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Job posting for artistic director

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If the ideal candidate for artistic director should be a former NYCB dancer,  old enough to have worked directly with Balanchine and Robbins (and highly regarded by both),  but young enough to serve for at least five years,  known for being an excellent teacher,  experienced  in running a company (at least on tour),  fiercely intelligent and well-versed in cultural politics,  already resident in NYC,  and a woman,  because God knows it's time,  there's one obvious choice - Heather Watts.

Okay,  I'll leave now!

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I guess the issue with both Watts & Andersen is age... Lopez is only a couple of years younger...  perhaps they want the same person in place for 15 years... before they reach 70... that  disqualifies all three.  Boal was born in 65.  Lopez in 58, Andersen in 54, Watts in 53.

It is a problem.  It takes a certain number of years to distinguish oneself as enough of an experienced director... and if birth year is a problem, we are getting further and further away from artists who knew Balanchine.

Edited by Amy Reusch

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9 minutes ago, Amy Reusch said:

I guess the issue with both Watts & Andersen is age... Lopez is only a couple of years younger...  perhaps they want the same person in place for 15 years... before they reach 70... that  disqualifies all three.  Boal was born in 65.  Lopez in 58, Andersen in 54, Watts in 53.

It is a problem.  It takes a certain number of years to distinguish oneself as enough of an ecperienced director... and if birth year is a problem, we are getting further and further away from artists who knew Balanchine.

We're at a point in history where  Balanchine's legacy transmitted by people who worked with him will come mainly from coaches, SAB faculty, and board members, but not from the artistic director. That was inevitable.

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yes... and how many generations away from Balanchine's dancers can that legacy have influence...  how do we keep what happened to Petipa's legacy from happening to Balanchine's?  Pretty soon all the dancers start to look alike... is there an artistic director with a strong enough vision to shape the identity of the company that won't erase that legacy?  Where is our "forward to Balanchine" candidate as Balanchine was "forward to Petipa"?

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6 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

I guess the issue with both Watts & Andersen is age... Lopez is only a couple of years younger...  perhaps they want the same person in place for 15 years... before they reach 70... that  disqualifies all three.  Boal was born in 65.  Lopez in 58, Andersen in 54, Watts in 53.

It is a problem.  It takes a certain number of years to distinguish oneself as enough of an experienced director... and if birth year is a problem, we are getting further and further away from artists who knew Balanchine.

Another way to go would be to hire someone like Lopez or Anderson, to re-stabilize and calm things. During that tenure of say 5 years, the board could come up with a better succession plan. The kind they should have had with Peter Martins, because of his age. I'm still amazed that there was none.

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The more I follow the discussion here (being newer to the NYCB scene than many of you), it sounds like Lourdes Lopez is obviously a top choice. But the delay has me puzzled. If they were going to hire someone like Lopez, it seems like they would have done so by now. Apparently the Board didn't have any notion of a succession plan, which as others have noted, given Martins' age, seems irresponsible. (McKenzie is younger, but let us hope that the situation is more planful over at ABT.) Even assuming there was no plan, the length of time it's taken to get things moving along in a serious way seems surprising. Does that mean that the obvious, most qualified candidates signalled they were not interested, leading the Board to plan on a longer, more comprehensive search? Just baffled about the delay.

Edited by cobweb

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What's the rush? It would seem a decision of some importance. In the meantime things appear to be running just fine with no need to "stabilize" or "calm things." From the outside at least, things look stable and calm. Many say the company is dancing better than ever.

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1 hour ago, vipa said:

During that tenure of say 5 years, the board could come up with a better succession plan. The kind they should have had with Peter Martins, because of his age. I'm still amazed that there was none.

The board was asleep at the wheel for years. If anything good came out of the accusations against Martins, it was that the board woke up from its slumber.

22 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Even assuming there was no plan, the length of time it's taken to get things moving along in a serious seems surprising. Does that mean that the obvious, most qualified candidates signalled they were not interested, leading the Board to plan on a longer, more comprehensive search? Just baffled about the delay.

There's a lot at stake stylistically for the New York City Ballet in terms of getting the right person in place vs. the wrong one. Ross Stretton's tenure at the Royal Ballet should be a cautionary tale for the board in this regard.

Edited by miliosr

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7 hours ago, Rock said:

Many say the company is dancing better than ever.

Do the universal 'they' really say this?  Based only on my observations in Paris and Copenhagen this summer - and having lived in NYC for 17.5 years during the end of Balanchine's reign and the aftermath immediately thereafter whence throughout my adoration for the NYCB ethic was born - I would say that there were pockets of excellence today certainly - (Tiler Peck is oft a dazzling revelation unto herself) - but there seemed - at least to me - to certainly be assured areas of concern.  To ignore such on this overall journey's path would, I think, be foolhardy and unquestionably unfair to the deserved future to come.  May a rightful light be able to shine.

If I had a vote - which blessedly I don't - mine I think would go to Woetzel.  Were he to be interested in taking on this mantle ... surely the powers that be at Julliard/Lincoln Center would be forgiving .. and entirely understanding.  It would - or so I, myself, imagine - only serve their better interests - and those of us all - in the long run.  

 

Edited by meunier fan

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Meunier fan, if you would care to elaborate on the pockets of concern that you saw in this summer's performances, I for one would find that very informative. I learn so much from the informed critiques I hear on this board. 

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12 hours ago, cobweb said:

The more I follow the discussion here (being newer to the NYCB scene than many of you), it sounds like Lourdes Lopez is obviously a top choice. But the delay has me puzzled. If they were going to hire someone like Lopez, it seems like they would have done so by now. Apparently the Board didn't have any notion of a succession plan, which as others have noted, given Martins' age, seems irresponsible. (McKenzie is younger, but let us hope that the situation is more planful over at ABT.) Even assuming there was no plan, the length of time it's taken to get things moving along in a serious way seems surprising. Does that mean that the obvious, most qualified candidates signalled they were not interested, leading the Board to plan on a longer, more comprehensive search? Just baffled about the delay.

I don't see a delay. The board has said months ago that they were going to take their time with this decision, IIRC. They only just recently released the job description. Since they're set to start interviewing candidates this fall, how could any candidate have turned them down already? I could also see it taking a board several meetings to come up with the "wish list" of AD skills they developed, plus there was their "listening tour." This article explains more of their process:

https://www.dancemagazine.com/nycb-starts-search-for-new-leader-2571677091.html

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I agree that Woetzel must be at the top of the list, as is Lopez. I believe that the Board would buy out his contract if they really wanted him.  It seems that NYCB has $. 

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On 9/1/2018 at 7:26 PM, vipa said:

Another way to go would be to hire someone like Lopez or Anderson, to re-stabilize and calm things. During that tenure of say 5 years, the board could come up with a better succession plan. The kind they should have had with Peter Martins, because of his age. I'm still amazed that there was none.

 

Very much agree. I think Martins' vice grip of control was largely strengthened by the length of his tenure. Nothing wrong with asking an (older) Balanchine original to help steady the ship and infuse the organization with more of its own history. (That would also lend enough time to Woetzel to fulfill his obligations to Julliard.) 

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3 hours ago, DC Export said:

 

Very much agree. I think Martins' vice grip of control was largely strengthened by the length of his tenure. Nothing wrong with asking an (older) Balanchine original to help steady the ship and infuse the organization with more of its own history. (That would also lend enough time to Woetzel to fulfill his obligations to Julliard.) 

Martins led the company from 1983 through Dec 31, 2017.  McKenzie at ABT ascended to his position as AD in 1992, so he has also has had a very long tenure with no sign that he will be departing any time soon.  How long has Helgi been running SFB?  Long tenures are not uncommon for these types of institutions.

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14 minutes ago, abatt said:

Martins led the company from 1983 through Dec 31, 2017.  McKenzie at ABT ascended to his position as AD in 1992, so he has also has had a very long tenure with no sign that he will be departing any time soon.  How long has Helgi been running SFB?  Long tenures are not uncommon for these types of institutions.

Tomasson has been director at SFB since 1985: https://www.sfballet.org/artists/artistic-staff/helgi_tomasson

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The succession plans are up to the Boards.  Long tenure is a factor that can allow an individual to entrench his or her power by forming a board where the scales tip to support the individual over the institution or by allowing the Board to fall asleep at the wheel.  If a board does not have a succession plan for a leader -- or Plan A, Plan B, Plan C-- that is/are reviewed and updated as conditions change -- in business, this is simply one item on the risk management matrix, usually at the top -- then that Board is negligent, and even more so if it's because of loyalty, particularly when the actuarial tables are not in the individual's favor.  Whether a board works as a committee, in which case the result can be greater or less than the sum of its parts, or is led by the AD or a Kirstein or is a rubber stamp for a big kahuna board member, depends on the Board and the time.

Lissner told Millepied over the phone (in a documentary) that, of course, he had a replacement lined up for Millipied.  That's his job as the head of the entire Paris Opera; in  US ballet companies, that's the responsibility of the Boards. 

Whether SFB's and ABT's Boards have those plans in place has not been made public.  

 

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23 hours ago, DC Export said:

 

Very much agree. I think Martins' vice grip....{snip} 

Surely you meant "vise",  unfortunate typo given the behavior allegations...

Edited by Amy Reusch

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On 9/1/2018 at 8:30 PM, Rock said:

What's the rush? It would seem a decision of some importance. In the meantime things appear to be running just fine with no need to "stabilize" or "calm things." From the outside at least, things look stable and calm. Many say the company is dancing better than ever.

I think the recent issues with suspending 2 dancers and one resigning are indicators that there may be issues?????

Edited by balletforme

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7 minutes ago, balletforme said:

I think the recent issues with suspending 2 dancers and one resigning are indicators that there may be issues?????

Maybe. Or maybe that was just a situation in which three employees behaved badly and the company took action to remedy the problem, just as one would expect in any well-functioning workplace. We don't know the details, so there's no way to be sure.

As for "Many say the company is dancing better than ever" — I'm not sure I've heard quite that. I've heard (and seen during the last winter and spring seasons) that the company is dancing quite impressively, and especially given the preceding turmoil re: Martins.

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On 9/1/2018 at 1:04 PM, California said:

We're at a point in history where  Balanchine's legacy transmitted by people who worked with him will come mainly from coaches, SAB faculty, and board members, but not from the artistic director. That was inevitable.

There isn't a current board member who has worked with Balanchine, at least artistically, if I'm not mistaken?

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4 minutes ago, bcash said:

There isn't a current board member who has worked with Balanchine, at least artistically, if I'm not mistaken?

Not that I'm aware of, but it wouldn't be a bad idea, either for NYCB or SAB, to have someone representing that legacy at board meetings. Bringing in coaches who performed the original roles costs money and the Board presumably has some say about that. Perhaps with the new "regime," that will be considered.

https://www.nycballet.com/About/Board-and-Staff/Board-of-Directors.aspx

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22 hours ago, Helene said:

The succession plans are up to the Boards.  Long tenure is a factor that can allow an individual to entrench his or her power by forming a board where the scales tip to support the individual over the institution or by allowing the Board to fall asleep at the wheel.  If a board does not have a succession plan for a leader -- or Plan A, Plan B, Plan C-- that is/are reviewed and updated as conditions change -- in business, this is simply one item on the risk management matrix, usually at the top -- then that Board is negligent, and even more so if it's because of loyalty, particularly when the actuarial tables are not in the individual's favor.  Whether a board works as a committee, in which case the result can be greater or less than the sum of its parts, or is led by the AD or a Kirstein or is a rubber stamp for a big kahuna board member, depends on the Board and the time.

Lissner told Millepied over the phone (in a documentary) that, of course, he had a replacement lined up for Millipied.  That's his job as the head of the entire Paris Opera; in  US ballet companies, that's the responsibility of the Boards. 

Whether SFB's and ABT's Boards have those plans in place has not been made public.  

 

Oh I saw that documentary on the workings of the Paris Opera too. I wished it had given the Ballet more screen time.

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Given what has come out today regarding the lawsuit that has been filed against NYCB and Chase Finley, I feel for the new AD that will be chosen in the regards to the fallout over this mess as well as what I can now imagine the direct moral crusher this is. I can see the board now more highly favoring a woman in the AD position if not simply to reassure their female dancers that they are safe and protected, which has obviously not been the case. All that I can say, besides how disgusted I am, is that I hope the female dancers whose photos were shared without their consent or knowledge were given enough courtesy to be told before this all broke in the court filings and media. My heart goes out to them all.

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2 minutes ago, Fraildove said:

Given what has come out today regarding the lawsuit that has been filed against NYCB and Chase Finley, I feel for the new AD that will be chosen in the regards to the fallout over this mess as well as what I can now imagine the direct moral crusher this is. I can see the board now more highly favoring a woman in the AD position if not simply to reassure their female dancers that they are safe and protected, which has obviously not been the case. All that I can say, besides how disgusted I am, is that I hope the female dancers whose photos were shared without their consent or knowledge were given enough courtesy to be told before this all broke in the court filings and media. My heart goes out to them all.

This debacle tips the scales for hiring a woman to fill the AD job opening.

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33 minutes ago, Fraildove said:

Given what has come out today regarding the lawsuit that has been filed against NYCB and Chase Finley, I feel for the new AD that will be chosen in the regards to the fallout over this mess as well as what I can now imagine the direct moral crusher this is. I can see the board now more highly favoring a woman in the AD position if not simply to reassure their female dancers that they are safe and protected, which has obviously not been the case. All that I can say, besides how disgusted I am, is that I hope the female dancers whose photos were shared without their consent or knowledge were given enough courtesy to be told before this all broke in the court filings and media. My heart goes out to them all.

I totally agree. I hope they hire a woman.

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