From left: Rodney Gustafson, Megan Philipp, and Cecily MacDougall | Credit: Courtesy

When State Street Ballet founder Rodney Gustafson steps down from his day-to-day duties in January, he can be confident there will be solid leadership at the helm of the organization he founded in 1994. Megan Philipp will become Artistic Director on September 1, a position currently held by Executive Artistic Director Gustafson and Co-Artistic Director William Soleau. On January 1, 2024, Cecily MacDougall, the current Associate Executive Director, will be promoted to Executive Director, while Gustafson transitions to the position of Founding Director.

“As we approach our 30th year, I am focused on evolving our repertoire toward a new generation of artistic vision. I’m confident that Megan and Cecily are the team to lead that initiative,” said Gustafson in a statement announcing the transition and new appointments. “When I started this company in 1994, we were a small group of talented dancers, including my colleagues from American Ballet Theatre, and choreographers who established our elegant-but-edgy style. Today we are an established, vibrant company who have just completed the 2022-23 season, which included 54 performances in 17 cities throughout the world, with sold-out houses in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. It’s now time to expand our leadership team.”

Philipp has been with State Street Ballet since 2013. She is responsible for creating, launching, and directing the company’s Professional Track Program, and training a decade’s worth of prospective professional dancers. She has also been Rehearsal Director since 2018. Prior to joining State Street Ballet, she spent eight years in New York City as a performing artist, teacher, and choreographer, and held positions at American Ballet Theatre and Joffrey Ballet Chicago. Among the shows she has choreographed sections of are State Street Ballet’s productions of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Jungle Book

MacDougall, who joined State Street Ballet in 2009, danced with the company for 10 years and founded and directed Library Dances, part of State Street Ballet’s educational outreach program. In addition, she has danced professionally with New York Theatre Ballet, Allegro Theatre Company, and Richmond Ballet, and she has choreographed numerous pieces for State Street Ballet, as well as for the Music Academy production of The Bartered Bride, and El amor brujo and La Traviata in collaboration with Opera Santa Barbara. 

Upcoming State Street Ballet performances include Giselle (Oct. 21-22), performed with the Santa Barbara Symphony; The Nutcracker (Dec. 16-17) with Opera San Luis Obispo Grand Orchestra and State Street Ballet Academy students; Cinderella (Mar, 23-24, 2024); and Other Voices (May 10-11, 2024). 

There will be a celebration honoring founder Rodney Gustafson, and Gail Towbes Center for Dance kicks off the season with an exclusive fundraising event hosted by boardmember Gary Dorfman on September 23. —Leslie Dinaberg

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