NYCB Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan and NYCB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford. Christopher Lane, Courtesy NYCB.

New York City Ballet's New Leadership Reflects on the Season Ahead

After a year and a half of tumult at New York City Ballet, the company is finally settling into a groove under new artistic director Jonathan Stafford and associate artistic director Wendy Whelan, who lead their first full season starting this fall.


Abi Stafford and members of NYCB in George Balanchine's Union Jack. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

The company's September 17–October 13 run at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater was solidified before the new directors' appointments took effect, though Stafford had a hand in planning some of the 2019–20 line-up while heading the company's interim leadership team. (The 2020–21 season will mark his and Whelan's first time programming a season together from start to finish.)

For 2019–20, Whelan is particularly looking forward to Christopher Wheeldon's DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse, George Balanchine's Union Jack and his evening-length Jewels. "If I had to take three ballets to a desert island, I could live with those three the rest of my life," she says. These works share programs with Balanchine classics, including Valse Fantaisie, Kammermusick No. 2 and Raymonda Variations, with a healthy dose of Jerome Robbins sprinkled throughout the year.

Jenifer Ringer in Merce Cunningham's Summerspace. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Whelan also cites themes of unity and camaraderie running through the fall season's "big, joyous, buoyant ballets," like Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, Serenade and Symphony in C, and Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go.

Audiences will undoubtedly be keeping their ears pricked for news of camaraderie offstage, as well. Stafford and Whelan succeed longtime ballet master in chief Peter Martins, whose retirement amid sexual misconduct allegations is not the company's only recent scandal. Last fall, three principal men left the company after being accused of circulating sexually explicit photographs and videos. One of them, Amar Ramasar (who had been fired by NYCB), was reinstated by the American Guild of Musical Artists last spring, and made his return to the NYCB stage, a controversial decision that has been questioned by critics and his colleagues alike.

Andrew Veyette and Sterling Hyltin with members of the company in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Among returns, the company will take on Merce Cunningham's Summerspace this fall for the first time in almost two decades. "Cunningham's choreography will be an exciting challenge for our dancers," says Stafford. "I'm very pleased that NYCB will have the opportunity to pay tribute to his centennial with these performances."

NYCB principal Lauren Lovette and BalletMet artistic director Edwaard Liang, a former NYCB principal, are choreographing world premieres for the company's annual fall fashion gala on September 26. Both have made work for the company before, and they are paired with fashion designers Zac Posen and Anna Sui, respectively.

With returning dancers, returning ballets and fresh perspectives, time will tell how the old and new mix under Whelan and Stafford's leadership.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!


Courtesy Boylston

Is the #EsmeraldaChallenge Quarantine's Next Big Thing?

By this point in the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, people are completely burned out on dancing at home. So it's no surprise that last week, all-around dance superstar Alex Wong posted a video on Instagram performing the famous La Esmeralda variation... but in his living room. And with a frying pan instead of a tambourine.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks