The future of the financially distressed and artistically uncertain American Ballet Theatre may be determined Wednesday evening in a locked room at ABT's headquarters here, just north of Greenwich Village.
ABT's board of trustees is scheduled to continue last week's emergency session then--a session that had been adjourned with hope but without decision last week.
Leading board members who asked not to be named said the trustees are expected to add up the company's monies and pledges and then proceed with rehearsal plans for ABT's Kennedy Center opening in December.
As of Sunday, board members had personally pledged to guarantee approximately half of the $2 million bank loan that ABT urgently needs. The bank, however, is said to be requesting that the entire borrowing be covered by personal pledges. ABT general manager Charles Dillingham said more progress in securing loan guarantees has been made since Sunday. He declined to specify how much the pledges total.
The board Wednesday may also consider what to do about its artistic future in light of the strong hints by artistic director and superstar dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov that this may be his last season as ABT's artistic decision maker.
Rehearsals began today as scheduled for the 11 weeks of preparation required for ABT's upcoming season, which this year begins Dec. 6 at the Kennedy Center.
Baryshnikov had decided last week to resign but then withdrew the threat of his immediate departure. He had charged that ABT board members were meddling with his management team and mistreating ABT executive director Herman E. Krawitz.
One resignation that was not withdrawn, however, was Donald Kendall's. He resigned as chairman of ABT's board on Thursday.
Despite the board's request that he return, Kendall has refused to reconsider, ABT sources said today. Kendall is credited by many as having been the person who persuaded Baryshnikov to accept the ABT artistic directorship, and Kendall, Krawitz and Baryshnikov were an exceptionally close-knit management team. Insiders said they rarely disagreed.
Meanwhile, some warring factions on the board--dissident trustees who want Krawitz to resign--are expected to discontinue their efforts temporarily in light of the sudden death today of Krawitz's brother, the prominent Broadway press agent Seymour Krawitz.
Herman Krawitz will not return to work until after seven days of mourning.
ABT's "white knight" of last resort, Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera Association, has said that under no circumstances will it step in and take over the management of ABT in the event the ballet company becomes insolvent and shuts down.
The Met's general manager Anthony A. Bliss said, "Let them wash their own dirty linen" before they seek to negotiate their anticipated eight-week New York engagement for next spring.
Kennedy Center chief Roger Stevens, who is a member of ABT's board, could not be reached for comment.