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Job posting for artistic director


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4 hours ago, Marta said:

Curious as to why you say "not"?  I'm not surprised at this choice.  Nor can I say with complete conviction that it should have been X, Y, or Z chosen instead. I  AM  surprised that there haven't been more comments here on the board.  I wasn't a partisan of anyone in particular, although I thought Woetzel would have been great if he weren't already taken.  Is it significant that the announcement came now,   soon after the clash between Martins and Stafford, rather than at the  gala in May.

I would like to have seen someone appointed who had actually worked with Balanchine.  I fear for his legacy.

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21 minutes ago, nubka said:

I

 

21 minutes ago, nubka said:

I would like to have seen someone appointed who had actually worked with Balanchine.  I fear for his legacy.

No fear needed. Those ballets and stories and nuances have been passed on by all the people who worked there. There are no "secrets" kept from the dancers. They've been told and then they told the next generation, etc. The Balanchine ballets are also protected by the Balanchine Trust, there are many films of performances, films of the originators of roles discussing what Balanchine said, he we wanted it, on and on. There is little need to fear for his legacy.

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15 minutes ago, Rock said:

 

No fear needed. Those ballets and stories and nuances have been passed on by all the people who worked there. There are no "secrets" kept from the dancers. They've been told and then they told the next generation, etc. The Balanchine ballets are also protected by the Balanchine Trust, there are many films of performances, films of the originators of roles discussing what Balanchine said, he we wanted it, on and on. There is little need to fear for his legacy.

This is where I disagree.  Had there been a free flow of information all along and collaborations between the dancers and the creators of the roles and those who took over the roles and were coached by Balanchine, it would be one thing, ie,  but now it's catch-up for those who weren't chosen to do Foundation videos, which while wonderful, are not a substitution for in-depth studio time and wide exposure and for sustained tune-up work, just like choreographers allow local stagers to set works the choreographers made or set on a company in subsequent runs, but come in at the end to polish up the details, tighten things up, and clarify.

It's pretty standard to want to skip a generation to consolidate loyalty.  This is the price.

It's not hopeless or worse case scenario, and it's great that Stafford has encouraged involvement with those who worked with Balanchine.  May they have a lot of catch up!

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I'm pretty happy with this decision. The lack of a permanent AD for an extended period was not helpful for the company's image and created a lot of uncertainty for the dancers. So I'm pleased that this is settled.  I always liked Whelan as a dancer and think she has a lot to offer the company in her new role. And I think that Stafford has been doing a good job in difficult circumstances and made several positive changes. Hopefully we will soon be able to read about NYCB in the NYT (and elsewhere) without reference to turmoil, upheaval, festering in a leaderless state, etc.  and everyone can just focus on great ballet.

I agree with Helene that the former Balanchine dancers are a repository of valuable information that isn't readily available elsewhere.  A few months ago, Sterling Hyltin mentioned in the NYT how difficult it was to incorporate all of the changes she needed to make in Rubies after being coached by McBride. Hopefully, Stafford and Whelan will continue to invite former dancers to coach. 

I think that there are not many responses here because discussion of the AD appointment has been split among several different threads.

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Helene - you have to remember for that most of Martins' tenure (is that the word?) the ballet master staff was made up only of people who worked with Balanchine.They had all been in those ballets and worked directly with Balanchine. No generation was "skipped". Whatever possible was passed down. It's a common error to assume (because it wasn't made public) that no one came in - Verdy worked there on-and-off for years, teaching and coaching; McBride had been there several times before - it's just that this last time so many dancers were involved with social media and posted pictures and comments. But it's a mistake to think Martins didn't do that at all. He most certainly did. Tallchief, LeClercq, Una Kai - they were all in there at different times under Martins. As his ballet master staff got older some retired, some died, but they were replaced with a new crop who maybe hadn't worked with Balanchine himself, but were certainly taught by those who did. Rosemary Dunleavy remains at her post - she was Balanchine's ballet mistress from the 60's and she's still in there day after day.  

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I'm with Helene here.  I think I should say that I saw hundreds of performances of Balanchine's company from January 1973 until Spring 1986, because I had to.  No, I was not paid to "cover" the performances for a publication - I had discovered around then that if I didn't see some dancing like that, something was missing from my life.  I needed a good dose of good dance, and pretty often.  

But the way the ballets were danced at NYCB changed in the mid-80's, and watching NYCB didn't do anything for me anymore, and so I mostly stopped watching, along with a lot of the rest of Balanchine's "Old Audience," a term used by the company's marketers at the time.  They had to find a New Audience, and, with some success, they did.  (The last times I visited the theater, there were no familiar faces huddled in conversation around the Promenade at intermission, but hordes of strangers swirled about, avoiding eye contact.)  After a while it came out that Martins opposed the tradition commonly practiced elsewhere of having older dancers coach younger dancers in their old roles.  Not entirely.  But of course Martins himself was the prime example of someone who "danced for Balanchine" but - apparently, when we saw the performances - did not coach the dancers as Mr. B. had asked.  

We began to fear for Balanchine's legacy, or at least for our own satisfaction.  Most of the steps and gestures were there, but the dancers had looked as though they knew why they were moving that way, but now they were going through the movements as though to display their developed ability to move - developed to the point of great virtuosity, yes, but something had gone "poof."  

Before, the virtuosity had been in the service of something beyond it; now, it was the whole show.  It satisfies some people - a lot of people - but I had been spoiled by Balanchine's company, and it wasn't until I caught on to Villella's Miami City Ballet that I was - more than satisfied - again.  As well as staging new ballets, Villella brought Balanchine's old dancers to Florida to to help him coach the old roles.  There was the good Balanchine I needed!

If Jonathan Stafford has been bringing in some originators at NYCB and has cast some of the dancers who were coached by older dancers in the Balanchine Foundation sessions, as people who I think know say, he has made some good moves in the right direction, I think, and shows the right attitude toward maintaining the Balanchine repertory.  

(The word "preserve" connotes the odor of formaldehyde to me; Martins used to say he didn't want a museum, but it looked to some of us like he wound up with one where the Balanchine repertory was concerned.  We wanted a garden, a living garden, like the one we used to be charmed by.)  

So the announcement was a nice surprise to me, about the best I could imagine, based on what little I know of what Stafford and his group have been doing.  What really matters is what the Gang of Four (appointed by Martins, to give due credit) achieves on stage.  That's what counts, to me.  The bottom line, the proof of the pudding.  Has the Board decided, "When ya' got a good thing goin', ya don't mess with it"?  Encouraging, but we will see what we will see.

I'm not sure whether Helene's remark that the Foundation sessions are not enough to restore the dancing means that watching the films is not enough or having been coached this way is not enough, but either way, I think that the pessimists among some of my Old Audience friends has some justification.  Strengthened by Hyltin's remark, some think it's gone too far, and that it's hopeless that we will see any authentic Balanchine on stage anywhere much longer.  We will see.    

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I meant that the Foundation's films were limited by time and by having one or two voices per ballet or section.  While the choices migh tbe exemplary, there's something to be said for having a range of voices, and the consistent circulation of them, since Balanchine told different dancers different things at different times and made changes for specific dancers for different reasons.  Dancers learn to separate the exemplary from the not-so-exemplary, and they also might have more of an affinity to the way another coach approaches a role, especially if that dancers is the same type of dancers or learner.  They might glean details from a person that helps them that much more.

Your image of a garden, Jack, applies here, too: being coached by a range of people and being able to make a bouquet out of it gives it life, and it was that continuity that was stolen from a generation cut off from the dancers of the '50's, '60's, and '70's.  Luckily, there was a Children of Balanchine diaspora that kept the bloodlines alive.

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4 hours ago, Rock said:

Helene - you have to remember for that most of Martins' tenure (is that the word?) the ballet master staff was made up only of people who worked with Balanchine.They had all been in those ballets and worked directly with Balanchine. No generation was "skipped".

Merrill Ashley, Karin von Aroldingen, and Sean Lavery were from a specific time, primarily in the '70's.  Bart Cook, one of the greatest dancers I've ever seen in the Balanchine rep, was a Ballet Master for Robbins, and he was pushed out relatively early by Martins.  The generation before then, who were in their prime before those three had made a significant mark we're not coaching dancers on a regular basis.

That makes a generation if dancers who were Ballet Mastered by a specific generation and who learned roles from their contemporaries who hadn't yet retired, but had also worked with Balanchine, and a generation since who learned many roles third-hand, when they didn't have to.

The people who had that exposure danced for Russell and Stowell, Tomasson, Villella, McBride, Hayden, Wilde, Farrell, Mitchell, Verdy, and others, including Andersen, who was a contemporary of the three Ballet Masters, and for some of the dancers who had already moved to Europe with Balanchine's blessing and rights to his work, and were taught by Govrin, Wells, and many others who taught independently and in company-affiliated schools and companies, and/or were repetiteurs for the Trust.

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