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Subject: "Ross Stretton has resigned." Archived thread - Read only
 
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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 02:00 PM (GMT)
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"Ross Stretton has resigned."
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 02:31 PM (GMT)

Ross Stretton resigned this lunchtime as director of the Royal Ballet. He had been in post for just over thirteen months. Earlier this summer there was public controversy over his management of the company. Press reports last month claimed that dancers in the company had been on the point of voting no confidence in his leadership.

The Royal Opera House issued a press statement a short time ago. It reads:

ROSS STRETTON TO LEAVE THE ROYAL BALLET

Ross Stretton, Director of The Royal Ballet today announced his resignation. He was appointed Director in March 2000. He took up his post in August 2001 following the retirement of Sir Anthony Dowell.

Ross Stretton commented

“The last eighteen months have been enormously challenging and rewarding both professionally and personally. Even though I have enormous respect for the great heritage of this Company, my interest lies primarily in developing the future of ballet, and that is what I want to spend my time doing. I have discussed this matter with the Royal Opera House Board, and I feel that I am choosing the most appropriate course of action. I am delighted that I have had the opportunity to experience this remarkable company first hand, and work with a team of dedicated and world-class dancers and artists. I feel I am leaving The Royal Ballet in the same good health that it was in when I arrived here, and wish the dancers and staff all best wishes for a successful future, in particular over the coming Season”.

Sir Colin Southgate said:

“It is with deep regret that I have accepted the resignation of Ross Stretton with immediate effect. I would like to thank him for his work over the last twelve months and in the period building up to his arrival here. The Royal Ballet has been introduced to some new and interesting works under Ross’s stewardship. In the last Season he has brought us John Cranko’s Onegin and introduced audiences to further work by some of the finest living choreographers, including Mats Ek, and Nacho Duato. As we enter the 2002/3 Season we look forward to seeing further examples of such work, as well as the strong line-up of heritage ballets in particular the work of Sir Kenneth MacMillan and Sir Frederick Ashton. Ross has also nurtured remarkable talents within the Company including new Principals.

Until a new Director is appointed, Monica Mason, Assistant Director, has generously agreed to lead the Company, with Anthony Russell-Roberts continuing in his role as Administrative Director.



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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Ross Stretton's resignation Brendan McCarthymoderator 25-09-02 1
     RE: Press reaction Brendan McCarthymoderator 25-09-02 2
         RE: Press reaction Brendan McCarthymoderator 25-09-02 4
             RE: Press reaction Claire S 25-09-02 5
         RE: Press reaction: Stretton was sacked - The Australian Brendan McCarthymoderator 25-09-02 12
     RE: Ross Stretton's resignation Claire S 25-09-02 3
         RE: Ross Stretton's resignation Tim Powell 25-09-02 6
     RE: Ross Stretton's resignation EmmaL 25-09-02 7
         RE: Ross Stretton's resignation Brendan McCarthymoderator 25-09-02 8
             RE: Ross Stretton's resignation MICHAELT 25-09-02 9
                 RE: Ross Stretton's resignation Robert 25-09-02 10
                 RE: Ross Stretton's resignation Ann Welsh 25-09-02 11
                     RE: Ross Stretton had lost ROH's management confidence -BBC Brendan McCarthymoderator 25-09-02 14
                     RE: Ross Stretton's resignation alison 26-09-02 31
  RE: Ross Stretton has resigned. Andrew 25-09-02 13
     RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row. Brendan McCarthymoderator 25-09-02 15
         RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row. Bruceadmin 25-09-02 16
         RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row - Transcript Brendan McCarthymoderator 25-09-02 17
         RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row. Alexandra 25-09-02 18
             RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row. Claire S 25-09-02 19
                 RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row. vdv 25-09-02 20
                     RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row. Alexandra 25-09-02 21
                         RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row. vdv 26-09-02 24
  RE: Ross Stretton has resigned. dances 25-09-02 22
     RE: Ross Stretton has resigned. Claire S 25-09-02 23
         RE: Ross Stretton has resigned. vdv 26-09-02 25
             RE: Ross Stretton has resigned. Caz_ 26-09-02 26
             RE: Ross Stretton has resigned. Alexandra 26-09-02 27
                 RE: Ross Stretton has resigned. AEHandley 26-09-02 32
     RE: Ross Stretton has resigned. Bruceadmin 26-09-02 28
  New thread started Bruceadmin 26-09-02 30

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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 02:15 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 09:24 PM (GMT)

Ross Stretton's resignation as director of the Royal Ballet, with immediate effect, comes as little surprise. Since he joined last year from the Australian Ballet, he had found it difficult to empathise with his new company's most cherished traditions and in his time at the Opera House had remained very much an outsider.

He was not helped by the deep hostility of the London dance critics and that of many sections of the dance audience. His declared mission was to modernise the company and he made it very clear that he was not prepared to be a 'museum caretaker'. His critics perceived him to lack empathy with the Royal Ballet's heritage and viewed Sarah Wildor's departure from the company within days of the new director's arrival as a bleak omen. As the months went on, they were increasingly unpersuaded by the new repertory that Stretton introduced from such choreographers as Mats Ek, Stephen Baynes and Nacho Duato. There was criticism of the reduced number of Ashton ballets in current repertory and of Stretton's declared view that Kenneth MacMillan's one-act works were not really suitable for the Royal Opera House's main stage.

There were also reports that Stretton had a strained relationship with a number of dancers. One principal complained openly of the stresses that his choice of repertory was placing on the company. There were suggestions that the numbers of injuries were higher than usual. Stretton's difficulties deepened when the Independent reported last month that members of the company had been on the verge of a no-confidence vote in his leadership, following an unusually large number of late cast changes during the summer.

The immediate circumstances of Stretton's departure are, as yet, unclear. The Royal Opera House board's statement implies that he was asked to leave. Whatever the truth of this, the Royal Ballet faces considerable uncertainty in the short term. Monica Mason will be a caretaker director and it is unlikely that the post, when advertised, will attract many candidates not previously associated with the company. They will not wish to risk Stretton's fate themselves.

Any shortlist at this stage must include Deborah Bull and Bruce Sansom. David Bintley, BRB's director, may also be leaned on to throw his hat in the ring. However he is happy in Birmingham and has little taste for the labyrinthine politics of the Royal Opera House. Matz Skoog will also be perceived to be doing a competent job at English National Ballet and may himself be a candidate.

Ross MacGibbon, a former dancer with the company, who is now the BBC's executive producer for dance, was on the final shortlist last time. Until recently he was a member of the Opera House board and is now a member of the board of Rambert. He has very strong artistic and organisational skills and may well consider reapplying.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 02:25 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Press reaction"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 05:52 PM (GMT)

The BBC is now reporting the story at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/2281136.stm

The Australian's story is at:
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,5170417%255E2702,00.html


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 02:41 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Press reaction"
In response to message #2
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 03:21 PM (GMT)

Previous Ross Stretton stories

The Independent, 8th September 2002 Dancers out of step with Royal Ballet chief.

The Independent, 9th August "Mutiny at the Ballet: Dancers ready to stage a revolt over director's casting decisions"

Guardian 10th. August Ballet row over management style

The Telegraph, 28th March 2002, Winners and losers

The Telegraph, 22nd March 2002. 'Stars feel the Strain'

Guardian 27th November 2001 'No more chocolate box-sized ballerinas'

Guardian, September 8th 2001 'What's the point of ballet'

<www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_00/apr00/interview_ross_stretton.htm|Balletco's first Stretton interview>

Telegraph, March 29th 2002 Dancing in a minefield. Sarah Wildor and Adam Cooper talk to Ismene Brown


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Claire S

25-09-02, 02:49 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Press reaction"
In response to message #4
 
   . "If I ever do a new Sleeping Beauty," he slumps theatrically forward, "my head will be on the block. I'm really going to have to do it properly."

This was what Stretton told Judith Mackrell last November. "IF" Surely he knew then that he would be doing a new Beauty in 2003? I'm no expert but I would have thought the first new production in a directorship was one of the most crucial things, the cornerstone of the job, the defining statement of the directorship - not something hastily (by ballet standards) put together against one's better judgement?

Thnak you for posting all this, Brendan. It will be fascinating to follow the media reaction - I doubt it will be very positive for the ROH.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 05:51 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Press reaction: Stretton was sacked - The Australian"
In response to message #2
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 06:40 PM (GMT)

This is how The Australian reported the story

Ross Stretton has been dramatically sacked as artistic director of the Royal Ballet in London, just one year into a three-year contract with the prestigious company after months of poisonous relations with his dancers. The Australian Ballet export emptied his desk and immediately left the building on Tuesday after a board meeting of the illustrious ballet company.

While the board announced the 50-year-old Australian had resigned, insiders told The Australian: ``He was sacked and left the building quickly.''

His departure comes just weeks after his bosses at the Royal Ballet accepted dancers' criticism of the way Stretton had been running the company. Management formally agreed that Stretton needed to change the way he managed his dancers, who claim he has been too unpredictable in his casting decisions.

The Australian


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Claire S

25-09-02, 02:39 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 03:12 PM (GMT)

Good grief! Just before the start of the new season!

I can't say I'm too sorry - except that it inevitably leaves the comapny is disarray. When Ross Stretton was appointed my major concern was for the Royal Ballet's heritage. There is simply no reason to ignore a wealth of treasures like the Royal Ballet has for the likes of Duarto and Ek. New can be wonderful (Wheeldon) just as can the old (Ashton, Macmillan) and surely art should be judged on merit not on age or current fashionability.

My second concern was hearing from Australia how unhappy some of the dancers had been under his direction. That didn't augur well from the start, and we've seen several dancers barely cast in anything and others on stage in everything. Re the board's statement about "nurturing new principals" - well, both Nunez and Putrov were actually plucked from the ranks during Dowell's time . . .

I think the programming left a lot to be desired - I found Stretton's mixed bills less inviting than Dowell's (and he had more than his fair share of duffers!) and while the acquisition of Onegin was a massive plus, rolling out The Nutcracker AGAIN, bringing in that dodgy Don Quixote and tossing in a handful of R&Js and Manons to keep Bussell and Guillem busy is hardly the stuff of genius.

One of the biggest shocks was the plan for the new Sleeping Beauty - with the current production less than 10 years old, as a mere member of the audience it didn't seem we were in urgent need of an expensive new one. Surely other ballets could have taken priority and showed a clearer, more focussed idea of what the new directorship would bring? Why not a new Don Quixote instead of a second-hand ragbag of one? Or a new Corsaire? At least they would have been ADDITIONS to the repertory.

Also the RB no-show for the Dame Beryl Grey gala and the appalling programme served up for the Jubilee Gala were major misjudgements that implied not only a lack of respect for the Royal's artistic heritage but its cultural one as well.

My hope is that whoever is appointed can restore some faith in the Royal Ballet as the purveyor of the "English" style, and that morale can be raised once more - especially among the dancers of all ranks who have felt underused and unappreciated. It's a huge job and has been made much more difficult by the fact that the Board obviously made the wrong appointment last time.

It may again have come too early for Sansom or Bull (join ADs???) and even for Skoog who seems to be doing things right at ENB (according to ballet.co-ers, anyway). Would Bintley be persuadable NOW, or are we looking overseas again?


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Tim Powell

25-09-02, 03:00 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #3
 
   I cannot say that I am sorry that he has gone but feel a degree of sympathy in that he was given a job for which he was manifestly unsuited and ill equiped. These facts were apparent to many before he started and he went on to prove the doubters right in spades.
It is now critical to appoint the right replacement and there is the grave danger that a safe middle of the road appointment will be made which would not be good news. We really want more informed input to those making the selection as it was they who made an obviously wrong decision last time.
We are lucky to have Monica Mason on hand to hold the fort, what a superb strenggth she has been through the years and I certainly wish her good luck in the times ahead.


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EmmaL

25-09-02, 04:54 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #1
 
   >LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02
>AT 03:12 PM (GMT)

>
>When he joined
>last year from the Australian
>Ballet, he was the first
>director not to have come
>from the traditions of the
>company itself.
>
>Just a small point, I don't recall that Norman Morrice came through the RB.
Emms


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 05:12 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #7
 
   True -I'll correct that!


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MICHAELT

25-09-02, 05:33 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #8
 
   The most important thing now is to ensure that the appointment panel for the vacant post is more enlightened than the one which appointed Stretton (Michael Kaiser, Beryl Grey, John Eatwell). Any nominations?


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Robert

25-09-02, 05:44 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #9
 
   I am just about to go to Paris, wonderful news but---- who to replace him?


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Ann Welsh

25-09-02, 05:48 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #9
 
   Yes, a joint directorship of Bruce Sansom and Deborah Bull. They have an excellent history of toughing it out with the Board in other troubled times and both are inheritors of the Royal Ballet tradition. Bruce has already served his apprenticeship in administration and Deborah would be a great and articulate spokesman. Added to which they are both relatively young and energetic. And it would be lovely if they were to encourage back some recent defectors, even if only as guests.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 07:15 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Ross Stretton had lost ROH's management confidence -BBC"
In response to message #11
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 09:55 PM (GMT)

It is worth keeping an eye on the BBC's website which has updated through the day. Its arts correspondent, my former colleague Nick Higham, has been briefed by the Royal Opera House. He reports that Ross Stretton had lost the confidence of the management at the Royal Opera House as well that of the dancers. His source told him that the reasons for Ross Stretton's departure included his style of management and his failure to build a satisfactory relationship with members of the company.

BBC News

The BBC website now carries a backgrounder on Stretton's career.


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alison

26-09-02, 01:15 PM (GMT)
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31. "RE: Ross Stretton's resignation"
In response to message #11
 
   There's one very major problem with that (apart from a few others that I can foresee): the job description last time around insisted on experience in running a company of similar standing. Bull certainly hasn't got that, and although I must reread the interview with Sansom in Dance Now I don't remember thinking that what he'd done in the US would qualify him.


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Andrew

25-09-02, 07:12 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Ross Stretton has resigned."
In response to message #0
 
   Am I alone in finding this rather sad? If he was so unsuitable why on earth was he given the job in the first place? I remember reading in the press when his appointment was released that part of his remit was to modernmise the Royal Ballet, which would seem to imply that some people somewhere percepived that it needed modernising. If this is the case why have they not supported him? Is it so difficult to modernise the Royal Ballet? Does it even need modernising? I have not enjoyed everything that he has done over the last 13 months (I did like the Duarto piece however) but I also remember being distinctly underwhelmed by some of Mr. Dowell's programming and let us not forget that Mr. Dowell served up the rather tepid Mr. Worldly Wise. Onegin seems to show better taste!

Not that I am being unnecessarily prurient but what exactly happened back-stage that upset his dancers so much? The only thing ever mentioned was casting. Was this the sole area he failed to succeed in? If he was such a bad manager why did one of his team not discuss this with him? No man is an island and I cannot help but feel that Mr. Stretton is being scapegoated for a huge collective failure.

Will the same team that appointed him be called on to find a new director?


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 07:18 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row."
In response to message #13
 
   LAST EDITED ON 26-09-02 AT 03:32 PM (GMT)

Sir Colin Southgate, the ROH's chairman, told Front Row that the Royal Ballet was essentially a classical company and that Ross Stretton had thought he could move the company on faster than was in fact the case. He denied he had been sacked. "As far as I am concerned, he has resigned and gone with grace", Sir Colin told the programme.

He told the programme that a different method of scheduling dancers was being put in place. The ballet world did not automatically produce good managers. The appointment board had checked Stretton's credentials carefully, but it had not worked out.

Ismene Brown told the programme that Stretton's resignation had been expected both because of the dancers' dissatisfaction and because of his artistic record. He had known nothing of the company and the board had misguidedly thought this to be valuable at the time. He had been appointed as a moderniser, but had shrunk from modernisation. There had been fewer programmes, despite a public subsidy of £10 million. There was a large adventurous repertory that Stretton had not availed of. It showed the board had been inadequate in appointing the right person. "Ross Stretton's failure is the board's failure", Brown told Front Row. The new Artistic Director should, she said, understand what was unique about the company.


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Bruceadmin

25-09-02, 07:53 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row."
In response to message #15
 
   LAST EDITED ON 26-09-02 AT 06:23 AM (GMT)

The BBC site now has the Front Row recording up in Real Audio format. It starts with a large dose of The Archers music but you do get to Front Row eventually!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/ram/frontrow.ram

Original post...

Some MP3's of the relevent bit

Very Low Quality (460Kb)

Higher Quality (1,37Mb)

If you think these are large you need to be aware the interview as a wav file is over 40mb!


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

25-09-02, 08:01 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row - Transcript"
In response to message #15
 
   LAST EDITED ON 26-09-02 AT 06:56 PM (GMT)

John Wilson: We start with the news that the revolving door at the Royal Opera House, having been still for a couple of years, has started spinning again. Ross Stretton, the Australian choreographer (sic), brought into lead and modernise the Royal Ballet has quit just weeks after reports that his directorial style was upsetting dancers. In a written statement, Stretton says he 'wants to develop the future of ballet', but doesn't explain why he couldn't do that in Covent Garden. On this programme recently we reported that the contentious casting decisions by Stretton had led to calls from dancers for a vote of no confidence in their artistic director. A short while ago, I asked the Royal Opera House Chairman, Sir Colin Southgate, for his version of events.

Sir Colin Southgate: There's a lot of difference between a classical company and a non-classical company. I mean a lot of the ballet that we put on, which we are renowned for, as other ballet companies in the world are renowned for, are the classical productions which have been developed over the last thirty, forty, fifty years.

But he knew what sort of company you were, when he joined?

I suppose he did, but the answer to that is that, you know, he came here obviously with that knowledge but, you know, he thought he could move the thing beyond that at a faster pace, than he could. Therefore that's not really satisfactory as far as he's concerned...

Just as he knew what sort of ballet company you were, you knew what sort of ballet choreographer (sic) he was?

Absolutely true. We knew his background very well. We obviously investigated his background very well.

So has he resigned, or has he been sacked?

He's resigned.

He hasn't been sacked? My understanding is that this isn't just about artistic issues?

Really? The ballet world is full of gossip.

It's not just gossip.

As far as I am concerned, he has resigned and he has gone with good grace and from both sides.

My understanding is that he had a volatile relationship, not only with the dancers, but with senior managers, sponsors and other people connected with the ballet.

No. I don't think he had ---- if you think artistic people don't have volatile relationships, you had better check around a bit more. Everybody has some fairly hot relationships. That's what the artistic world is all about. It was no worse or better than anyone else.

But it is true to say, isn't it, that several weeks ago the ballet dancers themselves were pressing for a vote of no confidence in him, and their union advised them against it. That is true isn't it?

Yea - the ballet world always are pressing for different things. At the end of the season, they had been on a six week tour, they had been absolutely exhausted, they'd worked very hard and they were interested in a different method of scheduling, which, in fact, we have implemented and it has got nothing whatsoever to do with Ross Stretton's departure.

Was it a mistake to employ him?

Was it a mistake? The people we interviewed in detail, I mean, he was definitely, in the opinion of the interview panel, a man with a lot of the right qualities. The ballet world does not actually, you know, produce managers automatically. The artistic world doesn't do that. You have to be therefore conscious that some of these things don't work out as well as you would like them to work out.

You say it's with deep regret that you accept his resignation, but it must also be with deep regret that you employed him in the first place ?

(Laughter) Well, I'm sure you will read into it what you would like, but as far as I'm concerned, the employment of Ross Stretton was handled carefully. We did everything we needed to do to check it out. And, you know, it's just one of those things that hasn't worked out.

Just to get to the core of this issue? What is the main reason he has gone?

I've just given you that. He has resigned, because he doesn't actually enjoy the mixture of the classical work with his objectives for taking ballet forward.

Right, so it's an artistic reason primarily?

Artistic reasons - from his point of view.

Sir Colin Southgate, Chairman of the Royal Opera House. I'm joined now by Ismene Brown, the dance critic for the Telegraph. This is a sudden departure, but not entirely unexpected is it?

Ismene Brown: Not unexpected at all. This is an expected resignation and I think that it's been expected for the last couple of months. Really, the rumours of increasing dissatisfaction among the dancers, the heavy criticism, really, of Ross Stretton's artistic approach, have really combined to make it impossible for him to stay on. He was really the wrong man for the job and I think Sir Colin Southgate and the board would be right to sound very sheepish. Because, when he was appointed, he was appointed precisely because he knew almost nothing about the company and they thought this would be valuable - to have a fresh eye from the outside world.

What do you make of Sir Colin's point there that, in a way, his approach was wrong: that the Royal Ballet was almost too classical for him to handle?

I don't buy that, I'm afraid. The thing is that Stretton was actually appointed on the grounds of being a moderniser. What has really gone wrong is that he hasn't proved a moderniser. He has actually shrunk the opportunities for new work in the company, and vastly increased the runs of classics. He has also further reduced the runs of programmes, the Royal Ballet has been doing. Even under his predecessor, Sir Anthony Dowell, who was thought of as conservative, the number of programmes was fourteen to fifteen a year. This year there are just ten; as they get nearly £10 million a year in subsidy, that represents a million pounds spent for every first night that you see. Now I think that a lot of people would feel that wasn't particularly good value for money. Another problem, I think, is that Stretton himself didn't realise that he could have been a great deal more ambitious than he was. It isn't that the Royal Ballet is a stagnant classical company with no repertory. The point is that there is a large repertory that it could draw from, that it hasn't done, and it is very adventurous repertory that Anthony Dowell had been neglecting. There is every good reason for bringing in ballets from outside.

There has been recent calm at the Opera House, does this move signal new chaos?

I think it does in that it has shown, above all, that the board proved itself quite inadequate at appointing the right person for the job. One has got to hope that they look at themselves very very carefully, because Ross Stretton's failure is their failure. It comes down to their doorstep. They have got to choose the next man right. And it is absolutely essential in a ballet company - the flame of a ballet company is difficult to maintain; it is a delicate and fragical thing and the next person has to be chosen because he or she has to understand what matters inside the company, what makes it unique in the world, not try to turn it into a sort of internationalised all-purpose company the way Stretton did.

Ismene Brown, thank you very much



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Alexandra

25-09-02, 08:16 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row."
In response to message #15
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 08:24 PM (GMT)

I'm struck by this comment: "the Royal Ballet was essentially a classical company and that Ross Stretton had thought he could move the company on faster than was in fact the case."

"move on" Move on to what? To be a tap dance company? (Not that there's anything wrong with tap dance. It's the principle of the thing.) Is it a general perception there that ballet is something that must be scrapped? Are they planning on getting rid of opera on the opera side of the house, too? Just curious.

I hope someone who's making the decisions now does some reading in the works of Ninette de Valois. Her original perscription for the company's repertory is so flexible it could work today: the classics; modern classics (i.e., works of enduring value and stature created for the company); national works (to give the company a distinctive character, using native composers where possible); and novelties (i.e., trendy works, or works that may not be classics -- and need not be classics, in the sense of both classical and of enduring value -- but are necessary to stimulate both dancers and audience.

It seems that the repertory ideas have become bifurcated: a company can ONLY do Swan Lakes over and over and over, OR they must do new works, by anybody, it doesn't matter, as long as they were made last week and look new.

Apologies -- this is from an American who has no standing in the Royal Ballet's future, of course, but was once quite fond of the company


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Claire S

25-09-02, 08:29 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row."
In response to message #18
 
   Alexandra - your comments have extra resonance as someone whith possibly a more objective view than those of us here. It seems so simple when you state it so why can't The Powers That Be grasp it - that Swan Lake and national works are as vital as new work, but it must be GOOD new work, just as the classics and the national works must be good.
Thank you for posting your North American perspective.


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vdv

25-09-02, 09:03 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row."
In response to message #19
 
   "it must be GOOD new work,"

What on earth is meant to be "GOOD new work"? I thought Duato's ballets were absolutely wonderful, a view not shared by many others. Just to talk about GOOD new work is so naive...


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Alexandra

25-09-02, 09:51 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row."
In response to message #20
 
   Since we talk easily about "good work" in art, music, drama and literature, I don't see why dance must be exempt. I'd also argue, as I often do, that there's a different between personal preference and aesthetic judgment -- between what's "good" and what I "like."

But one point about new works, especially contemporary dance, that needs to be taken into consideration is that they often don't use the full company -- only a dozen dancers, often fewer. To speak simply in economic terms, this is not a good use of the company's resources. All those dancers, all that training, and only a few get used. Having 8 casts of an eight-dancer work may get everybody on stage once or twice, but it doesn't develop dancers.

The craft of the balletmaster seems to be as lost these days as that of classical choreographer, perhaps because the trend has been to put in place as directors dancers who still think as they did during their career, programming works they like, works that suited them as dancers, but without either training in how to run a company, how to be a balletmaster, or a broad view of the arts in general.



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vdv

26-09-02, 00:14 AM (GMT)
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24. "RE: BBC Radio 4 Front Row."
In response to message #21
 
   >Since we talk easily about "good
>work" in art, music, drama
>and literature, I don't see
>why dance must be exempt.
> I'd also argue, as
>I often do, that there's
>a different between personal preference
>and aesthetic judgment -- between
>what's "good" and what I
>"like."


1.- I never said that my comment was not equally applicable to other forms of art.
2.- I do not think that it can be established a rigorous and consistent difference between “personal preferences” and “aesthetic judgment”. History and the way audiences (and critics) review a work now and the very same work 15 years ago, show how much the “taste” can change. Should it be a question of aesthetic principles, I don’t think so.
Difficult enough it is to establish rigorous and “objective” aesthetic principles within well-known, well-established traditions, I don’t think we should claim we can do so with works that by their nature are suppose (to some extent at least!!) to challenge our perceptions (so as to have a chance to evolve!!).
3.- I wouldn’t think that contemporary works involving few dancers are a waste of resources. If every work had to be learnt by the whole company until the nth cast, yes. Since this is not the case (three, may be four casts are more than enough) it allows to mount more works and to get some rest.


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dances

25-09-02, 10:12 PM (GMT)
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22. "RE: Ross Stretton has resigned."
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 26-09-02 AT 00:12 AM (GMT)

LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 10:13 PM (GMT)

The later editions of the Evening Standard, not yet on line as far as I can see, have a story alleging afairs with female dancers.


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Claire S

25-09-02, 10:55 PM (GMT)
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23. "RE: Ross Stretton has resigned."
In response to message #22
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-09-02 AT 10:55 PM (GMT)

I am sorry that vdv thinks I am "naive". Visitors to this board usually refrain from criticising fellow posters.

The point I was making was that being "new" is not itself enough. Under Anthony Dowell there seemed to be a feeling that as long as new works were performed, the quality of those works wasn't quite so important. A ballet should earn its place in the repertoire by its quality, whatever its age - reading the reviews of Christopher Wheeldon's new piece performed in London last night it seems that it is less important what age it is, but whether it fulfils the expectations in it.

As to "enjoying" ballets . . . I am one of the people (few and far between, I suspect) who loved "Remanso" when it was performed in the first programme at the newly reopened House. I wouldn't necessarily call it good art - I enjoyed it, I was prepared to spend my hard-earned money on it, but that does not mean I want 16 performances of it in a season that can only squeeze in four of any Ashton ballet.


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vdv

26-09-02, 00:15 AM (GMT)
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25. "RE: Ross Stretton has resigned."
In response to message #23
 
   My apologies if the word “naive” was too tough or inappropriate, I didn’t mean it.
I do agree that novelty –by itself– does not add any value to a work. Nevertheless, I stand by what I wrote, i.e. I feel extremely uncomfortable with expression like “good art” / “good new work”. I would be very curious to know the criteria for judging something as “good art” or not, and to see how “objective” it is. Is it “the” criteria or “your” criteria?


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Caz_

26-09-02, 01:18 AM (GMT)
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26. "RE: Ross Stretton has resigned."
In response to message #25
 
   Hey! Paws off and no poaching of the Bintley please. He's fine where he is.


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Alexandra

26-09-02, 01:34 AM (GMT)
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27. "RE: Ross Stretton has resigned."
In response to message #25
 
   Sorry, but I don't believe in relativism in the arts -- the view that everything is the same, there's no good or bad, how dare you say this is good or bad, etc. There's a very long line of aesthetic texts starting with the Poetics and on through dozens of philosophers to the present day that address this question and someone truly interested can easily find them. I don't mean to suggest that everybody has to be interested in that, of course, but I don't understand dismissing it, either.

In the transcript that Brendan posted, I found Ismene Brown's remarks about the Royal Ballet's repertory especially interesting. "It isn't as if the Royal Ballet is a stagnant classical company with no repertory. The point is that there is a large repertory that it could draw from, that it hasn't done, and it is very adventurous repertory that Anthony Dowell had been neglecting. There is every good reason for bringing in ballets from outside."

One wonders why the board didn't consider that.


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AEHandley

26-09-02, 02:41 PM (GMT)
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32. "RE: Ross Stretton has resigned."
In response to message #27
 
  
>In the transcript that Brendan posted,
>I found Ismene Brown's remarks
>about the Royal Ballet's repertory
>especially interesting. "It isn't
>as if the Royal Ballet
>is a stagnant classical company
>with no repertory. The point
>is that there is a
>large repertory that it could
>draw from, that it hasn't
>done, and it is very
>adventurous repertory that Anthony Dowell
>had been neglecting. There is
>every good reason for bringing
>in ballets from outside."
>
>One wonders why the board didn't
>consider that.
ummm.... I didn't hear the interview and the transcript made no sense to me! I wasn't sure if she'd actually said what she meant to, because it seemed to be contradictory. Can you tell me what you think she meant?



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Bruceadmin

26-09-02, 04:48 AM (GMT)
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28. "RE: Ross Stretton has resigned."
In response to message #22
 
   >The later editions of the Evening
>Standard, not yet on line
>as far as I can
>see, have a story alleging
>afairs with female dancers.

There were rumours and we got what we thought was a very late edition and could find no story - has anybody got an ES with this story in? The web site is normally in sync with the paper also. Certainly many papers have been rumoured to be digging around the Stretton, dancers, Equity story over the last month or two.


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Bruceadmin

26-09-02, 05:05 AM (GMT)
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30. "New thread started"
In response to message #0
 
  
The thread is now getting long and we've opened up a new one to continue discussions - thoughts, responses and more news there please. thank you

Link to new thread


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