Sunday, December 20, 2009


Step Up and MOVE!

(sent to the New York Times) I am writing in response to the article on August 5, 2007, in the Arts and Leisure’s section called “Often on Point But Rarely In Charge”, by Claudia La Rocco. Having worked in the ballet world for nearly four decades as a dancer, choreographer, artistic director, producer, as well as having viewed thousands of performances in dance and theater disciplines, I found the article lacking in many ways.

Female choreographers and directors have always played vital roles in ballet. In fact, many ballet companies were founded by women – American Ballet Theater, Britain’s Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, The Australian Ballet, The National Ballet of Cuba, Ballet de Monterrey, and ballet companies in Atlanta, Pennsylvania, Boston and Houston, as well as many others.

Perhaps an even more relevant topic would have been, what is missing in current artistic leadership and how that impacts the future of ballet as a performing art. I believe the essential ingredients of vision and relevancy, are not always there.

An artist of vision produces a product that is fresh, vital, alive, engaging, provocative, illuminating or disturbing, and most of all ‘memorable’. Two aspects of vision in a ballet organization are its identity (we are a company that produces dance), and its character (defined by the artist). An artistic director should lead a ballet company to discover and nourish its distinction, its flavor, its relevancy. In so many ways distinction is missing today. Dance is about movement, and without vision the field has become mired in sameness - stuck. I believe that this lack of vision is in direct proportion to the loss of audience.

What is absolutely essential is the necessity for education in all areas within the field. Audience development and board education, especially when it comes time to select a director, are key components. The all too frequent challenges of tenuous financial support, mismanagement, and board control only defeat the quality of the product.

My point then, is twofold. The first one is that there are qualified women of vision out there to be considered, if so recognized. This allows more opportunities for identifying leaders with vision. The second point is that if men are at the helm of the current artistic leadership in ballet, then they are also responsible for what is lacking.

What’s my advice? Women step up! And, those at the helm - take your head out of your butt, and move forward!

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