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, 38, as Artistic Director of NYCB and SAB, and Wendy Whelan, 51, 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.
Stafford has been running the company for over a year after the sudden departure of Peter Martins. The two said they intended to work as partners.
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 calibre “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.
Charles W. Scharf, Chairman of NYCB’s Board of Directors, said,
New York City Ballet is proud to usher in this next generation of leadership with two of our own brightest luminaries at the artistic helm. Jonathan Stafford, whose 20-year career with the Company includes remarkable work as both an exemplary principal dancer and indispensable ballet 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.
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 perspectives.
He also underlined the fact that there had been a search committee comprised of board members from both NYCB and SAB which gathered feedback from 220 artists and employees “evaluating the broadest candidate pool as possible to establish our artistic leadership for the future”.
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.
Barbara Vogelstein, Chairman of the SAB’s Board of Directors, said,
The shared artistic leadership of School and Company, originally modelled by George Balanchine, will ensure that our organizations continue to work seamlessly 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 calibre artists for NYCB and companies around the world.
The entire selection process was transparent. 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. Stafford will continue to teach Company class and rehearse and prepare ballets for performance.
NYCB is the largest dance organization in America and currently functions with an annual operating budget of approximately $88 million and supports more than 450 employees, including both artists and administrators.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.