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Spain to have new, classical "national ballet"?What do you think?


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#16 bart

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 06:36 AM

I believe that "Royal" is currently an honorific in these situations, rather llike "By Appointment to ..." for providers of services to the Royal Family. It confers prestige only.

In Britain, it is not conceivable that the "monarch" would give the right to use "Royal" to any institutution without the approval of the elected government. I assume this is the case in Spain as well.

#17 CarolinaM

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 10:48 AM

First of all let me tell you that I'm very surprised, and happy :) to see that so many people is interested in what's going on in Spain.

For us these are so good news that at last we can get not one but two or maybe three big repertoire companies that we still can not believe it.

As far as Tamara's is concerned I think that Bart is right, she asked permission to the Royal family to put the word "Royal" to the company. Princess Letizia likes ballet and her sister is an art lover and she made the decors of the Blancanieves ballet Tamara premiered last year in Spain, so she has direct line with the Royal family but this doesn't represent in any case that money will come from the Monarchy.

I think she also presented the project to the government and Mr. Rodriguez Zapatero approved it.

Tamara critizised in an interview that dance in Spain is too much depending on estatal subsidies. She said that artists have to have a social reponsibilty regarding what they do with the money they get and that comes from all the Spanish people.

She doesn't want that all the money of her future company comes from subsidies from the state. She thinks about a company as the Royal Ballet but smaller with a similar finantiation to the one of the British Company where 1/3 of the money comes from private donors, 1/3 comes from the government and 1/3 it is you who has to get it with your company.

She foresees that as soon as the Executive gives approval it will last 1 year approx. to carry it on.

Corella would have all the money he needed from Catalan "mecenas" and it seems that he already had enough, but he needed an approval of the government (with no single Euro coming from them) and the compromise of the Barcelona's Opera House "Gran Teatre del Liceu" that he will have time during the season to present his ballets but, even if it can seem so stupid to you, and of course it is and I'm not able to understand this, he did not get a positive answer from any of them and the catalan "mecenas" people with a lot of money and power didn't want to compromise themselves with that. Incredible but true. I don't know if you are aware about the situation of Cataluña vs Spain but it is a rather special relationship.

Well I hope that La Granja de San Ildefonso is more cultural sensibilized and will fully support Angel's project.

And... there are rumours about a third possibility, this one created by the Culture Ministery of Zapatero's government, another national company, in addition to the Compañía Nacional de Danza and the Compañía Nacional of Spanish Dance.

Let's cross our fingers so that at least one of them comes true soon.

#18 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 01:51 PM


I don't believe, for example, that the dancers of Britain's Royal Ballet are part of the Civil List, which would mean that they are paid more or less directly by the monarch.


Sorry, I have a very hard time believing this romanticized picture. This is 2006; not pre-rev Russia.


You mean that you DO believe that the dancers of the Royal Ballet are part of the Civil List? I can assure you that the Civil List IS paid for by the Queen herself. The Royal Ballet in Britain functions under a Royal Charter, as in the Virginia Company, if we want to bring history into it, which would make them responsible for raising their own money.

#19 bart

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 02:30 PM

Well I hope that La Granja de San Ildefonso is more cultural sensibilized and will fully support Angel's project.

Isn't La Granja de San Idefonso rather far from Madrid to serve as the location for a major company? Or would this merely be the headquarters, with performances in Madrid? It seems like trying to re-locate the Paris National Opera Ballet to a provincial town like Chartres.

Fuenlabrada makes more sense, as far as transportation from the capital is concerned, esepecially if they want to make the company a destination for international visitors.

The Real (Royal) Ballet should be like Real Madrid, the football team -- a "real" (verdadera) compania madrilena.

#20 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 04:23 PM

And the other resource for company-making, private capital, has hardly been touched upon here. In next-door Portugal, Ballet Gulbenkian was organized as a public utility for 40 years!

#21 CarolinaM

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 11:08 AM

Isn't La Granja de San Idefonso rather far from Madrid to serve as the location for a major company? Or would this merely be the headquarters, with performances in Madrid? It seems like trying to re-locate the Paris National Opera Ballet to a provincial town like Chartres.



Yes it's not a good location :) it's far away from Madrid in a very cold place with snow in winter and not well comunicated with the capital, but this place was a cultural and leisure space for the royalty in the past and they want to keep with this status so the palace has been put to the disposal of Angel foundation with a lot of benefits for him to run his project there.

Fuenlabrada is more practically located and has the university and a theater.

In next-door Portugal, Ballet Gulbenkian was organized as a public utility for 40 years!


The Gulbenkian foundation decided last year to continue with the orchestra but didn't support the ballet any more :(

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 05:12 PM

I know, and that's an awful pity; but still the idea of making a company incorporated as a utility, like an electric or gas company, has to be at least a business novelty!

#23 Herman Stevens

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 03:38 AM

You mean that you DO believe that the dancers of the Royal Ballet are part of the Civil List? I can assure you that the Civil List IS paid for by the Queen herself. The Royal Ballet in Britain functions under a Royal Charter, as in the Virginia Company, if we want to bring history into it, which would make them responsible for raising their own money.


Sorry, you're mistaken. The queen is a beneficiary of the Civil List. The Civil List is funded by taxpayers' money.

This information is available everywhere.

The amount of arts council funding the Royal Ballet receives is also annually published; it is also no secret that the Royal Ballet's finances have been fairly perilous over time, in spite of being granted the Royal Charter, which does not entail major funding.

The same goes for the claim that ballet companies in all old world monarchies are being funded by the local royal house. The claim is unfounded - though there may be exceptions.

#24 leonid17

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 04:59 AM


You mean that you DO believe that the dancers of the Royal Ballet are part of the Civil List? I can assure you that the Civil List IS paid for by the Queen herself. The Royal Ballet in Britain functions under a Royal Charter, as in the Virginia Company, if we want to bring history into it, which would make them responsible for raising their own money.


The amount of arts council funding the Royal Ballet receives is also annually published; it is also no secret that the Royal Ballet's finances have been fairly perilous over time, in spite of being granted the Royal Charter, which does not entail major funding.


Technically the Royal Ballet receives no direct government subsidy as along with the Royal Opera, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and ROH 2 (These are any working names or acronyms which the Charity uses.) are subsidiaries of The Royal Opera House Covent Garden Ltd a registered company that has charitable status(enabling it to trade) that receives gvernment subsidy, donations and sponsorship along with its income from box office etc.

In the Tax Year ending 27.03/2005 the charity received 23,111,000 British Pounds in Arts Council Grants( The awarding body of Government Arts Funding) its total expenditure was around 78,000,000 British Pounds

For a general background to the European model for government funding in performing arts I would suggest you vist http://www.cultureli.../culpol/se.html then simply choose a category and then a country.

#25 Estelle

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 06:53 AM

The same goes for the claim that ballet companies in all old world monarchies are being funded by the local royal house. The claim is unfounded - though there may be exceptions.


Well, who made that claim anyway ? I haven't seen it in that thread.

#26 bart

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 10:26 AM

To clarify, I think that there has been some confusion so far about the British "civil list." Herman Stevens is correct: the civil list consists of government payments TO several classes of people, including certain members of the royal family.

The model proposed for the Tamara Rojo project (as reported by CarolinaM) is quite close to the current balance of funding sources for the British ROB.

As I understand it, the proportion of direct governmetn subsidy given to major performing arts organizations has decreased, and continues to to decrease, all over Europe. Conversely, these organizations have become quite experimental in diversifying their sources of income, as those in the USA have had to be all along.

Thanks for that link, leonid. It's fascinating to explore. I wish Spain and even the UK, France, and Russia (major ballet powers, all) were included.

To return to the topic of this thread: any other news, thoughs, or suggestions about how to go about creating a national ballet for Spain? Where should it be located? Who should run it? How should it handle the job of reaching audiences and schools in other parts of the country?

#27 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 10:49 AM

Actually, the Civil List in Britain is reserved to certain persons and functions of State, such as the Great Officers of State, and the Royal Household, among many others. Matter as state visits and state functions (jubilee, funerals, dedications, royal travel within the Kingdom and Commonwealth, and so forth) is funded by the Civil List, which is raised by taxpayer revenue. It is not to be confused with the Civil Service, which is another matter entirely. Up until 1760, the Civil List was paid direct from the Treasury, and it was only at the insistence of the Earl of Bute that George III traded away the revenues from the hereditary assets of the sovereign to receive an annuity for the keeping of the Civil List. The Civil Service was paid by the sovereign until 1830, when William IV divested the sovereign from direct disbursement of funds to the Civil Service.

I, as an American, adhere to my nation's tradition and legal history of republicanism of government, and democracy of electorate. I will ever refuse to disparage, however, monarchy in the places where it works. The United Kingdom is such a place. I decline to be lectured to, or held up to scorn as some "ignorant colonist" by anyone! :jawdrop:

#28 leonid17

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 01:39 PM

I, as an American, adhere to my nation's tradition and legal history of republicanism of government, and democracy of electorate. I will ever refuse to disparage, however, monarchy in the places where it works. The United Kingdom is such a place. I decline to be lectured to, or held up to scorn as some "ignorant colonist" by anyone! :jawdrop:


Dear Mel

I have never heard American's either described as colonists or as "...ignorant colonist" by an English person of any class and with your lucid explanation of the 'Civil List' and its history it is more likely that you would be described as an erudite person with no allusion to your country of origin.

Linking back to Bart's question I have my own views as to where a major company might by sited but I am sure Spain with its fiercely regional pride will please some and offend others when the decision is made.

In Europe for a national ballet companies theatre home to be elsewhere rather than in the capital city is fairly rare.

I have to confess I like my visit to see the ballet to be an all in one therapeutic and art experience away from my routine of work, mundane matters and the problems of the world.

I also like the theatre setting to be an essential part of that experience. I know that ballet audiences develop a fondness for the theatre in which their favourite companies dance. Which made me turn to the only two theatres I know in Spain and consider which would be the best home for a national ballet company.

The Teatro Real in Madrid generally seats 1748 and the stage just exceeds 59 feet by 46 feet and has modern stage machinery, with extensive changing rooms and rehearsal space.

The stalls seats are stepped and reasonable raked however the fairly narrow horse shoe-shaped auditoium has four tiers of boxes not always ideal for viewing ballet and finally a steep seating area at the top called the windows to paradise.

The auditorium in red and gold has an intimate feel and possesses central royal box which adds old fashioned glamour. The theatre has a formal restaurant and a cafe.

In Barcelona however the Teatro Liceo seats 2292 on 6 levels and has a glorious horseshoe auditorium in red and gold with a wonderful ceiling brilliantly lit and with decorative art makes it a favourite opera house of mine if you wanted to be transported back to an earlier age. The theatre entrance has a fabulous columned and marble floor from which marble stairs with flamboyant torcheres take you up to a mirrored salon.

The Teatro Liceo stage is a similar size to Madrid’s Teatro Real and had similarly modern equipment and facilities.

There are of course many other beautiful old theatres suitable for ballet and modern venues as well. Although Madrid is the capital, I would personally prefer to visit Barcelona to watch ballet.

The problem for both a national school and a national company would be accommodation which in any major city would be costly.

The model with the UK’s Royal Ballet is that the Junior school is in a park like setting in a near London suburb and the Senior School is now centred successfully in the Royal Opera House enclave. To adopt this model would not be a bad idea, although any reading of biographies of Maryinsky dancers will tell you that junior students contact with members of the ballet company was both exciting and inspirational.

Establishing from virtual scratch an academic teaching body, will undoubtedly be a challenge. But with the will and the finance, not an impossibility as long as unrealistic expectations are not placed upon early results.

Establishing a successful ballet company may be easier as it is probable that recruitment will not be difficult, but again it will take some time to establish what is seen as an appropriate identifying repertoire for a Spanish ballet company.

As it appears that the new company that Tamara Rojo has been approached to lead, will have the appellation Real and the Real Theatre and the Spanish monarchy’s royal palace is in Madrid, is it a forgone conclusion that the new national Royal company will be settled in the capital?

Whatever the decision, I believe the Spanish government's decision for a national company to be formed is brave and farsighted and reflects the growing interest in ballet both amonst children who wish to dance and audiences that want to see more ballet, perhaps from their home grown talent.

#29 bart

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 02:25 PM

Thanks, leonid, for that post.

Your mention of the Teatro Real (Madrid) made me recall a performance of Don Q put on Victor Ullate's company 8 years ago. It was certainly a plausible theater for classical ballet. However, a visit to the Ullate website suggests that they are now using another theater (Teatro Albeniz) in Madrid. And, despite having Coppelia on their performance schedule this season, Iim not sure how classical they remain.

However, they also tour to other Spanish cities. And they do have a school in Madrid. And Corella danced for Ullate at the start of his career. Would it be possible to use Ullate's company as a platform from which to construct a new national company? Has this ever been considered? Would it be compatible with either Corella's or Rojo's visions?

As for the Liceu, many cultural leaders in Catalunya won't even call themselves "Spanish" let alone "Royal". All major cultural institutions I am aware of use the "Catalan" identification. This, plus Barcelona's long rivalry with Madrid in cultural as well as all other matters, might rule out setting up a national (and "royal") institution there.

#30 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 02:36 PM

Thank you all - I must beg the board's pardon for flying off the handle like that, but I suppose it's a historian's occupational disease. :jawdrop: I apologize.

Having a national company for ballet would indeed be another "jewel in the crown" for Spain, and whatever its source of funding, would be a highly positive event for Spain and the EU as a whole. Encouragement from everywhere should flock there, all the while fueling the Gross Domestic Product, and providing employment for dancers and the artistic staffs to establish a first-rate company for a first-rate nation.

(PS. Or even more than one! The way I see it, with the loss of Gulbenkian, the whole Iberian Peninsula is a growth area for ballet!)


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