Washington Ballet's Septime Webre Steps Down as Artistic Director After 17 Years

By Ian Holubiak on Feb 10, 2016 03:13 AM EST
Washington Ballet's Septime Webre Steps Down as Artistic Director After 17-Year Tenure A dress rehearsal by the Scottish Theatre Ballet of their new production 'Breakaway', set to open that evening at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, 24th November 1969. From left to right, the three principal dancers are Elaine McDonald, Donna Day Washington and Kenn Wells. (Photo : Davies/Keystone/Getty Images)

Septime Webre has announced he will step down as artistic director of the Washington Ballet at the end of June.

Webre, a 17-year veteran of the District of Columbia company, is credited with aiding it company in an unprecedented period of financial and artistic growth.

The news cwas announced just hours before Webre's premiere of Carmen in Havana, a mix of opera, ballet and song that opened at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Friday. The production features young dancers of with Washington Ballet's Studio Company.

In a statement, Webre said:

"Over the last few years, many of my works have been performed outside the Washington Ballet, and I've been turning down projects I've been spending a lot more time doing administrative work, fundraising and marketing. I wanted to devote some years focusing on my work with dancers.

"I love it -- not just choreographing, but coaching and teaching and mentoring, and I'm a kid person, too. I love to work with young people."

Webre and board chair Sylvia de Leon broke the news to shocked dancers in a Friday meeting. Webre, 54 years old, made a name for himself with the company by premiering new works created by the director, including two works that stunned ballet aficionados .

One of the pieces, a dance evocation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, astounded critics, and a second installation, in dealing with Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, premiered to similar effect.

A brilliant choreographer, creator and businessman, Webre's keen insight on financial matters help grow the ballet in all aspects. Expanding the enrollment of youngsters, an updated canon and an increased budget are among Webre's accomplishments with the company.

It will be sad to see him go, but Webre should be onto bigger -- and more personal -- endeavors in the future.

Check out a staging of his in the meantime below.

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TagsSeptime Webre, Washington Ballet

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