New ballet director is off to a fast start

Annapolis company gets an experienced, successful manager

March 29, 2001|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Midway through its 20th anniversary season, Ballet Theatre of Maryland (formerly the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis) is celebrating the arrival of a new executive director, Henry Holth.

Holth arrived in Annapolis three weeks ago and hit the ground running. He has met with the board of directors, explored potential sources of government support and interviewed a number of dance enthusiasts, seeking their impressions of the company.

Nationally known for his work building ballet companies in Dallas, Houston and San Jose, Calif., Holth had an eight-year professional dance career in Europe.

He said he is "now primarily interested in helping dance companies at two stages of their lives."

Assessing needs

"I like to be in at the start to help establish companies, or I enjoy getting involved at mid-point and turning companies around," he said. "After a lot of listening to various appraisals, I like to assess their needs and decide how they best might grow. I've been asking many questions here recently and doing lots of listening."

Holth, a native of New Jersey, has impressive credentials that include more than 25 years of experience as a manager of ballet organizations. In 1996, he co-founded the Santa Fe Festival Ballet, raising $140,000 in six months. Earlier, during five years as managing director of Houston Ballet, he boosted the company's fund-raising income more than fivefold.

Success in Dallas

While he was general manager of the Dallas Ballet, income nearly quadrupled and audience size nearly tripled.

Recognizing an opportunity in Annapolis with Maryland's only full-time professional ballet company, Holth said he hopes to expand programs and services by building an institution with statewide support that reflects the interests and needs of the Baltimore area, while serving the state.

"My role is to see that we have financial stability and community support to enable us to give better programs and services to our citizens," he said.

To that end, Holth is identifying key players and staffers with knowledge of public relations as well as dedicated volunteers.

Strong leadership

"Ballet Theatre of Maryland is at a point in its development where we are ready for growth and expansion," said the board's president, Sandra Murray. "We feel that strong leadership is a necessary ingredient in accomplishing our goals and that Henry Holth can supply its leadership."

Edward Stewart, founder and artistic director, said the company reaching its 20th season "is truly an achievement in the world of ballet."

"Holth is respected throughout the United States ballet field," he said. "It will be a real asset to have someone of his caliber in this position. Ballet Theatre of Maryland is moving into a new era."

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