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Job posting for artistic director

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One thing that has concerned me right along is the idea that the Board would choose prematurely - how have the results been with the Gang of Four - led by Stafford?  "When ya got a good thing goin', don't mess with it," right? 

I've heard good things, for example, inviting originators of the Balanchine roles to come and coach and having those invitations accepted.  (Not always the case.)  And some of the dancers who were coached by originators in Nancy Reynolds' Balanchine Foundation's series have made their debuts, I understand. 

Still the Chicagoan I was when I saw hundreds of performances of Balanchine's NYCB from 1973 into 1986 (because I had to), I haven't seen these, nor have I seen much of Peter Martins's NYCB, because, ironically in the light of his expressed desires, the Balanchine repertory has looked more like a museum when I have seen it:  Better than most companies, but still, it has danced Balanchine's steps but not his ballets.  With Mr. B. there reviving and freshening his older repertory, it was a garden, never a museum. 

(A garden I had to see because if I didn't get a good dose of good dance once in a while, something was missing from my life.  Since 1986 or so the old rewards of watching NYCB have been absent, and so have I, mostly, finding them from Villella's MCB and TSFB - not to mention our fine "Balanchine-oriented" school, Ballet Chicago.)

I would like to think that that garden might wake up and come back to life, having emerged from its hundred-years' sleep.  But beware of formulas, even the idea that it has to be one person, one "Prince Desire'," to do that. 

Although I would embrace the formula that the artistic side and the fund-raising and administrative side might best be separated:  Early in this thread, there was some discussion of this under the guise of a discussion of job names; NYCB flourished with a General Director (Lincoln Kirstein) and three Ballet Masters, listed alphabetically in the program, which suited us Old Audience just fine: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, John Taras.

("Ballet-Master-in-Chief"? Clunky.  No style.  For something which is all about style?  A bad sign.)

The AD - or the "AG" - the Artistic Gang - needs space and freedom to attend to the artistic side, and in the day, dear Lincoln's job, we heard, was to go to the skeptics among his stable of contributors, upset sometimes by Mr. B.'s ambitions, and tell them, "Let's keep the guy happy!"  Let's give him (them) resources, and freedom.

But I don't want to give the impression that I'm against new choreography!  Nothing could become classic if no one had done it the first time.

Meanwhile, if the current "AG" is tending the garden, if there are green shoots to be seen, leave 'em alone for a while.  After all, hasn't the company come through a period when it was directed by some one who thought he was a choreographer?  That's harsh, and I want to add right away, that Martins, troubled man, did keep the whole thing going, trying to do both jobs - AD and fund raiser.  Good for him!      

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2 hours ago, canbelto said:

One thing I noticed this fall season: Wendy Whelan was at almost every performance I went to. She was talking actively with many of the dancers in the theater promenade, and this was not the case when Peter Martins was AD. I have no idea if she simply feels more comfortable now with him gone or she is testing the waters to see how good of a fit she'd be managing the company.

I'm guessing Whelan already thinks she's a good fit to run the company, and this is, apart from any innocent socializing also going on, politicking. 

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I mean Wendy Whelan no disrespect,  but what experience or qualities does she have that automatically  put her in the running as AD of NYCB?  It's got to take more than being a well-regarded former principal,  who has the bonus of being female.  If the directorship of the company and school will be vested in one person,  the new AD should have significant experience running a largish ballet company,  be able to raise money and work with a board,  and be a Balanchine devotee,  having danced and staged his ballets.  The logical choice,  given Damian Woetzel's unavailability,  is Peter Boal,  but given his wife's role in bringing down the former director,  that's problematic.  Maybe the board will decide that,  optics be damned,  they're going with Boal anyway.  Or they'll offer it to Lourdes Lopez,  who also meets the criteria and ticks the woman and minority boxes as well.  Either one would be a better choice than Whelan,  who would have the additional burden of being the boss over dancers who were her peers in the recent past.  Maybe they'll decide that "if it ain't  broke don't  fix it",  and the leave the leadership as it is.

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1 hour ago, On Pointe said:

I mean Wendy Whelan no disrespect,  but what experience or qualities does she have that automatically  put her in the running as AD of NYCB?  It's got to take more than being a well-regarded former principal,  who has the bonus of being female.  If the directorship of the company and school will be vested in one person,  the new AD should have significant experience running a largish ballet company,  be able to raise money and work with a board,  and be a Balanchine devotee,  having danced and staged his ballets.  The logical choice,  given Damian Woetzel's unavailability,  is Peter Boal,  but given his wife's role in bringing down the former director,  that's problematic.  Maybe the board will decide that,  optics be damned,  they're going with Boal anyway.  Or they'll offer it to Lourdes Lopez,  who also meets the criteria and ticks the woman and minority boxes as well.  Either one would be a better choice than Whelan,  who would have the additional burden of being the boss over dancers who were her peers in the recent past.  Maybe they'll decide that "if it ain't  broke don't  fix it",  and the leave the leadership as it is.

I agree On Pointe. I just wonder if Boal or Lopez would want the job. Peter Boal seems quite involved in the Seattle community, and is working with dancers he hand picked. Lopez is just putting her stamp on Miami. They both have contracts that they would have to break. I also can't see Helgi Tomasson leaving SFB. 

Not many people have experience running a large, successful company. Ib Anderson is in Arizona, I don't know much about the company but he would be an interesting choice. Colleen Neary runs the LA ballet (I believe). It seems incredibly hard to get a company going there. Judy Fugate has run a small group for a number of years. There is Nikolai Hubbe in Denmark. Damien Woetzel has never run a company, but has developed a successful festival (quite a different thing). In any event he is just starting at Juilliard. 

We don't know who has applied for the job or who is being encouraged to, but in the meantime I hope "the team" continues to bring in dancers from the past to coach. Please bring Suzanne in!

One thing that makes this so difficult is that being a great dancer doesn't mean you'll be a great company director, any more than it means you'll be a great teacher. Maybe there is a former NYCB corps member out there serving as an assistant director somewhere, who'd do a fabulous job.

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Exactly. Whelan has no experience running a company at all, let alone one of the biggest companies in the world. I hope the Board uses common sense in this regard not  political correctness. I think the interim team is doing a good job so far and wouldn’t be upset if they remained the Artistic Team permanently. 

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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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2 hours 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. 

 

I’m a little troubled by the fact that Stafford is managing both his wife and his sister. I can’t help but think that the fact that Pollack is a soloist might have affected the decision not to promote any female soloists to principal this year. I’m probably wrong, but the optics aren’t good.

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John Clifford has posted a video on YouTube where he says that at the board has closed in on a female candidate for AD who is an ex-ballerina of the company. 

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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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4 minutes ago, FPF said:

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

Also, I'm trying to imagine one of Balanchine's ballerinas asking him to coach her on the finer points of the lighting plots rather than, you know, dancing his ballets. 

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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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If so, then we might have Alastair Macaulay to thank, because of the way she handled Sugarplumgate :)

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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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