Arts briefs

Sunday, August 29, 2010; E07

A new mistress

Monique Meunier, a former New York City Ballet principal dancer, joined the Washington Ballet last week as its new ballet mistress, the company reports.

Meunier, 37, was hired after a search to replace longtime ballet master and founding company member John Goding, who died after suffering a pulmonary embolism a year ago. After her own extensive career with City Ballet as well as with American Ballet Theatre, where she was a soloist, and with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Meunier steps into the role of the dancers' chief coach and rehearsal director.

The job requires meticulous attention to detail and an excellent memory.

"You have to be very organized, and, in a way, mathematical," Meunier said last week. She spent her first days studying tapes of Trey McIntyre's "High Lonesome" and Artistic Director Septime Webre's "Romeo and Juliet," works that will be performed in the upcoming season.

Meunier is not new to the responsibilities of teaching choreography and refining performances; she has staged George Balanchine ballets for the Balanchine Trust and in 2009 served as rehearsal director for choreographer Karole Armitage. These experiences, as well as her Balanchine background with City Ballet and with ABT's classical repertoire, would seem to make her a strong asset for the Washington Ballet. Under Webre's leadership, the company has performed several Balanchine ballets, is expanding into the realm of large-scale classical works, including a forthcoming "Le Corsaire," and last spring commissioned a world premiere by Armitage.

"I'm looking forward to working with these dancers," Meunier said. "They're very pliable -- they want to learn and evolve. And now I get to give back."

-- Sarah Kaufman

Civil War papers

Now in its final days at the Archives is "Discovering the Civil War," an extensive assembly of rare papers, including messages Southern governors sent to President Lincoln. You have until Sept. 6 to find out what was said. In a few weeks the Archives is bringing out much more: The second part of its Civil War exhibit, marking the sesquicentennial of the war, opens Nov. 10.

-- Jacqueline Trescott

-- Emily Yahr

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