The American Repertory Ballet in New Brunswick has eliminated its top two positions. Executive director Marvin Preston and artistic director Graham Lustig have been let go as part of a major overhaul of the company’s finances, according to a report in the Star-Ledger.

The company has suffered from the lingering effects of the recession as well as drooping attendance since 2008 and is, according to the article, $300,000 in debt.

Preston, who took over at ARB and its Princeton Ballet School in 2007, is a veteran of business assessment, strategic planning, and organization development, and who holds an MBA from Penn, had previously served as executive director of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in New York. There he was credited with turning the flagging center into a profit-making business. There were hopes that he could do the same for ARB.

Lustig, who has served as ARB’s artistic director for 11 years, was born in London and studied at the Royal Ballet School. He has been a member of the Dutch National Ballet and Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, where he contributed both performances and choreography. In June, 1999, he became artistic director of the American Repertory Ballet and ARB’s Princeton Ballet School and has led numerous productions in the area.

Lustig was let go in an effort to cut costs, but it is not just Lustig who has been cut. His productions have also been scrapped. In March the company canceled its season-ending shows and has already cut Lustig’s modernized “Nutcracker,” which came to McCarter Theatre this past December, from its winter schedule. According to the Star-Ledger, ARB’s performance schedule will drop from 26 weeks to 20 and the number of full-time dancers will drop from 16 to as low as 10.

The pair, according to the Star-Ledger, made a combined $250,000 in 2008.

Christine Chen, a marketing manager at ARB has been named interim managing director. According to the article, the company wanted to make Lustig company director, a lesser position that reports to the managing director, but Lustig declined.

Former company dancer and current Princeton Ballet School teacher Douglas Martin has been named company director instead.

#b#American Repertory Ballet#/b#, 80 Albany Street, New Brunswick 08901; 732-249-1254; fax, 732-249-8475. Christine Chen, managing director. www.arballet.org

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