Jump to content


Senior Member
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by JumpFrog

  1. Ballet 101 program

    Sandik this this is so wonderful. I also thank you deeply. Something about PNB that has always crossed my mind at least under Boal is his tranparency. I never get the feeling that he and his entire team and company are distant or hard to reach. They are always so open and clear with their plans and reasoning and as a longtime supporter i personally hold that very high. People want to know whats going on and to have a feeling that there is a community working together through good times and hardships and I think even holding this Q and A shows their openess. There should be some kind of award given for smart educational programming by ballet companies and this would take the cake. Bravo.
  2. UNBOUND 2018: A Festival of New Works

    Am absoulutely devastated to not be able to make it to these programs. Please fellow BA friends if you are there provide updates. Especially Program B and C!!!
  3. Favorite SFB Short Video Clips

    I want this framed. My goodness. Gorgeous!
  4. 2016-17 season

    I think you are correct Darry that this seems to be the standard they want to set. Or at least what Karen wants to set. As sad as it is, They don't seem to aspire to be a top level company like the Royal Ballet, Paris Opera, ABT, etc., as you say. Because if they did they would be programming so much better and making decisions based on quality. But they don't. Not to say that those other companies mentioned are perfect because they are absolutely not. But it does become clear pretty quickly that at the National Ballet the first priority is money, connections, and politics. As said earlier in the thread, the legacy of this may not seem so important right now- the lasting impact of it all may not seem huge. But it will follow a number of people. It will leave a stain.
  5. 2016-17 season

    As you so accurately stated Helene at least internally everything comes down to what the Board allows - it just so happens that the head of this Board... is Binet. Externally, a ballet company is largely judged by reviews. And the likelihood of Binet getting a good review is, of course, high - because as we learned earlier (dirac?) the owner of the national newspaper... is Binet. Now looking through the Tweet containing the press release, referenced above by volcanohunter (about company finances and the Annual General Meeting), it appears Binet has had to step down from the Chair position. Today (on what now makes my third phonecall from the company asking why we had chosen to cancel our subscriptions) I enquired about this and told that while they were not prepared to go into any more specifics Binet would no longer be in that position. Maybe the tide is changing. As for the national touring stopping under Karen while the international touring including Los Angeles and Washington, etc. I think it is important to remember that touring for touring sake is a mistake. You are only as good as the material presented. Otherwise you are simply sullying your reputation internationally. So if they choose to tour with high quality material the company will be viewed as so. Nijinsky is a good example. It seems to have been recieved very positively (especially Cote). But something like the immersive turkey in London can actually cause more harm than good, at least in terms of the reputation of the national company. I mean I know there will always be both positive and negative reviews but those I spoke to really really called this one a doozy. "The dancers appeared paradoxically remote, making no acknowledgment of their audience and rarely meeting each other's eyes. The stucture of the piece as a whole was hard to discern." -DanceTabs on "The Dreamers Ever Leave You" by Robert Binet "Staging this work in a dull and cavernous black space with no artistic personality did the dancers few favours...choreography is decorative but inimportant, gentle but indistinct, reverent in its emotional colouring but surprisingly effete in impact. [the music] does little to enhance proceedings." -The Times on "The Dreamers Ever Leave You" by Robert Binet "A disappointment, more fashioned with a duty of care rather than ardour... It may be that the modest and modestly skilled Canadian company just didn't jibe with a Russian idea, but it all leaves this production feeling spiritless and lightweight." -ArtsDesk on "Romeo and Juliet" by Alexei Ratmasky I think that everyone can agree touring is great. But the material presented also has to be great. And that's where Karen has dropped the ball. Wasn't that the terrible writeup written by Schabs from The Globe and Mail? And anyway it won't make much difference. I think Karen has made her bed and now lying lol. I also saw Fisher dance Myrtha and thought it was good. But it is not about going back and forth discussing what performances worked and what didnt. Isnt the issue that you have two people who's respective parents are directly involved in the employment and professional trajectory of their children?
  6. 2016-17 season

    Thank you Canadian. I read quite a bit about the Cinderella production when first moving here as it was one of the first things I saw and distinctly remember hearing glowing reviews. Especially this one http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/05/arts/dance/05cind.html In fact it discussed positively on this very site when it premiered and in the years that have followed www.balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/20352-abt-2006-spring-season-at-the-met The wonderful Roberta on the Arts also wrote a lovely piece here www.robertaonthearts.com/dance/idOnstage261.html I am in awe of your knowledge Helene! I think you are right that there are definitly examples of dancers from dancing families but I think if I have understood correctly that what Canadian was referring to was the direct conflict of interests that seem to be taking place at the Canadian ballet company now. I personally cannot think of another example of what is happening here. Can anyone else? I mean what we have is a parent who literally became Chair the board for the school that their child is already attending (and for whom you are also a major donor) and when that child graduates from said school the parent becomes Chair of the attached company - who then hire his son as artistic staff. You then have the same parent join the Board of the most major art gallery in the region - who then hire his son to partner with the ballet on a commisioned work. And no one said anything? There is no policy to overlook for this type of thing? And for the Fisher I also have seen dancing families for sure but I have never seen a husband wife duo who hire their daughter and despite the objection of many (and poorly executed performances) actually promote her faster then anyone else. Is this common? Is this normal? Is this right? I feel confident to give a resounding NO on that but also am beginning to think that Karen has no plans on righting the situation... she would have done it by now. I think we all should all mentally prepare for a Principal Dancer Fisher and full length Binet immersive turkey extravaganza.
  7. 2016-17 season

    If the national ballet wants to see improvement they must get a handle on the nepotism Fisher/Binet situation. The more one looks into the company the more apparent it becomes that, at least over the last ten years, the focus has shifted greatly, from quality and merit to money and who your parents are/ social influence. It does not appear that before this level of conflict was present. And if it did please chime in? At least not to the point of having parents in senior positions hiring or securing employment for their children. Now I anticipate many would say that that is where the world is going just now... but it doesn't make it right. I also agree that the over 40 dancers are dancing well but also that it creates a problem for the up and coming dancers. Because if you havent been there for thirty years or arent politically connected or willing to take part in that kind of culture the chances of your moving up are slim. Hell the chances of some principal dancers actually getting a principal role are slim at this point lol. The chances of any new up and coming choreographers are also slim. When you have people in powerful positions working overtime to make sure that their children are secured senior level positions in a company it is a tough thing to go up against. It clearly doesn't matter much to them that the audience is aware and noting the decline of quality (Fisher in Swan Lake, Pinnochio, Binet's immersive turkey's). My hunch is that the only thing that will make them take action is when the sales continue to decline which I suppose comes back to underestimating your audience referenced earlier. It is certainly a unique situation the outcome of which will have a major impact on a number of peoples professional legacies. As referenced before by some fellow BA'ers if people have any sense at all Fisher will find employment elsewhere and do it on her own merit. Binet will seek choreography in a place where his father has no relations or history of financial donation (open his own company?). This way dancers will be hired and perform roles because they are fit for the part, regardless of age or family background, and choreographers will be commissioned to create because their work is recognized as world class. Until then they can try and spin it however they like. It doesn't change the truth and it won't make them sleep any better.
  8. Keeping Up With SFB Veterans

    Wonderful news. Lucky students to be mentored by Zahorian and Karapetyan. And fantastic about including Gyrotonics. Admitedly biased but it has kept me up and moving well for the last fifteen years.
  9. Would have loved to be there. Looks wonderful. Bravo/brava to all involved and for such an important cause.
  10. 2016-17 season

    This is to funny that you say this kylara7 because I feel like since even we have lived here - only a few years - the same thing has become apparent to us. It seems like there is more concern for "looking" like what they think a ballet company should look like than there is for the actual quality of what they do if that makes sense. In fact I have now met a ton of others who feel the same and have cancelled their subscriptions. Who could justify possibly spending that much money on such bad work? You are definitly not alone. In complete agreement naomikage and sonatina1234. I have also lost all interest in attending performances because the work is just so poor. Not only do they have terrible programming (Pinocchio? Another "immersive" turkey? ) but the casting for the terrible programming is even terrible. And then they repeat it! Rereading through this thread and putting all the pieces together it seems to become clear that the main concern here under this leadership has become money plain and simple. The work is bad? Doesn't matter, put it on anyway because we are getting alot of money. Dancer can't do the role? Put them onstage anyway because its politic and the audience probably won't know better. Well I think the audience *does* in fact know better and are getting increasingly fed up with this kind of behavior. It seems that there were many years here where quality mattered and the choreography and dancers showcased were done so because of merit (with the lack of performances to attend I have instead been reading up on the history in Power to Rise lol). Im afraid it appears that this is no longer is the case. So I really can't help but not blame (even feel proud of?) the dancers leaving. To stay is to be part of the problem (Unless you actively work to change it). As per Dronina. This is a worldclass ballerina - clearly Tamara Rojo gets it (also Lunkina - Hawes - Cpte - Ogden - Hodgkinson - Frola - Tedaldi - Lobsonava) - to think of them wasting what are some very precious and shortlived years in a company doing stuff like this... GO BE FREE DRONINA - - FLY HIGH!
  11. Was pleased to be present for last nights Program 1 of Fall For Dance (North) in Toronto. A very eclectic mix of pieces but a great chance for Toronto to see work by people they don't get to see often. The best of the bunch was undoubtedly le Ballet Jazz Montreal. At times seductive while at others wonderfully comedic the dancers committed fully to the material and it left a lasting impact. I will certainly be making every effort to see them at some point in Montreal (where I have also never been unfortunately). The other strong point was German based Gautier Dance who were an absolute delight. To make such an impression with only two dancers on stage (one "playing" the other as if they are a cello) was both inventive and wonderfully constructed. I hope they would come to North America more often. The weakest link of the program was a "special commission" called Children of Chaos, It was said to be a celebration of Canadian talent but was really a tiresome mishmash of boring steps. There was not any intention. It felt long and tedious. Its strongest aspect was by far the beautiful dancers (particularly standout Frances Cheung) all from some very prestigious companies including San Francisco Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theater and The Royal Ballet. To have such amazing talent all on one stage and then wasted as it was here was disappointing. The other weak link was a project called Zatta Omm. Leaving little to no impression it felt like the stereotypical "modern" dance work the average person would imagine when you say the words "modern" and "dance" together. The other work of the program was not really to my taste but it was creative, impactful and the dancers committed fully. Bummed out to miss the other two programs so if anyone is there please report back. There appears to be particular buzz for "Fifteen Heterosexual Duets" by former director of The National Ballet of Canada James Kudelka. Sad to miss it.
  12. World Ballet Day 2017, Thursday 5 October

    Go San Francisco Ballet! My heart is with you!
  13. Rest in Peace. She is loved and remembered.
  14. Favorite SFB Short Video Clips

    Sandik and California I wonder if it is possible Woetzel to run both. Speaking with a friend yesterday we could think of a few examples of artistic directors also running a festival at the same time however that these are in different parts of the country makes me think it may not be quite possible in this case.
  15. Jewels: 22-23 Sep and 28 Sep-1 Oct

    "Moved without effort or fuss". I love this Helene! I was a little farther away from the stage but felt this was precisely what radiated from the stage and for me this is what Balanchine should be. I know that everyone and their neighbor have there own idea of what it should be but when I see it done (going on thirty someodd years now) I am always most taken by the performances are this precisely. I think the wonder of Balanchine isnt so much what he added or embelleshed but what he took away. I find his work so interesting because it is somehow stripped of the superfluous if that makes sense. I think Boal got that as a dancer and he certainly gets it from his dancers here.
  16. SF Ballet Announces 2017–18 Roster

    Thank you for this pherank lol. I must admit i have thought the same. Sometimes when I look at what Paris is doing I feel the same. Its all a bit much somehow.
  17. 2016-17 season

    I am surprised ^that^ made it through the publicity department. :/ Did anyone else see Swan Lake? I have now seen each cast and can say that I really enjoy the production. As I mentioned before I found the Hawes/Gerty cast magical. Watts as Rothbert was wonderful. I had high hopes for the Lunkina/Mckie cast but was left pretty unmoved. She I thought was known for the classics? I did hear after that she wasnt well though. Mckie was not on. Those who know him better said he was having a particularly off night. Ogden/Cote were wonderful. Rock solid and lovely musicality. Other standouts were Lobsanava in the Russian and the all the men in the first act dance. One quibble was the cygnettes. There were very together for the dance but then the final position where they land on there knees I found they all had different amounts of arch in their backs and necks. It ruined it because the rest was so together!! This might be complete wrong but I also swear there were dancers i had never seen before. Did they have school people in the corps sections? Or maybe new dancers? Definitely some new faces. Also a big acknowldgement for the orchestra who sounded great and to my ear stronger with each show. Sad these performances came and went so quickly. On a separate note I am both excited for and sad to see Dronina joining ENB. I know she will still be here technically but i would love to see all of her that is possible. I guess she needs to stay busy which I understand and she will get this by being in two companies but i wish there was enough work here to have her here all year. Maybe an excuse to take a trip :)))
  18. 2016-17 season

  19. 1978 . . . and Today

    miliosr "What is the happy medium between commissioning new works and finding 'creative present' in old works?" is such a good question. I think that is one of the hardest tasks an artistic director has of a dance company to have to decide how they program in a way that drives dance forward. Theater companies continue with Shakespeare while also doing new stuff and I think ballet is the same. Because it is all about the balance between the two and what the right balance is for each person is so unique is why there seems to be so many varying thoughts and opinions on this but is also why each dance company can still have its own distinct identity and voice because they will go about it in different ways. I think your idea of seeing the 70's production today is interesting as well. Would it work? No idea. But it would open up the discussion of what makes something stand the test of time which is I think an important question.
  20. 2016-17 season

    Swan Lake June 16th, 2017 Fischer/Saye/Watts Not sure how I can adequately describe how much I was looking forward to this performance. Since being in Canada I have missed big classical ballet so so much and I also had heard such good things about this production from people as well as loved this companies Cinderella and the Nutcracker. All in all the news is good in now three out of three of Kudelka's ballet's I tottaly love. The opening here is really majestic and visually impressive. And the screen or painting or whatever the background was for the first act (if anyone knows please share) was breathtaking. That sky and the clouds oh my! Beautiful design. I had been warned about a scene of violence beforehand and as people discuss above with Streetcar Named Desire the issue of violence on stage especially when sexual in nature is very divisive and a tricky subject to talk about. However I found The Wench to be one of the most harrowing moments of the entire ballet and so so powerful. The music is so celebratory and gloriously Tchaikovsky at his best and it starts so free wheeling and fun and then it obviously turns. It turns but the music plays on. And we are helpless to stop it. Dark? Yes. Powerful. Yes. I think so. Moving along into the act I found the "reveal" of Odette so refreshing. I've seen so many version where she just runs/jumps onstage and/or is "hidden" in the group dancers only to appear at some point in the choreography. I always found the first option kind of boring and the second option a risk because once you see it once you can't help but look for her each time lol. Here she emerges as natural as a human ballerina dressed as a swan in a tutu can be hahahah. Kidding aside somehow she emerges in such a natural way - like a bird would - kind of out of nowhere. It feels so right with the builds in the music also. So I want to say right off the bat that I feel very bad for Hannah Fischer. I think as discussed above that she is in an impossible position. Lose lose really. This is not her role. And I say that because I think she is talented and would love to see her in the right fit. But it was so clear from the get go that she wasn't comfortable. And her entire way of moving is not suited to this role. She is an absolutely gorgeous girl with an amazing instrument to work with. But everything is too sharp, athletic, lacking in refinement to work here. Her technical ability and in particular her musicality just was not up to the job at hand. I didn't see any softness or detail or the kind of lyricism a dancer should have for the role of Odette. Also her feet and or shoes are an issue. I don't know what it is and if someone does please chime in here but they don't look like they give her any support? They bend so much that she falls down off of the pointe and it's often sudden and clunky and clearly not meant to happen. When Siegfried helps pick her up from the floor when she is in her one leg extended in front pose in both white and black swan it was like her shoe was a spade in soil - just ram it down and hope it holds. I never noticed this transition before because I'm assuming it should appear smooth and seamless. I would love to see her where she feels comfortable. Balanchine? Sleeping Beauty? I have no doubt that in the right work she will be great. What upsets me is that watching it I knew there is no way that she doesn't know it's not a good fit. You don't get to that level of achievement from being oblivious or lacking in self awareness. It must feel awful to have to go out there when you know you're just not ready. It just sucks. From the get go I found Brendan Saye competent. He is also a very good looking young dancer and his way of standing and walking was very princely which worked here. Other than that though I didn't feel or see much in terms of making a real impact. He simply did it and got through it. For me the mvp of the night was Ethan Watts. From that amazing opening bit [who pulls off giant wings? Watts does] he was so present so articulate with every moment and gesture that I was really taken in. As the person beside me whisperyelled to their companion "Ohhh, he's good!" The Benno and Fool character were also very solid danced by Trygve Cumpston and Kota Sato. This particular Swan Lake version does more for the relationship dynamic between the three leads of Swan Rothbart and Siegfried then I have seen elsewhere. I really sensed characters and history and shifting power dynamics it makes me excited to see other interpretations. The second act was also amazing in the design. I love the violet blue kind of color theme and the only thing I quibble with was that especially the big group dance at the beginning looked smushed in that space. So much on the stage and not enough room. Looking back I felt this about Nutcracker and was told it could be because it was built for the old ballet theatre so maybe that is what happened here. Very interesting princesses variations. Laughed out loud at the Italian one with the guy who kept trying to convince the prince his girl is best. Missed some of the traditional character style dance but meh it was still good. Black swan pas de deux was not strong. They were uncomfortable we were uncomfortable. It was rough. Maybe it was her shoes? She near wiped out at the end of her solo and again fell off her pointe but saved it as best she could and bless her kept on going. Then she had to come back on for the fouettes. I think she might have got through 10? She then ran forward and did a swan wings kind of arm move and then started some other turns in a circle. Saye it seemed to me does have a good jump but something about the way he uses the plie before and after seemed like it could use work. Like he would have more jump if he got lower and used more plie for takeoff and landing. The transifion after he says that he'll choose her to marry was crazy good. You could hear how thrilled the audience was including myself as the big silk wave thing came about and the lights changed and everything starting to go down. And then the section of black swans dancing together that followed is what sealed the deal for me. Wonderful. Haunting. Third descriptive term similar but different then haunting. The end was very sad as is often the case with Swan Lake but it really was heartbreakingly beautiful. The way she is still standing by him after he is down and the way she tries to pick up his arm was so so moving and each moment matched the music perfectly. By the end I was just so happy to see classical ballet here and such great version of the choreography. Even if it wasn't the strongest night for the leads they went out there and did their best. Swan Lake June 17th, 2017 Hawes/Gerty/Rudisin Two Swan Lakes in twenty four hours. Somebody's gotta do it! I was determined to see each cast so onto the next. I won't talk so much about the production because I already did and I can barely feel my hands. Emma. Hawes. Stole. The. Entire. Show. Then it ended. I am not sure I have seen someone so young and relatively inexperienced in principal roles come out and do what she did. From the beginning it was clear she was a swan. She has a lyrical calmnesss to her dancing that works so well here. Was it perfect? Definitely not. Is it ever? But after how tough the previous show was I was just so taken by what it actually looks like to see someone take on a mountain and win. She was partnered by Chris Gerty who like Saye has the advantage of being very handsome and with a princely stature. He is a very attentive partner and has glorious leaps. His acting was thoughtful and he has an arabesque to die for. I look forward to seeing him in more. Ben Rudison was good as Rothbart. I think I was just spoiled by how good Watts was and it didn't have the same level of excitement. They also are totally different. I'm not sure. Maybe he needs some more time to develop as it was also his first time in the role. One thing is that he is a very strong partner. So attentive and without breaking character which I really appreciate. Jack Bertinshaw was really excellent in Benno. Very different feeling than Cumpston but just as good and I'm glad to see the dancers make things their own. There is an honesty and openness to him on stage that I was taken by. Very somehow unaffected. Frola as the Fool was wonderful. What a crazy talent he has. His body can seemingly do things that defy gravity. Pretty wiped from both shows in all. It packs an emotional wallop. Swan Lake is just so timeless from the music to the themes and I'm just so happy I get to experience it. Happy Weekend all.
  21. 2016-17 season

    So after reading everyone's thoughts on this I decided to do some research on my lunch break. Turns out Binet was in fact head of the Board of the Canadian ballet school while his son attended. When the son graduated the father became head of the company board and the son was given the Choreographic Associate thing. The father then joined the Art Gallery Board and the Dreamers dance project was premiered. This is all publicly available information found on their websites. (News, media, Annual report) In terms of the apprentice position as a choreographer I have not personally encountered that position before but my experience is in North America only so it may be different in Europe. Come to think of it that's actually smart to have an apprentice like rank of a company for choreographers. They can develop and learn from those more experienced. It does seem looking at the Royal ballet media releases that it was more the relationship of Wayne M and Binet that brought about the position and regardless they no longer have that position at all. I think it was for one year but not sure. Anyway back to the season who saw Swan Lake last night? I'm dying to see it
  22. 2016-17 season

    Where his father was also head of the Board.
  23. 2016-17 season

    Thank you for this naomikage. I had not heard of this before. I know of two or three instances in San Francisco where young dancers who had parents as staff/donors of the ballet company and were encouraged to go elsewhere in order to avoid conflict. I'm not sure if this is an actual policy but it does make sense.
  24. 2016-17 season

    This seems like reasonable equivalence. Good job Kathy!
  25. 2016-17 season

    I have to agree with volcanohunter and Canadian and say I worry that so much damage has already been done. I think the best thing would be for Binet Sr. to step down and for Binet Jr. to focus on his (presumably genuine) choreographic ambitions on other company's. Perhaps open his own? Who knows? Why not. I have also as mentioned above heard rumblings from many at this point people who literally work for the company that the whole situation is out of control and needs to stop. Sorry if this is hearsay. This situation is so compromised at this point. I can't think of another industry where this level of conflict-of-interest would be accepted. And I think it's time the leadership and members of The National Ballet really ask themselves if they are leading in a way that is ethical. I think anyone with a conscious will realize they aren't.