• Ashley Page rehearses with Tatianna Loginova. Picture: Ian MacNicol
Ashley Page, artistic director of Scottish Ballet for the past ten years, has declined an offer from the company's board of directors to renew his contract, which runs out in August 2012.
A brief statement from the company yesterday gave no reason for his decision to quit other that stating that Mr Page "felt he was unable to accept the extension." He declined to comment on his decision.
His departure comes the day after Simon Woods, chief executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, announced he was leaving to take up a post as executive director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in spring, after five years at the RSNO.
In its statement, Scottish Ballet said: "Ashley has commissioned, and also choreographed, a range of work with the company, which has helped to create the unique identity and reputation for which Scottish Ballet has become renowned.
"Audiences will continue to enjoy these works as they will remain within the company's repertoire. Ashley is currently working with the company to restage Cinderella this winter, and to present the world premiere of a brand new production next spring."
The statement also said it would begin recruiting a successor for Mr Page shortly.
Last night Kelly Apter, The Scotsman's dance critic said: "I'm saddened but not entirely surprised by this. To be fair, ten years is a decent chunk of time and for him, as a person, it may be that he is looking for a new challenge.
"He had certainly been very happy at Scottish Ballet and everyone is always full of praise for him. He has transformed the company and its reputation such that the word on the street is that dancers and choreographers from abroad want to come to Scotland to work.
"It is always possible that the threat of cuts to ballet funding in the Scottish budget may have influenced him, but this would be a factor everywhere."
Scottish national arts companies are bracing themselves for cuts in finance secretary John Swinney's budget announcement later this month.
Chancellor George Osborne unveiled 81 billion of cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review last month, with the Scottish Government's budget falling by 1.3bn in cash terms next year, compared with 2010-11, as a result.
When Mr Page took over Scottish Ballet it had been dropped from the Edinburgh Festival programme and there were suggestions it could close.
However, he brought success and stability after a succession of directors, spanning more than a decade, following the death of its founder Sir Peter Darrell.
Mr Page, a former leading dancer with the Royal Ballet, instigated a daring programme of innovative new works from high-profile international choreographers, including himself, mixing contemporary movement with traditional works.
What some had thought was overambitious rehabilitated the company's reputation.
He also oversaw its move from the west end of Glasgow to its current premises in the Tramway on the city's south side.
BACK FROM THE DEAD:
ASHLEY Page and Scottish Ballet were made for each other in a dramatic tale which saw both rise from despair to international acclaim. In 2001 Page, the Royal Ballet's main in-house choreographer, was made aware he had no future with the company.
Rather than beg for work, he applied to Scottish Ballet stating his terms - that he wanted a bigger budget and a clearout of existing dancers.
His vision was music to the ailing company's ears. Kent-born Page wowed audiences with works including his debut Cinderella, pictured, and The Nutcracker. He also won friends by staging shows in small, far-flung venues.