Under Kevin McKenzie’s leadership as Artistic Director, ABT has achieved substantial artistic, programmatic, and institutional strength. ABT has a remarkable heritage and, at the same time, the opportunity for evolution is significant in using tradition to fuel innovation. The role of ballet in society is changing, and ABT recognizes the need for a leader who will help the organization build on its history and core values as it moves boldly into the future. To this end, the next Artistic Director will have a once-in-a-generation chance to set artistic vision and strategy for ABT during a time of unparalleled opportunity. The next artistic leader of ABT will set a tone of innovation, collaboration, inclusion, and impact that will echo throughout New York, America, and the world.
Reporting to the Board of Trustees, and working in close partnership with the Executive Director, the Artistic Director is responsible for conceiving, developing, and implementing all aspects of ABT’s artistic vision. They will ensure and provide the highest level of excellence in implementing this vision through programs and performances, as well as the recruitment, development, and management of exceptional dancers and artistic staff.
Key responsibilities of ABT’s next Artistic Director role include:
- Setting & Implementing Artistic Vision: The Artistic Director will oversee the development of a compelling artistic vision for the company. This vision will define what it means to be America’s national ballet company for the future, and promote ABT’s reputation for excellence internationally. Inherent within this visioning process will be an exploration and articulation of how ABT can use its history and legacy to both champion classical ballet and serve as a springboard into the future.
The Artistic Director not only enable ABT to exceed expectations on the stage, but also to shatter assumptions in the world through its artistic vision and program. The Artistic Director will honor the core values of the company: excellence, compassion, equity, and inclusion. They will continue to celebrate and perform great classical ballet, and also forge new pathways which will include commissioning new works from choreographers and creative collaborators who bring new and important voices, stories, and styles of ballet to ABT.
- Internal Leadership & Management: The Artistic Director will partner effectively with ABT’s Executive Director and lead the organization’s artistic staff, dancers, and a wide range of choreographers, designers, directors of repertoire, and coaches. The Artistic Director is responsible for facilitating the continued development of a healthy work environment, promoting strong and respectful internal communication between artistic staff and dancers, and managing the company with confidence and care. ABT looks to its Artistic Director to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of the company’s team, culture, repertoire, and community. The Artistic Director and Executive Director will work together to prepare ABT’s annual priorities and budget for Board approval.
The Artistic Director serves as chief artistic talent scout for ABT, and critical to the Artistic Director’s success will be their ability to recruit and develop a talented and diverse company of dancers and artistic staff, as well as choreographers. With a deep commitment to the company’s future talent, the Artistic Director will collaborate actively with ABT’s JKO School and Studio Company to promote a unified vision of the artistic values of the company.
- External Leadership & Building Community: The Artistic Director will serve an enthusiastic champion for the art form as the external artistic face of ABT in New York City, throughout the United States, and beyond. They will raise ABT’s profile by promoting the company’s artistic vision and building key partnerships with other relevant organizations and creative visionaries.
The Artistic Director will serve as a cultural ambassador in representing America through ballet around the globe. It is expected that the Artistic Director will partner with the Executive Director, Board, and development team to inspire financial support for ABT through philanthropy and innovative partnerships.
ABT seeks an Artistic Director who is grounded in classical ballet, inclusive of new voices and open to new approaches, and captivated by the opportunity to lead ABT forward through this next phase of artistic growth and excellence. They are looking for someone visionary, inspiring, strategic, and highly collaborative.
In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:
Artistic Strategy & Vision
- The ability to create and articulate an inspiring artistic vision for the organization which brings ABT’s mission to life, serving as the artistic heart and soul of the organization.
- Has an acute awareness of where ballet has been, is today, and what it has the potential to become in future; understands the continuum between tradition and innovation in ballet and sees the unique opportunities that lie therein.
- Has demonstrated an entrepreneurial and creative approach to developing new and innovative artistic approaches that will stretch the company and push the boundaries within the industry, while also continuing to champion and perform classical and story ballet of the highest quality.
- Has deep and broad connections throughout the classical and contemporary dance communities and larger performing arts arenas; will be able to call upon a truly global network to further ABT’s artistic vision, and to seek inspiration and influence from beyond the classical ballet world.
Executing for Results
- The ability to set clear and challenging artistic goals for ABT while committing the organization to improved communication, process management, and collaboration; holds the team accountable with a spirit of transparency and fairness.
- A smart risk-taker who seeks input from others to foresee possible threats or unintended consequences of decisions; makes hard decisions, admits mistakes, learns, and adapts.
- A leader who is viewed by others as having a high degree of integrity, humility, and forethought in their approach to making decisions; the ability to act in a transparent and consistent manner while always taking into account what is best for the company.
- Evidence of experience in and/or deep curiosity about digital media and video storytelling, including digital performance content capture strategy; open to piloting new approaches to build audience reach, resonance, and engagement.
Leading and Managing Teams
- The ability to attract and recruit top artistic talent, motivate the team and company, delegate effectively, celebrate diversity, and manage performance; widely viewed as a strong developer of others with a track record of coaching and nurturing within their organization.
- Sets a tone of open communication, trust, and respect in all aspects of management, coaching, rehearsals, etc. as well as between staff and the company; known for making others feel heard while still being able to make executive decisions.
- Equitable approach to dancer development and advancement, which entails deep engagement with dancers at all levels of the company as well as with ABT’s JKO School and Studio Company.
- The ability to persevere in the face of challenges and exhibit a steadfast resolve and relentless commitment to high standards of artistic quality, which commands respect within the company and beyond.
- Will have earned a reputation for effectiveness in partnering with a Board or a senior management team, and will be able to guide and effectively delegate to others.
Communication & Building Relationships
- Naturally connects and builds strong relationships with others, demonstrating strong emotional intelligence and an ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.
- An ability to inspire trust and followership in others through compelling energy, passion for the art form, and a spirit of positivity.
- Encourages others to share the spotlight and visibly celebrates and supports the success of the team, dancers, and others around them.
- Exuberance and enthusiasm to partner with the Board of Trustees and development team around fundraising and broader resource development activities.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
- Brings deep personal commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of their work and leadership; seeks to build an organization that is substantively diverse and reflective of the diversity of ABT’s communities.
- Demonstrated ability to listen to others who have had different experiences than they did in the ballet world, and to create and open and inclusive spaces and platforms for those voices.
- Continuously opens lines of communication and sponsorship with historically excluded communities to broaden access to and engagement with ABT.
- Embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion as cornerstones of all organizational and artistic decisions.
Personal Competencies & Character
- A leader who is self-reflective and aware of their own limitations; leads by example and drives the organization’s performance with an attitude of continuous improvement by being open to feedback.
- Confidence balanced with self-awareness and humility; possesses strong empathy, a keen sense of humor, and kindness; makes others feel welcome, heard, and at ease.
- Cares for the quality of the art being created and the well-being of the company above their own ego.
Russell Reynolds Associates has been exclusively retained for this search. Given the need for confidentiality throughout this process, prospective candidates are invited to reach out directly to Russell Reynolds Associates at [email protected] with a CV and brief explanation of interest. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
American Ballet Theatre is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to providing a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. We are committed to recruiting, hiring, training and promoting qualified people of all backgrounds, and make all employment decisions without regard to any protected status.
Disclaimer: The job description above is intended to set forth the general nature of the work that will be expected of the person who takes this role. The job description is not, however, meant to be construed as an exhaustive list of all the duties and responsibilities required for this role. From time to time, all personnel may be required to perform duties outside of their normal responsibilities as needed.
Artistic Director Position Description