Changes afoot at Pennsylvania Ballet


Editor’s note on April 28, 2016. Yet more changes announced this week. See link below.

Changes, did I say? How about “Pennsylvania Ballet dumps, well, pretty much everybody who’d been in charge.” But, well, that’s an awfully long title for a blog, and perhaps a touch histrionic. And I’m not trying to be all theatrical and make trouble, but… yikes. In walks new artistic director, Angel Corella, former American Ballet Theatre principal and star, who took the helm, oh, a few days ago. Shutting that front door firmly behind him, he then went to the back door and swung it open. Which is why the following administrators are now gone:

  • Jeffrey Gribler, ballet master
  • Tamara Hadley, ballet mistress
  • William DeGregory, director of the company’s ballet school and the Pennsylvania Ballet II training company
  • Michael Sheridan, assistant to the artistic director
  • Various members of marketing and development departments
  • (Departures preceding Corella’s arrival include artistic chief Roy Kaiser and executive director Michael Scolamiero)



I have no connection to the Pennsylvania Ballet, and, at times like this, that’s probably a good thing. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to point at the elephant in the room and say, “Holy shit, that’s a lot of firing of some really talented, loyal, dedicated staff there. Are you sure you know what you’re doing there? Are you sure this was the way to go about doing it? Because this seems pretty unattractive [and yet, imminently blog-worthy] to me.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Ballet companies and corporations alike, this tends to happen at some level, when upper management changes. It’s sort of the way a lion taking over a pride will kill the cubs and any troublesome males so that the females have no question of torn allegiance. Hail to the new order, bow or get out.

The ballet world is a jungle. Make no doubt about it.

I read this news and felt such sympathy for those who lost their jobs. I’m hurling my best wishes out there into cyberspace, in the direction of the aforementioned fired professionals. Secondly, I’m thinking about the dancers today. Those are some big, big changes to swallow. Personal feelings are irrelevant; the new order begins now, so get up and dance.

Best of luck to you, dancers. I’m certain you will all muster through the challenge and the pain of the transition, because dancers know pain and yet they dance full out, perform, smile anyway. You will do the Pennsylvania Ballet proud, keeping up the standard like the powerful, grace-laden, warriors all of you are.

Wishing all members of the Pennsylvania Ballet a heartfelt merde for the season that lies ahead. May you survivors build it into something beautiful. And may those of you departing know that your work has left a powerful legacy, a world-class company to carry on.


PS: those new changes? Equally awful. 17 of the 43 dancers – nearly 40% – are leaving. 12 were let go and 5 are leaving on their own. You can read about this new situation HERE.
PPS: You can read more about the original situation HERE.
PPPS: One positive facet of the icky new changes from the April 27th announcement is that dancer Elizabeth Mateer is one of those who’s chosen to leave on her own, and she will be  joining “my” San Francisco Ballet. Yay, and welcome, Elizabeth! Wishing you and the SFB a long, fruitful relationship.

Leave a Comment