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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Ballet tightlipped over successor
Ross Stretton
Ross Stretton resigned last week
The UK's prestigious Royal Ballet company has told the BBC that it has no immediate plans to appoint a new artistic director.

It has dismissed as speculation reports that the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre, is the front-runner to take over following the resignation of Ross Stretton.


Everyone is very happy, confident and pleased with the people running the company

Christopher Millard

Former dancer Kevin McKenzie had been tipped as the man to replace Mr Stretton, who resigned last week a year into a three-year contract.

His departure came the day after a board meeting, following disagreements with dancers over his management style.

Board meeting

But director of press Christopher Millard told BBC News Online that the company had gone into a "period of calm" under the leadership of acting director Monica Mason.

Darcey Bussell with Igor Zelensky
The season continues for the Royal Ballet
"The troubled times are past," he said.

"We will allow the dust to settle.

"The company is working through this season and the team in place will plan for the future."

He said there was no set timescale for deciding who would take charge of the company, which is based at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

"The board will meet in three months time to discuss the way forward.

"Everyone is very happy, confident and pleased with the people running the company."

'Possible successors

Mr McKenzie, 48, was said to be in the running for the post by the Guardian newspaper.

Mr Stretton was his deputy in New York before taking over the Australian Ballet in Melbourne.

Another candidate was said to be Ross MacGibbon, executive producer of dance at the BBC.

But his spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "He has ruled himself out."

Other homegrown candidates suggested were Bruce Sansom and ballerina Deborah Bull.

Last week Mr Stretton described his time at the company as "enormously challenging and rewarding both professional and personally".

But his reign at the company was criticised for an unimaginative repertoire in which he has failed to stage as many new productions as expected.

There were complaints from dancers about changes to schedules and uncertainty about who would appear in which performances.

Founded in 1931, the Royal Ballet has become one of the world's leading companies.

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