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Subject: "What ENB needs in a new Artistic Director" Archived thread - Read only
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23-10-00, 01:11 PM (GMT)
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"What ENB needs in a new Artistic Director"
   Well, the advertisement for the post of AD at English National Ballet appeared in the paper this week (interviewing in December), and it reminded me that I'd meant to ask for suggestions as to what ENB should be looking for in their new AD. I haven't got time to post mine now, but has anyone else any ideas?

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: What ENB needs in a new Artistic Director Richard J 23-10-00 1
  RE: What ENB needs in a new Artistic Director alison 02-11-00 2

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Richard J

23-10-00, 03:05 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: What ENB needs in a new Artistic Director"
In response to message #0
   There are quite a few ideas floating around in the thread attached to the poll, with some names mentioned as possibles. As I wrote in that posting, an important factor I think is that ENB should not be too heavily influenced by the RB, so that might count out some people. The RB has its particular place (guardians of the Ashton tradition - we hope - etc.), and there is always BRB with its own distinctive relationship to the RB, coming from the same tradition. ENB needs to be aware of the possibility of something different, and that doesn't mean sugary extravaganzas. I would prefer someone with, say, NYCB experience, but obviously able to deal with a broad repertoire. I guess that someone like Wendy Whelan will be a good candidate for this kind of work in time. If you look at the NYCB web-site you'll see how many ex-NYCB dancers are now Artistic Directors, or in similarly important posts. There are some good names there.

So, who's it to be? A pity Jacques d'Amboise is 66! He's done everything, and is now Director of the National Dance Institute in NY. But then, Bobby Robson is still in football management at a similar age. Whose careers would you rather direct, dancers or footballers?!

Whoever it is to take over at ENB, male or female, young or old, the board should beware of playing it safe; we need a bit of audience-challenging adventure, or else we'll all die of a surfeit of kitsch.

The programming at ENB is dire; in the regions we are dished up with a week of Swan Lake this Autumn and a week of Giselle next Spring. At least they did manage to venture as far as Stravinsky last year, though my sixth form students complained bitterly (and with reason) about the standard of the orchestral playing. ENB needs a big shake up or else the best dancers will surely continue to leave (or die of boredom, like the rest of us). There is so much that could be done, and so much 20th century rep. waiting to be performed, though the orchestral problem will have to be sorted out if ENB is to present a varied rep. successfully. Endless repetition of a few well known (mainly 19th century) works is surely a turn off for the best players, and the orchestra shouldn't be needing to hire so many deps.

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02-11-00, 07:01 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: What ENB needs in a new Artistic Director"
In response to message #0
   (I always get my best thoughts on this at times when I'm nowhere near a computer, so I'll struggle to remember some of them):

Someone who is able to challenge the dancers at all levels within the company, both physically *and* mentally. Reading Markova's biography recently, I was reminded of how much Diaghilev used to contribute to expanding dancers' horizons beyond ballet - art, opera, music, etc. etc., and while obviously no AD is really going to be able to do quite the same I imagine that ENB dancers, like virtually every ballet company in the country, could benefit from more intellectual stimulus.

Someone who will programme works which will encourage talent within the ranks. At the moment there seems to be a big gulf between principal rank and the lower levels, and the current repertoire doesn't generally give promising dancers enough of a "leg-up". If you think of the hierarchy within the ballet repertoire as a ladder leading upwards to principal level, ENB's current rep seems to have several rungs missing.

Someone who, while committed to encouraging new audiences, also remembers to keep the more dedicated balletgoers happy as well. There have been a number of occasions in the last few years when, for example, London (which of course has a lot of very serious balletgoers) has had nothing from ENB except a couple of "blockbusters" a year, while the more interesting shorter works have been touring the regions and not going anywhere near London, where there must surely be a market for them.

Of course, given the current financial state of the company, someone with loads of money to throw around would obviously be welcome as well!

(These all sounded much better and much more fluent at about midnight last night!)

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