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Simon Dow to leave Milwaukee Ballet

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Thanks for posting that, pumukau. I think we had a link when the story first broke, ,but I'm glad to have this analysis, too.

As I'm sure you know, Simon Dow was a dancer with the Washington Ballet in the late 1970s, early '80s. He was an excellent dancer--he created several roles in Choo-San Goh ballets--and, as the article said, a very decent person. He also had the reputation for being a healer-teacher, the kind dancers went to for help getting over an injury.

There are a lot of companies needing directors, suddenly: Houston, Oregon, Fort Worth-Dallas, and now Milwaukee.

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Dear Pumukau,

We certainly remember Simon Dow from when he danced here in San Francisco, a dozen years ago --

Tracy-Kai Maier, may she rest in peace, loved to dance with him. She always said he made her feel she could do anything, he was THERE for her....

I believe he could inspire a group of dancers....

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Mr. Dow was associated for a short time with the Washington Ballet in the early 90's too. I don't remember what title his position was -- maybe Ballet Master? I know Mary Day was still AD. I have a wonderful picture of him backstage arranging my daughter's costume during a Nutcracker rehearsal.

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Hi Estelle!

I really haven't been writing about dance much this year, I guess my excuse is that I'm too busy dancing and videotaping dance and opera companies here. But I really feel compelled to get the word out to all of you that we have an outstanding ballet company here in Milwaukee that is looking for new direction. When Christine came as Exec. director five years ago we were over a million dollars in debt and she did a marvellous job of turning things around. And as the article above describes there has never been anyone who has reinvigorated the company artistically the way Simon did.

I haven't heard what the intentions of the board are yet. On the executive side I suspect the idea is that a successful company requires a different management style from one being rescued. They have cut back staff; Christine had a pretty big organization but it was certainly justified considering the disorder of the operation she took over. On the artistic side, the choice of Simon three years ago was a bold move from a solid traditional company under the stewardship of Basil Thompson to a much more contemporary eclectic look.

The first full length ballet that Simon choreographed was Galileo last year. It was too long and had some really dopey stuff in it, but had some parts that were brilliant and challenging and pioneering. It got crucified in the local press http://www.jsonline.com/enter/performingar...gal16021501.asp

Frankly I don't think Milwaukee was ready for a ballet that cast the Catholic Church as the villain. Inquisitions happen, ya know? Deal wid it. I don't think that influenced his decision to leave but it may have hastened it. He was noncommittal the one time I talked to him about it but I do hope he produces it again somewhere.

Anyway, they put together a wonderful organization. It would seem that finding someone to take the helm of a going concern would be easier than it was to find these two fine people when things were so grim. I hope you all can help, and I will try to keep you informed.

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After what you said, pumukau, I can understand your sadness at Simon Dow's departure.

I have no experience of his tenure, having been turned off by brochures for the company that had his name and photos everywhere. Why, I wanted to know, was he being featured, instead of his dancers?

My husband and I subscribed to Milwaukee Ballet for one season right before Mr. Dow arrived (we live in the Chicago area), and we had seen the occasional performance before that. We are longtime balletomanes and are not afraid of new works, but we did not find much in the repertoire as advertised under his leadership to entice us to return to Milwaukee. From what you've said, it sounds as if we missed some performances that we really would have enjoyed.

I hope that a new director who will nurture the company can be found.


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