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Who are the top 10 ballet companies in the USA?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 amitava

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 09:04 AM

When viewing some of the marketing literature and web sites of Ballet companies, I saw a few mentions of being X of the top 10 Ballet companies.

Does anyone know the source of this information? I am sure that Dance/Pointe magazines probably features articles or studies at some point. I tried googling and could not locate anything specific on the source.

Of course, in the worst case I can contact the press/marketing groups of the companies. But I prefer to locate a souce that I can follow with time.

Let us not get into what "top" means..but I am interested in a lot of aspects - budget, artistic sensibilities, audience size, number of presentations, size of company, etc. etc.

Thanks in advance

#2 Hans

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 09:27 AM

I'm pretty sure there isn't an official list. In terms of international companies, the "gold standard" list includes the Kirov, Bolshoi, Paris Opera Ballet, Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and New York City Ballet, in which case NYCB would clearly be among the top ten in the US. As for the others, a list of that sort would most likely just cause a lot of arguing. :shake:

#3 amitava

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 09:31 AM

I'm pretty sure there isn't an official list.  .... As for the others, a list of that sort would most likely just cause a lot of arguing. :shake:

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Sorry I should have clarified. I meant ONLY US based companies. It looks like there is some rating source, as several press releases and other markting material seems to state the rating...but no one says who the rater was!!!!

#4 Hans

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 09:40 AM

Perhaps the marketing people culled it from a review? For example, X Reviewer might write, "What a wonderful performance! Surely Gotham City Ballet is among the top ten companies in the nation!" Which gets quoted by the company as, "Gotham City Ballet is among the top ten companies in the nation!"

#5 Helene

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 10:16 AM

I don't think US News and World Report has done for ballet companies what they've done for college ratings :shake:

But in the US, in most unofficial "ratings" I've seen, the top 2 are considered NYCB and ABT, which is why I think San Francisco Ballet has been so adamant about trying to gain an international reputation. To use a sports analogy, this is like Michelle Kwan beating Sasha Cohen at US Nationals for the last two years, but placing behind Cohen at the World Championships, and SFB wants to be Sasha Cohen.

Of the "regional" companies -- i.e., everyone but NYCB and ABT, I don't think there'd be that much argument among people who've seen many US companies that SFB, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Miami City Ballet would be in the Top 10. What's common to them all is a strong artistic vision and longevity of Artistic Directors, although eyes are on Houston to see if what changes the newish artistic leadership will bring, and would have been on PNB, had Boal not been chosen. Pennsylvania Ballet and Boston Ballet have had their ups and downs over the years, but they're fairly well known and seem to be on the upswing. Pittsburgh was making a run for it under Patricia Wilde, but seems to have artistic and financial issues now.

Living on the West Coast, I've been able to keep an eye on two companies who are turning to a more classical rep: Ballet Arizona under Ib Andersen and Oregon Ballet Theatre under Christopher Stowell, and they are both on the rise.

#6 Hans

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 10:49 AM

Don't forget Joffrey. :wink:

I'm sure we could all agree to include New York City Ballet, America Ballet Theatre, Joffrey, San Francisco Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, but what would cause arguments would be the rest of the list. I'd say yes to Boston Ballet and Miami City Ballet, but probably not to Pennsylvania Ballet, which brings me to the thought that at a certain point, such comparisons are all but impossible. Who's to say whether Pennsylvania Ballet dances as well as Miami City Ballet? The people who watch one on a regular basis probably have little or no experience with the other, and it has to do with very subjective artistic sensibilities.

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 10:55 AM

I think it would be interesting if people want to draw up a Top 5, Top 10, or Top whatever list, but when a company press release says "One of the Top 10" or "one of the world's great international companies" (because they just came back from touring Guam, no offense Guam) or, as a rather famous recent case, "We're going to be one of the Top 5 companies in five years" -- I give it as much weight as when one of our local used car dealers makes a similar claim :wink: In other words, it's just something to say that sounds wonderful and is unlikely to be challenged. (I can't tell you how many press releases I've read ecstatically raving over New Ballet 2 by John Schmoe, "one of the major choreographers of our time."

#8 Helene

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 11:15 AM

Don't forget Joffrey. :wink:

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Senior moment.

#9 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 11:47 AM

I think the only way you'd be able to name a top 10 without a major war would be to do it by completely organizational criteria. Total budget, number of dancers and number of performances.

#10 richard53dog

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 12:00 PM

Don't forget Joffrey. :wink:

I'm sure we could all agree to include New York City Ballet, America Ballet Theatre, Joffrey, San Francisco Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, but what would cause arguments would be the rest of the list.  I'd say yes to Boston Ballet and Miami City Ballet, but probably not to Pennsylvania Ballet, which brings me to the thought that at a certain point, such comparisons are all but impossible.  Who's to say whether Pennsylvania Ballet dances as well as Miami City Ballet?  The people who watch one on a regular basis probably have little or no experience with the other, and it has to do with very subjective artistic sensibilities.

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This is difficult to do. It's trying to cram a subjective evalualtion into an objective criteria. In a way it's really pointless.

I don't think ABT and NYCB are in much chance of a drastic change in their positionsbut many of the other companies sort of are in an adjustment all the time. Company A gets a imaginative director, oodles of money, a fine company of dancers and they explode. Times goes on and changes happen, not all for the better. Really the overall integrity and artistic statement hasn't changed,however, the execution has slid a bit but if we are cramming it's reputation into a numeric peg hole, maybe it slides from 4 to 7.

And I think this happens a lot . What might work a little better is a more hybrid
kind of evaluation; tier 1, tier 2, tier 3. This is a little easier, but there will still be
disgruntled voices.

Richard

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 12:05 PM

I don't think ABT and NYCB are in much chance of a drastic change in their positionsbut many of the other companies sort of are in an adjustment all the time. Company A gets a imaginative director, oodles of money, a fine company of dancers and they explode. Times goes on and changes happen, not all for the better. Really the overall integrity and artistic statement hasn't changed,however, the execution has slid a bit but if we are cramming it's reputation into a numeric peg hole, maybe it slides from 4 to 7.

And I think this happens a lot . What might work a little better is a more hybrid
kind of evaluation; tier 1, tier 2, tier 3. This is a little easier, but there will still be
disgruntled voices.

Richard

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I think this is an excellent point. Ballet companies that haven't yet become Great Institutions -- which means they've survived several director changes and cycles, have a reasonable expectation of support and a first-rate school -- are only as good as their artistic directors and financial situation. The reputations of companies like San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, that are very highly ranked now (rightly so, IMO) will depend on their NEXT directors; for PNB, this will come soon. It's easier to turn one of the Great Institutions around, because all the support systems and underpinnigs are in place. With other companies, if a major donor dies and another moves or loses interest, if a fine director is replaced by an empty suit, they could be off the map in two seasons. AND a small-company-near-death can be turned around by a fine director and supportive board in two seasons.

#12 Treefrog

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 02:11 PM

:wink: for not forgetting Joffrey!

In light of Alexandra's last comment, though, I wonder if this isn't exactly the sort of company that might change radically with a new AD. It was founded, after all, as the vision of one man, and has only had one other AD since -- a person who was closely associated, personally and professionally, with the founder. What happens when Arpino leaves?

I imagine that its repertory of smaller, eclectic works will buffer it somewhat. But performances in recent years have depended heavily on Arpino/Joffrey choreography and ... um... a perfectly reasonable new AD might feel justified in jettisoning some of the more dated and less interesting pieces (not saying those are one and the same). From this could come great growth ... or not, depending on what replaces it. And then, there's always the question of whether the Joffrey style would be maintained.


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