The American Ballet Theatre has reached an "agreement in principle" with Wolf Trap Farm Park to play a one-week engagement there in the summer of 1983, Wolf Trap confirmed yesterday.
ABT has traditionally staged both a fall and a spring season in Washington at the Kennedy Center but canceled this year's spring run because of dissatisfaction with the Kennedy Center's fund-raising and ticket-selling operations, according to the company's executive director, Herman E. Krawitz. As for future performances at the Kennedy Center, Krawitz said yesterday that a spring season there is now "unlikely" and that there have been no recent discussions on reviving the tradition.
"The reason we are looking at Wolf Trap is in part because we don't do a spring season" now in Washington, he added.
Roger L. Stevens, Kennedy Center chairman, said yesterday that the Kennedy Center does not anticipate that ABT will offer spring seasons there in the future. "It's a very bad time for them . . ." Stevens said.
Krawitz said he believes that Washington, along with New York City and Los Angeles, should have and can support two ABT seasons each year.
"Three seasons a year are unlikely in Washington--but not impossible," he said. "I'm waiting to see how this fall goes to determine where we next go."
Krawitz said that Kennedy Center officials "have promised us cooperation and I expect that cooperation" in increasing ABT's revenues from its December season at the Opera House.
Krawitz, who late last year complained that the Kennedy Center had been uncooperative about ABT's requests that it allow fund-raising galas for ABT, be more active in promoting ticket sales, and allow higher ticket prices, said on Tuesday, "If the Kennedy Center could sell tickets like the Metropolitan Opera does for us, we'd have no trouble." He noted that when ABT felt it was being unfairly treated by the management of the Los Angeles Music Center, it moved out of the Music Center's premier theater and into an old downtown theater, the Shrine Auditorium, and in February sponsored itself with significant box-office success.
He also said there is no contractual obligation by ABT to the Kennedy Center after December's engagement.
Yesterday, however, he said, "I have no intention of going anyplace but the Kennedy Center" for winter performances. "We've had many consultations with them about getting larger audiences at higher prices . . . because our costs are higher in Washington than in New York.
"They are reorganizing their ticket-selling procedures" and have indicated a willingness to allow and help with ABT fund-raising gala performances.
As for ABT's status as "The Official Company of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts," Krawitz remarked yesterday, "I really never understood what that means. Each city on our tour is critical to our success. We are a national company.
"I want ABT to be in the Kennedy Center--but not at any price," he said. But Krawitz emphasized that he did not foresee a time when ABT would not visit the Kennedy Center on its annual cross-country tour.
Wolf Trap's general director, Edward Corn, said yesterday that a contract for ABT's engagement is expected to be signed in the autumn. ABT's Krawitz said his company first has to resolve its upcoming labor negotiations with its dancers. That contract expires Aug. 31. He said that despite anticipated higher expenses resulting from wage increases that will have to be granted to the dancers, he expected potential gross revenues from the Wolf Trap engagement to be higher, on a per-performance basis, than the fees ABT can receive from the Kennedy Center. Krawitz noted that the Wolf Trap theater has a larger capacity.