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Pittsburgh Ballet TheatreStruggling company


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#1 Premabalrina

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 05:39 PM

Two key staff members left the struggling Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre this week, further fueling concerns about the company's viability as its leaders try to eliminate a $1 million debt and attract new audiences.

A committee made up of PBT's board members as well as foundation and cultural leaders is trying to reorganize and save the company. Among the options it is considering are downsizing the company, merging with another nonprofit organization, forging a partnership with another arts group or going out of business.


These quotes are curtosey of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. www.post-gazette.com/pg/05146/510566.stm

What will happen to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre? With their recent losses of many key board members, marketing director, fund raisers, and the school director, Roberto Munoz, it seems as though everyone has given up on the company. Will ballets such as "Tribute to Paul Simon" really lure in the conservative Pittsburgh crowd, helping to rid the company of its dept? Or will performing such non-classical ballets just contribute to it?

#2 Amy Reusch

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 08:07 PM

Will ballets such as "Tribute to Paul Simon" really lure in the conservative Pittsburgh crowd, helping to rid the company of its dept?

I was wondering, they didn't bring that work to NYC, I don't think... why not?

Also, aren't they facing the Rockettes scourge this Christmas?

#3 Premabalrina

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 07:04 AM

  Also, aren't they facing the Rockettes scourge this Christmas?

Looks like the Rockettes will be performing Nov. 10-Dec. 4 which would possibly cut into the first week of Nutcracker. This would also cut ticket sales for PBT since people might be spending their money on Rockette tickets instead of the Nutcracker. With the "million dollar" defecit, Orr should cut down the usual 4-5 week Nutcracker run to just 2 weeks. That way the ticket sales wouldn't be so spread out, giving the ballet a chance to fill the house. It was one thing when PBT performed Balanchines "Nutcracker", but with the "New Nutcracker" reviewed as 'not so exciting,' I doubt that it has reached out and touched previous non-ballet going Pittsburghers. That's what I would propose to the board to save money.

I was wondering, they didn't bring that work to NYC, I don't think... why not?

Not sure about this one...I will try to find out though.

#4 DaNcErKeL86

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 06:22 AM

Does anyone believe PBT will actually go out of business? I am a little nervous reading these posts as I have just committed to attend their post grad program in the fall. Now I am wondering if this is such a good idea. But unfortunately my plans are final. I am hoping for the best!

#5 Premabalrina

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 09:59 AM

Does anyone believe PBT will actually go out of business? I am a little nervous reading these posts as I have just committed to attend their post grad program in the fall. Now I am wondering if this is such a good idea.  But unfortunately my plans are final. I am hoping for the best!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I am a former apprentice with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. I was there during the first year PBT did the "Grad Program". There were only 8 Grads, 4 boys and 4 girls. Then, the grads actually were paid for the company performances they were in and given shoes, much like the apprentices. These days, I am hearing from the staff that the grad program has grown to 20-some dancers, making it much like a trainee program. With the school directors changing yearly, I would be hesitant to commit. However, PBT is a wonderful environment to train in. I think the grad program is perfect for girls recently graduating high school, who think that they need another solid year to concentrate on training. It is the perfect "stepping-stone" to joining a company. Good luck to you and enjoy! You'll absolutely love it there!

#6 Helene

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 11:40 AM

According to this article from PittsburghLive, originally posted in June 9 Links, whether next year's budget it finalized is dependent on negotiations with the orchestra, whose contract expires at the end of the month, and

[t]he ballet school will not be affected, and there will be no cuts in the current roster of dancers.

The post grad program isn't mentioned directly, but if it's under the auspices of the schoool, it would be covered.

#7 bart

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 12:55 PM

An important story, which all of us in regional ballet cities should be following. Could it happen here, too?

They've reduced the number of Nutcrackers, as premabalrina suggested. Saves money, but also cuts into revenue.

For those who tend to stiigmatize musicians' unions as unduly greedy, the article mentions that the orchestra already took a 12% pay cut in 2002 and 5% in 2003. (For the same number of hours of rehearsal and performance? It's not clear.) Seems they've been cooperative so far -- but how far can they go? In a city with a strong an orchestral tradition as Pittsburgh, recorded music would be especially insulting.

Very interesting is the talk of a possible merger between Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and Pennsylvania Ballet. The Pa. B's executive director was quoted as saying that there had been "discussion about how the two could work together." Made me think of the enforced merger of the main ballet companies in Berlin recently. This has met with some resistence even among ballet audiences on different sides of a single city. (They have to perform in two venues, West and East.) How would it work in two cities, each with its own history, tradition, and philanthropic base, at opposite ends of a state? Miami City Ballet, which is definitely a Miami institution, but which performs and gets considerable financial support in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Naples and West Palm Beach, might be a model to follow here.

#8 Premabalrina

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 11:28 AM

In a move aimed at saving more than $500,000, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre members will dance to recorded music instead of an orchestra when the company opens its season in October with a production of "Carmen." 
  Cynthia Anderson, who plays oboe in the 40-member orchestra that plays for PBT and the Pittsburgh Opera, called the decision "lunacy."
  Anderson, who chairs the Pittsburgh Ballet and Opera Orchestra Committee, warned that the move could destroy PBT.
  "Maybe they do that in Scranton and Backwoods, Tennessee. But Pittsburgh audiences come because they are sophisticated, because they expect artistic excellence," she said.


This is the latest news in the story I have been following about Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's financial problems. It seems that a lot of companies have had to cut back this season, but most have made cuts in the staff, not hired more dancers, or simply not offered raises to the dancers as alternatives to helping the particular companies financial situation. In a city like Pittsburgh, cutting the orchestra from the ballets while keeping the ticket prices the same is not going to encourage more ticket sales which is essentially why PBT didn't make a significant amount of money last season.
If they can save money, great. Anything to keep PBT in Pittsburgh. As long as the company is still alive, that's all that really matters. I just hate to go see a ballet performance in Pittsburgh without a live orchestra where the Pittsburgh Symphony is one of the best, world renowned symphonies. It is an honor to hear them play and even more of an honor to dance with them. Hearing the live orchestra is a perk to going to the ballet. Imagine going to see NYCB with no live orchestra! Not that PBT is of their professional or financial status, but I feel that at one time PBT was regarded very highly in the ballet world.

I think most of all this is heartbreaking to me, having grown up with PBT...

*Quote courtesy of Pittsburgh Post Gazette, to read whole article visit pittsburghpostgazette.com

#9 Ed McPherson

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 08:17 AM

Very interesting is the talk of a possible merger between Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and Pennsylvania Ballet.


Very interesting! I just couldnt see it happening. My friends and I always joke about adding that ficticious year at SAB to our resumes before sending our tapes to Penn Ballet. In all general terms they just wont look at you unless you have some SAB or NYCB in you. So them with Pitt? It would involve massive compromise.

#10 Ed McPherson

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 09:03 AM

Again, thanks to Dirac for the Links page! Posted today a recent article on the decision to use recorded music in the fall production of Carmen

Aug 2 Links Page

Oakland Ballet used recorded music for their Nut and sping rep shows. After taking time to restructure they are doing ok, hopefully it will be similarly temporary.

In the article John Munger mentions there are currently 77 ballet companies over 1 million, this is up from 76 in the FY03. He has done those 1 million+ lists for awhile, (I have an old one for 2003) does anyone have the most recent one?

#11 Premabalrina

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 01:01 PM

In all general terms they just wont look at you unless you have some SAB or NYCB in you.


And it seems that PBT is all about PNB! That would be an interesting merge for sure!


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