By Debra Cash
Remember Devon Carney? The initially gawky, young dancer turned into something of a courtier during his years with Boston Ballet, where he was plucked from the corps de ballet to dance an ardent Romeo to Dierdre Miles’s youthful Juliet. (Miles, now Miles Burger, now leads the Orlando Ballet School)
This week, Carney was named artistic director of Kansas City Ballet. In recent years, Carney has been associate artistic director and ballet master in chief of Cincinnati Ballet. The Kansas City Ballet has a similar profile to Boston Ballet, with story ballets alternating with contemporary repertory pieces, and the initial list of choreographers on his wish list overlaps with names familiar to current Boston Ballet audiences: former Forsythe dancer Helen Pickett and Boston Ballet resident Jorma Elo. Kansas City Ballet, like Boston Ballet, also fields a huge school for both children and adults and active outreach efforts. Carney married fellow dancer Pamela Royal; remembering them both as young dancers, it’s hard to believe the couple now have grown children.
Carney is replacing an artistic director whose career took a very different trajectory. William Whitener had been an irreplaceable dancer for Twyla Tharp. He expects to continue staging her work internationally and act as an arts advocate.
The tenure of the last two Kansas City Ballet directors was 17 years each, which should keep Carney busy into 2030. It’s a shame that, financial constraints being what they are, regional ballet troupes rarely tour. When these dancers take their last Boston Ballet bows, we lose track of them unless, like the great Sarah Lamb, they happen to be featured in films or broadcasts.
Mikko, could you at least convene a panel of former Boston Ballet folks so we can hear how everyone is doing?
Debra Cash, a founding contributor to the Arts Fuse now serving on its Board, is Executive Director of Boston Dance Alliance and a longtime member of the Authors Guild.