New York City Ballet's future

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John F
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New York City Ballet's future

Post by John F » Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:52 am

New York City Ballet has been without an artistic director/ballet master since Peter Martins retired amid an investigation into allegations of abuse, which the investigation has not corroborated. They are taking their time seeking a new director.

Who Should Run City Ballet? A Job Posting, Explained
By Michael Cooper
Aug. 14, 2018

New York City Ballet and its affiliated academy, the School of American Ballet, released a job description on Tuesday that helps flesh out their thinking about who should succeed Peter Martins, a former star dancer and Balanchine protégé who led both institutions for decades but abruptly retired earlier this year amid an investigation into allegations of abuse.

The search for a new leader started with a listening tour: 175 people inside and outside the company talked to the search committee and Phillips Oppenheim, the recruitment firm it hired. Out of that came a five-page job description — a “wish list,” in the words of Barbara M. Vogelstein, the chairwoman for the school’s board and one of the leaders of the committee.

Here are a few excerpts from the job listing, and what they suggest:
‘The Company and the School’ The Artistic Director for NYCB and SAB will provide the overall creative leadership for the Company and the School, including the training and development of dancers and ensuring that the Balanchine and Robbins repertory and aesthetic are maintained and remain relevant for generations to come.
The casual balletgoer may not realize the extent to which the company is tied to the school. The choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein started the school before they founded City Ballet — “But first, a school,” Balanchine reportedly said — and the school remains central to the company’s ethos. More than 95 percent of the current roster trained there, which helps City Ballet maintain its distinctive Balanchine style at a moment when many companies are becoming more similar, and international, stylistically.

But the school and company remain two separate organizations, each with its own annual budget ($89 million for the company, $16 million for the school); endowment ($222 million for the company, $71 million for the school); staff and governing board. The two boards agreed more than a decade ago that they wanted their next artistic director to continue to lead both organizations. But City Ballet has a majority of the votes on the 13-member search committee, which is made up of seven members of its board and six of the school’s.
‘A Humane Leader’ The Artistic Director will be a humane leader for whom people wish to perform their best. The individual will ideally also be an alumna/us of SAB and NYCB who will have:
• A deep and passionate commitment to the Balanchine and Robbins aesthetic and repertory;
• Demonstrated artistic leadership success as a programmer and/or company leader for an organization known for quality and excellence;...
The call for a humane leader is notable after Mr. Martins’s retirement as the company investigated allegations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse. That investigation, the company later said, did not corroborate the allegations.

Mr. Martins’s departure left City Ballet and the dance world divided, with some upset at his hasty leave-taking but others upset that he had not been held to account. This job posting honors Mr. Martins — it calls elsewhere for choosing someone who will build on his legacy — but also makes clear that a duty of the next leader is to oversee dancers’ well-being.

Also notable: The posting says the candidate would “ideally” come from the company and school, but that language leaves the door open just a bit for an outsider to be considered. And the job title is changing, too: Mr. Martins was the company’s ballet master in chief, a grand, perhaps grandiose title; the new leader will be an artistic director.
• An eye for talent; the ability to select the best dancers, choreographers, teachers, and coaches and encourage their development …
Notably, “choreographer” is not in the new job description, here or elsewhere — just the ability to select good ones. That is something of a break from the company’s history — Balanchine, after all, was one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century. But it is more in line with recent history. Mr. Martins, whose own choreography often got mixed reviews, had moved in recent years to commissioning, quite successfully, new works from choreographers including Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon and Justin Peck, a soloist who became the company’s resident choreographer.

Now the search committee is ready to invite candidates to apply for the job. It hopes to begin interviews in early fall.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/arts ... ained.html
John Francis

John F
Posts: 19916
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: New York City Ballet's future

Post by John F » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:05 am

Alastair Macaulay is the chief dance critic of the New York Times.

History Is About to Change at New York City Ballet. How?
By Alastair Macaulay
Jan. 2, 2018

...[Peter] Martins inherited a remarkable and wide-ranging job model from George Balanchine, who, with Lincoln Kirstein, founded the school in 1934 and City Ballet in 1948. Balanchine began as the company’s artistic director but changed his title in the 1950s to “ballet master”: Ostensibly he was one of several, but ruled with a generally accepted authority that rendered his word as law.

Today there are no Balanchines. Is it time to revise the posts that Balanchine filled? Or might this diminish the art form by reducing the scope for creative vision?

Mr. Martins has long been the principal inheritor of the power and the duties — teaching, choreographing, casting, commissioning, supervising, coaching — that once were Balanchine’s. Mr. Martins became one of the company’s main ballet masters in 1981; after Balanchine’s death in 1983, he began by working in tandem with Jerome Robbins, whose ballets have been part of the company’s lifeblood. Soon, however, Mr. Martins took sole command. In 1989, he assumed the title ballet master in chief. (Some Balanchine devotees felt “in chief” was excessive.)

It is now almost 35 years since Balanchine died. Nevertheless, City Ballet has remained of singular importance to ballet worldwide. Balanchine has become increasingly recognized as the foremost (and the most influential) choreographer of 20th-century ballet. And while the Balanchine enterprise has spawned companies across America and influenced others around the world, City Ballet and the School of American Ballet have remained central to the Balanchine practice.

And under Mr. Martins the company has been the global leader in post-Balanchine choreography. This policy has paid rich dividends in recent years with City Ballet creations by Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon entering repertories across America and around the world.

It’s not for me to advocate any heir to Balanchine or Mr. Martins; I strongly dislike the notion of critic as kingmaker or power broker. But when change comes, I must ask: How will the company — and the art form itself — be changed, too?

If the company is to move forward, several important issues must be considered. Most obviously, a system of checks and balances should be introduced to prevent the abuse of dancers. Harassment within ballet has been reported elsewhere. Let City Ballet now set a global example.

Crucially, should the job at City Ballet now be divided into two or more parts? If so, how? Mr. Martins didn’t stop teaching, but his choreography — never much admired by critics — ceased to be the prime source of new stage energy for the company once he appointed a resident choreographer (Mr. Wheeldon from 2001 to 2008, Mr. Peck since 2014). Elsewhere there have been artistic directors of note who neither teach nor choreograph.

City Ballet, however, has been a different organism. Would it be changed beyond recognition by such a director? And, of prime concern to dance-goers and dancers alike: Can the company continue in its dual capacity as the world leader in new choreography and the foremost exponent of the Balanchine-Robbins repertory?

Since Dec. 9, after Mr. Martins took a leave of absence, the day-to-day artistic direction of City Ballet has been in the hands of an impressively young foursome: Craig Hall and Rebecca Krohn (ballet masters), Mr. Peck and Jonathan Stafford (a former principal now on the school’s faculty). The company also has an executive director, Katherine E. Brown, who runs business matters, reporting directly to the board. (The post was created for her in 2009.)

How now to move forward? For weeks, people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have proposed candidates that include men and women, people of various races and sexual orientations. Please note, though, how few of them fulfill the multiple roles of the Balanchine-Martins model. The old creative ballet-master practice has been largely eroded. (Not entirely: Helgi Tomasson at San Francisco Ballet and Ib Andersen at Ballet Arizona — City Ballet alumni — are both artistic directors who choreograph, teach and coach.)

Balanchine didn’t invent the notion of a directing ballet master — the teacher who made ballets and controlled policy. It went back to at least the 18th century. (Its 19th-century exemplars included August Bournonville and Marius Petipa.) For Balanchine, like masters before him, a company’s dancers had to be custom-trained by its school. And the choreographer who made the ballets had to keep developing his style by teaching, often daily, in the classroom, which became a kind of laboratory.

If City Ballet is run by a person who neither teaches nor choreographs, it will move far in spirit from the Balanchine-Kirstein principle. Certainly this may well be the moment for greater artistic separation between the company and the school — and yet that’s easier said than done, since no company depends more on works, by Balanchine and others, in which students of several ages dance.

We live in post-Balanchine times. “Ballet is woman,” he said — but his kind of ballet was always a man’s view of woman, and a solely heterosexual one. Though the Balanchine worldview made women empowered and inspiring, it did not include women’s equality in the workplace or same-sex relationships. Balanchine brought many women to the top, and yet neither he nor Kirstein considered one to be his successor.

When alive, Balanchine was controversial, not least in the demands he placed on his female dancers. Seemingly unstoppable, he transformed his art. And today, many of the teachers and choreographers influenced by him — including the team now at City Ballet’s helm — either never met him or were born after his time.

It was Kirstein who labored to ensure the school and the company would outlive Balanchine. Conversely, Balanchine expressed no confidence that they would, at least on any scale of consequence. Some of his devotees, lastingly despondent about his legacy, still insist either that the flame died with him or that it passed elsewhere. Of the company after his death, Balanchine remarked, “Après moi, le board.”

Now the boards of the company and the school are faced with big decisions about replacing Mr. Martins. Yet these very boards retained him after the first serious complaints were made against him in the last century. Who knew what and for how long?

Let nobody — the boards, critics, other interested parties — rush into promoting their special favorites or pursuing their own agendas. The responsibility of redirecting City Ballet is both considerable and complex. Let the thoughts percolate. History is about to change — but how?

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/arts ... chine.html
John Francis

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