Cincinnati Ballet, artistic director ‘mutually part ways’ after 20 months

In a seemingly surprising move to the local arts community, the Cincinnati Ballet’s Board of Trustees and artistic director Jodie Gates have agreed to part ways just a week into the start of the 2023-24 season.

Gates, who took over artistic control over the ballet and the Otto M. Budig Academy in January 2022, departed to “pursue other opportunities,” according to a statement from the Cincinnati Ballet.

“This mutual decision ensures that Cincinnati Ballet can continue its mission to excel in the art of dance through world-class performance, a high-caliber academy, impactful education and engagement, as well as allow Jodie to pursue other professional opportunities,” Joel Stone, chair of the Cincinnati Ballet board, wrote in the statement.

“The entire Board of Trustees is grateful for Jodie’s artistic impact on the 2023-2024 season and wish her the best in her future endeavors.”

Jodie Gates

Gates, who issued a joint statement with the Ballet, said she’s proud of the work she and her team accomplished over the past 20 months to ensure the “artistic growth” of the company and the academy. She called it an “honor” to program the Cincinnati Ballet’s 60th anniversary season. 

However, at this time, Gates said she “[wishes] to focus on choreographic projects, staging and teaching.”

“I sincerely thank the Board of Trustees, the artistic and administrative staff, the patrons, and the extraordinary dancers for an enriching experience,” she added.

In the wake of Gates’ departure, the board appointed longtime Cincinnati Ballet dancer and former soloist, Cervilio Miguel Amador, to serve as interim artistic director.

Amador previously served as the company’s rehearsal director. He took over that leadership position during the 2019-2020 season after 16 years as a company artist. He also participated in the Cincinnati Ballet Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Task Force.

Stone, who’s served as a board member since 2016, called Amador – who is fondly referred to as “Cervi” – a “trusted member of Cincinnati Ballet family and the community.” 

“As a beloved company dancer and experienced artistic leader, Cervi brings a deep understanding of Cincinnati ballet and is well-equipped to oversee the company’s continued artistic excellence,” Stone added.

Sirui Liu and new Cincinnati Ballet interim artistic directior, Cervilio Miguel Amador
(Photo by Peter Mueller)

Cincinnati Ballet hasn’t made any determinations about a search for a new permanent director. They plan to “take some time to evaluate what’s best for all Cincinnati Ballet stakeholders” before making decisions about a long-term plan, per Cincinnati Ballet’s statement.

Cincinnati Ballet’s new season debuted Sept. 15 at Aronoff Center for the Arts with a performance of its annual Kaplan New Works series, which presents the work of up-and-coming choreographers.

The show, “More Room to Play,” runs through Sept. 24. It’s followed by George Balanchine’s masterpiece “Jewels” in early November.

At this point, the ballet doesn’t plan to make immediate programming changes, stating it plans to move forward as previously outlined. The Cincinnati Ballet board also voiced strong support for and confidence in the remaining members of the artistic team – Amador and rehearsal directors Dale Shields and Yoshihisa Arai. Arai also serves as Second Company (CB2) director.

“I look forward to working with Cervi and Cincinnati Ballet’s leadership team as we focus on future opportunities for the company,” Stone said.

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