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      2018 Joint Fundraiser for Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers   02/03/2018

      We have launched our 2018 Fundraiser.  To donate, please see the instructions on our home page for checks (US dollars only) and credit card donations via PayPal.  We close the fundraiser as soon as we raise enough to sustain us for the next year, and we thank you for your support!


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Everything posted by JumpFrog

  1. Binet Allegations

    Just so disappointing. This is such a shame for the company. http://frankmag.ca/2017/12/26474/
  2. 2018-19 Season

    I have heard although not seen personally Nureyev choreography and the thing that stuck with me was a performer saying he felt it was almost "hard for the sake of being hard". I can't help but wonder if the prodigy type talent Nureyev had made certain technical ablilities seem more attainable than they really are for even the most accomplished of dancers and that is why his stagings are known to be "so hard".
  3. Binet Allegations

    It looks like the articles are just getting started. To release them in stages is both super smart for their viewership but also gives the feeling they have more where that came from. If the ballet company have people going to the press it suggests people are really angry and probably won't stop any time soon. The lack of Kain actually directing makes sense Kylara as that would have give ample opportunity for people to get their own agendas into play relatively unnoticed and unpunished and the articles presentation of both the Binet situation and the Fischer situation side by side is particularly damning as it clarifies that it isnt all just coincidence as they hope all will believe but rather how they do business there. On the company website itself it shows all they have done since Binet Sr. resigned (and was replaced by his friend and colleague from Tory) is shift him to the Endowment Board. Do they not think that people research this? https://national.ballet.ca/Meet/Board-of-Directors Something that will shock literally no one is that the upcoming mixed program is entirely sponsored by Thomson Reuters Deputy Chairman Binet Sr. https://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2017-18-Season/Made-in-Canada The good thing with this all happening as public as it is is that it puts pressure on leaders to right wrongs sooner rather than later. So far it appears Kain and co. are confident they will get away with this okay, but with the way other places like Soulpepper/Miramax are reorganizing (and because of the same issues) it appears the ballet leadership here gravely miscalculated. If their actions since the publications started are any indication Kain probably has yet to realize what just what she has done.
  4. SFB 2018: Sleeping Beauty

    It seems to be a recurring issue in alot of places, the fact that many are becoming frustrated with the reviewing of ballet. I think it is hard to have to separate your own opinion from fact but isnt that their job? On the other hand it can be frustrating to read reviews where they say a whole lot of nothing. I think the question you pose pherank is really important- Is a reviewers impression generally matched by the rest of the audience? I think it is not much of the time but it of course depends on who is doing the reviewing. The entire premise of reviewing art is shifting. I think for the better because people are questioning if they really care what the reviewing says. And they are also questioning the agenda of the writer as well. In Canada for instance the young choreographer they keep trying to make happen is the son the owner of the national newspaper. It is almost farcical. Is what we read at all unbiased anymore? Great writing in this regard is dying.
  5. Binet Allegations

    Thank you for your intelligent thoughts kylara7. This is a subject that I am very interested in (nerd alert, lol) and I think that the entire movement of people calling out injustice happening right now is going to be encouraging for the kind of systemic change we all agree is needed at Canada’s National Ballet. I think you bring up some excellent points. One part of this I think is interesting is that the arts (or maybe it’s non-profits I’m not sure) seem to be very late to the party on this. It seems like all other fields have internal policy to prevent fraud, corruption, nepotism, conflict of interest, etc. But it doesn’t appear they have that here. At least they don’t have it under Karen Kain. And if they do it’s not being enforced. The Binet/Fischer situation would never be allowed in any other field. So maybe the arts have allowed the inherent subjectivity of what they do to become a kind of an excuse for not having stricter rules. As in, no, sir, you may not write a check for one million dollars and get your son hired... or no - you may not run this department with your wife and then hire and promote your daughter. It’s funny to think of this in the context of a government office or science lab. It would be considered, at the very least, terribly bad taste - and at the most, actually against the law. So ultimately, the lack of any rules here was taken advantage of. I think everyone can agree that not having policies in place to protect employees from this kind of corruption is poor leadership. It reflects very badly on Karen Kain and her tenure of running the ship.
  6. Binet Allegations

    volcanohunter you seem very hesitant to stay on topic here. The subject is the enquiry into the Binet’s and their potential abuse of power. You have answered none of the rather important questions posed by either the article or posters here on this thread. For example: 1) Are there, or should there, be rules in place, to prevent this, or any other abuse of power from happening again (a parent chairing a school board while their child attends, then transferring to the attached company when child graduates, hiring the child at that company and then securing further work for their child at another arts organization by joining their board)? 2) What policies should be in place regarding sexual harrasment between leadership and employees? You have made it very clear your “dislike” for Mr. Cote, Mr. Kudelka and others on here - and yet your deflection from this subject in particular suggests a discomfort with having even an open discussion. You may continue to choose to direct the conversation elsewhere but please do so on an appropriate thread. One mustn’t appear rank-and-file.
  7. Favorite SFB Short Video Clips

    Thank you pherank!
  8. American National Ballet

    This entire enterprise just seems shady. No way around it.
  9. 2017-18 season

    Did anyone see Winters Tale? It doesn't seem like it. We saw Nijinsky yesterday and I feel almost the same about this one as I did about A Streetcar. In a nutshell there are some beautiful moments but as a whole it is just too much all round. It was like Neumier was over ambitious with what he wanted to do. There are so many characters and references you can't possibly bring justice to each. He has an incredible sense of theater though and knows how to see the big picture and leave and impact. If only he could of cut down about 30%. I am now a major fan of Frola. Completely engaging and articulate in every way. Lunkina was fine I guess. Would have prefered to see Ogden. One thing I thought was so obvious was that the structure of the work was identical to A Streetcar. External vs. internal world blending, and then everything where it started. And it works. I am not certain that this is the kind of ballet that will bring new audiences. In fact I am certain that if this was seen by someone completely new to ballet they would have no idea what was going on. It also looked like they closed one or two of the levels near the top of the theater. I can't help but wonder if this is normal or maybe they decide the sight line isnt good for ballet. Or maybe they close it because then they can shuffle people around and say it sold out lol.
  10. 2018 Met Season

    I also agree. I think they are quite decent.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!!!
  13. Favorite SFB Short Video Clips

    I want this framed. My goodness. Gorgeous!
  14. 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.
  15. 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?
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Would have loved to be there. Looks wonderful. Bravo/brava to all involved and for such an important cause.
  20. 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!
  21. 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.
  22. World Ballet Day 2017, Thursday 5 October

    Go San Francisco Ballet! My heart is with you!
  23. Rest in Peace. She is loved and remembered.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.