American Ballet Theater Executive Director Announces His Leaving

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The American Ballet Theater was already seeking new leadership with its artistic director of nearly three decades, Kevin McKenzie. Plans to leave in 2022. Now, he must also find new administrative leadership: Executive director Kara Medoff Barnett announced on Monday that she will step down later this year.

Barnett is leading social influence marketing and strategy at First Republic Bank and recently established First Republic Foundation. He will begin in mid-September but will continue to advise Ballet Theater part-time until the end of the year as the board seeks his successor. He will also serve in two Ballet Theater advisory groups.

Dancer since age 3 and a graduate of Harvard Business School, Barnett Joined the Ballet Theater In 2016, after nearly nine years as a senior executive at Lincoln Center.

“He has the ability to access joy, even when you have to make tough decisions,” McKenzie said in an interview. “Being an empathetic or inspiring leader is one thing, but instilling a sense of purpose and joy is another.”

Barnett said the pandemic marked a turning point for everyone, including himself: His new job will be his first in finance and his first role at a public company.

“If ABT was in a different location, I don’t think I would even consider continuing,” Barnett said, adding that the company is “on a positive trajectory even after the turbulent year we’ve had.”

The company was still recovering from the economic crisis when Barnett joined the company. Barnett said that despite Covid-19 posing new financial challenges, the Ballet Theater has managed to expand its fundraising pool. These gifts, he said, came largely as a result of Ballet Theater’s digital programming – and more recently outdoor programming like it. ABT Across America tour, stopped in eight cities this month.

Outdoor performances differed from a traditional ballet tour and provided a more comfortable entry point for the audience.

“When was the last time you saw ballet sitting on a picnic blanket with your shoes off and the kids dancing around you eating snow cones?” said. “We don’t usually think of ballet that way.”

The Ballet Theater will return to rehearsals in mid-September with more traditional performances at Lincoln Center in October. that season, which The company announced last weekwill feature a premiere by Jessica Lang and a run of the story ballet “Giselle.”

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