American Ballet Theater Chief Resigns Suddenly


    Janet Rollé, the chief executive and executive director of American Ballet Theater, resigned a week before the start of the company’s summer season after 17 months on the job, the company announced Wednesday.

    Rollé, who helped lead the company through the turmoil of the pandemic, did not offer an explanation for her departure, saying only that she would turn her focus to service on corporate and nonprofit boards.

    “It has been a privilege to lead such a storied company during such a crucial period of time, and I am grateful for this experience,” Rollé, a former leader of Beyoncé’s business empire, said in a statement. “I would like to extend my sincerest best wishes to A.B.T. as they embark on this new chapter.”

    Susan Jaffe, Ballet Theater’s artistic director, will serve as interim executive director until a successor to Rollé is found, the company said. “I am humbled by the Board’s confidence in me and excited to lead A.B.T. during this transition,” Jaffe, a former Ballet Theater ballerina who took office in December, said in a statement.

    The announcement was likely to jar the dance world, coming just a week before Ballet Theater is to begin its season at the Metropolitan Opera House with an expensive New York premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Like Water for Chocolate.”

    Rollé’s hiring was announced with much fanfare: She had made a name in the entertainment industry, having served as the general manager of Parkwood Entertainment, Beyoncé’s media and management company. Rollé, who is Black, was the first person of color to lead the company.

    Ballet Theater’s executives expressed gratitude to Rollé but offered no details about the circumstances surrounding her resignation. Rollé will advise the search for a successor, the company said.

    “Janet joined A.B.T. at a critical time, and we are appreciative of her leadership and contributions,” Andrew F. Barth, chairman of Ballet Theater’s board, said in a statement. “We thank her for her continued counsel during this transition period and wish her the very best.”

    When Rollé started, in January 2022, she faced several immediate challenges, including helping Ballet Theater recover from the pandemic, which resulted in the cancellation of two seasons and cost the company millions of dollars in anticipated ticket revenue and touring fees.

    In a rare interview with Sports Illustrated last year, she said that she hoped to find new audiences for Ballet Theater.

    “What I think about is how to make that definition of being America’s national ballet company real and true for all Americans,” she said in the interview.

    The company endured some artistic struggles under her tenure: in December, the renowned choreographer Alexei Ratmansky announced he was leaving after 13 years as artist in residence to join New York City Ballet, a significant blow for Ballet Theater.

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