CriticalDance Forum

THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD
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Author:  Azlan [ Sat Sep 02, 2000 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

Rumors are rife about who will be Boston Ballet's new AD but here is a report from the Boston Herald:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Not so for Boston Ballet, whose search for an artistic director to replace Anna-Marie Holmes is bound to conclude any day now. In typical, tight-lipped, Boston Ballet fashion, administrators will confirm nothing as far as who is ranked tops among directorship contenders. Whoever is chosen (hint: think of someone with lots of experience in Europe) will signal a significant change at 19 Clarendon St. Most important, if the ballet wants this change to have any deep, long-lasting impact, the school will see a serious overhaul.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Unfortunately, this is the only reference to Boston Ballet in this story. Stay tuned for more.

Author:  Mikal [ Sat Sep 09, 2000 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

Darn, Jonas Kage didn't take the job, huh.<BR>Had two years with BW left, but was on the short list of 5 people.

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Sep 13, 2000 8:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

The new AD is to be announced and introduced at a press conference tomorrow (9/14) at 10am.<P>Meanwhile, the Danish paper Berlingske Tidende has printed a story that Maina Gielgud, niece of Sir John Gielgud, is the appointee. Gielgud's tenures as AD of the Australian Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet were marked with controversy. More to follow.

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Sep 14, 2000 7:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

It's official. Here's the word from Boston Ballet:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>MAINA GIELGUD NAMED ARTISTIC DIRECTOR</B><BR>Former Australian Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet Director to helm Boston Ballet<BR>in July 2001<P><BR>(BOSTON) -- Following a unanimous vote by the Boston Ballet Board of Trustees this morning, internationally esteemed dancer and ballet director Maina Gielgud was appointed the company's new Artistic Director, effective July 2001. Gielgud will become the fifth Artistic Director in Boston Ballet's 37-year history.<P>Although her official full-time status with the company begins in ten months, Gielgud will serve as Artistic Director Designate for the balance of the 2000-01 Season. She will visit Boston throughout the year to work on artistic planning and to become more familiar with the company and its dancers.<P>"Maina Gielgud's appointment represents a significant opportunity for Boston Ballet," said Board of Trustees Chairman Susan Y. Friedman. "Her superb international reputation and impressive career as a performer and artistic leader make her the right choice for an organization whose sights are set on becoming one of the world's top ten ballet companies by 2010."<BR>Gielgud, who is 55 and the niece of legendary English actor John Gielgud, has an extensive, globe-spanning ballet background that encompasses performance, choreography, staging and administration. She studied<BR>throughout Europe with many great ballet teachers including Rosella Hightower, Lubov Egorova, Olga Preobrajenska, Tamara Karsavina of Les Ballets Russes fame, and Stanislas Idzikovski. <P><BR><B>Gielgud's Performance Career</B><BR>As a performer with prestigious companies and artists such as Roland Petit (from 1961-62), Maurice Béjart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century ('67-'71), the London Festival Ballet ('72-'76), and Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet ('76-'78), Gielgud performed most major roles in the classical repertoire, including Odette/Odile from "Swan Lake," Princess Aurora in "The Sleeping Beauty", Juliet in John Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet" (with Australian<BR>Ballet), as well as the leads in "Giselle" and Erik Bruhn's production of "La Sylphide."<P>Gielgud was coached during her performance career by the legendary George Balanchine and other dance luminaries such as Béjart (who created many works on her), Rudolf Nureyev and Serge Lifar. She also worked with Royal Danish Ballet's eminent ballerina Toni Lander, and with its distinguished teacher and Artistic Advisor Vera Volkova. She was partnered by many international<BR>stars, including Nureyev (with whom she danced her first Aurora), Jorge<BR>Donn, Adam Lüders, and Peter Martins (in her first Swan Lake at London Festival Ballet).<P>While Gielgud has not worked previously with an American company, she did tour the United States in the mid-1960s with Les Grands Ballets Classiques de France. The grueling cross-continental schedule called for her to dance four ballets nearly every night. Her other U.S. performances include the first appearance by Bejart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century at Brooklyn Academy in 1971. Soon after that appearance, Gielgud left the company to dance Balanchine works at Deutsche Oper Berlin, which at the time was directed by John Taras and counted Balanchine himself as artistic advisor.<P><BR><B>Gielgud's Directorships</B><BR>Two years after retiring from the stage in 1981, Gielgud became artistic director at The Australian Ballet (for 14 seasons from 1983-'96). She was Artistic Director at The Royal Danish Ballet (from 1997-'99). She also has been a guest répétiteur and freelance director for numerous companies<BR>including London City Ballet, Ballet du Rhin, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, English National Ballet and Tokyo Ballet. <P><BR><B>Critical Acclaim</B><BR>Gielgud's exacting work with dancers has been widely recognized and applauded by dance critics in many countries. Of a 1988 production with Australian Ballet, London Times reviewer John Percival marveled "I cannot remember when I saw The Sleeping Beauty so consistently well danced from<BR>beginning to end...(the dancers) are so strong, confident and accurate in technique that they take it for granted and concentrate on presentation."<P>New York Post critic Clive Barnes commented on Gielgud's impact on the company in a 1990 review of "Giselle." "One of the main virtues of the Gielgud regime (in Australia) has been the unusual development of the<BR>company in depth," Barnes said.<P>In 1996, Dance Australia reviewer Michelle Potter lauded the versatility of Gielgud's Australian Ballet dancers in three contemporary pieces. "To dance the exaltation of Beyond Bach...the anxiety of Las Hermanas and the volatility of In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated in one night with such care and commitment, not to mention skill, is more than impressive and sends the<BR>audience out filled with the pleasure of having shared a danced experience."<P><BR><B>Spotting Talent</B><BR>Since her move from performing to directing companies and setting works around the world, Gielgud also has gained an international reputation for spotting and developing young choreographic talent. Virtually all present-day contemporary choreographers of note have staged ballets for the companies she directed. Gielgud discovered and helped develop the early<BR>career of Australian Ballet's Stanton Welch, who now creates works for companies in the US and around the world. She appointed him Resident Choreographer for Australian Ballet in the early 1990s.<P>"Since her appointment to the post of artistic director in 1983," said reviewer Kelly Burke in a 1994 article in The Sydney News, "Ms. Gielgud has commissioned 24 new works--23 of which have been Australian. And with the recent appointment of Australians Stephan Baynes and Stanton Welch as resident choreographers, there seems little evidence of stagnation within the company in the near future."<P>Among her most important and impressive credentials is Gielgud's ability to nurture talented dancers to principal status; many of the ones she has worked with have become principal dancers and sought-after guest artists for other major international companies. Gielgud has said that "technical<BR>virtuosity can be very exciting and theatrical, but it is the artistic and<BR>stylistic aspects of the dancers' craft that I am interested in developing most."<P><BR><B>The Search Process</B><BR>Board Chairman Susan Y. Friedman said the 10 members of the Artistic Director Search Committee--which was chaired by Trustee James Wilson and comprised a mix of board, staff and dancer members--carried out a lengthy, world-wide search before recommending Gielgud to the executive committee and eventually the full board.<P>In addition to Wilson and Friedman, Search Committee members included: Trustees Ted Bernard-Cutler, Annaliese Henderson, John Humphrey, and Susan Poduska; staff members Jeffrey Babcock and Jonathan McPhee; and dancers Jennifer Glaze and Paul Thrussell.<BR>"The members of the Search Committee worked enormously hard on this critical task," Friedman said. "They sacrificed personal and family time to attend meetings, reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, viewing video tapes and travelling abroad to see the companies of some of the candidates. And their efforts will help shape the future of this wonderful organization."<P>Boston Ballet General Director and CEO Jeffrey N. Babcock spoke on behalf of the company, underscoring the staff and dancers' enthusiasm for Gielgud.<P>"The entire Boston Ballet family is looking forward to welcoming Maina to the city and to this company," Babcock said. "I am personally excited about the opportunity to partner with her in this transitional year, helping her learn more about the company and our acclaimed Center for Dance Education,<BR>and to support her vision for taking Boston Ballet to a new level of international excellence and recognition over the next several years."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Sep 14, 2000 8:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

What are the feelings of our readers about Boston Ballet? It's a US company that I only have the haziest view of.<P>I note that Maina Geilgud's stay as AD at the Royal Danish Ballet gets only the briefest mention. It certainly sounds as though this was the ultimate poisoned chalice - trying to reconcile the wish of much of the Danish public for a more modern rep. and those who, understandably, wish to preserve the Bournonville legacy. <P>I'm sure we all wish her the very best in the new post.<p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited September 14, 2000).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Sep 16, 2000 3:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>*re the comment about RDB and 'more bournonville', i have just seen this statement hotly disputed on another board, by someone who well might know....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR>Yes, I've also seen these comments, grace. I know nothing about Maina Geilgud's success or otherwise in Australia or Denmark. One thing is for sure, The Royal Danish Ballet is one of the most strife-ridden dance companies on the planet. <P>As far as i can tell, rightly or wrongly, many of the modern arts loving Danes find little to enjoy in the Bournonville tradition. One amicable Danish academic I met at the ROH told me that he felt that Bournonville was 'ballet for children'. Thus it comes as no surprise that there is a battle royal under way for the direction that the Company should follow and it seems likely that Geilgud was at the centre of much cross-fire. I'm not surprised she wanted out early.<P>In such an environment, statements like those you mention need to be taken with a pinch of salt or maybe a bucketful. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited September 16, 2000).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Sep 16, 2000 6:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

I don't find it so surprising. Firstly, I imagine that Maina Geilgud was appointed to give a balance of work new to the company to sit alongside the Bournonville rep. If finance is tight, then I imagine that buying an existing work is cheaper than commissioning a new one and may be the only option if the choreographer is not available. Further, it is a safety first solution in a difficult situation. Bringing in new work, whether new or old, in any quantity would clearly not please the Bournonville lovers in Denmark, or the US for that matter.<P>When an AD is appointed it should be as much for their taste as anything. Thus Sir Peter Wright revived his beloved 'The Green Table' at intervals during his stay at Birmingham.<P>I imagine that Ross Stretton will bring some existing favourites with him and perhaps commission new works from Australian choreographers that he admires and with whom he has worked. It will be interesting to see what they can do.<p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited September 16, 2000).]

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Sat Sep 16, 2000 7:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

Quote from Stuart above-<P>"As far as i can tell, rightly or wrongly, many of the modern arts loving Danes find little to enjoy in the Bournonville tradition. One amicable Danish academic I met at the ROH told me that he felt that Bournonville was 'ballet for children'."<P>Well, Stuart, you've only spoken to one Danish academic, and surely you can't take his jokey comment as representative of the consensus in Denmark! When the Royal Danish Ballet held the Bournonville Week in January, critics from many countries attended, showing the degree of enthusiasm worldwide for the great Bournonville tradition. (Looking back, I now wish I had stayed for the whole week instead of only the first half.)<P>And the National Ballet of China last year staged "La Sylphide", which was in fact the best piece they danced in Hong Kong 2 weeks ago. I hope they stage more Bournonville ballets in future, as the Danish style suits the Chinese dancers enormously.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Sep 16, 2000 8:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

Kevin, your example of the critics from a range of countries enjoying the Bournonville Festival does not surprise me at all. There is clearly a continuing great interest in Bournonville around the ballet world.<P>However, what i know of Denmark and neighbouring Germany is that those who love the Arts are much more interested in the 20th and 21st Century arts than we are in the UK for instance. Some of the most beautiful contemporary art museums in the world are in Denmark. Thus it came as no surprise to me that the Dane I recently met said what he did. The other Daneses i know have never mentioned Bournonville to me when talking about Danish culture. <P>Leigh Witchell, a knowledgable and concerned commentator on Bournonville said in his recent review of the Festival, in 'Dance Now', <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>If the dancers and the audience see the [Bournonville] ballets as of only historical interest, deterioration becomes inevitable. Bournonville may be the Danes birthright, but birthrights have been sold before. Can they retain Bournonville in their soul?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>He seems concerned that their interest is turning elsewhere to, perhaps, the development of William Forsythe in Germany and Mats Ek in neighbouring Sweden.<P>Has anyone else a contribution to make on this?

Author:  Kevin Ng [ Sat Sep 16, 2000 4:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

I read Leigh Witchell's review in "Dance Now" a while ago. I think Leigh has a good point here. The Royal Danish Ballet should certainly treat their Bournonville birthright as more than just a historical curiosity, and I also hope that they can retain it in their soul.<BR>As I said earlier, I am extremely proud of the National Ballet of China which has danced "La Sylphide" so well.

Author:  pmeja [ Thu Sep 21, 2000 6:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

and **what**, pray tell, does she think they have been doing? yikes.

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Sep 21, 2000 10:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

Interesting observation, pmeja. Makes one wonder if she won't ruffle more than a few feathers...

Author:  pmeja [ Fri Sep 22, 2000 8:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: THE NEWS! on Boston Ballet's New AD

i might add that the idea of casting young dancers in roles over older ones is not particular to anyone. jennifer gelfand did juliet when she was 18 in boston and there were many others senior to her who did not do it. patrick armand, when his juliet, trinidad sevillano, injured herself, danced it with a girl who had just joined the corps de ballet, and on opening night! additionally the company danced bejart's rite of spring more than ten years ago! and these are just three examples from boston ballet's history that come to mind. they'll have to look harder for something that boston ballet didn't do under bruce marks and anna-marie holmes.<p>[This message has been edited by pmeja (edited September 22, 2000).]

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