Elmhurst Ballet School announced its new Vice President, Wayne McGregor CBE, Artistic Director of Studio Wayne McGregor and Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden. His appointment marks the begin of an new partnership between the school and Studio Wayne McGregor. The great artist is the latest to join esteemed dance luminaries: Carlos Acosta CBE, Maina Gielgud AO, Dame Merle Park DBE and Sir Peter Wright CBE as vice presidents of the school. The Studio Wayne McGregor and the Elmhurst Ballet School have planned a programme of activities, creating fantastic opportunities for Elmhurst students to work with its artists and explore Wayne McGregor’s choreographic repertoire and process. 2018/19 saw the commencement of the partnership with the newly created Elmhurst Ballet Company, which was granted permission to perform an excerpt from Wayne McGregor’s Entity. Future plans include a new work to be created with Elmhurst Ballet Company in Birmingham and London in 2020. Dancers of the Company will also work with students from across the school to create work for the School’s performance series. Other opportunities for students to work with Studio Wayne McGregor include talks by Wayne McGregor, mentoring and buddying opportunities between upcoming graduates and Company Wayne McGregor dancers, audition preparation workshops for Upper School students, and the opportunity for Elmhurst Ballet Company members to take company class at Studio Wayne McGregor. There will also be a possibility for Elmhurst students to be involved in Studio Wayne McGregor’s professional development programmes. “As Director of Studio Wayne McGregor and Resident Choreographer of the Royal Ballet I am thrilled to contribute to the vision and future programme of Elmhurst as Vice President. The creative training of young dancers has been a career long passion. As dance companies worldwide extend their repertoire, dancers need to be equipped with new skills that offer them the best chance to succeed. Studio Wayne McGregor is delighted to contribute to this fresh horizon and looks forward to working in Birmingham which continues to flourish as a centre of excellence for all forms of dance.” Wayne McGregor CBE
The Boards of Directors of New York City Ballet (NYCB) and its affiliate training academy, the School of American Ballet (SAB), 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 generation of 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 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. “The boards 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 perspectives. “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 this transitional period,” Scharf said. Barbara Vogelstein, Chairman of the School of American Ballet’s Board of Directors, added, “The shared artistic leadership of School and Company, originally modeled 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 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.
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) has appointed Stéphane Léonard as the new School Director. As Director, Léonard will oversee the Professional and Recreational Divisions of the world-renowned RWB School and lead the artistic faculty in the education and training of the next generation of dancers and dance teachers. The RWB conducted an international search for its new School Director, attracting candidates from across the globe. Léonard’s impressive qualifications and experience, together with his deep roots in the Winnipeg community, made him the clear choice to lead the RWB School and set its course for the future.
“I am honoured to have been given this extraordinary opportunity,” said Léonard. “ When André Lewis hired me to dance in the RWB Company back in 1998, I thought I’d spend one, maybe two seasons here. It’s 20 years later and I’m still here. I chose to stay each year because the RWB has become my home. I was humbled as an artist in this Company and developed as a teacher in this School. I look forward to building on the great work of my predecessors David Moroni and Arlene Minkhorst and am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this incredible organization.”
Stéphane Léonard first tread the halls of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet as a Company Soloist in 1998. His dynamic performances earned him coveted roles such as Tybalt (Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo & Juliet), and Hilarion and Peasant Pas de Quatre (Sir Peter Wright’s Giselle). During a successful career he performed solo roles in various neo-classical and contemporary repertoire by choreographers such as George Balanchine, John Cranko, and James Kudelka. He also had the great honour of being selected to work with Sir Anthony Dowell on The Dream by Sir Frederick Ashton and with the great Jerome Robbins on The Concert. Mr. Léonard began his early training in Montréal under the tutelage and mentorship of Ms Natasha Izbinsky and continued his studies at the prestigious Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. Following his graduation in 1992, Mr. Léonard made his professional debut with the National Ballet of Canada under the direction of Reid Anderson. In 1995, Mr. Léonard joined the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory Ballet and Opera under the direction of Nikita Dolgushin and performed principal roles such as Prince Désiré (The Sleeping Beauty), The Poet (Les Sylphides) and Nutcracker Prince (Nutcracker) . In 1998, Mr. Léonard returned to Canada to join the RWB Company. Upon his retirement in 2002, he assumed the position of RWB School Aspirant Program Director. A skilled choreographer, Mr. Léonard has seen many of his works staged by the RWB School including his personal favourites: Les Corsaires, La Fille mal gardée, and Pinocchio, all performed at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. In addition to his work with the RWB, Mr. Léonard’s professional credits include: The Making of a Dancer Docu-Drama by National Film Board of Canada & Lenfilm Studio Russia 1992, Arthur Holmwood in Guy Maddin’s Dracula – Pages from a Virgin’s Diary, and the choreography of the dance scene in Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg. He also staged Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo & Juliet with National Greek Ballet and Opera (2002) and Boston Ballet (2003). In addition to his professional credits and teaching duties with the RWB School, Mr. Léonard frequently guest teaches, attends competitions and adjudicates in Canada and abroad. He has taught at the Banff Centre for the Arts’ Professional Summer Program, The National Ballet School of Canada, the Okanagan Summer Dance Festival, the Canadian School of Ballet, Quinte Ballet School, Ballet Victoria, Edmonton School of Ballet and Ecuentro-El Salvador Ballet School. Mr Léonard brings to his teaching and mentorship a deep creativity and imagination gained from years of learning from inspiring creative figures and mentors such as Arnold Sphor and David Moroni. Outside of his role as a teacher and mentor he enjoys carpentry, prop making, kayaking and spending time with his wife, fellow RWB Company alumnus and Ballet Master, Vanessa Léonard, and their young daughter.