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Ballet Talk for Dancers

City Ballet Chooses New Leaders


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I was just going to create a thread about this after receiving the email. Congratulations to Jonathan Stafford (AD of NYCB & SAB) and Wendy Whelan (Assoc. AD of NYCB)!

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Of course they made the male the boss.


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Stafford already held prominent administrative & leadership positions at SAB & NYCB, & acted as the interim AD since Martins resigned. I believe this is a fitting role considering his background & experience.  

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Dancemom2 read all of the details about their roles and their recent interviews.  It's not accurate to just say he's "the boss".

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I'm thrilled. Both positions are commensurate with their unique experience and valuable skill sets. Reading between the lines doesn't do either justice. 

Represented in these articles is a united leadership team at the helm of one of our most important cultural institutions.


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Ballerinamom2girls, I did read all of the details - and how dismissive of you to assume I did not - and have an opinion based on this article, as well as the email sent to school alumni and the organization's press release.  NYCB had the opportunity to make a statement with its appointment(s).  It didn't.  It chose to put the female in a secondary position.  

Do we need to blindly agree?  You and others can be thrilled; I and others can be disappointed or discouraged.

Also, Boss: 

  1. 1.
    a person in charge of a worker or organization.

Charles W. Scharf, the chairman of City Ballet’s board, said the search committee had decided to put Mr. Stafford in charge 


Lauren Wingenroth wrote in Dance magazine: “The set-up begs the question: If the two leaders will truly be ‘partners,’ why are they not co-artistic directors? Considering the company’s recent scandals — and the troubling historical gender dynamics of the company — the arrangement sits just a bit uncomfortably.”



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I've written many a press release.  I, as a representative of the organization, wrote the press releases, including the quotations, and then submitted them for review by the person being quoted. They seldom had edits.  It's marketing, meant to tell a story and portray the organization (or its product) in a positive manner.  Does one really expect Ms. Whelan to say otherwise?  How long would her new job last if she were to do so?

In Mr. Scharf's own words, he "decided to put Mr. Stafford in charge."  

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I'm fine with disagreeing on this point.  Their job descriptions are so different; I just don't see the issue with the titles.  I would feel differently if her job were simply to "advise" Stafford.  That however, is not at all what has been proposed.  I suppose we'll see over time how they work together.  

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seems to me (as a distant observer) that NYCB are tone deaf on what is needed. They missed a big opportunity by putting the young man in charge of the older woman. I hope they are both admirable good people but as a statement, NYCB could have really wooed us if they had done this differently.

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Honestly, I think that the decision was excellent.  The NYC Ballet press release addresses the issues discussed.  I don't think Whelan has the same type of experience that Stafford does. 

I believe that the role matches both Whelan's experience and her particular gifts. Not everyone wants to be an administrator or executive, even if they could be. [I know that I don't and I have been asked in my field.]

From NYC Ballet Press Release

Jonathon Stafford as Artistic Director of NYCB and SAB, and Wendy Whelan as Associate Artistic Director of NYCB,

“The shared artistic leadership of School and Company, originally modeled by George Balanchine, will ensure that our organizations continue to work seamlessly to maintain our distinctly American brand of classical ballet. Jonathan’s accomplishments as a dancer and his long tenure with the School as a faculty member uniquely position him to lead SAB’s efforts in producing the highest caliber artists for NYCB and companies around the world.”

I am not sure that Ms. Whelan taught at the school? Retired in 2014? 

"The new artistic leadership structure at NYCB – with both an Artistic Director and Associate Artistic Director – acknowledges the growing and evolving demands of an arts organization of its size and stature. NYCB is the largest dance organization in America and currently functions -more- NYCB/SAB – Page 3 with an annual operating budget of approximately $88 million and supports more than 450 employees, including both artists and administrators. The board concluded that the demands of maintaining the highest standards of artistic excellence and managing the artistic needs of the Company are best served with the complementary skills of Stafford and Whelan. As Artistic Director for NYCB, Stafford will supervise all areas of the Company’s artistic operations, working closely with NYCB Executive Director Katherine Brown, who is responsible for all administrative functions for both the Company and its home, the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Stafford will also continue to teach Company class and rehearse and prepare ballets for performance."

Stafford has served as the AD for over 1 year and so keeping him in this role maintains consistency for the organization and for the dancers. Ms Whelan adds artistic vibrancy and vision and she knows "Jon" and Justin-- She addressed this at the Feb. 28 performance -- 

I am a full on feminist myself but I just don't see this as a slight to Whelan and most importantly SHE DOES NOT APPEAR TO .. . .:

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