The Sacramento Ballet will have a familiar facing shaping it’s new artistic direction.
Earlier this month the Board of Directors announced Amy Seiwert will be taking over as Artistic Director replacing longtime directors Ron and Carinne Binda Cunningham. Seiwert has established herself as a pioneering artist in the Bay Area leading her own dance company but question remain about her capacity to drive audiences in Sacramento. She joins Insight to discuss the challenges ahead.
Interview highlights with Amy Seiwert:
On the response after the announcement of the new artistic director
It's been pretty overwhelming. There's been a lot of great response, and a lot of really positive stuff from colleagues in the field, which has been just wonderful, especially because it's coming from a controversial time and I wasn't sure how the news would be received. But in general, a lot of my colleagues are really excited for me to have the platform of the Sacramento Ballet. A lot of people are really excited to see a woman leading a ballet company. I don't know how aware you are of the gender balance in and leadership positions in ballet, and there just aren't many female AD’s, so this is a good thing for the field in general.
On what she wants to bring to the position
When the news broke in January, everyone [was] talking about it. Quite a few people asked if i would be interested or if I would do it, and I said, “I don't know, I would need more information.” No matter what happened I wanted to be a resource for the Sacramento Ballet. I've choreographed in companies across this country, I've seen a lot of different places and organizations that are really synergistic and are working really well and places where there's turmoil. I felt that I could bring a unique perspective to the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. So I wanted to be a resource, which is one of the reasons I started talking to the board here, and that led to an official application. When I was offered the job, it really became about continuing a legacy. The friendships that I made here have lasted decades, this city is very dear to my heart, so the thought that the Sacramento Ballet might not make it was not okay to me. I wanted to be in there and fight for this company that was such a huge part of my life, so that was really the main force for being able to step in.
On speaking with the Cunninghams when deciding whether to accept the position
We talked later in the game, and that was a hard conversation, but I think it went as well as it could go. Well, Ron and I talked. He actually called the day the news broke, and we did talk quite a bit at length then, and just being as transparent as possible and communicating as much as possible.
On how she plans to handle the transition
I think Dance Magazine, a national publication, put out something something like ‘this is the best resolution to a not great situation’, as something they had written about my appointment. And, you know, this is a dream job for me, but this is not a dream situation. So while the dream would be that I would have absolute support from Ron and Carinne, I understand if I don't. But everybody here loves this company. If they didn't, there wouldn't be this kind of turmoil. So my biggest hope is that we can really build this bridge well, honor the legacy of Ron and Carinne, and build something that has less turmoil in the future.
On the different types of pieces she has created
I've worked with a lot of nontraditional types of creations, for example, I did a piece with a spoken word poet, I did a piece with a software artist, and last year I made a piece to a Neil Gaiman story, the creator of Sandman and Coraline. Most people don't think of Neil Gaiman and ballet in the same sentence, so being able to bridge those worlds. And then you have people in-house who may think that they don't like ballet, and ballet is only one thing. To me, ballet can mean so many things. I'm here to explode preconceptions of what people think ballet is.