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Cubans prevented from dancing Sylphides


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#46 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 October 2003 - 01:43 PM

The only way I can think of to alert this sort of mentality that Something Is Wrong is to hit them in the wallet. I have friends, regular longtime balletgoers, who hate what's been done to Alonso, and plan to boycott ABT the next season they present "Sylphides", whether by program or entirely. Some have said that they will not be renewing their donations to the company, with a sharp letter explaining why.

#47 nlkflint

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Posted 14 October 2003 - 02:58 PM

Right. I don't know who would act as an enforcer directly from the Fokine estate in NYC, although I do know that Isabelle's brother lives there. I do not know, however, if he is a beneficiary of the estate with respect to the ballets. He's a lawyer.


LOL; Wasn't it Shakespeare that said something like lets shoot all the lawyers? :wallbash:

#48 Michael

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Posted 14 October 2003 - 06:04 PM

Mme. Hermine -- As to your inquiry, my head is spinning. Ultimately, the key issue would be how much does the choreography actually resemble or borrow wholesale from the protected original. If the resemblence is too close, then what they try to call it won't save it from infringement.

The thing is that, practically speaking, you wouldn't want to create even a close case. A company that is going to devote time, money, effort, scheduling, advertising -- that is going to sell tickets, and promote a work, etc., wants predictible security. It wants to know, not that it's going to prevail in the end in proving that it hasn't infringed another work, but that it's not even going to be challenged in the first place.

I agree with Mel about hitting them in the pocket book but I've been piping up here to add shaming them on this board. Anything that gets their attention. It is one of the great things about this board that it can be a bit of a conscience for the collective Ballet world. And the more I see of it, the more I realize what a small small world it is.

#49 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 October 2003 - 06:54 PM

Right, Michael. As long as we stay away from libelous or malicious statements, I think we're on firm ground as critics and commentators.

So:

NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY ABT! :angry:

#50 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 04:17 AM

Right. I don't know who would act as an enforcer directly from the Fokine estate in NYC, although I do know that Isabelle's brother lives there. I do not know, however, if he is a beneficiary of the estate with respect to the ballets. He's a lawyer.


LOL; Wasn't it Shakespeare that said something like lets shoot all the lawyers? :wallbash:

A word here about lawyers and copyright, or any other kind of rights laws, as well as other aspects of the profession: Shakespeare has the line, "First, kill all the lawyers!" The character who says this would probably have had lots of experience of lawyers in the form of Crown Prosecutors, so his view of things would be a little jaundiced. When you have a law problem, who ya gonna call? I esteem and admire my own lawyer and other good practitioners of the profession, and the few bad apples in the barrel are generally detected and their tickets yanked by their peers.

Secondly, I am loth to ascribe paltry motives to the Fokine estate, as I was a student of Vitale Mikhailovitch, and will give his children the benefit of the doubt in any matter where I am not in full possession of the entire story. Apparently, the material known as "Les Sylphides" was not copyrighted until after Vitale Mikhailovitch's death in 1977, so the copyright has many, many years to run. Before VMF's death, the ballet world kept its Fokine intact through professional discipline of the "oral tradition" of passing along ballets, and goodwill toward the Fokines. Indeed, that's the way much of the world works: goodwill. Most people in commercial ventures, left to their own devices, will try to do what's right. To do otherwise would destroy goodwill, and injure future business. It's sort of what Adam Smith described in The Wealth of Nations, where he says that gouging and profiteering will be restrained by self-interest. All it takes to wreck many enterprises, from message boards, through ballet companies, and on to international comity, is some individual or group not of good will to become players in the game, and much mischief may be worked.

Add to that my previous statement about the goodness of the artistic staff of ABT, and you have a presentation of my biases. I just thought I should put my cards on the table.

#51 citibob

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 12:26 PM

What we've learned from the software world is that copyrighted, proprietary software has a short life --- it is lost as soon as the company that wrote it decides it is no longer in their interests to continue developing and marketing the software. Software that is NOT copyrighted in the traditional sense --- and is freely available to anyone who wishes to look at or use it --- seems to stay around forever and keep growing and improving.

It seems that the same is true for ballets. Ballets that are tightly held by their creators live a LOT shorter lives than ballets that are not. That is one reason Balanchine's works are used so much these days --- because he put a system in place to allow and encourage others to use them.

#52 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 12:29 PM

Point well taken, Bob, and I think you're onto something there. :)

#53 Treefrog

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 06:14 PM

Does anyone know if they are dancing Les Sylphides in their stops in other cities? My hopes were raised for the Chicago program when I read the program on some website (either Ticketmaster or at the venue, the Auditorium Theatre). However, the newspaper advertises Swan Lake Act II and the black swan pas de deux.

#54 carbro

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 08:52 PM

I don't see how that (LesS) would be possible, TF, if ABT owns exclusive rights. I was sorry not to have seen the co. in the Fokine. The Act II Swan excerpts gave the best moments of the evening, though. It was the beautiful corps work that made it so, and I believe their previously planned presentation would have shown them to even better advantage.

#55 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 03:52 AM

I don't know if the exclusivity is nationwide, worldwide, or simply in NYC. And I would like to take this opportunity to correct an error of fact that I perpetrated earlier about Michael Fokine, Nicholas' father :blushing: ; he is not an attorney, he was working as a market researcher when he returned to graduate school to continue an academic pursuit in Philosophy. I wish him well and regret the error.

(PS. Nobody leaned on me to do this, I discovered my mistake and felt ethically bound to retract and apologize for it.)

#56 Treefrog

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 05:24 AM

I asked, Carbro, because the NY Times article linked in the first post says that ABT has the exclusive rights in New York (don't know if that's state or city -- I assume city). I was hoping that for once our provincial status would play to our advantage.

However, I can see that it would be difficult for the Cubans to transport two sets of costumes, etc., so I wondered if ABT's unfortunate decision had a much wider repercussion. If so, they really got a big bang out of their investment in the rights -- and have caused even more harm and ill will than they bargained for.

Anyone know what's happened in other stops on the tour?

#57 carbro

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 08:29 AM

Sorry, Treefrog. My error. I didn't realize that ABT's rights were confined to NYC.

Wouldn't it be lovely if, somehow, you got both?


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