Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Job posting for artistic director


Recommended Posts

7 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

If prior experience leading an arts organization doesn't matter, why not just keep Jonathan Stafford and his team in place? A year on, this team does in fact have some experience and from the outside, at least, seem to be doing a fine job. 

Well put Ms. O'Connell - but I'll give you two reasons why the Board will resist that: Jon Stafford was a principal dancer but not a "star", and if they hired him it would look as if they hadn't "done" anything. The best choice is already in place? Yes, he is. Unfortunately he's a he, so that box doesn't get checked either. But what you said about his dancing is telling. A calm, unruffled guy you can trust. No craziness, no agendas, no huge ego. 

What a lot of people don't seem to understand is that being a "star" dancer, a choreographer, a stager, a coach, or a teacher are all completely separate gifts, rarely combined. Who is good at coaching is rarely the person who could do it themselves when dancing. Same with teaching. And certainly with being an artistic director. That job requires the mental capacities of an over-view, looking at the long range - not something required of a dancer very frequently.  

Link to post
50 minutes ago, Rock said:

Jon Stafford was a principal dancer but not a "star", and if they hired him it would look as if they hadn't "done" anything. The best choice is already in place? Yes, he is.

I honestly don't know if Stafford is the best choice or not. It was simply my intention to point out that if experience doesn't matter, then the lack of prior experience alone wouldn't be an argument against his candidacy. (If he is indeed a candidate. He may not be interested.) 

Re gender: I'm sure I've lost track of this, but has anyone on the Board actually come out publicly and said they would prefer that the next AD be a woman? 

ETA: Sometimes the whole purpose of hiring a search firm — especially when it's done with some fanfare — is to give the in-house candidate legitimacy: "Well, we hired a search firm and carefully considered every candidate they brought us, and what do you know, it turns out that the perfect choice was right on our very own or chart all along!" I'm not saying that's what's going on here, but I've seen it done more than once.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
Link to post
1 hour ago, Quiggin said:

It'd be interesting to see what kinds of Alfred Barr-like outline for City Ballet's past and future the prospective candidates for AD would imagine and construct – especially those of Damian Woetzel and Lourdes Lopez.

Steve Wolfe's painting of the Barr chart:

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/81386

:offtopic:

You can view and download the whole text of Cubism and Abstract Art on MoMA's website. (Amusingly, there are a ton of proofreader's marks in the copy MoMA has posted, which is from its own library. I don't know if these were Barr's own corrections intended for a later edition or if someone on the curatorial staff was being cheeky, but some of the corrections aren't wrong. 😉)

As a Matisse and Kandinsky girl, I'm not entirely enthusiastic about the whole "It Started with Picasso" theory of modern art, but no one is going to take my word against Barr's!

And yes, I'd love to see the Barr chart of ballet.

Link to post

When I worked for Microsoft, we had a running joke whenever we saw a job description for a position no higher than a manager:  even Bill Gates isn't qualified.  If they're competent, they will find someone who can do some big core of the job and is smart enough and humble enough to find other people to do the rest.

Link to post
On 8/15/2018 at 3:57 AM, pherank said:

Here's is the link to the NYT article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/arts/dance/who-should-run-city-ballet-a-job-posting-explained.html

"The search for a new leader started with a listening tour: 175 people inside and outside the company talked to the search committee and Phillips Oppenheim, the recruitment firm it hired. Out of that came a five-page job description — a “wish list,” in the words of Barbara M. Vogelstein, the chairwoman for the school’s board and one of the leaders of the committee."

Oh lord...how complex this whole thing is ...😶

Link to post

I got a quite positive impression of Millepied from Releve. Charismatic and sincere, with substantive ideas.  After all the fuss surrounding his departure, almost all of his ideas are carried on by Dupont---the fund-raiser gala copied from NYCB, more Balanchine - Robbins ballets, casting decisions (that gorgeous mixed-race dancer) and promotions (at least three of the young dancers he used for his statement piece are now etoiles). 

Link to post
On 1/5/2019 at 1:52 PM, Barbara said:

I think a co-AD situation would work with Jonathon Stafford and Wendy Whalen. He's had the years experience and she is the much-loved former ballerina who could be the "face" of the company/fundraiser. I realize this is an extremely simplified definition and doesn't tick all the job description boxes.  But this would allow others in the interim team to get back to their original jobs full time and by keeping Stafford would recognize the effort they've put in over the last year. 

I've run a company with a partner. IT WAS WONDERFUL! If you have the right chemistry and can back each other up it can be like having three people; each of you as individuals playing to your own strengths, and then the two of you together on the things that are the most difficult. It's like parents, it helps if there are two points of view. But the Co-ADs have to really respect each other and recognize that the job is easier with two people.

Link to post
On 1/5/2019 at 2:29 PM, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Respectfully, I think that sounds like a nightmare for both parties. How would the AD's duties be divided between them? Who would have the authority to make decisions regarding repertory, casting, hiring, promotions, and commissions? I can easily imagine the formation of Team Stafford and Team Whelan, with plenty of behind-the-scenes lobbying for influence undermining company cohesiveness, regardless of how amicably the two co-ADs tried to work together. It's my understanding that the "Co BalletMaster-in-Chief" arrangement between Martins and Robbins worked because Robbins was mostly interested in making and maintaining his own ballets, not running the company. 

In addition, it would be perfectly reasonable for either of them to look at the Board and say, "Wait a minute, why don't you trust me to do this job on my own? If you don't have faith in me, why should the dancers, the donors, and the audience?" 

I see your point, Kathleen. I had such a different experience. I think co-directing is working well with the four interim directors, and they have all those same decisions to make. Any two, or four, people in that job will have different natural talents. If they're smart they recognize that the job is big enough for all of them. 

Certain ballet masters already have areas of the rep that they specialize in, that would continue with AD's. They would have to come to agreement on all issues where one person didn't have more say than the others. If you can't convince your other Co-ADs then it's not the right thing to do. And once you can convince your Co-AD then you can convince all the naysayers. At least that's how it should be. Seriously, good parents do it all the time.

That's how a workplace functions where there's real respect.

Link to post
On 1/5/2019 at 8:59 AM, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Both Kirstein and Robbins were alive and actively involved with both the company and the school when Martins assumed the role of "Co Ballet Master-in-Chief." Indeed, Robbins was the other Co Ballet Master-in-Chief and Kirstein was President of SAB. The current Board does not have that luxury. 

If prior experience leading an arts organization doesn't matter, why not just keep Jonathan Stafford and his team in place? A year on, this team does in fact have some experience and from the outside, at least, seem to be doing a fine job. 

By the way, I stumbled across this 1985 NYT article while I was confirming Kirstein's involvement with NYCB / SAB post-Balanchine:

Art and Money in a Ballet Conflcit

"The current conflict between Lincoln Kirstein's supporters and those who have recently challenged his authority in the School of American Ballet - which he and George Balanchine established before founding the New York City Ballet - has raised issues faced by arts groups throughout the nation.

The concerns involve fund-raising versus directorial independence and the influence of major donors or board members on policy. Also involved is the clash between a corporate mentality brought into arts organizations by recently formed boards and the unorthodox spirit that guided pioneering arts enterprises such as the Balanchine-Kirstein ventures during the last 50 years."

La plus ça change ...

From what I know, Stafford was (and likely still is) in the running. He was, to a certain extent, groomed by Martins, yet during the interim team's tenure has shown openness to new approaches, including bringing in more past Balanchine dancers for coaching. That might be the incremental mindset that this board is most comfortable with. 

As for the type of conflict touched on in the 1985 NYT article, I think the overall funding structure/culture for the arts in America (especially beginning from the Reagan era) created this unavoidable conflict. I'm curious if there was another route not taken back in the day, in terms of governance and operation of arts organizations.

Edited by bcash
Link to post

For the record, I'm agnostic as to whether Stafford (or any member of the current interim team) should be appointed as the company's new AD. There are a number of viable candidates and I hope that they each get the consideration they deserve and that the situation warrants. That being said, it's time to make a decision and let the company move on.

Based on my own professional experience — which wasn't in the arts, but was for a time in academia — co-leadership arrangements were fraught with peril, and never worked out as intended. (Per NYCB's 12/9/17 press press release, Stafford leads the team, i.e., it's not a co-directorship. I don't know how much actual decision-making authority he has or whether he could overrule the other members if he believed he needed to.) Bu my experience is only anecdata, and I'd expect the Board and its search committee to do some research on the potential benefits, perils, successes, and failures of such arrangements in other arts organizations before making a decision.

Link to post
1 hour ago, FPF said:

Interesting that the only candidates they mention without any caveats is Boal and Whelan.

Other than that, this article just says more of the same that we've already discussed here and read elsewhere.

Link to post
24 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

Interesting that the only candidates they mention without any caveats is Boal and Whelan.

Other than that, this article just says more of the same that we've already discussed here and read elsewhere.

Totally agree. They brought up the idea of Lopez not wanting to leave Miami, but didn't mention the possibility of Boal not wanting to leave Seattle. Whelan's lack of experience in running a company wasn't touched upon. I was hoping the article would mention someone we hadn't thought of!!!

Link to post

They also intimate that having a "star" dancer as director is preferable. Possibly for fund-raising but not for much else I wouldn't think. Not necessarily. If you make a worldwide list you'd find that more directors weren't "stars". It would seem, anyway, that the NYCB has their fundraising pretty much intact. I should think Jon Stafford's track record in the past year speaks for itself.  Quality of performances, programming, rep, premieres, promotions, hiring, and weathering what has to be one of the worst public relations nightmares ever visited on a ballet company. I think he's the right person for the job. 

Link to post
2 hours ago, vipa said:

Totally agree. They brought up the idea of Lopez not wanting to leave Miami, but didn't mention the possibility of Boal not wanting to leave Seattle. Whelan's lack of experience in running a company wasn't touched upon. I was hoping the article would mention someone we hadn't thought of!!!

Wendy Whelan an impresario? That is a BIG stretch. The piece reads like a plug for her, though Boal comes off well. Both Whelan and Boal (through his wife) have something in common on the Martins front.

Link to post
2 hours ago, Rock said:

They also intimate that having a "star" dancer as director is preferable. Possibly for fund-raising but not for much else I wouldn't think. Not necessarily. If you make a worldwide list you'd find that more directors weren't "stars". It would seem, anyway, that the NYCB has their fundraising pretty much intact. I should think Jon Stafford's track record in the past year speaks for itself.  Quality of performances, programming, rep, premieres, promotions, hiring, and weathering what has to be one of the worst public relations nightmares ever visited on a ballet company. I think he's the right person for the job. 

I wonder if being a “star” might be more important in the United States because ballet companies here don’t get the kind of public funding that a lot of major European companies have. 

 

On on the basis of his leadership in the past year, I agree that Jon Stafford would be a great pick. My main concern would be over potential nepotism with his wife and sister still being in the company. 

Link to post
1 hour ago, Olga said:

Wendy Whelan an impresario? That is a BIG stretch. The piece reads like a plug for her, though Boal comes off well. Both Whelan and Boal (through his wife) have something in common on the Martins front.

She's no Diaghilev, but if you go by the definition of a person who manages a performance, Wendy has done that.

I  thought that this article was generally favorable to everyone discussed...

e.g,  Lourdes Lopez is described as  "an eloquent, visionary leader," and Jennifer Ringer is described as "one of the most sought-after master teachers in ballet" and "just the kind of principled, considerate leader the company desperately needs."

.... with the exception of Suzanne Farrell:

Her relationship with the company is a bit complicated, and though she has an unparalleled mastery of the Balanchine technique, she doesn't have much experience—or interest, it seems—in programming contemporary work. And when asked about NYCB's sexual harassment problem in 2017, she responded with "no comment": Not exactly the hard stance against harassment that the new director needs to have. 

For everyone else, the negatives were primarily ; 1) reasons that they might not leave their current positions (Woetzel, Wheeldon, Lopez, ; 2) that they have indicated lack of interest (Peck); or 3)  that they fit the company tradition, but the company might want to go in a different direction (e.g,, not hire another choreographer--Wheeldon, Millepied).

For shmoozing and fundraising power, I suspect that Woetzel or Millepied  are the best-connected.

I agree that Stafford has been doing a good job--I've been really happy to see a number of dancers getting new opportunities. 

On the whole, I wish they'd just pick someone already.

Link to post
13 minutes ago, FPF said:

She's no Diaghilev, but if you go by the definition of a person who manages a performance, Wendy has done that.

I  thought that this article was generally favorable to everyone discussed...

e.g,  Lourdes Lopez is described as  "an eloquent, visionary leader," and Jennifer Ringer is described as "one of the most sought-after master teachers in ballet" and "just the kind of principled, considerate leader the company desperately needs."

.... with the exception of Suzanne Farrell:

Her relationship with the company is a bit complicated, and though she has an unparalleled mastery of the Balanchine technique, she doesn't have much experience—or interest, it seems—in programming contemporary work. And when asked about NYCB's sexual harassment problem in 2017, she responded with "no comment": Not exactly the hard stance against harassment that the new director needs to have. 

For everyone else, the negatives were primarily ; 1) reasons that they might not leave their current positions (Woetzel, Wheeldon, Lopez, ; 2) that they have indicated lack of interest (Peck); or 3)  that they fit the company tradition, but the company might want to go in a different direction (e.g,, not hire another choreographer--Wheeldon, Millepied).

For shmoozing and fundraising power, I suspect that Woetzel or Millepied  are the best-connected.

I agree that Stafford has been doing a good job--I've been really happy to see a number of dancers getting new opportunities. 

On the whole, I wish they'd just pick someone already.

I agree they need to pick someone already. And that Stafford has done a good job, in fact a pretty great one particularly under the circumstances.  I think in this context there is a lot of light between managing a performance and being an impressario; and I did check the definition before my last post. Of course she did manage a few performances where she was the star performer and the choreographers were all men. I believe they were all men because, according to a published interview she gave, she is more comfortable with a male choreographer. She also has an assistant position at City Center - I don’t know the extent of her role there or vis a vis those performances but they do have a pretty good lineup.  

Link to post
4 minutes ago, Olga said:

 I think in this context there is a lot of light between managing a performance and being an impressario; and I did check the definition before my last post. 

I'm with you on this--I was trying to consider what the author might have been thinking in choosing to use the word, perhaps not fully understanding the connotations.  

Link to post
19 minutes ago, FPF said:

I'm with you on this--I was trying to consider what the author might have been thinking in choosing to use the word, perhaps not fully understanding the connotations.  

Yes, hard to know but does seem to support that the article over inflates Whelan’s qualifications. Historically, I think an impresario provided financial backing.

Then there is the  entire structure of the article, with pluses and minuses for most everyone else, or ruling them out because they can’t or won’t take the position,  and concluding with only positives for Whelan who of course is pretty available. Whelan has many positives but she also has many negatives and there is no mention of them. 

I guess I am just tired of hidden agendas and this article seemed to have one.

I do wish Wendy the best of luck if she gets the position because I love the company and want it to continue to be successful.

Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...