American Ballet Theater Names Dance Veteran as Executive Director

American Ballet Theater, one of the largest dance companies in the United States, has faced a series of challenges in recent months. Relations with the dancers have been tense, finances have been strained and the organization has lacked a permanent executive director.

On Thursday, Ballet Theater announced it was bringing in a dance veteran as it tries to move beyond its woes: Barry Hughson, executive director of the National Ballet of Canada, will join the company in that role in July. He succeeds Janet Rollé, who resigned suddenly last summer after 17 months on the job.

Hughson, 56, a former dancer, said in an interview that he was undaunted by Ballet Theater’s troubles.

“A.B.T. has been a company that I’ve loved since I was a 10-year-old ballet student watching Baryshnikov,” he said, referring to the star dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. “It’s such an important institution in American dance, and it’s a challenging time for the arts community right now.”

Ballet Theater’s leaders said they chose Hughson, executive director at the National Ballet of Canada since 2014, because of his extensive experience in the field. He has held top positions at Boston Ballet and Atlanta Ballet, among other organizations. They said he also showed an eagerness to work with Susan Jaffe, Ballet Theater’s artistic director, who has served as interim executive director since Rollé’s departure.

“I expect and I hope it’ll be a wonderful, cooperative leadership team,” Andrew F. Barth, chairman of Ballet Theater’s board, said in an interview. “We’re going to have the opportunity to examine how to bring our art, how to bring this beautiful cultural aspect, to more people in more ways that are financially sound.”

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