Archive Page Design
Click here to go to Balletco's new home page and site navigation

About the Change
HomeMagazineListingsUpdateLinksContexts





Assis Carreiro on
Ballet into the 21st Century




Assis Carreiro ©

Ballet into the 21st Century Conference Ballet.co magazine coverage

Ballet into the 21st Century forum... to link with the second Ballet Artistic Directors conference. Go and have your say in where ballet should heading.

Introduction to Snape Conference

BIG 'State of the Art' Discussion... Carreiro and others discussed some of the issues back in October 2002

Dance East website




Assis Carreiro, director of Dance East, which will host the gathering, in conversation with Brendan McCarthy...


Assis Carreiro has been planning the gathering of ballet directors for more than two and a half years. On January 10th twenty-six directors from companies around the world will gather at Snape Maltings near Aldeburgh in East Anglia. They will be closeted there for three days, with no certainty that even their mobile phones will work. “They want to meet each other”, Carreiro told me, “they never ever get to meet. Occasionally they call each other and ask: ‘can I borrow a dancer? Can I borrow a ballet? But they never meet properly and discuss, in a relaxed way, the issues that concern them.”

Carreiro herself is an indefatigable networker. Under her leadership, Dance East has brought a rich mix of UK and international companies to Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. It has sponsored residencies at Snape to give companies the breathing space to experiment with new ideas. It has devised a series of ‘rural retreats’. They are, in effect, think tanks designed to address fundamental issues facing the art of dance. They are expensive to run; the directors’




The Arts Council also rowed in with extra funding, but on one condition; that the initial topic be ballet and its future.

To the Council this issue was the most pressing.


 
weekend will cost £30,000. There has been help from East of England Arts. The Arts Council also rowed in with extra funding, but on one condition; that the initial topic be ballet and its future. To the Council this issue was the most pressing.

Carreiro, who had previously worked with the National Ballet of Canada, assembled a steering group. It included Cynthia Harvey, formerly of the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theater. Harvey and Carreiro drew on their contacts and began to phone old friends, who were by now artistic directors. They advised on timing and content.




© John Slater


Next Carreiro appointed two facilitators, Christopher Bannerman, professor at Middlesex University, and himself a former dancer, and Jeannette Siddall, the director of Dance UK. Carreiro and her facilitators have been speaking to the directors to develop a sense of their most pressing concerns. Some are of indirect interest to audiences and touch primarily on internal company culture. According to Carreiro, “they include empowerment of dancers, the psychology of dealing with dancers and managing their careers, and the reality of running a company in the 21st century when you can’t be a dictator, as directors were in the past.”

Repertoire was an obvious issue and, in particular, the fact that most companies do not have highly distinctive repertoires: “That’s great when you don’t tour”, Carreiro says, “because your audience deserves to see that global repertoire, but when you tour, you need that passport.” Other prominent issues raised were the training of artistic directors, and the increasing complexity of their roles.

The directors will have Snape virtually to themselves and there will be few others present. Carreiro will be there




The artistic directors are being encouraged to be as open as possible. Nothing will be made public subsequently without their prior agreement.

 
along with her two facilitators. They will be joined by Charles Handy, professor emeritus at the London Business School and David Lan artistic director of the Young Vic. There will be no other observers. The artistic directors are being encouraged to be as open as possible. Nothing will be made public subsequently without their prior agreement.

Charles Handy’s involvement is particularly interesting. Well-known to Radio 4 listeners in the 1980s, he is a specialist in organisation behaviour and the management of creativity. Carreiro, when she briefed Handy initially, told him that ballet directors consider their world unique and, as a result, incomprehensible to outsiders. “Charles hears that all the time from people in many walks of life. He is more than happy to demystify it in a sensitive way and to make them realise that there are solutions, that there are ways out, and that he can help them think things through. Charles is very worldly wise and will give them confidence.” Handy had little previous knowledge of dance. That has changed. Carreiro has accompanied him to many performances this year and in that time he has become an enthusiast. Most recently Carreiro went with Handy to see English National Ballet’s Nutcracker.

There will not be a public session at Snape. There will not be time and, Carreiro argues, it would disrupt the rhythm of the conference. “Some of the emails coming in”, she said, “sound like people want to come and protest outside Snape. I thought – what do they think? That we want to end ballet? On the contrary. It’s about ensuring its healthy future. We are one of the few art forms that is a bit stuck. Yes we can pack houses with Nutcracker until we are blue in the face: but, is that moving us forward? Dancers live in the 21st century. They are young healthy adults and curious human




“They (dancers) need to be stimulated. Ballet cannot live isolated from the rest of the planet”
Assis Carreiro


     
beings. How long will they put up with that? They need to be stimulated. Ballet cannot live isolated from the rest of the planet”

A number of major companies are not represented because their directors are not free that weekend. There have been apologies from Peter Martins, John Neumeier, the Kirov and the Royal Ballet. Monica Mason is unable to attend, but the Royal Ballet is hosting a reception for the directors and inviting them to a performance of a triple bill at the Royal Opera House.

In response to criticism that some nationalities are not represented, Carreiro counters that a large number of delegates, accompanied by translators, would have made the weekend cumbersome and expensive. The lack of representation from Eastern Europe is in part an issue of translation, but also one of money.

When international statesmen meet, their civil servants prepare a communiqué, often in advance of the event. Did




“I don’t have an agenda and that is healthy. They will produce their own communiqué”
Assis Carreiro


     
Carreiro have a focused expectation for the conference’s outcome? “I don’t have an agenda and that is healthy ”, she insists. “They will produce their own communiqué. They will know there are some goals they need to achieve. That is not a problem because they are very goal-oriented people.” Those who had attended the National Ballet of Canada’s Past Present Future conference lat May felt that the delegates in Toronto had identified the issues. The challenge at Snape was to identify, if not solutions, at least ways of working through the issues. Carreiro hopes that there will be a sequel to the conference. If the directors have clear ideas, Dance East is poised to help and, if necessary, to organise a further conference several years hence.


{top} Home Magazine Listings Update Links Contexts
.../dec02/interview_assis_carreiro.htm revised: 20 December 2002
Bruce Marriott email, © all rights reserved, all wrongs denied. credits
written by Brendan McCarthy © email design by RED56