News: Ross Stretton resigns from Royal Ballet

Wednesday 2 October 2002

Ross Stretton,
Director of the Royal Ballet for just over a year, announced his resignation last Wednesday 25 Sept. Their had been rumours of the increasing dissatisfaction with his regime amongst the Royal Ballet dancers in particular for some months.
Monica Mason, the Assistant Director of the Royal Ballet, is now Acting Director, as Stretton’s resignation took immediate effect. As the search for a successor gets underway the analysis of the situation continues…

Press links:
Scandal-hit Royal Ballet gets new look
The Royal Ballet last night tried to distance itself from the scandals and strife of the Ross Stretton era by dramatically reorganising its programme. In a further gesture to bolster the morale of the battered company, his temporary replacement Monica Mason has recalled the popular Irek Mukhamedov.
Fiachra Gibbons, Guardian, 9 Oct.02

Troubled Royal Ballet eyes US Director Kevin McKenzie, the unsettled artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre in New York, last night emerged as the frontrunner to take over at the scandal-hit Royal Ballet. Judith Mackrell, Guardian, 4 Oct. 02

Dance of destruction
The hasty departure of the Royal Ballet’s artistic director lays bare the tensions at the heart of the company. “In a profession noted for its docility, the dancers’ success in getting rid of Stretton is heartening and intriguing. Does it signal that the dancers of the 21st century will be taking their careers aggressively into their own hands? But just as interesting are the issues raised by the official explanation for Stretton’s departure.” Judith Mackrell, Guardian, 30 Sep. 02

Corps, what a scorcher!
Simon O’Hagan looks at the feuds and allegations surrounding the departure of Ross Stretton, artistic director of the Royal Ballet: “The success of any group artistic enterprise depends on the quality of the atmosphere that surrounds it. No good work comes out of a bad vibe. The one Mr Stretton created was evidently plumbing the depths. Now the Royal Ballet is hoping that the company’s delicate equilibrium can be restored.”
Sun. Independent, 29 Sep. 02

Ballerina steps up as frontrunner to head Covent Garden
The former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, Deborah Bull, is frontrunner to become its new artistic director. “The deeply damaging past year at the Royal Ballet, where the programming of Stretton has also been criticised, means it is almost inevitable that the new artistic director will be an insider…..
Lady Deborah MacMillan, a former Royal Ballet director, said: “There’s a unique heritage there and I think it’s very, very hard for an outsider to do the job.”“ Richard Brooks, Sun.Times, 29 Sep. 02

Press links
Double whammy that toppled ballet boss
“The combination of rumour and Lady MacMillan’s intervention made Ross Stretton’s departure from the Royal Ballet inevitable”. “Earlier this year Stretton told the press that MacMillan’s smaller and more groundbreaking ballets were more suitable for smaller theatres and educational work than for the main Opera House stage.”
Ismene Brown, Telegraph, 27 Sep. 02

Royal Ballet ‘was given ultimatum over director’
Ismene Brown/Nicole Martin , Telegraph, 27 Sep. 02

Ballet chief quits after dancers revolt
Nicole Martin , Telegraph, 26 Sep. 02

Ballet chief’s unhappy exit
“Ross Stretton, the embattled director of the Royal Ballet, finally resigned yesterday amid a welter of allegations at the way he cast ballerinas. Although no individual dancers at Covent Garden made formal complaints against the Australian, the management of the Opera House and the union Equity agreed two weeks ago to a “programme of actions to address the dancers concerns about his management style”. Equity refused to say what that programme entailed.”
Fiachra Gibbons, Guardian, 26 Sep. 02

Royal Ballet chief quits after threat of revolt by dancers
“The head of the Royal Ballet has quit suddenly a year after taking up one of the most coveted posts in the arts. And he has infuriated his fellow executives at the Royal Opera House with a leaving statement that implies the Royal Ballet is more interested in “heritage” than “the future of ballet”.”
David Lister,Independent, 26 Sep. 02

Royal Ballet director is driven out by mutiny
“The dancers’ representatives discussed claims that Mr Stretton had shown undue favouritism towards some ballerinas while leaving others in the dark over their roles and the productions in which they would appear. His position was further undermined by unsubstantiated rumours of liaisons between him and some of his leading ladies.”
Sam Lister,Times, 26 Sep. 02

A weight has been lifted but the burden of finding successor remains
“The atmosphere behind the scenes at the Royal Ballet has been poisonous these past few weeks. Dancers were so upset with Ross Stretton’s style of management that they called in their union and threatened to strike. Dozens threatened to quit. Members of the board nervously hoped that the complaints would go away. Now, with the Australian’s sudden departure, they must feel as if a weight has been lifted from their shoulders.”
Debra Craine,Times, 26 Sep. 02

BBC links:
BBC news online
Radio 4, Front Row, 26 Sep. Listen to interviews with Colin Southgate, Chair of Royal Opera House Board & Ismene Brown, dacne critic of the Telegraph.
Direct link to interview:
Radio 4, Front Row interviews, 26 Sep.

Other links on londondance.com
Ross Stretton
reviews of first year
Royal Ballet dancers dissent

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