OAKLAND — The future of the city's ballet company once again is in flux after the resignation of founder and artistic director Ronn Guidi.
Guidi, who guided the company for more than 40 years, simultaneously resigned from the Oakland Ballet Academy, which he opened in 1968.
Guidi announced his decision shortly before the April 5 board meeting of the Ronn Guidi Foundation for the Performing Arts, said board President Richard Cowan.
Guidi did not comment on why he stepped down, a decision he made once before, in 1998. He returned in 2007 to rescue the ballet. This time, Guidi, who is in his 70s, has been complaining of minor health problems for several months.
Students of the Oakland Ballet Academy were released for an unscheduled spring break beginning April 9. Their tuition is being reduced for April, but the doors may not be open until after the break ends April 27.
The board will meet in May to decide how to go forward, Cowan said. That will mean figuring out how to keep the ballet company intact, as well as finding a new artistic director, he added. "We want to continue his legacy."
That legacy stretches back to the 1960s.
Guidi was a young choreographer and dancer enamored of the Ballets Russes when he forged two institutions out of sheer determination. He founded the Oakland Ballet Company in 1965 and set about restoring some of the masterpieces that came out of the Ballets Russes company.
Those performances helped gain international recognition for the Oakland Ballet and Guidi, who had plans to stage several of the pieces in the spring.
Guidi created the Oakland Ballet Academy to train dancers. Students performed with the Oakland Ballet Company as well as with the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West.
Guidi stepped down as the Oakland Ballet's artistic director in 1998. His return in 2007 resuscitated the company, which had closed in 2006 under the direction of an outside director. Once again under Guidi's hand, the Oakland Ballet quickly turned around and attracted critical praise, ticket sales and donations.
"We are concentrating on the future," Cowan said.
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