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EntertainmentArlene Shuler to Step Down as President of New...

Arlene Shuler to Step Down as President of New York City Center

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David Hallberg, the former Ballet Theater principal who has performed in Fall for Dance and is now on City Center’s board, said that Shuler had been a mentor to him. “Arlene is the same in all contexts,” he said. “She doesn’t put one face on for an artist, another for a board member or the audience.” Now the director of the Australian Ballet, Hallberg said he had learned from her diplomatic, levelheaded, but truthful approach. “She is passionate, but not dictatorial,” he said.

Fall for Dance’s success greatly increased support from donors and foundations; Shuler said that City Center’s budget has increased from under $10 million in 2003 to $27.6 million today.

Increased resources have enabled City Center to consistently present large-scale companies like Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Christopher Wheeldon’s Morphoses, and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, and undertake partnerships with Sadler’s Wells in London and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which has performed at the theater since 1971.

Weathering the pandemic, Shuler said, was “extraordinarily hard and challenging, like it was for everyone.” Her decision to film work onstage, in the theater, commissioning new pieces from Jamar Roberts, Kyle Abraham and Wheeldon, among others, proved highly successful and worth the elaborate protocols and expenses, she said. City Center’s donors stayed on course, and government programs and some staff cutbacks enabled the theater to emerge without a deficit this year.

“Arlene is leaving with fiscal foundations in place, an artistic vision intact, and under some inspired leadership,” Levin said, referring to Stanford Makishi, the artistic director of dance programs, and Lear deBessonet, the new director of Encores! “There is solidity and latitude; a great transition point.”

Shuler said she would not be involved in choosing a successor, so couldn’t speak to whether the new hire would continue her strong focus on dance. “But this is so much a part of what City Center does,” she said, “it seems unlikely they would hire someone who doesn’t have a strong interest in supporting dance and musical theater.”

She added that she was not going to retire. “I love working in the arts,” she said. “I have plans.”



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