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McKenzie to retire as AD of ABT at conclusion of 2022 season.


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I'm struck by how many leaders of dance companies have no apparent  prior management skill.  I guess J. Stafford was shadowing Peter Martins for a few years before Martins left, but he seems to have had zero managerial skills before being elevated to the top position.  He also is completely lacking in charisma, in my opinion. 

I think ABT will go with someone who has name recognition and who can bring in new audiences.  That leads me to one name in particular, if she wants the job.

Edited by abatt
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Agree on Stafford's lack of charisma. He also seems way too friendly with some of the veteran principals of his generation. I would like to see a couple more retirements than the 4 principals who we already know are leaving. Hopefully the upcoming season marks a new era. 

I sincerely hope that whoever takes over the top post at ABT is someone who appreciates the classics. I can't see myself subscribing to an ABT season consisting mostly of contemporary and "message-driven" works that don't even look good on the Met stage. 

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I 2nd the Sasha/Stella combo being a great pick. They have the right balance of appreciation for ABT/ballet's traditions with the ability to be forward thinking.

Max/Irina would be a good combo too, but my guess is they'd double down on the current model and might struggle with being more forward thinking. 

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2 minutes ago, JuliaJ said:

Agree on Stafford's lack of charisma. He also seems way too friendly with some of the veteran principals of his generation. I would like to see a couple more retirements than the 4 principals who we already know are leaving. Hopefully the upcoming season marks a new era. 

I sincerely hope that whoever takes over the top post at ABT is someone who appreciates the classics. I can't see myself subscribing to an ABT season consisting mostly of contemporary and "message-driven" works that don't even look good on the Met stage. 

The MET summer season is already shortening to 5 weeks, given the Met Opera's new schedule. This could allow them to deemphasize the big story ballets needed to fill the Met and beef up other seasons (like their Fall Season and maybe introduce other options) that would allow for works not conducive to the Met stage. 

Also- totally totally out there, but what if the Met Opera and ABT merged? Combined they'd have synergies (particularly introduce new donors, etc.). The Met could send on ABT on tour, much easier than the opera. They could also add ballets into the rotation, during a regular Met Season. If they were going to pivot into the digital space, having both ballet and opera options would broaden their appeal too. Their MET HD app could include on-demand and live ballet performances, as a "value add". Also, dance education (similar to how English National Ballet started their fitness/dance training app), could also introduce new revenue. 

I know this would almost certainly never happen, but both organizations would gain from strengths of the other organization (but saying this without knowing the hard financial implications..) 

 

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I wonder if Irina/Max would consider joining the coaching staff. Perhaps  personal coaching is more lucrative but I think they’d be a real asset in-house. 

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8 hours ago, miliosr said:

She would but she also just replaced Terry Orr as the director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Even if she wanted the top job at ABT, it would be poor form to walk out on a job she's barely started.

very good point

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It might be uncomfortable to have a foreign artistic director for "America's Ballet Company," as per an act of Congress. Ratmansky became a US citizen a few years ago (as proudly announced on Facebook). Baryshnikov defected to the US and became a US citizen in the 1980s. Cornejo, Corella, Ferri are all  naturalized citizens, too. But I wonder how recruiting someone like Rojo or Acosta or Vishneva would play.  Dancers, sure, but THE artistic director?? It might seem like throwing in the towel on American talent.

Edited by California
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6 minutes ago, California said:

It might be uncomfortable to have a foreign artistic director for "America's Ballet Company," as per an act of Congress. Ratmansky became a US citizen a few years ago (as proudly announced on Facebook). Baryshnikov defected to the US and became a US citizen in the 1980s. But I wonder how recruiting someone like Rojo or Acosta or Vishneva would play.  Dancers, sure, but THE artistic director??

Balanchine was Russian, Martins was Danish, Helgi Tomasson is Icelandic, Ib Anderssen of Ballet Arizona is Danish, Angel is Spanish, Mikko Nissinen of Boston Ballet is Finnish? 

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7 minutes ago, California said:

It might be uncomfortable to have a foreign artistic director for "America's Ballet Company," as per an act of Congress. Ratmansky became a US citizen a few years ago (as proudly announced on Facebook). Baryshnikov defected to the US and became a US citizen in the 1980s. But I wonder how recruiting someone like Rojo or Acosta or Vishneva would play.  Dancers, sure, but THE artistic director??

I have a hard time thinking it would make much difference, beyond an opinion piece in this or that newspaper. It's not as if most of America is aware of ABT or its self-proclaimed "status"; and it's not as if most of ABT's ticket-buyers are purchasing out of patriotic investment in their nation's homegrown institutions. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it would be much of an issue.

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11 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I have a hard time thinking it would make much difference, beyond an opinion piece in this or that newspaper. It's not as if most of America is aware of ABT or its self-proclaimed "status"; and it's not as if most of ABT's ticket-buyers are purchasing out of patriotic investment in their nation's homegrown institutions. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it would be much of an issue.

I think it might mean more to the trustees, major donors and the company. If you look at the ABT web site, they like to tout this. I didn't mean to open a can worms (as I obviously have, alas!), but most on the list are naturalized citizens (Balanchine in the 40s, Corella, Cornejo, Ferri). And they're not directing "America's national ballet company," as per an act of Congress.

Edited by California
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11 minutes ago, California said:

I think it might mean more to the trustees, major donors and the company. If you look at the ABT web site, they like to tout this.

I can see that as a possibility (i.e. that it matters more to the trustees, donors, etc.), though I also wouldn't be surprised if it's a non-issue even for them. The company's self-touting doesn't itself push me to think it'd matter. I always assumed it was mostly just a marketing tactic in the context of a struggling industry. But again, maybe not...

I wouldn't worry about cans of worms — they're good to consider!

Edited by nanushka
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30 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Balanchine was Russian, Martins was Danish, Helgi Tomasson is Icelandic, Ib Anderssen of Ballet Arizona is Danish, Angel is Spanish, Mikko Nissinen of Boston Ballet is Finnish? 

And any one of them who became an American citizen, like Ratmansky and Baryshnikov, is as American as I am, a natural born citizen.  As far as I know, Congress is not involved with NYCB, SFB, BA, PB, or BB, but I could be wrong.

As far as I know, Rojo and Acosta are not American citizens.

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Could be that heading an American ballet company is similar to heading an American symphony orchestra - most musical directors of major orchestras are Europeans,  with a few Latinos in the mix.  Nobody seems bothered by this.  It would be great to have a woman in the position,  American or not.

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On 3/25/2021 at 9:09 PM, Fleurfairy said:

This decision came about 10 years too late. A lot of wonderful dancers had their careers hindered under his helm. 

 

19 hours ago, atm711 said:

Good News!!  He was a disaster to the Company I once loved.  A bit of forward thinking please.

I have to defend McKenzie just a little bit.

When he took over in 1992, no one wanted the job. The company was bankrupt and on the verge of dissolving altogether. McKenzie rebuilt the company using who remained from the Baryshnikov era (Bocca, Ferri, Gardner, Hill, Jaffe, Kent, McKerrow), who he could bring in from the outside (Beloserkovsky, Carreno, Corella; Dvorovenko, Steifel) and who he could promote from within (Abrera, Cornejo, Gomes, Hallberg, Herrera, Murphy, Radetsky). That 15-20 year period under his directorship was magic. (I freely concede that the last 10 years have been messy with the 'Guest Star' era of 2000-2005 being particularly destructive.)

Here would be my dream artistic team:

  • Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky as artistic directors.
  • Irina Dvorovenko as an additional coach for the principal ballerinas. (Sorry to be a downer but Irina Kolpakova will be 88 years old this year.)
  • Someone of a Royal Ballet vintage to coach the Ashton and MacMillan works (and replace Georgina Parkinson, who the company never replaced adequately.)
  • John Gardner and Amanda McKerrow (through their work with the Antony Tudor Trust) to safeguard and revitalize the Tudor repertory.
  • Alexei Ratmansky to keep doing what he's doing.

By writing that, I'm sure I have just jinxed the possibility!

Edited by miliosr
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23 hours ago, miliosr said:

Here would be my dream artistic team:

  • Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky as artistic directors.
  • Irina Dvorovenko as an additional coach for the principal ballerinas. (Sorry to be a downer but Irina Kolpakova will be 88 years old this year.)
  • Someone of a Royal Ballet vintage to coach the Ashton and MacMillan works (and replace Georgina Parkinson, who the company never replaced adequately.)
  • John Gardner and Amanda McKerrow (through their work with the Antony Tudor Trust) to safeguard and revitalize the Tudor repertory.
  • Alexei Ratmansky to keep doing what he's doing.

By writing that, I'm sure I have just jinxed the possibility!

Your lips (or keyboard, I guess?) to God’s ears!

Edited by tutu
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