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Ballet Talk for Dancers

City Ballet Chooses New Leaders


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I heard them both speak last night at the performance. 

I wish I could remember his exact words. Stafford made a comment that sounded heartfelt about how honored he was to be on that stage standing next to Wendy Whelan. It sounded as if he was truly honored to be working alongside Wendy. Honestly, from the words said last night, it sounded more like she was the one in charge! 

As to the question about Wendy Whelan teaching, she has been on the faculty at BAE and is a long term permanent guest faculty at MYB. I do not know whether or not she taught at SAB at any point or not but it would not surprise me if she had. 


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I agree, Melissa! He seems so fond of Ms. Whelan! To my knowledge, she has never taught at SAB. She is also the Assoc. AD of only the NYCB, not SAB. I was wondering if she was staying on staff at BAE and if this had anything to do with her lack of affiliation with SAB.

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I cannot imagine that she would have the time or be allowed to teach at BAE but I can bet that will likely influence apprentices that make their way from BAE to SAB to NYCB

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I think this is a positive move in the right direction.  When implementing change, especially within a company that has been using the same management model for decades, one needs to take small steps in order to tackle giant steps.

Time will tell.

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2 hours ago, learningdance said:

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 couldn't agree more and I am very happy about this outcome.

Assigning Mr. Stafford to a lesser role would have been a great mistake and injustice, especially considering how he, and his temporary team, led NYCB through the storms.

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2 hours ago, MelissaGA said:

I heard them both speak last night at the performance. 

I wish I could remember his exact words.

You'll find it on Alastair Macaulay's instagram feed. Very nice indeed.

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Press release from the SAB website mentions this

"While Whelan will not take on a formal leadership role at SAB, she is expected to guest teach with regularity. "


Here is the press release from SAB

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The discussion I just had with my daughter is this: the reason HE has more experience is because HE was given the opportunity.  He did not have the experience before he was chosen to lead the interim team. 

Until more women are given the opportunity to helm organizations, men will always have more experience.  I find this frustrating.  There are far more female ballet dancers, but males hold most of the power positions.  And given what its boys have been up to, NYCB should have, at the very least, made them co-ADs. Instead, it gave HIM the interim experience, then gave HIM the permanent position, with HER in the subordinate role.

As to Ms. Whelan not wanting to take on an administrative role?  She applied for the position, so I think we can infer that she wanted to take it on.

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Thank you, Melissa. Learningdance, you are most likely right, especially since Ms. Whelan will be guest teaching at SAB. I’m so happy to hear that! The students must be excited. I also agree that this may further deepen their affiliation with BAE. Many BAE teachers came from SAB & NYCB already, so I always had the sense that there was a relationship there. 

Dancemom, that’s a great point. Just being given the opportunity can make all the difference. Mr. Stafford, however, went from faculty to gaining some administrative experience and playing a leadership role (at least within SAB) prior to serving as the interim AD in the past year or so. I truly believe that his experience serving as a liaison, so to speak, between the school & company helped to give him this role to oversee both. Although unlikely, we do not know for sure if Ms. Whelan applied & was denied the chance to be on faculty at SAB (which may have given her further leadership opportunities within the organization) before accepting a job at other schools/organizations. 

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I am not going to wade into a debate about the decision or details of who is "the boss" (it will be really interesting to see how these two move forward) but something frequently omitted by the conversations both here and elsewhere is that Katherine Brown (a woman) is the Executive Director of NYCB. I realize this is not artistic leadership, but in thinking about women in positions of power and influence, that is encouraging-- women are extremely underrepresented in executive positions.

Personally I think it sounds healthy for the organization to move towards a more collaborative leadership model, and for all I know this is exactly the job Whelan wanted. 

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Kay Mazzo, chairman of SAB faculty.  Just to add to the list of women in leadership roles.  

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