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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2002 2:23 pm 
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Nobody addressed Basheva's question and it was mine too as soon as I read it: If Monica Mason is so able, are they considering keeping her on permanently?


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2002 3:58 pm 
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I think it is probably too early for anyone to tell that and there will be a number of factors to consider first. She may not even want the job anyway, some people don't always want to be head honcho and are happier being at the next level.

I'm sure over the next few days there will be lots of speculation as to who could take over but I'm sure the RB will want to choose very carefully to ensure the same incidents do not occur again.


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2002 1:32 pm 
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In AP:

Quote:
Royal Ballet director quits after only 18 months

LONDON - The Australian-born director of London's prestigious Royal Ballet quit Wednesday after only 18 months, following poor reviews of his productions and complaints by some dancers. more


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2002 2:16 pm 
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Coverage from the NY Times:

Quote:
PARIS, Sept. 25 — After a stormy 18 months in the post, Ross Stretton resigned today as director of the Royal Ballet in London, abruptly cutting short a five-year appointment and adding a new chapter to the recent troubled history of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden.

The Australian-born Mr. Stretton, 51, a former dancer with American Ballet Theater who came to London after four years as artistic director of the Australian Ballet, had been under mounting criticism from dance critics for his programming and from some leading dancers for his casting policy. He also reportedly had differences with the management of Covent Garden.
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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2002 8:11 pm 
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Azlan thank you very much for providing all the threads providing the history of this story.

Has anyone else seen the article from yesterday's 'The Australian' which states that Stretton was dramatically fired?

Here is the link to the full article:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,5170417%255E2702,00.html


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2002 1:49 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Round up in The UK Press.

The Telegraph.

Quote:
How inglorious. Just two years after the death of the Royal Ballet's indomitable founder, Dame Ninette de Valois, the company's ballet director departs in a welter of allegations. But it was a double whammy that ended Ross Stretton's brief reign, just 13 months long.

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The Independent.

Quote:
The head of the Royal Ballet has quit suddenly a year after taking up one of the most coveted posts in the arts. And he has infuriated his fellow executives at the Royal Opera House with a leaving statement that implies the Royal Ballet is more interested in "heritage" than "the future of ballet".

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The Guardian.

Quote:
Ross Stretton, the embattled director of the Royal Ballet, finally resigned yesterday amid a welter of allegations at the way he cast ballerinas.
After months of mounting resentment about his management style, and whispered accusations of favouritism, his departure after only a year is a humiliating blow to Covent Garden
MORE

<small>[ 09-27-2002, 04:04: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2002 7:51 am 
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Location: London UK
Since the announcement on Wednesday that Ross Stretton had resigned from the Royal Ballet, the press has had a field day with the story with certain of our beloved critics engaging in that sad British tradition of kicking a man when he’s down. However in amongst the usual journalistic dross, here are a few things I’ve considered worth commenting on:

The Telegraph:
“….there was enough doubt about Stretton's professional relations with junior dancers to make him an unfit steward, despite the refusal of anyone to come forward with specific complaints.”

Without specific proof, such accusations are outrageous. And what exactly is the charge here? That Stretton had a sexual relationship with some of his dancers? Well, that won’t exactly be a first for a ballet AD will it? Or are we talking about the far graver charge of sexual harassment? If the latter, that is a very, very serious allegation.

“ ….an ultimatum from Lady MacMillan, a fellow Australian and widow of Sir Kenneth MacMillan, one of the company's two central choreographers, that she would withdraw the Royal Ballet's privileged access to the MacMillan ballets if Stretton remained, because he was proving so poor an artistic curator.”

If this is true then it is truly astonishing; can someone tell me why Lady MacMillan is allowed such power within the Royal Ballet organization? And has she such a very short memory that she has forgotten the truly wicked treatment meted out to her late husband by dancers, critics and some sections of the audience during HIS tenure as AD? Lady M. is a member of the infamous Board and therefore must be one of the people that originally approved his appointment.

And what is this word “curator” doing in this context? Is a ballet company a museum? It shouldn’t be.

“….One senior artist told me yesterday that allegations were unfair and exaggerated”

I rather suspect that to be the case.

The Independent:
“Concerns were also apparent during his tenure as director of the Australian Ballet, where his allegedly authoritarian style earned him the nickname "Stress Rotten". Within 18 months of his appointment – replacing Maina Gielgud, a niece of the late Sir John, in that role – 23 dancers had left the company.”

Now here’s some food for thought: if Stretton was widely known as such a genuinely awful man manager, why did the Covent Garden board offer him the job in the first place? But hang on a minute, this is the Australian Ballet, the company where a group of dancers had previously succeeded in ousting the long serving dedicated Ms Gielgud who was ultimately sacked because she upset the dancer son of a board member (read John Larkin’s book on the subject). Have the RB dancers decided to follow the example of the Australians?

My own personal opinion is that Stretton has had a rough deal. As with all directors you have to weigh up the pros and cons of his tenure. On the plus side he acquired within one season three wonderful pieces for the company by choreographers with strong British links. Onegin should have been added to the repertory decades ago, The Leaves are Falling was a wonderful reminder of the largely ignored talent of Antony Tudor and yes, I was even happy about the acquisition of Nureyev’s Don Q. (not Stretton’s fault that many of the RB clods weren’t up to dancing it). There was also evidence that he was addressing the falling dance standards that have bedevilled the company for so long.

On the minus side, the triple bills have been very poorly chosen and I was worried by the implication that works by Forsythe, Duarte, and Ek were considered the future for the Royal Ballet. On the subject of casting I will reserve judgement, although we have heard cries of outrage over last minute cast changes, I was under the impression that the season was plagued by a larger than average number of injuries which may have been the cause. Also with that level of injuries it was difficult to ascertain just who was and who wasn’t a favoured member of the company when it came to casting issues. My other major carp was that terrible Jubilee gala, an incompetent, uninspiring mess.

The accusation that Stretton didn’t have support from the dancers strikes me as odd, as I had been led to understand that in fact the opposite was the case and after all, if he favoured certain dancers that is only natural. An AD’s first duty is to promote talent and his emphasis on youth was refreshing, there was and remains a lot of dead wood within the company which has for a long time be undermined by time servers. The Royal Ballet must stop being a company of dancing civil servants and regain its position as a company of international repute rather than the sorry bastion of parochialism it has become. I believe Ross Stretton had an awareness of this.

Next season offers us a new Sleeping Beauty and a full-length work by Prelocaj, two events I’m looking forward to immensely, and a revival of Mayerling as the highlights. My only gripe is that there appear to be only ten programmes for the coming season.

Having read everything that has been reported on the Ross Stretton affair, my main question is did he jump or was he pushed? Did he resign or was he sacked. But after reading all those reports, one thing is clear: unless there is some missing information, he sure as hell has grounds to sue. This could be the prelude to an outstanding case of unfair dismissal if he was sacked or constructive dismissal if he was forced to resign. Either way, he could be demanding huge compensation.

In many ways life at the ROH has resembled a soap opera in recent years and this looks like just the most recent instalment. The other stars of the soap have all rushed into print after leaving the house. I think we may discover what really happened when Mr Stretton either publishes his book or takes himself off to an industrial tribunal. What a sorry situation.


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2002 8:54 am 
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In tonight's Evening Standard Norman Lebrecht considers that the current situation at the Royal Ballet should result in the resignation of both the Chairman and the board.


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2002 11:09 am 
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In <I>The Age</I>:

Quote:
<B>Stretton leaves Royal Ballet after a year</B>
September 26 2002

Controversial Australian Ross Stretton has quit London's prestigious Royal Ballet after little more than a year in the top job.

Stretton, the former director of the Australian Ballet, was appointed director in March 2000 and took up the post in August 2001 following the retirement of Sir Anthony Dowell.
<A HREF="http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/09/26/1032734263246.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>

Quote:
<B>Ross Stretton's royal downfall</B>
September 27 2002

<B>After only a year as artistic director of London's Royal Ballet, Ross Stretton's troubled reign is over. Valerie Lawson and Peter Fray report.</B>

Under the chandeliers of the Royal Opera House bar, former ballerina Dame Beryl Grey grasped the Australian critic's hand saying, "Thank you, thank you for sending him to us."

The "you" was Australia, the "him" was Australian Ross Stretton, confirmed as artistic director of the Royal Ballet in March 2000 and due to join the company the following year.
<A HREF="http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/09/27/1032734315215.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>

Quote:
<B>Stretton silent amid claims of liaisons</B>
September 27 2002
By Peter Fray in London and Valerie Lawson

So why did Ross Stretton leave the Royal Ballet?

Stretton was not speaking publicly yesterday about his abrupt departure but English newspapers were far from coy in publicising unsourced rumours circulating in London's catty arts scene about his alleged affairs with dancers.
<A HREF="http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/09/26/1032734278014.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2002 11:13 am 
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Posts: 962
In The Sydney Morning Herald:

Quote:
Stretton flees post, dogged by rumour
By Peter Fray in London and Valerie Lawson
September 27 2002

Allegations of affairs with dancers did not contribute to Australian Ross Stretton's sudden departure from the position of artistic director at London's Royal Ballet, unions and management said yesterday.

Stretton, 50, left the prestigious post on Wednesday, after just 13 months, amid concern over his management style and casting decisions.
More...

Quote:
From easygoing to tightly wired
By Michael Shmith
September 27 2002

I got to know Ross Stretton over the months before his appointment as artistic director of the Australian Ballet in January 1997. After that, a different, more secretive and insecure Stretton emerged. We'll call that Model II. Model I was the very model of a modern artistic director. His manifesto was "creativity, energy and passion".
More...

<small>[ 09-27-2002, 13:14: Message edited by: Malcolm Tay ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2002 2:49 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
My goodness, you Brits and Aussies have a nasty press.


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2002 6:21 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Many thanks to everyone around the world for all your thoughts and contributions.

You make a number of strong points Cassandra. On the Forsythe, Ek, Duarto point, I agree that if this was to be the only way forward then that would be a concern. UK choreogrphers had an exceptionally good run under Dowell, and Sretton was up front from the moment that he was appointed that the Royal had been relatively cut off from the international choreographic scene and he would redress that balance. My impression was that the dancers loved both the Ek and Duarto, although I have to say that I feel Rambert got the better deal with Ek's "She Was Black". And it's worth remembering that both the Forsythe pieces had already been performed by the Company.

Kaiser's vision of the RB as a gallery with three wings - 19th C classics, 20th C classics and current work still seems a valid concept to balance the heritage and development objectives.

Recently Tony Hall indicated that there was a need to make more resources available for the RB to enable a greater num,ber of new commissions and productions, so I think it is unfair to lay that problem at Stretton's door as some have done.

She is my Editor, so perhaps I am not unbiassed on this, but I am looking forward to Emma Manning's comments on this crisis as I think she is one of the fairest judges on the scene.

You're right I'm afraid LMC the UK press seem to be getting harsher by the month.


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 8:47 am 
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<B>Ross Stretton: the uncertain years</B>
September 27 2002
The Age

<B>A personal view of Ross Stretton at the Australian Ballet, by Michael Shmith.</B>

I got to know Ross Stretton as well as I guess I ever knew him during the 14 months before he took up his appointment as artistic director of the Australian Ballet in January 1997. After that, a different, more secretive and insecure Stretton emerged. We'll call that model II.

<A HREF="http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/09/27/1032734318606.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 8:52 am 
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<B>Stretton's strife</B>
By Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent
September 27, 2002
The Australian

ROSS Stretton's departure from the helm of Britain's most acclaimed ballet company was much like his tenure in the job – quick and unhappy. On Tuesday, one of his offsiders at the Royal Ballet told a persistent reporter there was no need to keep checking on Stretton's plans. "He has absolutely no intention of going anywhere," the aide insisted.

<A HREF="http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,5175317%255E16953,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Ross Stretton's resignation
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 6:08 pm 
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Does anyone know who apart from the Artistic Director has influence over the season programm like the lenghts of each programm's run?
If Stretton was hired as a moderniser I cannot help but wonder as to why they had him put tons of Swan Lakes, Nutcrackers and Sleeping Beauties onto the new season schedule? I realise that the Tschaikovsky classics are a sure way to make money but if you really feel a company is in need of modernising a better balance between old and new would have been the way to go.
Maybe one of Stretton's problems was that the board approved of his ideas before he was hired and than tied his hands behind his back?


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