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Jon Stafford New AD

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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Yes, R+J and Swan Lake do put butts in seats, but I think anyone's version of Romeo and Juliet or Swan Lake would put butts in seats. 

Hear! hear!

What I find kind of curious is that the Associate A.D. position seems to be a new thing. Have there been "Assistant" A.D.s at NYCB? "Associate" implies a step up, but I wonder how Whelan's duties will differ from an assistant's.
SFB has been using two Assistant A.D.s for some time. There's just so much to be done. The Assistants invariably go off to lead their own companies somewhere in the ballet world...

EDIT: Peck's new position is something I wonder about too. His greatest value to the company has been as resident choreographer, so how does becoming Artistic Advisor aid the company? I presume he's given greater power to do something, but what exactly?

Edited by pherank

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8 hours ago, Leah said:

Just noticed that it says Peck will stop dancing after this season. Seems like the right time.

It looks like he will actual continue to dance in his own choreography but will no longer be a full-time soloist. This was previously posted by N. Willis on the AD job posting thread:

 

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A couple of NYCB dancer reactions:

 

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19 hours ago, pherank said:

Hear! hear!

What I find kind of curious is that the Associate A.D. position seems to be a new thing. Have there been "Assistant" A.D.s at NYCB? "Associate" implies a step up, but I wonder how Whelan's duties will differ from an assistant's.
SFB has been using two Assistant A.D.s for some time. There's just so much to be done. The Assistants invariably go off to lead their own companies somewhere in the ballet world... 

EDIT: Peck's new position is something I wonder about too. His greatest value to the company has been as resident choreographer, so how does becoming Artistic Advisor aid the company? I presume he's given greater power to do something, but what exactly?

SFB doesn't have assistant ADs, it has assistants TO THE AD. It's my understanding that this is a role similar to ballet master, but with greater responsibilities...?

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3 minutes ago, PeggyTulle said:

SFB doesn't have assistant ADs, it has assistants TO THE AD. It's my understanding that this is a role similar to ballet master, but with greater responsibilities...?

Are there any ballet fans that are also Office fans?  This made me chuckle.

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23 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

Are there any ballet fans that are also Office fans?  This made me chuckle.

Ditto!

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I would guess that the 2019-2020 season has already been fully mapped out, and that it will probably be announced shortly.  At the earliest, any impact that Whelan might have on programming would not be until the following season.

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I was at last night's performance, where an announcement was made before the performance began. Wendy Whelan and Jonathan Stafford gave a brief talk, and though Whelan was obviously nervous (shifting her weight from foot to foot, and even admitting it in her introduction), her words were clear and concise, and the two both seemed delighted to be on stage and working together. Jonathan Stafford gave the introduction, and introduced Whelan in a truly humbling manner (something to the effect of what an honor it was to be standing next to one of the greatest artists of City Ballet). I found it interesting—it definitely felt more like he was her junior rather than vice versa, and it made me wonder how the dynamic between the two will continue to play out. They seem incredibly happy to be working together, though, which was lovely to see. 

Wendy was in the audience, and during intermission, seemed vibrant and engaged in a really touching way. I was reminded of touching moment from Restless Creature: When Peter Boal returns for her farewell performance, the two are talking outside of Lincoln Center and he says something the the effect of "You changed how people behave in this profession—they're kind, gracious, etc. They didn't used to be that way." He goes on to say how every time she walked into the theater, she knew the name of everyone in the costume department, backstage, etc. When I saw her embrace an usher in the orchestra, then stay deep in conversation as I left the theater, I got a lump in my throat—that energy is certainly something that I would be thrilled to see more of. 

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21 hours ago, nanran3 said:

I did love Runaway by Abraham in terms of the inventiveness and creative challenge for the dancers as well as for Taylor Stanley's extraordinary solo, however I found the rap jarring, words that seemed not to fit in that theater, sentiments that were harsh and, I guess, not my thing.  I don't look forward to more rap music talking about killing people and oneself.  That's just me.

Balanchine pushed the norm when it came to music selection too. Charles Ives, Aton von Webern, and Pierre Henry aren't exactly easy listening; and even Stravinsky isn't music to the ears the first time you hear it. But we've gotten used to it and hear it's mastery now.

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Can I ask a question about the School?  

When Martins was in charge, he and Kay Mazzo were "co-chairmen" of the faculty.  Then in the fall, it seemed like  Mazzo was chair. Now Stafford is "artistic director'' of SAB and Whelan is specifically described as not having a formal role at the school? 

 

Does anyone know what the difference between a co-chair of the faculty and an artistic director of a school are?  Why say "Whelan will not take on a formal leadership role at SAB, she is expected to guest teach with regularity?"

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17 hours ago, FPF said:

A couple of NYCB dancer reactions:

 

I guess Bouder is not entirely happy with the appointments.  While Mearns offered praise and congratulations to both Whelan and Stafford, Bouder didn't mention Stafford at all

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, mussel said:

I guess Bouder is not entirely happy with the appointments.  While Mearns offered praise and congratulations to both Whelan and Stafford, Bouder didn't mention Stafford at all

I wouldn’t necessarily take it that way. I read the main purpose of her post as being to celebrate the placing of a woman in a strong leadership role in the company. 

To be sure, silence can speak, but I don’t think it necessarily has to. Bouder is committed enough to (and vocal enough about) women’s issues that I can imagine her posting that remark without thinking too hard about the optics.

Edited by nanushka

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Just now, nanushka said:

I wouldn’t necessarily take it that way. I read the main purpose of her post as being to celebrate the placing of a woman in a strong leadership role in the company. 

To be sure, silence can speak, but I don’t think it necessarily has to. Bouder is committed enough to (and vocal enough about) women’s issues that I can imagine her posting that remark without thinking too hard about the optics.

 

9 minutes ago, mussel said:

I guess Bouder is not entirely happy with the appointments.  While Mearns offered praise and congratulations to both Whelan and Stafford, Bouder didn't mention Stafford at all

I agree with Nanushka's take on this--celebrating a woman in a leadership position.  Also, Whelan hasn't been at NYCB in any official capacity recently whereas Stafford has, so Whelan's appointment may seem more notable as a change from the situation since Martins took leave and then resigned. 

Also, Bouder does tag Stafford in her post, which I don't imagine she'd do if she meant for it to have negative connotations for him. Not only is he now officially her boss, he just very publicly stood up for her in that NYT article about Martins and the casting of Sleeping Beauty. 

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I find myself a little doubtful about the new leadership arrangement. Having essentially two leaders, when presumably both wanted to be sole leader (my guess only - no inside info here) seems like a recipe for competitiveness, disagreement, and the development of factions. I also can't help but wonder if the delay, along with the end result of choosing not one but two of the most obvious candidates, indicates internal conflicts that never got resolved. In the end, I really don't care about the leadership. I hope it works out. I just want to see great dancing. 

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i wouldn't be so sure they both wanted to be sole leader.  it's a huge job for one person, and i can see thinking that especially as they're both going to be learning as they go it would be be easier to break the work up between two instead. 

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3 hours ago, PeggyTulle said:

SFB doesn't have assistant ADs, it has assistants TO THE AD. It's my understanding that this is a role similar to ballet master, but with greater responsibilities...?

Good catch, PeggyTulle, but we are left wondering now what the distinction is between an "assistant" and an "assistant to". I'm guessing that an "assistant to" is being told to deal only with the A.D. and not to presume any say over other staff.

3 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

Are there any ballet fans that are also Office fans?  This made me chuckle.

I love your Office reference (though I prefer the UK version of The Office). This reminds me of my corporate days when employees stuck at a particular pay level (no raise again!) would argue for a particular title (which they thought would eventually help them on to better and higher paid positions). An Admin could potentially become an Executive Admin (same duties, same pay). Exciting!

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The first thing that the new team should do is make it company policy that all statements by employees  about the inner workings of NYCB should be vetted by their media office.  That's policy at nearly every big corporation in the US.

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On ‎2‎/‎28‎/‎2019 at 9:41 AM, FauxPas said:

I think age may be a factor.  Martins was a former Balanchine dancer who was in his mid-70's.  They want a young team who can share power who can go on for decades.  Stafford is 38 years old, Whelan is 51.  Peck is young, in his thirties.  As for dancers who worked with Balanchine, Darci Kistler might be the youngest and she is 54 years old.

38 is indeed relatively young for a job as big as this one, and theoretically Stafford could hold the position for about the same amount of time that Martins did -- not necessarily a good thing.

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52 minutes ago, cobweb said:

I find myself a little doubtful about the new leadership arrangement. Having essentially two leaders, when presumably both wanted to be sole leader (my guess only - no inside info here) seems like a recipe for competitiveness, disagreement, and the development of factions. I also can't help but wonder if the delay, along with the end result of choosing not one but two of the most obvious candidates, indicates internal conflicts that never got resolved. In the end, I really don't care about the leadership. I hope it works out. I just want to see great dancing. 

Agreed on all counts.

 

55 minutes ago, E Johnson said:

i wouldn't be so sure they both wanted to be sole leader.  it's a huge job for one person, and i can see thinking that especially as they're both going to be learning as they go it would be be easier to break the work up between two instead. 

Could be, but the announcement does say that "the Board concluded" that it would be best to have a dual leadership (in contrast, elsewhere it states that "Stafford and Whelan" invited the artistic input of Justin Peck). I can't believe that Stafford was actually eager to cede programming of the season and the commissioning of new works to Whelan. On the other hand, Stafford will still be supervising all "artistic operations" - not sure what that means.......

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Posted (edited)

Well when Martins started leading NYCB in the mid-1980’s  wasn’t he sharing the power with Jerome Robbins?  It was a co-director position and then Robbins bowed out (I guess to concentrate on his choreography?).  So Martins became the absolute power solely in charge of the company.  

Stafford seems to be solely on the administrative leadership side of things in the current set up.  Though he has been planning seasons and repertory, Wendy will be the creative and artistic planner from here on.  Both seem more congenial and less autocratic than Martins and Justin Peck will handle the choreography.   So Stafford is likely to be less controversial than Martins was since he is mainly an administrator.  

Edited by FauxPas

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, dirac said:

Could be, but the announcement does say that "the Board concluded" that it would be best to have a dual leadership (in contrast, elsewhere it states that "Stafford and Whelan" invited the artistic input of Justin Peck). I can't believe that Stafford was actually eager to cede programming of the season and the commissioning of new works to Whelan. On the other hand, Stafford will still be supervising all "artistic operations" - not sure what that means.......

The essential problem in these job descriptions is that there appears to be a lot of overlap of responsibilities. Stafford, Whelan and Peck may well get along personality-wise, but there's going to be times when a final artistic choice/decision has to be made, and the three will not be in agreement. So Stafford gets the deciding vote?

Edited by pherank

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4 minutes ago, pherank said:

The essential problem in these job descriptions is that there appears to be a lot of overlap of responsibilities. Stafford, Whelan and Peck may well get along personality-wise, but there's going to be times when a final artistic choice/decision has to be made, and the three will not be in agreement. So Stafford gets the deciding vote?

In regards to SAB, it might get a little tricky when it comes hiring new dancers.  He's in charge, officially.  Yet she's teaching...I can imagine some clash of opinions.

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42 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

In regards to SAB, it might get a little tricky when it comes hiring new dancers.  He's in charge, officially.  Yet she's teaching...I can imagine some clash of opinions.

I'm not sure the school's management is being changed much - Stafford will still be the top person, so he gets final say on most matters. But at NYCB there will be 3 people with significant input about the existing repertoire and how it is handled, and creation of new works. New Works may be the most contentious area.

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Gia Kourlas has a strong take:

Quote

In the current climate — something City Ballet and its board should know a thing or two about — elevating the job title of a man over a woman seems like a regressive, shortsighted and even cowardly act.

 

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20 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Gia Kourlas has a strong take:

In the current climate — something City Ballet and its board should know a thing or two about — elevating the job title of a man over a woman seems like a regressive, shortsighted and even cowardly act.

With all due respect to Kourlas, I think it's a shallow one. I'd have liked to have seen a woman fully in charge of NYCB as anyone, but Whelan doesn't arrive with a full portfolio of AD skills. As Kourlas herself points out:

"She certainly faces a steep learning curve. Until recently, she hasn’t done a great deal of teaching, coaching dancers or staging ballets."

You know, those things that take up a considerable portion of an AD's working day. Kourlas seems to think that Whelan's biggest qualifications are her "star power," her willingness to hire contemporary choreographers to make dances on her, her showing up at MoMA, and her personal grace. Does that warrant co-equal status? I'm not sure.

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