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Job posting for artistic director

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It does t matter to me, male or female. I just hope they hire someone who leads by example, who fosters a safe and healthy working environment for every dancer in the company, and who will truly have integrity when dealing with things from small to catastrophic. Those characteristics can be found in both sexes. At this point in time, given the obvious environment that has plagued city ballet for many years, perhaps envolving the dancers who work there day in and day out in the process of selection would be the best choice all around. There must be a major culture change in the ranks, in most companies and not just NYCB. I’ve just never seen it fester to the degree it has anywhere else. Integrity in this job position is key, but it is also key in regards to board members, faculty and ballet masters, as well as in the dancers themselves. Whoever this person turns out to be, I would imagine that their character will be pretty heavily vetted.

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Here is one positive change that the interim team has made in the atmosphere. There is now a minority inclusion committee to address issues of prejudice in the company. The source is a Spanish-language article about Sebastian Villarini-Velez teaching in Puerto Rico this past June: https://www.elnuevodia.com/entretenimiento/cultura/nota/devueltaalpaisdesuinspiracion-2428573/

"He danced against prejudice

Villarini Velez also had to fight prejudices because until recently the Latin dancers pigeonholed them in the same characters. But it was not the only thing. He said that on one occasion he was conversing in Spanish with the also Puerto Rican Giovanni Villalobos during a rehearsal and one of the coaches told them they could not speak Spanish. "There is prejudice and there is a lot, but the root of those things comes from ignorance," he said.

The good news, he said, is that the NYCB has taken action on the matter and that the new directors of the company have created a minority inclusion committee to address these issues. "Now they are a little more careful and cautious in the way they refer to us," he said."

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Q Related to both the AD search and the Alexandra Waterford claims:

 

If in fact Ms Waterford's claim of NYCB knowing about the "trashing" of the Washington, DC, hotel room, the inclusion of "underaged girls" in the donor & Finlay's event/party, and later imposing the $150,000 fine (?) on those involved, how could any of the four current members of the Interim Team still be considered in the running for the permanent A.D. position? All four were the leaders of NYCB at the time of this and other happenings alleged by Waterbury. Wouldn't they all be disqualified? [Up to now, I've admired them as individuals, so I hope that none is disqualified. Just being devil's advocate.]

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There's nothing in the complaint that states who imposed the fine.  NYCB as an organization is cited as having fostered the conditions for appalling behavior by dancers: we don't know how much authority the interim team would have to make any non-artistic decisions about employees, dancers or non-dancers.  Typically, this would be handled by administration, possibly up to the Board, and, especially given the current climate, I'd be surprised if some kind of legal advice would have been sought when/if the Company was informed about the damages; we don't know if it was explained, how it was explained.

Even in artistic personnel matters, the artistic director does not have complete authority if it comes to money.

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Helene - Do you think the company would have had some kind of insurance that covered the hotel damage?

 

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8 minutes ago, Rock said:

Helene - Do you think the company would have had some kind of insurance that covered the hotel damage?

 

I would hope that any company that tours has insurance to cover all kinds of issues when dancers are on tour.  Both if something happens to the dancers and by the dancers.

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On 9/8/2018 at 12:55 PM, manhattangal said:

Q Related to both the AD search and the Alexandra Waterford claims:

 

If in fact Ms Waterford's claim of NYCB knowing about the "trashing" of the Washington, DC, hotel room, the inclusion of "underaged girls" in the donor & Finlay's event/party, and later imposing the $150,000 fine (?) on those involved, how could any of the four current members of the Interim Team still be considered in the running for the permanent A.D. position? All four were the leaders of NYCB at the time of this and other happenings alleged by Waterbury. Wouldn't they all be disqualified? [Up to now, I've admired them as individuals, so I hope that none is disqualified. Just being devil's advocate.]

Was it specified which DC tour? If there's no time frame I don't see how this should count against the interim team.

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"DC" was specified in some of the early reports on all of this, last week. However, the year was not specified. Finlay danced in the spring 2018 Kennedy Center appearances, incl Divert 15. I don't remember him on the spring 2017 tour; then again, he may have appeared in 2017 shows that I did not attend.

Dance troupes in the recent past have stayed at ARC the Hotel (ex-Guest Quarters) in Foggy Bottom or State Plaza near the Dept. of State, but that doesn't mean that the party in question occurred in either of these places.

Since its recent renovation, the Watergate Hotel may be another option but it may be too pricey for touring groups.

Edited by manhattangal
corrected hotel names

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[Admin hat back on]

Communications-related allegations have been reported widely in the press, and the Company has publicly reported disciplinary actions based on some communications.  These are fair game for discussion here.

Regarding the non-communications-related allegations in the complaint specific to dancers, do not post as if these are facts unless you have official sources to substantiate them.  And, so far, there have been none, just descriptions of what is in the complaint and the complaint itself.

[Admin hat back off]

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On 8/29/2018 at 8:48 AM, FPF said:

A few days ago, I was reading  the thread from the beginning of the year when Martins resigned. The NY Times was quoted as suggesting that Millepied, Whelan, and Justin Peck were considered frontrunners. After seeing Whelan this weekend, I rewatched Restless Creature. One thing that struck me was when one of the other dancers mentioned that Wendy knew and was friendly to absolutely everyone (not just artistic staff0 and had really changed the culture so that the dancers were more kind and helpful to each other. In my opinion, she could be a great choice for the humane leader they are seeking. With the recent suspensions/departure, this quality may be even more important.

After reading this thread it appears to two best candidates for the AD position are Woetzel and Lopez.  Lopez has a daughter who is currently a senior in high school so I imagine she would not be prepared to move to NYC until Fall 2019.  Following recent events and Tiler Peck's comments to the NYT about dancers "carrying the company, not necessarily the interim team" it feels there is a sudden urgency to fill the position.  I think the best solution would be to create a short-term agreement with Wendy Whelan (2-5 years) allowing more time for Woetzel and Lopez to complete their commitments elsewhere.  I too have always gotten the impression that there is a company-wide sense of respect and deference toward Wendy.  I've also never gotten the impression from interviews or her activities since retirement that Wendy aspires to be tied down to a bureaucratic position like Artistic Director.  A short-term agreement would perhaps give a sense of calm to the company; someone is "officially in charge" but this isn't the plan for the next 30 years. 

Edited by FITTB85

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My question about Wendy Whelan is, does she have the experience it takes to lead a large organization like this? Does she have experience with leadership,  administration, and long-term artistic planning? In many ways she is an appealing candidate, especially if the dancers like and respect her, but I can't see someone with no experience running a huge organization, just thrown in and surviving, let alone thriving. 

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22 hours ago, FITTB85 said:

After reading this thread it appears to two best candidates for the AD position are Woetzel and Lopez.  Lopez has a daughter who is currently a senior in high school so I imagine she would not be prepared to move to NYC until Fall 2019.  Following recent events and Tiler Peck's comments to the NYT about dancers "carrying the company, not necessarily the interim team" it feels there is a sudden urgency to fill the position.  I think the best solution would be to create a short-term agreement with Wendy Whelan (2-5 years) allowing more time for Woetzel and Lopez to complete their commitments elsewhere.  I too have always gotten the impression that there is a company-wide sense of respect and deference toward Wendy.  I've also never gotten the impression from interviews or her activities since retirement that Wendy aspires to be tied down to a bureaucratic position like Artistic Director.  A short-term agreement would perhaps give a sense of calm to the company; someone is "officially in charge" but this isn't the plan for the next 30 years. 

Do we know that she's seriously considered a AD career? I had the sense that she was so absorbed by her ballet career that she hadn't even really considered her future options until she was was forced to by her hip injury and imminent retirement. So four years later, she may have a different perspective.

You may be right about a short-term contract for her as an option, but she could also do such a great job in that time that she would want/be asked to stay on.

Also,  the NYCB Board/search committee ideas about the best AD candidates aren't necessarily going to be in agreement with the Ballet Alert community consensus. Neither Woetzel nor Lopez were originally mentioned by the NYT as a top candidate. I don't know if their picks are based on inside information or just who Macaulay et al. think should get the job.

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What gives me pause about Wendy Whelan at the helm (I know nothing about her qualifications) is her extreme thinness. She would also be director of SAB, and I shudder when I think of impressionable young dancers trying to look like her. And maybe not even just SAB students: I can imagine young professional dancers feeling an impulse to be thinner because the person who decides their fate is very thin. I worry that having her at the helm might trigger eating disorders. I say this with all due respect to Ms. Whelan. No matter what she might say to dancers about not trying to look like her, her physical presence, in a position of power, may hold greater power than her words. 

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42 minutes ago, cobweb said:

My question about Wendy Whelan is, does she have the experience it takes to lead a large organization like this? Does she have experience with leadership,  administration, and long-term artistic planning? In many ways she is an appealing candidate, especially if the dancers like and respect her, but I can't see someone with no experience running a huge organization, just thrown in and surviving, let alone thriving. 

I too have questions about Whelan being qualified, in terms of experience, and I wouldn't make any assumptions about Lopez, or anyone else, based on a family situation. People work things out if they want do. I would love to know who has applied for the job!! 

One of the interesting things about the job description is that it mentions the ability to hire assistants as needed (big paraphrase). This could be a good position for Wendy Whalen as a person to be next in line for leadership. 

 

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23 hours ago, FITTB85 said:

Lopez has a daughter who is currently a senior in high school so I imagine she would not be prepared to move to NYC until Fall 2019.  Following recent events and Tiler Peck's comments to the NYT about dancers "carrying the company, not necessarily the interim team" it feels there is a sudden urgency to fill the position.

I don't get that sense. I think there's a sense of urgency to move forward with the search, to move things closer to resolution, but I don't get the sense that it would be a problem if the right candidate were to be ready to take on the role a year from now.

Edited by nanushka

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John Clifford has taken to Instagram to more or less make a case for his candidacy:

Alastair Macaulay chimes in and starts asking Clifford questions about how he would run New York City Ballet. (Keep clicking along from Instagram post to Instagram post to get the full measure of the back-and-forth between these two.)

Clifford has some interesting responses but the area where he really falls down is in discussing new choreographers. It's clear that he's not very conversant with what's going on outside of a few already established names (Peck, Ratmansky, Wheeldon).

 

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John Clifford has applied for the job. A thoughtful, thorough, deep assessments of all candidates is warranted. Having any of this play out on social media is odd, to say the least. It seems to me that the first thing the board has to decide is the expected tenure. Will they hire an older person, who worked with Balanchine, with the hope that that individual will hire an asst. who will be next in line, or will the board make a jump to a younger person who didn't work with Balanchine, and could be a director for many, many years.

Personally, I don't think Clifford has a chance.

Edited by vipa

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If I were on the search committee, Clifford’s campaigning on social media would put him out of the running. It’s unprofessional.

I’m also growing tired of him saying that everything was ideal in terms of sexual propriety and the way women were treated during Balanchine’s era.

 

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12 hours ago, vipa said:

Personally, I don't think Clifford has a chance.

I would put his chances at 0.0%.

Apart from his numerous eccentricities (as expressed on Instagram), the board could reasonably point to the following as reasons not to hire him:

  • Clifford's Los Angeles Ballet collapsed 33 years ago and he's never run a successful company since.
  • The repertory at the Los Angeles Ballet basically consisted of Clifford's work and Balanchine's. He himself has written that he took no interest in any other dance but Balanchine's while he (Clifford) was a member of City Ballet even though New York was overflowing with dance during that period (1966-73).
  • Clifford gives no indication that he has much, if any, familiarity with 21st century choreographers beyond a few bold-faced names. (Citing Robert La Fosse as someone whose work you would like to program is odd given how La Fosse himself has said he has abandoned making dances.)
  • Whatever truth there may be in Clifford's criticisms of Peter Martins, do we really want someone who will be out there badmouthing the former artistic director?
Edited by miliosr

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I doubt Clifford thinks he is going to get the position (assuming he has really applied) which also may be why he’s not concerned with proprieties. He may be putting his name out there for other reasons—the way people run for president to publicize a particular cause or perspective.

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1 hour ago, miliosr said:

Clifford's Los Angeles Ballet collapsed 33 years ago and he's never run a successful company since.

No one has run a successful Company in LA for very long.  Neary and Christensen are making a go of it, but they are essentially a local touring company on Miami City Ballet's model, and their season is skeletal, with one performance of two rep programs at each venue, aside from Nutcracker, where there are only two performances at two of them and three at two others, before a six-performance run Christmas week at UCLA.  One of the rep programs is 2/3 contemporary (Barton, Cerrudo) with "Western Symphony," and the second is "La Sylphide" and "Serenade."

Because it's still, essentially, a Board-appointed position, no matter how much feedback even SAB Board members give, let alone dancers and other internal stakeholders, if there's a surprising choice, I don't think it's going to be someone who campaigns to the outside world.  I agree that he doesn't stand much of a chance with the Board, especially having to get out of "committee."  While there are Martins supports on the Board -- there hasn't been any changeover, and one Board member is on record with the NYT wanting him back after the third-party internal investigation did not find evidence to support the complaint -- I don't know how deep that support is among the committee/group that is vetting the candidates.

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On 10/6/2018 at 11:25 AM, Helene said:

No one has run a successful Company in LA for very long.  Neary and Christensen are making a go of it, but they are essentially a local touring company on Miami City Ballet's model, and their season is skeletal, with one performance of two rep programs at each venue, aside from Nutcracker, where there are only two performances at two of them and three at two others, before a six-performance run Christmas week at UCLA.  One of the rep programs is 2/3 contemporary (Barton, Cerrudo) with "Western Symphony," and the second is "La Sylphide" and "Serenade."

Because it's still, essentially, a Board-appointed position, no matter how much feedback even SAB Board members give, let alone dancers and other internal stakeholders, if there's a surprising choice, I don't think it's going to be someone who campaigns to the outside world.  I agree that he doesn't stand much of a chance with the Board, especially having to get out of "committee."  While there are Martins supports on the Board -- there hasn't been any changeover, and one Board member is on record with the NYT wanting him back after the third-party internal investigation did not find evidence to support the complaint -- I don't know how deep that support is among the committee/group that is vetting the candidates.

I can't imagine that the board member who made the now famous "we hope Peter comes back" quote back in December 2017, still feels that way. I thought the quote was shocking in 2017, but now time has moved on and it would not be in anyone's interests to have Peter return. For one thing, imagine the effect on the Waterbury complaint.  I wonder if the board member was just trying to express generic support for Peter and got caught saying something he shouldn't have when all the information came in.

In terms of finding new choreographers, the Interim team has been making some good picks! I hope they still have a voice with the new director. New choreography (along with the Balanchine/Robbins rep) is the life line of this company.

I just watched several of John Clifford's postings. Boy, I don't envy the board having to pick a new director. The egos involved can be enormous.

Edited by BalanchineFan

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3 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

I just watched several of John Clifford's postings. Boy, I don't envy the board having to pick a new director. The egos involved can be enormous. 

To put it mildly.

Beyond his unprofessional eccentricities (e.g. tagging certain dancers in every post), his sense of entitlement is shocking and foolish. He really does think he's an authority on the felt experiences of the women (and men) affected by Balanchine's various conflicts of interests, because he was 'there when it happened.'1 He also doesn't seem to understand what constitutes a conflict of interest, but that's a separate point.

__________

1 Always a bad look, but an electrifyingly bad one this particular weekend. 🤬

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13 hours ago, sappho said:

He really does think he's an authority on the felt experiences of the women (and men) affected by Balanchine's various conflicts of interests, because he was 'there when it happened.'1

__________

1 Always a bad look, but an electrifyingly bad one this particular weekend. 🤬

And now Clifford responds to that criticism as well:

 

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

And now Clifford responds to that criticism as well:

So, as long as you take no for an answer and don't force yourself onto someone and/or ruin their career, you are a gentleman? Wow. This just makes him seem even more out of touch.

Also, his opening sentence basically seems to be stating "I was physically attractive, so of course I'm a victim of sexual harassment." This kind of thinking isn't so far away from blaming victims for bringing on harassment/assault because of the way they dress or look.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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