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Jonathan Stafford new AD at New York City Ballet

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NYCB Resident Choreographer and Soloist Justin Peck
to Take on Additional Role of Artistic Advisor for NYCB
NEW YORK– February 28, 2019– The Boards of Directors of New York City Ballet (NYCB)
and its affiliate training academy, the School of American Ballet (SAB), today announced the
appointment of Jonathan Stafford as Artistic Director of NYCB and SAB, and Wendy Whelan as
Associate Artistic Director of NYCB, establishing the esteemed former NYCB dancers, SAB
alumni, and prominent industry notables as the next generation of artistic leadership at two of the
world’s most acclaimed and storied dance institutions.
At NYCB, Stafford and Whelan will serve in a new management structure designed to ensure
that one of the world’s preeminent dance companies will continue to present performances of the
highest artistic caliber while providing a supportive and nurturing environment for all of its
artists, including more than 90 dancers and the 62-piece New York City Ballet Orchestra.
“New York City Ballet is proud to usher in this next generationof leadership with two of our
own brightest luminaries at the artistic helm,” said Charles W.Scharf, Chairman of New York
City Ballet’s Board of Directors. “Jonathan Stafford, whose 20-year career with the Company
includes remarkable work as both an exemplary principal dancer and indispensable ballet
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master, has done an extraordinary job as our interim artistic leader over the past year. Wendy
Whelan is one of the most important and beloved dancers in our Company’s history who went on
to a build a dynamic post-NYCB career as an innovative and collaborative artist.
“I would also like to thank members of the joint search committee which was comprised of board
members from both NYCB and SAB and co-chaired by Barry Friedberg and Barbara
Vogelstein,” added Scharf. “Theboards of NYCB and SAB tasked the committee with gathering
feedback from more than 220 artists, employees, and various stakeholders across the larger
cultural community and then evaluating the broadest candidate pool as possible to establish our
artistic leadership for the future. We are thrilled with the selection of Jonathan and Wendy, who
have more than 50 years of combined experience with NYCB and SAB, and also bring fresh
“I would also like to express my appreciation to Justin Peck, Craig Hall, and Rebecca Krohn who
provided outstanding service to NYCB over the past year as members of the interim artistic
team; and finally, I would like to thank the entire New York City Ballet community of dancers,
musicians, ballet masters, production crew, staff, board, donors, and audience members who
have been steadfast in their support of the Company during thistransitional period,” Scharf said.
Barbara Vogelstein, Chairman of the School of American Ballet’sBoard of Directors, added,
“The shared artistic leadership of School and Company, originally modeled by George
Balanchine, will ensure that our organizations continue to workseamlessly to maintain our
distinctly American brand of classical ballet. Jonathan’s accomplishments as a dancer and his
long tenure with the School as a faculty member uniquely position him to lead SAB’s efforts in
producing the highest caliber artists for NYCB and companies around the world.”
Candidates from across the globe submitted applications and others were nominated for
consideration by multiple sources. From that pool of candidates, 20 of the most qualified
individuals were invited to in-person interviews with the full search committee. Outside counsel
and management of the entire process was led by Phillips Oppenheim, a leading non-profit
consultancy firm.
Stafford, who has been serving in interim leadership roles for NYCB and SAB since December
2017, will begin his new positions immediately and Whelan will begin her new role with NYCB
in mid-March.
The new artistic leadership structure at NYCB – with both an Artistic Director and Associate
Artistic Director – acknowledges the growing and evolving demands of an arts organization of
its size and stature. NYCB is the largest dance organization in America and currently functions
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with an annual operating budget of approximately $88 million and supports more than 450
employees, including both artistsand administrators. The board concluded that the demands of
maintaining the highest standards of artistic excellence and managing the artistic needs of the
Company are best served with the complementary skills of Stafford and Whelan.
As Artistic Director for NYCB, Stafford will supervise all areas of the Company’s artistic
operations, working closely with NYCB Executive Director Katherine Brown, who is
responsible for all administrative functions for both the Company and its home, the David H.
Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Stafford will also continue toteach Company class and
rehearse and prepare ballets for performance.
During his career with NYCB, Stafford performed an extensive repertory of leading roles in
works by Balanchine, Robbins, Peter Martins, and numerous otherchoreographers, and was
renowned for his outstanding partnering skills. As a ballet master for NYCB and teacher and
educator for SAB, Stafford has played an integral role in the School and Company’s diversity,
equity, and inclusion efforts, and also spearheaded a mentorship program which partners current
NYCB dancers with new apprenticesfrom SAB to help guide them through their first year with
the Company. Stafford was also SAB’s first-ever Professional Placement Manager, a role created
to assist students with the transition into their professional careers.
In the role of Associate Artistic Director for NYCB, Whelan will focus on conceiving, planning,
and programming NYCB’s annual performance season; commissioningnew work from
choreographers, composers, and other artistic collaborators; and working closely with NYCB’s
dancers in the rehearsal studio, both teaching class and coaching numerous works in NYCB’s
unparalleled repertory.
During her 30-year career as a dancer with NYCB, Whelan performed roles in nearly all of the
Company’s heritage repertory of works by Balanchine and Robbins, and was also the dancer
most choreographed on in NYCB history, creating leading roles in countless new works by such
choreographers as Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe, and numerous others.
Whelan also had close working relationships with Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky,
collaborating with the choreographers on several of their most critically-acclaimed works. Since
leaving NYCB in 2014, Whelan has pursued a variety of multi-disciplinary projectswith cultural
organizations around the world.
The new leadership formation at NYCB will also expand the involvement of Resident
Choreographer Justin Peck, who will add the role of Artistic Adviser to his portfolio. In this
capacity, and at Stafford and Whelan’s invitation, Peck will work closely with both of them on
ideas for programming and new commissions. Throughout the pastyear, Peck played an
important part in these areas as a member of the interim artistic team, and has been instrumental
in several recent commissions for NYCB including Kyle Abraham’s The Runaway,which
premiered last fall to great acclaim; and a new work from choreographer Pam Tanowitz, who
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will create her first-ever ballet for NYCB during the 2019 Spring Season. Following the 2019
Spring Season, Peck will transition off NYCB’s dancer roster where he is currently a Soloist.
As Artistic Director of the School of American Ballet, Staffordwill work closely with Chairman
of Faculty Kay Mazzo and SAB Executive Director Carrie Hinrichsto ensure that the most
promising ballet students in the United States have the training, resources, and guidance to
develop into world-class artists and healthy, well-rounded individuals. While Whelan will not
take on a formal leadership role at SAB, she is expected to guest teach with regularity.
Based at Lincoln Center, the School trains approximately 1,000 students per year and actively
recruits nationally and abroad for the intermediate and advanced students who live onsite. Each
year, New York City Ballet selects up to 10 students to join the Company as apprentices. All but
two of NYCB’s current dancers trained at SAB. As Artistic Director, Stafford will be charged
with maintaining the high quality of the School’s training and curriculum and support essential
fundraising initiatives for scholarships and programming.
“For more than a decade, Jon has been an important figure in the life of the School, serving as a
faculty member, creating the role of Professional Placement Manager, and spearheading the
introduction of a formal mentorship program for apprentices,” said Barbara Vogelstein,
Chairman of the School of American Ballet’s Board of Directors.“In all of these roles, Jon has
been widely admired as a natural leader who is immensely invested in the success and growth of
the School’s students. We are confident that the School will thrive under his leadership, and that
students will also benefit tremendously from the presence of one of the greatest ballerinas of her
generation, Wendy Whelan, in our classrooms.”
“For me there are no more treasured institutions than New York City Ballet and the School of
American Ballet,” said Stafford. “My time with the School and Company began in 1996, and
each year that I have spent here, I have grown as a person and artist. I have developed a deep
appreciation for the organizations, their commitments to Balanchine, Kirstein, and Robbins, and
all of the people – past and present – who comprise NYCB and SAB. I am immensely proud to
serve as Artistic Director, and to stand with Wendy Whelan to lead us forward.   
“This appointment represents a homecoming for me, and I could not be more thrilled to return to
New York City Ballet,” said Whelan. “I feel a strong, personal need to be here and to share all
that I have to offer to instill positive growth and change for the Company. Having served as a
role model during my career as adancer, I am excited to now have the opportunity to contribute
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in a leadership capacity. The magnitude of what my appointment represents for female dancers,
and all women, is of critical importance to me. The moment for change at New York City Ballet
is now, and I am excited to help welcome it with Jonathan Stafford.”
“I am overjoyed to team up with Jonathan Stafford and Wendy Whelan, two individuals I admire
greatly,” said Peck. “I look forward to working with them closely and to the future of New York
City Ballet, and am especially excited for all that we will accomplish together to bring innovative
new works to our stages, inspiring both artists and audience members alike.”
Jonathan Stafford
Stafford is a Ballet Master and aformer Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet, and a
permanent faculty member at theSchool of American Ballet. He has been leading the interim
artistic team of NYCB since December 2017, working closely withthe rest of the Company’s
artistic staff to oversee and manage the day-to-day artistic life of NYCB.
During his performing career with NYCB, he danced an extensive repertory of featured roles in
numerous ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, and Christopher
Wheeldon, and also originated featured roles in works by Mauro Bigonzetti and Alexei
Ratmansky. As an educator, Stafford served as a member of SAB’sguest faculty beginning in
2006 and joined the School’s permanent faculty in 2007. In 2015he was named SAB’s first
Professional Placement Manager, a role created to assist students with the transition into their
professional careers. He graduated summa cum laude from the Fordham School of Professional
and Continuing Studies with a B.A. in Organizational Leadership.
Born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Stafford studied at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet before first
entering SAB in the summer of 1996. Named an NYCB apprentice inOctober 1998, Stafford
joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in February 1999. He was promoted to
the rank of Soloist in March of 2006 and became a Principal Dancer in May 2007. Upon retiring
from performing in May 2014, Stafford was named one of NYCB’s Ballet Masters.
Wendy Whelan
Whelan, one of the most acclaimed dancers of her generation, performed with New York City
Ballet for 30 years. With a repertory of more than 50 ballets, Whelan danced virtually all of the
major Balanchine roles, worked closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his works, and
NYCB/SAB – Page 6
originated roles in ballets by such choreographers as William Forsythe, Twyla Tharp,
Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Jorma Elo, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Wayne McGregor,
Peter Martins, and numerous others. Following her retirement from NYCB in 2014, she has
cultivated multi-disciplinary performanceprojects with a rangeof collaborators including
choreographers Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, Alejandro Cerrudo, Lucinda
Childs, Daniele Désnoyers, Javier De Frutos, David Neumann, Annie-B Parson, and Arthur Pita.
Her awards include the Dance MagazineAward in 2007, and in 2009 she was given a Doctorate
of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. In
2011, she received both the Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for Sustained
Achievement in Performance.
Whelan began studying dance in Louisville with Virginia Wooton,a local teacher, and at the
Louisville Ballet Academy. In 1981 she received a scholarship to the Summer Course at SAB and
a year later, enrolled as a full-time student. She was named anapprentice with NYCB in 1984 and
joined the corps de ballet in 1986. She was promoted to Soloist in 1989 and to Principal Dancer
in 1991. Whelan’s last performance as a dancer with NYCB, which took place on October 17,
2014, was a landmark evening thatbrought together generations of artists and audience members
in a celebration of her remarkable performing career.
Justin Peck
In addition to his role as Resident Choreographer and Soloist for NYCB, Peck is also one of the
most acclaimed and in-demand choreographers of his generation, and has created more than 35
works for ballet companies around the world. His artistic collaborators include composers Dan
Deacon, Bryce Dessner, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Sufjan Stevens; and visual artists John
Baldessari, Jules de Balincourt, Marcel Dzama, Shepard Fairey, Karl Jensen, and Sterling Ruby.
He is the recipient of a 2018 Tony Award for his choreography for the Broadway revival of
Rodgers and Hammerstein’sCarousel,and is currently collaborating with Academy Awardwinning director Steven Spielberg on a new film adaptation of West Side Story,which Peck will
choreograph. Peck will transition off NYCB’s dancer roster, where he is currently a Soloist, at
the end of the Company’s 2019 Spring Season.
A native of San Diego, California, Peck studied at California Ballet and the School of American
Ballet. He has danced with NYCB since 2007, where he performs avariety of repertory by
George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon, among
others. Peck first choreographed as a student at SAB in 2005 and participated in a working
session at the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of NYCB, in the fall of 2009. He
was named NYCB’s Resident Choreographer, the second in the Company’s history, in July
NYCB/SAB – Page 7
About New York City Ballet
New York City Ballet is one of theforemost dance companies in the world, with a roster of more
than 90 dancers and an unparalleled repertory of modern masterpieces. The Company was
founded in 1948 by the legendary choreographer George Balanchine and arts patron Lincoln
Kirstein, and quickly became world renowned for its contemporary style and a repertory of
original ballets that has forever changed the face of classicaldance. In 1949 Jerome Robbins
joined the Company as Associate Director and together with Balanchine created a vast and
varied repertory that grew each season. From 1983 until his retirement in 2017, Peter Martins
was the Company’s Ballet Master in Chief. In 2009 Katherine Brown was named NYCB’s firstever Executive Director, a position created to oversee the administrative management of the
Company and its long-time home, the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. In February
2019, NYCB named Jonathan Stafford Artistic Director and Wendy Whelan Associate Artistic
About the School of American Ballet
The School of American Ballet iswidely regarded as America’s leading ballet school. It is the
official academy of New York City Ballet, trains almost all of New York City Ballet’s dancers as
well as dancers for companies around the globe, and is world renowned for the excellence of its
classical training as established by the School’s founders – the legendary teacher and
choreographer George Balanchine and the visionary arts patron and writer Lincoln Kirstein.
Students enrolled in the 2018-19 Winter Term hail from throughout New York City, 25 states
and 5 foreign countries, and 42 percent identify as students ofcolor. Approximately 20
advanced students embark on professional dance careers annually. Beyond the footlights, the
School’s alumni have made their mark over the past 85 years as founders, artistic directors,
choreographers and teachers for dance companies and schools around the world. While closely
affiliated with New York City Ballet, SAB is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
with its own board, administration, budget, and fundraising. Peter Martins succeeded George
Balanchine as Artistic Director and Chairman of Faculty in 1983. After Mr. Martins’ retirement
at the end of 2017, Kay Mazzo was named Chairman of Faculty. InFebruary 2019, Jonathan
Stafford was appointed Artistic Director to oversee the School’s operations alongside Executive
Director Carrie Hinrichs.

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Looks like Wendy will be holding the reins.  Hope she continues the recent tradition in bringing in veterans/originators to coach dancers.  It has had a considerable impact and - with an 'at home reference' - most certainly did in terms of the glittering O'Sullivan/Sambe performances at City Center last year.  They had NYCB team members cheering.  

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7 minutes ago, Bruce Wall said:

 It has had a considerable impact and - with an 'at home reference' - most certainly did in terms of the glittering O'Sullivan/Sambe performances at City Center last year.  They had NYCB team members cheering.  


Do you know who coached them?

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