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Jan McNulty

Carlos Acosta named as new Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet

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From the BRB website:

Birmingham Royal Ballet launches international search for new Director

20 JULY 2018

The board of Birmingham Royal Ballet has today launched an international search for a new Director to replace current Director David Bintley CBE, who is stepping down at the end of July 2019. 

Sir David Normington, Chair of Birmingham Royal Ballet, says: 

 

‘This is an important moment in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s development. We are looking for someone who will build on David Bintley’s wonderful legacy, but also bring us new ideas and fresh artistic direction. We are very ambitious for the future and are, therefore, deliberately conducting the widest possible international search and drawing on the advice of some of the industry’s leading figures. Only the best will do for this great company.’

 

The new Director will provide artistic leadership for the Company and create an ambitious artistic vision, drawing on the best of classical and contemporary works to inspire audiences and to connect with the diverse communities in Birmingham, London and the other cities in the UK and around the world in which BRB performs. Whilst the Board will make the final decision, it will be advised by an expert panel with a breadth of leadership experience working with major ballet and dance companies. The group will be chaired by Sir David Normington throughout the process. The panel comprises, in alphabetical order:

 

Cate Canniffe Director of Dance and London, Arts Council England 

Rebecca Marshall Executive Director, Studio Wayne McGregor

Kevin O’Hare Director, The Royal Ballet and former BRB Principal dancer and Company Manager 

Alistair Spalding Artistic Director & Chief Executive, Sadler’s Wells

Ian Squires BRB Board Member and Chair of the Board at Curve, Leicester

Sharon Watson Artistic Director, Phoenix Dance Theatre

Monica Zamora Former BRB Principal dancer and Governor of the Royal Ballet Companies. 

 

International recruitment consultants Saxton Bampfylde have been appointed to assist with the search, which will begin immediately with a closing date of 24 September.

 

The BRB board will be advised at each stage by the expert panel, who will also conduct the interviews of the shortlisted candidates and recommend a candidate or candidates for final interview by the board. The aim is to announce the new appointment by the end of the year.

 

https://www.brb.org.uk/post/birmingham-royal-ballet-launches-international-search-for-new-director

 

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Following the excellent example of Northern Ballet in advertising for Board Members, here is another instance of openness and good practice. Maybe it’s surprising that they haven’t advertised sooner but the time frame is very clear.

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Alistair Spalding is going to be busy. As well as the search committee above, he is also on the search committee for Tannztheater Wupperthal Pina Bausch who are looking for a new director, The time frame for the two is identical ("by the end of the year").

 

I just hope he doesn't get confused....

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Much of the information is more glossy PR than traditional recruitment information. And it's not all accurate, the claim that BRB started in the 1930s refers to the Royal Ballet, not BRB, which started in its earliest forms in 1946/47. It is clear that the aim is for a change of direction. Despite the occasional reference to its heritage works the emphasis seems to be more on contemporary relevance and engagement with diversity and young audiences. Although there is emphasis on recruiting internationally, one interesting  desirable skill is familiarity with the English style. Another interesting point is that the successful candidate does not have to be a choreographer. For those of us in the North, the emphasis, in places, on London is a bit dispiriting (although understandable!). The recruitment process will cost a fortune, both in paying for the time of the large advisory panel and the recruitment agency.

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Given the pool of serious potential candidates must be fairly small, I'm wondering why they need to spend a significant amount of money on a recruitment consultant.

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I understand the points you are making, SheilaC,  but I think it is really important to cast the recruitment net internationally wide and to kick the process off in this above-board way.

 

The pool is getting wider and the consultant can approach possible candidates who might not otherwise put themselves forward.

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It sounds an exemplary process for a high profile & influential post in an organisation which is part publicly funded. 

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From the recruitment consultants' website:

 

"We bring strength in breadth across a range of key sectors, and strength in depth in all the leadership functions. The real magic is in the mix: by combining that sector and functional expertise we’ll find the most experienced, exciting, and sometimes unexpected candidates for your role."

 

I shall be interested to see the results, then.  After all, I guess you can't exactly specialise in headhunting directors of ballet companies!

 

Just in case anyone was thinking of applying :)

https://www.saxbam.com/appointment/birmingham-royal-ballet/

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This may be a stupid question but have there ever been/ or are there currently any artistic directors who haven’t been dancers? Or who haven’t come from a ballet background at all? 

 

This may sound like I’m interested in applying but honestly just interested to know!

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7 minutes ago, ToThePointe said:

This may be a stupid question but have there ever been/ or are there currently any artistic directors who haven’t been dancers? Or who haven’t come from a ballet background at all? 

 

This may sound like I’m interested in applying but honestly just interested to know!

 

The nearest to this I can think of are Matthew Bourne and, of course, Diaghilev. But both had to set up their own companies!

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Bourne, I believe, trained at Laban - he was there, or so I understood, when he was a regular in the amphi thirty or so years ago.

 

Apart from Diaghilev (who is THE stunning exception) I suppose a case could be made that Kirstein at City Ballet was effectively the ruler, though he ceded everything artistic to Balanchine, but to no-one else. It was Kirstein, for example, who prodded Balanchine into the acceptance of Robbins into the City Ballet fold and he was much more than simply providing the funding directly or indirectly.

 

Oliver Smith with ABT came from a design background - does that count?

 

I suppose a linked question would be to name the directors of companies that you are amazed to find had any training in ballet.

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Bourne did dance for a while, though, didn't he, early on?

 

Norman Morrice, AD of the Royal Ballet between MacMillan and Dowell, was from a contemporary dance background, I believe?

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3 hours ago, alison said:

Bourne did dance for a while, though, didn't he, early on?

 

 

 

I think only in his own works.

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Thinking about this...

 

I have always had the impression from post-performance talks by Matthew Bourne that he has a more than healthy respect not only for ballet as an art form but also for its history and heritage.  He has a proven track record of mounting productions that audiences want to see.

 

I wonder if he could be a candidate for the vacancy as a proven director and giving his love and respect for ballet...

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8 hours ago, alison said:

Bourne did dance for a while, though, didn't he, early on?

 

Norman Morrice, AD of the Royal Ballet between MacMillan and Dowell, was from a contemporary dance background, I believe?

Morrice was also a dancer in Rambert's company while it was a purely classical company. He can be seen on film in the corps de ballet in Elsa Marianne von Rosen's La Sylphide (designs by Ironside, who also designed Ashton's Sylvia) available for purchase on ICA classics: it was on sale at the ROH shop. I believe that funding cuts  (at one time in the 60s it was suggested that Rambert and LFB/ENB should merge) and Morrice's insistence that Ballet Rambert would better survive as contemporary company persuaded Marie Rambert to convert her company into a contemporary one.  I suppose you could say his background was both classical and contemporary. If most contemporary accounts are to be believed, his directorship of the Royal Ballet didn't see the company at a high point.

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15 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

Thinking about this...

 

I have always had the impression from post-performance talks by Matthew Bourne that he has a more than healthy respect not only for ballet as an art form but also for its history and heritage.  He has a proven track record of mounting productions that audiences want to see.

 

I wonder if he could be a candidate for the vacancy as a proven director and giving his love and respect for ballet...

 

If he was appointed, I'd be afraid that BRB would gradually morph into BNA (if you see what I mean).

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It’s interesting though that he intimated (...not sure of source) that Red Shoes would be his last created work. Swan Lake 2.00 could well be his swan song in certain respects. Perhaps.

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Am I very much in the minority when I say I that despite the apparent exemplary way the search for a replacement is being sought,  this makes me more  worried for the future direction of BRB?   I am not at all adverse to change, but when I see as the main 'mission' of the panel being to recruit someone who will take the company in a new artistic direction,  alarm bells sound. 

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12 minutes ago, Odyssey said:

Am I very much in the minority when I say I that despite the apparent exemplary way the search for a replacement is being sought,  this makes me more  worried for the future direction of BRB?   I am not at all adverse to change, but when I see as the main 'mission' of the panel being to recruit someone who will take the company in a new artistic direction,  alarm bells sound. 

 

I have to agree with this. Up to now all the directors of BRB (and its predecessors) have come from within the Royal Ballet "family". We all know what happened to the Royal when they appointed outsiders, Ross Stretton, and to a lesser extent Norman Morrice, so I would hope that there is someone out there who was once part of the "family" who would be interested and considered suitable. Unlike the Royal BRB doesn't sell out their programmes, especially the mixed bills, but at least these sell reasonably well if they contain some well known ballets, which they haven't recently and don't next season. I would hope the direction isn't to go down the Ballet Rambert route and turn themselves into a modern dance company. It didn't work when they became the New Group in the seventies. We can only wait and see.

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Having followed this company since the early 60s,I share the concerns of the last two posts.

We can if and but for ever.......but......if a choreographer is appointed,there will be little opportunity for the first three years as the Company will still be tied to its "new" Choreographic initiative.Unlikely that they will rely on revivals of the retired Director......as it must be new   new   new.......which means  money money money.

I hope at least some heritage will be preserved......ROH is now getting better but for many years DB was my only hope of maintaining that.

Some one I think is going to have a very tough job of  rebuilding the audience........remember the full length "Arthur"(2000 ish).....never revived but had sold out even before the first night.........

The triples of late have often seemed  desperately empty and some London audiences disappointing.

The 2 week Feb season,now down to one ballet is always preceeded by a week of Matthew Bourne which sells out.(no disrespect to Mr B).....there is then a huge gap of nearly 4 months when people are more likely to be going on holiday.

This is presently a company of very fine dancers and teachers who deserve the best.

(Glad I do not have to make the decision)

 

 

 

 

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The whole BRB scenario is difficult. Personally I think they deserve a two week slot at Covent Garden. Or at least some sort of presence there. Yes I know the whole idea is a scheduling nightmare but I think they deserve it. I also think some items in the RB rep would suit Sadlers Wells theatre far more - the more intimate MacMillan, Ashton or any of the modern rep. I think Covent Garden kills certain pieces - Diffrent Drummer is just one example. 

Edited by Vanartus
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Wouldn't it be nice if the "new artistic direction" proves to be more revivals of the so-called heritage rep?

 

We can dream! :)

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1 hour ago, Vanartus said:

The whole BRB scenario is difficult. Personally I think they deserve a two week slot at Covent Garden. Or at least some sort of presence there. Yes I know the whole idea is a scheduling nightmare but I think they deserve it. I also think some items in the RB rep would suit Sadlers Wells theatre far more - the more intimate MacMillan, Ashton or any of the modern rep. I think Covent Garden kills certain pieces - Diffrent Drummer is just one example. 

 

BRB used to have a regular slot at Covent Garden.  I well remember a most amazing performance of Sleeping Beauty with Sandra Madgwick as Aurora.  Her Rose Adagio from that afternoon is still the one by which I judge all others...

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20 minutes ago, hfbrew said:

I wonder if they will ask Bruce Sansom?

 

 

I don't think they can ask anyone.  People will have to apply.

 

Isn't he a similar age to David Bintley?

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