Analysis: Impact on staff morale could be profound

LAST week's announcement that Ashley Page will step down from Scottish Ballet in 2012 initially seemed like a natural progression. Page had achieved great things with the company and it was time for him to take his talent to pastures new. Four days and one strongly-worded press announcement later, everything has changed.

It's not unusual for artistic directors to leave prematurely - Ross Stretton's early departure from the Royal Ballet some years ago was filled with strife, largely because the dancers were unhappy with his regime. Conversely, dancers at Scottish Ballet talk about the supportive nature of Page's leadership. The impact this announcement will have on staff morale is not to be underestimated.

When Page's predecessor, Robert North left in 2001, Scottish Ballet was in a state of flux. Then, as now, the board was looking for a new direction. Does Page's exit signal a return to those dark days? One certainly hopes not, but it will take a Herculean effort for Page to plough as much energy and enthusiasm into his spring premiere, Alice, as he would have done under happier circumstances.

• Kelly Apter is dance critic for The Scotsman