Golden Gate

More firings, and more changes

25 posts in this topic

As if there weren't enough changes in this company over the last two years (+), things are still evolving... but who's to say in what direction.

Jocelyn Labsan and Andrew Thompson have been fired from Colorado Ballet (see Marc Shulgolds article in the Rocky Mountain News, and both Marc and Kyle MacMillan (denver post) will be posting articles regarding this in their respective Sunday papers). :clapping:

Both Labsan and Thompson worked under previous Artistic Director Martin Fredmann for 18 years at CB. Jocelyn and Andrew both danced, and then Jocelyn became asst. AD and was a core essential of the company for the last several years; most importantly during this last year when Martin was fired in October, one week before the season opener Sleeping Beauty was done... (talk about atrocious timing). She stepped in immediately as Interim Artistic Director and saved the companies 'you know what', supported the dancers and staff, kept as many of the patrons in the audience as she could, and struggled with this unthinkably gigantic task all season long - without complaining at all. Her husband Andrew supported her, kept up with company classes and choreographing, both worked with such patience and strength - and both of them were let go without much more than a brief paragraph in the press release that was sent out two days ago.

Thankfully the press took the release and put the spotlight where it should have been, on the departure of these two incredible people and 6 dancers, and put quite a bit less emphasis on the other changes occurring within the company, such as Arthur Espinoza being named General Manager, and some minor changes in staff/addition of dancers.

Guess we shall see where this 'new ballet' company is headed, as the house is now cleaned and everything old has been made new. :clapping:

Share this post


Link to post

Golden GAte, thank you for expanding upon the recent turmoil at Colorado Ballet. The outcome is not a surprise. May Colorado Ballet go forward. Many people have worked for many years to develop this very fine company. The best tribute to all of the hard work done by the artistic staff and dancers over the past 18 years is the company's survival. No artist wants to see their product die. The survival of Colorado Ballet truly shows the fantastic job of Mr. Fredmann and all of his talented dancers and staff, from the merger of Tampa/Colorado days to the present. Hopefully, one day the bridges may be mended, as they have been at Pennsylvania Ballet with Barbara Weisberger. This shows the true fortitude of a company. :clapping:

Share this post


Link to post

And Boggs hired his wife? While his wife is undoubtably highly qualified, firing people and hiring your spouse as one of the replacements hardly creates a good impression.

Share this post


Link to post

Marc Shulgold's column contained the statement "Meelis Pakri left for England". I assume that doesn't mean that Pakri is on vacation.

Share this post


Link to post

Mr. Parki will be a wonderful addition to the faculty of the Royal Ballet School. :clapping::P

Share this post


Link to post

I'll second that, vrsfanatic! :P Mr. Pakri is not only a fabulous teacher, he is also a very nice man. Royal Ballet is lucky to have him. My DD is also fortunate to be able to take a master class with him before he leaves. I wish him all the best!

Share this post


Link to post

Just a note for people not familiar with Ballet Talk for Dancers terminology.

I believe "DD"=Dancing Daughter.

Amy'sMom, please tell me if I'm wrong.

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, Helene, you are correct. I forgot which BT board I was posting on. :P Please let me know if it's preferred that we spell things here, rather than abbreviate. :clapping:

Share this post


Link to post

I can't buy into the claim that firing the staff is routine when a new director takes over. When Jeffrey Kahane took over as the music director of the Colorado Symphony, he didn't run off the remaining artistic staff members. Yet the CSO has clearly become his orchestra, and his vision is dominant.

The Colorado Ballet has lost my respect. They will have to re-earn my loyalty and patronage.

Share this post


Link to post

Please be assured that Mr. Bogg's did what he deemed necessary for the survival of the company. Assuming you are a fan, please understand there are always things the public is better off not knowing. The real shocker was the firing of Mr. Fredmann. The season that followed his firing was his, he just was not present. Ms. Labson and Mr. Thompson did the job they were then hired to do. Beyond that, the company had no obligation to them. Perhaps many were naive in thinking it could/would end in any other way. :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post

I'm sure Boggs did what he deemed necessary but I think YouOverThere is perfectly right to say that Colorado Ballet needs to win its audience's trust all over again. It's an entirely new company. If someone new came in at City Ballet, fired one quarter of the dancers and the ballet masters, I would probably reserve judgment as well. I agree that an AD needs to have flexibility in who s/he hires and fires to get the best artistic outcome, but I have seen plenty of situations where there was an agreement either limiting the number or outright stipulating that no one would be let go in the first year of transition. It's better for morale.

Share this post


Link to post

I guess it depends whose morale one has at heart. It is recognized that the audience does need to be considered, but in this case perhaps the dancers' morale was considered before the audience?

Share this post


Link to post

I'm not sure I follow you. It's usually not considered good for the dancer's morale if a new director comes in and makes a round of wholesale firings because the dancers feel that they could be next.

Share this post


Link to post
I guess it depends whose morale one has at heart. It is recognized that the audience does need to be considered, but in this case perhaps the dancers' morale was considered before the audience?

vrsfanatic, your last 2 posts seem to imply that you have knowledge that the dancers didn't like one or more of the recently departed artistic staff members (Labsan, Pakri, Thompson). If there are good reasons for all the changes that have been made, there are tactful ways of communicating them. After all, one of the co-chairs of the Board of Trustees owns a public relations company. I have absolutely no interest in giving money to an organization that keeps everyone in the dark about what's going on. When things are kept secret, I assume the worst.

Share this post


Link to post

:) Perhaps a ballet teacher's viewpoint of the survival of a ballet company is different from the viewpoint of an audience member! All ballet companies have their ups and downs artistically, administratively and financially. There will always be the employment of hardworking ballet dancers at stake. The dancers are not paid the salaries of the top level of the administrative and artistic staff and yes, even the board members in their private sector jobs. They are in the middle of all of the turmoil. Is one to hope for the demise of the Colorado Ballet? Perhaps some do hope for this. Some think of the dancers in the company and the students studying in the schools. None of this was their doing. How can Mr. Boggs be considered a bad guy until he has been given the opportunity to show what he can do with the dancers and the school.

The decision of the Board to handle the PR in their way is their decision. Hopefully one day they will be accountable for the choices they have made, but most likely not.

YouOverThere, you do sound like a truely compassionate, involved audience member. The dancers for the most part are the same as they were prior to the firing of Mr. Fredmann and the resignation of Mr. Pakri. Try to give them your support through this very difficult time. As the dust settles more will become clear.

Share this post


Link to post
YouOverThere, you do sound like a truely compassionate, involved audience member. The dancers for the most part are the same as they were prior to the firing of mr. Fredmann and the resignation of Mr. Pakri. Try to give them your support through this very difficult time. As the dust settles more will become clear.

As a practical matter, the future of the Colorado Ballet is hardly dependent on my small donation.

Share this post


Link to post

Mostlikely you are correct, but then the proclamation and discussion has no value beyond yet again another discussion...

...I have absolutely no interest in giving money to an organization that keeps everyone in the dark about what's going on. When things are kept secret, I assume the worst.

Ballet is life for dancers, choreographers, ballet masters/mistresses, directors, teachers and many more who make their livelihood through the artform. A ballet company is not a passing fancy to those of us who have invested our lives in it.

Share this post


Link to post

Good point about not wishing for the demise of the company... no one wants that, but this company has been through some staggering blows that seem endless... perhaps it will have an opportunity to heal now - one would hope, for the dancers and for the benefit of the community. I just don't see that happening, however.

The board is mostly made up of people who have money but not a passion for dance, or a good working knowledge of it (much to my chagrin) and they frequently make poor decisions, in my humble opinion. The executive staff running the company are partly well educated in dance and dance companies, but mostly oblivious to the patrons and remainder of the staff... which cannot be, as the patrons and donors are the backbone of the organization. It runs like an old machine with missing parts... somehow getting along but who knows for how long. Definitely broken. It makes me so very sad to see that and experience it on many levels.

As for Jocelyn and Andrew, they are doing well and moving on with their lives - I wish them the very best in all their aspirations. Meelis Pakri and his wife Carol will be going to England to join the Royal Ballet in August... I also wish them every happiness and many blessingsWe will see where Gil tries to take this company in the coming season, but it doesn't look good from here.

An aside to Kyle MacMillan about his article in the Sunday Denver Post... you complete fool; I can't believe you took the CB press release and just printed it - with the headline that Gil Boggs didn't have to let anyone go because they all resigned, that is just 100% false. Start doing your job and research a little bit. Labsan and Thompson were fired on June 6th, 2006 and that's it. At least Marc Shulgold of the Rocky Mountain News contacted them and interviewed them... and wrote it correctly; they were fired, and for no good reason. I highly recommend reading Shulgolds two articles on the subject.

Even in the face of all of it, I will say go... support the dancers, experience the shows, let's do our best to try to keep the thing afloat, as much as can be done. Youoverthere... don't give up on them yet. Please...

Golden Gate

Share this post


Link to post

vrsfanatic, thank you for your comments, which I found balanced and fair.

As a relative outsider to the issue, and a ballet lover, I will continue to support Colorado Ballet. All organizations that survive undergo changes, and many are political and controversial. This is certainly proving to be the case here.

I very much want Colorado Ballet to grow to be very successful. I have chosen to trust that Mr. Boggs is doing the best he can and wish him and the Company a positive outcome for all their struggles.

Share this post


Link to post

Perhaps my last missive was a bit strongly worded... I agree Fandango, I too will continue to support it as much as I can, and I too wish to see it grow and become one of the best companies in the nation. Perhaps that will happen under Gil's direction.

Thanks for the positive direction, I can get overly focused on situations sometimes :)

Let's keep it going.

Golden Gate

Share this post


Link to post
Mostlikely you are correct, but then the proclamation and discussion has no value beyond yet again another discussion...
...I have absolutely no interest in giving money to an organization that keeps everyone in the dark about what's going on. When things are kept secret, I assume the worst.

Ballet is life for dancers, choreographers, ballet masters/mistresses, directors, teachers and many more who make their livelihood through the artform. A ballet company is not a passing fancy to those of us who have invested our lives in it.

OK, I relented and tried to donate some money to the CB. When PayPal still listed the donation as unclaimed 15 days later, I cancelled it. For tax purposes, I wanted to donate that money to someone before the end of 2006, and I didn't have time to try to get things straightened out.

Share this post


Link to post

I guess the strains of change are continuing. The week before the final weekend of the season, their website disappears. No matter. One can always go to the Ticketmaster website and look for tickets. Except that at least since Sunday the Ticketmaster website has said that there were no tickets on sale for the Friday performance. This didn't prevent me from purchasing 2 of the many remaining tickets tickets for the Friday performance from the CB's box office on Monday afternoon. I informed both people that I talked to on Monday that there was a problem with Ticketmaster. Their response was that they don't work for Ticketmaster.

If you try to buy tickets by phone during a busy period and get asked to leave your phone number so that they can call you, don't count on it. It took them 24 hours to get back to me, which was approximately 21 hours after I purchased my tickets. When I purchased them, I got right through without being put on hold.

I tracked down my inability to make a donation to the CB last December to their PayPal account being set up to notify someone who had long since left the CB.

All this lends itself to some concern about the future of the CB.

Share this post


Link to post
The week before the final weekend of the season, their website disappears.

The website re-appeared this morning with a new URL, www.coloradoballet.com (it had been www.coloradoballet.org).

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks very much, YouOverThere for continuing to report on this story. All arts companies have periods of travail, but this one seems to be suffering more than its share. Yet there seem glimmers of hope, too.

What do some of our other Colorado Ballet posters and fans thing?

Share this post


Link to post
Thanks very much, YouOverThere for continuing to report on this story. All arts companies have periods of travail, but this one seems to be suffering more than its share. Yet there seem glimmers of hope, too.

What do some of our other Colorado Ballet posters and fans thing?

Egads, I hope that I'm not coming across like a newspaper reporter. I'm just hoping that my posts will be seen by people who have the capacity to make a different. Denver has a far better performing arts community than it deserves (Coloradoans don't seem to have much interest in anything where they don't keep score), and it's not a given that a high-level dance company can survive.

Share this post


Link to post