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Job posting for artistic director


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Maybe there are mystery candidates that none of us have yet mentioned.  All of the mentions are unlikely. Either happy where they are, have no experience,  too old, combinations of those.  Woetzel to me would have been the best choice, but I would be very surprised if he left Juilliard. I agree with fleurfairy that the interim team is managing very well yet I don't think they should remain permanently. Many people have advocated for Jon Stafford. Lopez or any other woman shouldn't be considered because she ticks the female and minority boxes. 

 

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1 hour ago, Marta said:

Maybe there are mystery candidates that none of us have yet mentioned.  All of the mentions are unlikely. Either happy where they are, have no experience,  too old, combinations of those.  Woetzel to me would have been the best choice, but I would be very surprised if he left Juilliard. I agree with fleurfairy that the interim team is managing very well yet I don't think they should remain permanently. Many people have advocated for Jon Stafford. Lopez or any other woman shouldn't be considered because she ticks the female and minority boxes. 

 

To be clear,  I think Lourdes Lopez should be considered for AD because of her accomplishments.  Being female and Latina just give the board cool points if they pick her.  

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He said that it was a dancer who joined the Company after Balanchine died, which would mean, not Lopez.  Per the video, he's not sure if a decision has been made, but his source says they are trending towards her:

 

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Peter Boal did say in Whelan's documentary that she was responsible for turning around plenty of attitudes in the Company by example of how she treated people.  For better or worse, she was the muse of the post-Balanchine choreographers who've stuck and the go-to dancer for some who haven't.

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Well, posting from intermission at The City Center Years, all I can say is that if it turns out to be Lopez, I hope she’ll bring Kleber Rebello with her. More later on the other thread. 

Edited by cobweb
"City Center" years, not "Balanchine Years"
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I don't know why he thinks that the mystery female ballerina would necessarily be closed to coaching by dancers who worked with Balanchine. If he is referring to Wendy Whelan, she has always seemed very committed to working to achieve the intent of the choreographer. 

 

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17 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Well, posting from intermission at The Balanchine Years, all I can say is that if it turns out to be Lopez, I hope she’ll bring Kleber Rebello with her. More later on the other thread. 

Signs aren't pointing to Lopez because she was in the company while Balanchine was still living.

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I'm not sure what muse status really has to do with running a company - Farrell became a good coach, stager, and director eventually but it did not happen overnight. Also, in Whelan's case the muse didn't know where the door was when the time had come and is apparently still bitter about it. Those are situations a director will have to cope with again and again. Maybe Whelan will handle it better when the star isn't her.

Kyra Nichols is still age-appropriate and has some experience.

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Wait ... Clifford is seriously worried about not getting the lighting plots and decor aesthetic directly from Balanchine and thinks that that's going to lead to "further degradation" of the repertoire. Hazarding a guess here, but I suspect the lighting plots are pretty well documented, as are the original costumes and decor, and that these are the least of our worries.

 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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3 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Wait ... Clifford is seriously worried about not getting the lighting plots and decor aesthetic directly from Balanchine and thinks that that's going to lead to "further degradation" of the repertoire. Hazarding a guess here, but I suspect the lighting plots are pretty well documented, as are the original costumes and decor, and that these are the least of our worries.

 

He was obsessing about this in some of his earlier posts, too.

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43 minutes ago, dirac said:

I'm not sure what muse status really has to do with running a company

Clifford was decrying that the Balanchine legacy would be lost, because the AD would not have been taught the ballets and the technique by Balanchine and have been coached by him.  Whelan was in the position of Farrell, McBride, et al for Ratmansky and Wheeldon, the two post-Balanchine choreographers with legs.  If the AD is going to bring a post- Balanchine technique and style, those are the two with the most substance, at least so far. 

 

The issue here is artistic direction, not company administration, which he doesn't address. 

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This discussion assumes that Clifford really knows what he thinks he knows and that his commenting on it won't itself have an impact on the board's process--which it probably won't (or wouldn't)...but stranger things have happened.

That said--thinking about company ballerinas who joined after Balanchine's death, I find myself wondering if Jenifer Ringer is in the mix at all, though I understand why Whelan draws the most attention.

Edited by Drew
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2 hours ago, Drew said:

This discussion assumes that Clifford really knows what he thinks he knows and that his commenting on it won't itself have an impact on the board's process--which it probably won't (or wouldn't)...but stranger things have happened.

That said--thinking about company ballerinas who joined after Balanchine's death, I find myself wondering if Jenifer Ringer is in the mix at all, though I understand why Whelan draws the most attention.

I thought about Jennifer Ringer too. She was an intelligent and, what I would call, honest dancer. I don't think she has experience running a company. She's been running a school and a number of  years ago she directed the "Dancers' Choice" performance at NYCB. Her theme, if I remember correctly, was to feature the corps, and was quite poised and well spoken. If she's the one, I wonder if her husband James Fayette, will have a position. He has experience with performers' unions. Personally, I think she'd be a better choice than Wendy Whelan.

Of course I've been trying to come up with former ballerinas who joined post Balanchine. Margaret Tracy, Janie Taylor, Miranda Weese, Yvonne Borree - none seem like candidates

Edited by vipa
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3 hours ago, Leah said:

A comment on the video praised Whelan as a choice, and Clifford responded without contradicting that. Also I thought her appearance at City Center Wednesday night was a big hint.

Whelan had a position as an artistic advisor at City Center well before Martins ever left NYCB.  However, I do think Whelan is pushing hard to get the position at NYCB.  

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I think Whelan would be an appropriate choice.  As noted previously, Whelan was credited for changing the culture of NYCB, and the job ad specifically mentioned that they wanted a humane leader. She has run her Restless Creature and other projects, has taught, and has also recently staged Ratmansky, and had a very extensive NYCB rep.

I've also never thought that Whelan was bitter--my sense of her is that she devoted herself, very single-mindedly, to her ballet career, without thought about what came next and was emotional about it. I find it just very human and honest of her. Maybe she showed too much of her inner turmoil at the time in Restless Creature, but when I saw her speak last summer, she came across as very warm, enthusiastic, and upbeat. 

Also, although Woetzel has other types of relevant experience, he has also never run a major company. And many other ADs, including Boal and Tomasson, have done very well leading major U.S. companies with little/no prior experience as ADs. Although the ad said that they wanted successful AD experience, these laundry lists of skills/experiences are often wish lists, and the lack of one qualification  an otherwise excellent candidate may not be a deal-breaker if the other positives are thought to outweigh it. 

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9 hours ago, FPF said:

Hazarding a guess here, but I suspect the lighting plots are pretty well documented, as are the original costumes and decor, and that these are the least of our worries.

Heh. My first thought when he mentioned this in the new video was that I'd sooner entrust the company to Marc Happel, the astonishingly knowledgable and much-beloved Director of Costumes, than I would to John Clifford. 🙃

Edited by sappho
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7 hours ago, sappho said:

Heh. My first thought when he mentioned this in the new video was that I'd sooner entrust the company to Marc Happel, the astonishingly knowledgable and much-beloved Director of Costumes, than I would to John Clifford. 🙃

I wish someone would make a good documentary about Happel and his costume shop. A binge-able, multi-part series documenting a "year in the life" might even be in order. I appreciate NYCB's little costume gala featurettes about the costume design and construction process, but Happel and his artisans deserve a brighter spotlight.

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Daniel Day-Lewis,  dedicated actor that he is,  spent a year working with Marc Happel  in NYCB's costume shop in preparation for his role as a couturier in The Phantom Thread.  (Surely the most peculiar "love story" ever filmed.)  That experience could make a compelling documentary by itself.  One wonders if the costume makers and the dancers knew who he was?  It certainly was not common knowledge that he was there.  Day-Lewis seems to be enamored with craftmanship.  He took a considerable amount of time off from acting to work as a shoemaker.

I'm not sure what to make of John Clifford's latest letter to the world.  It's hard to believe that he thought he was seriously in the running to become AD,  but his disappointment seems real.  If his concern is preserving the Balanchine legacy,  there's no reason why he and others who worked with Mr. B can't  stage and coach his works.  (Suki Schorer,  Rosemary Dunleavy and Susan Pilarre apparently don't count to him,  even though they're in-house and worked with Balanchine far longer than he did.)  But if that session with Clifford and Mimi Paul is representative,  his coaching methods could use some work.  You can't  throw that much information at dancers in one rehearsal and expect good results.  It's like trying to direct a play in one day.  The dancers need time to absorb the valuable insights being given to them,  and to discover how to build them into their personal understanding and interpretation of the work.  My ballet teacher used to liken the process to the old commercial for Sunshine seedless prunes - "Today the pit,  tomorrow  the wrinkles!".

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To me he seemed more upset that the apparent choice at this time/this succession is someone who didn't work with Balanchine directly than that they didn't choose him. 

I have no idea whether this is typical of his coaching, or if it is, typically, if he would have multiple sessions to repeat and iterate, but of the taped coaching sessions I've seen, the point seems to be to get as much detail into them on the record for future use, and the two dancers would always be able to go back to the videotape, so to speak, as could someone learning, teaching, or staging the work. 

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I agree with Helene that what's in a videotaped coaching session isn't the same as what would be presented in leisurely coaching session. The Balanchine foundation repetiteurs all have their idiosyncracies, not just Clifford – Maria Tallchief seems self absorbed and distractedly watches herself in the mirror as she coaches, Alicia Alsonso tells great stories but can't see anything that's going on with the dancers and has to be diplomatically cued in by Josefina Mendez standing at her side, etc. 

Clifford is a kind of unreliable narrator, yes, but he is the narrator and 1) has directly watched Balanchine choreographing works and 2) knows how to watch for the common affectations and distortions that have drifted in over the years. Some of what he says is similar to what Croce and others were saying in the 90s, he just says it louder and more in your face. Many of the other dancers, such as Jacques d'Amboise and Edward Villella, also talk about Balanchine as if they had a special relation to him and know things that no one else knows.

Is Suki Schorer the last word on Balanchine technique? Francia Russell or Patricia McBride or Villella who came earlier might have other ideas. Clifford makes a comment somewhere that Balanchine's knowledge of Petipa was pre-Vaganova school, and that his Petipa was actually closer to Bournonville. Maybe there's also a pre-1970 Balanchine idiom that's less focused on getting the details nailed in place and more about the whole body dramatically possessing space. Not that it should supersede what is taught now but can help inform it. I think that's what Clifford wants to draw attention to through his comments and generous anthology of YouTube videos. And that the next artistic director would be open to all that.

Edited by Quiggin
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