Sacramento Ballet Announces Leadership Changes

These days, when we hear news of a change in leadership at a ballet company, it feels less and less surprising. Over the past year, a surge of companies across the U.S. and abroad have changed directors, and started new chapters—from Benjamin Millepied's abrupt Paris Opéra Ballet departure, to Julie Kent taking the helm of The Washington Ballet, to Gennadi Nedvigin leaving San Francisco for Atlanta.

This week, according to The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Ballet's board announced that the company's longtime co-artistic directors, Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, will depart after the 2017-18 season, when their contract ends.

Sacramento Ballet dancers rehearsing in their new studios. Photo by Manny Crisostomo, via The Sacramento Bee

For the husband-and-wife team, it will be their 30th season at the company, which they helped build and develop over the years. The ballet's school, which Binda was particularly involved with, has grown to almost 400 students, and Cunningham has been praised by critics for his varied repertory choices, which have included works by Balanchine, Trey McIntyre and Twyla Tharp, as well as his own original works. After the transition to new leadership, the pair will become artistic directors emeritus.

While Cunningham and Binda are not fighting the board's choice, they emphasized that they do not feel ready to leave. "We are not retiring; we are not resigning," Cunningham told The Bee. “We want it clear that it’s the board’s decision.”

Nancy Garton, president of the board, stressed that the decision was about mapping out a plan for the organization's future. "This in no way reflects on the quality or quantity of the work that Ron and Carinne have done with the organization," she told The Bee. The choice seems to be more about bringing in a fresh perspective and considering new directions for the company. Already, this transition comes on the heels of another big change—the company recently moved to a new home at the E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts.

A new artistic director has yet to be chosen, but the board hopes to fill the position this spring.

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks