write that sentence in the full awareness that it's not a Balanchinean sentiment -- though I will add that in his way he honored aspects of his Russian inheritance as best he could in an entirely different setting. So, having an artistic director who is forward looking is essential, but not more essential than having one who knows how to respect New York City Ballet's past.

Edited by Drew

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On 11/12/2018 at 1:56 PM, Helene said:

I don't see it that way at all:  ballet staging is like a giant game of Telephone, and a lot of changes are made over the years.  There's no reason that dancers who weren't born when Valse Fantasie was choreographed should know more than what has been passed down over half a century, and I don't see him suggesting otherwise.  In fact, one of his constants is that it's critical to have the people who worked with Balanchine coach what Balanchine told them, not that it's the dancers' fault in any way.

I asked on Youtube his opinion on Villella' 1952 staging for MCB and he didn't answer me. I asked him a similar question on his take on the validity of Le Palais de Cristal for POB and he sort of brushed me off with something like "that's an entirely different ballet than Symphony in C" and a few words on performance rights, but not really addressing the issue of choreography, as I wanted. It felt as if he didn't give validity to anything that was out of his personal experience/scope.

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Random thought:  Whelan is mentioned frequently as a contender, but has Kowroski's name been suggested as a possibility for AD? Presumably she'll be winding down her stage career somewhat soon, even though she's still dancing quite well. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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22 hours ago, Drew said:

But honestly, I still am sort of puzzled why Clifford's Instagram is drawing so much attention here in this discussion of NYCB's next artistic director.  I take what he says for what it's worth like any other "talky" interview in which dancers break the unspoken rule that everyone in the arts/entertainment business sound as if they were scripted by a publicist. Things just as pertinent on the one hand and just as problematic on the other have been said by other Balanchine dancers of past generations. Are they less self-aggrandizing? Probably (most of them), but they also don't share such a treasure trove of video.

It is 2018. The next artistic director has to know what that means (insofar as anyone can know) including when it comes to issues of gender, diversity, and mutual respect among people who work together. Still, the single greatest trust NYCB holds is its dancing of Balanchine. Nothing on the artistic side--not even the Robbins legacy--competes.  I write that sentence in the full awareness that it's not a Balanchinean sentiment -- though I will add that in his way he honored aspects of his Russian inheritance as best he could in an entirely different setting. So, having an artistic director who is forward looking is essential, but not more essential than having one who knows how to respect New York City Ballet's past.

Just signing on to this, since Drew has said it so well.

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Anyone heard rumors on when the selection/announcement of the new AD will be?

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John Clifford said in his latest YT video that it will be a "matter of days." 

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Posted (edited)

I'm wondering about who it might be.  Clifford hinted that the board was looking at two women who were great ballerinas, but not during Balanchine's time.  Someone here mentioned Maria Kowroski.  Also, Jenifer Ringer?  Of course Wendy Whelan is a contender.  Anyone else?

Also, can we be sure that Clifford really does have an inside scoop about the Board?  Or is that posturing?

Edited by nanran3

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37 minutes ago, nanran3 said:

Also, can we be sure that Clifford really does have an inside scoop about the Board?  Or is that posturing?

He says that he has a donor friend that’s been talking with board members. But who knows. The last video was in response to a board member allegedly stating that he was too “emotional” for the job. 

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I side with much of what Clifford says about staging, particularly about tempi, costumes and lighting. He mentions crashing with Zakharova and Lopatkina when staging Jewels, and I can see why. Some of the Russian tempi are dreadfully slow....almost soporific. And according to the videos, it looks like he was one of those "sharpies" of ballet. His quickness was evident.

He keeps mentioning Kent and Farrell as best choices of AD. I think it would do good to try to get as much of their input before they're gone.

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I read it as Clifford was mentioning Kent and Farrell as former dancers who should be around coaching. I didn't think he meant as AD.

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51 minutes ago, Rock said:

I read it as Clifford was mentioning Kent and Farrell as former dancers who should be around coaching. I didn't think he meant as AD.

I agree. Farrell has a great reputation as a coach and has run her own company, but I don't know if she would take on something as massive as NYCB. Kent surely has wonderful information to convey as a coach but I don't see anything to indicate that she could run a company.

I think someone else mentioned Maria K. I don't see that as a possibility. She has no experience running a company not even small projects such as the ones done by Ulbricht, Bouder and some others.

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