Helene

Danny Tidwell-- and the matter of dancer career choices

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I am perturbed by the outlash of Danny's career choices. He and I were classmates together at the KAB and graduated together. He DID dance with ABT and I think Complexions at one point as well. It is bothersome to me to say what a good career choice is as long as he is happy and doing what HE wants to do. And to speak about the KAB when you have not even been there to find out first hand is uncalled for. I am surprised this thread has not been closed earlier. Let Danny do what Danny wants to do.

I don't think anything anyone's saying here will prevent Tidwell from doing what he wants to do. Nor does anyone wish him ill. I think we're all speaking from a ballet viewer's perspective: most of us would have liked to have seen such a dynamic performer dance in a major ballet company, doing the ballets that we love. It's true that some of us--myself included--feel that the things he dances now don't really push him as an artist, but I defend my right to criticize the public practices (i.e., not the private behavior, which I don't care about) of someone who has put himself out there in the public eye. And to talk about my unhappiness about them.

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What's funny about this whole situation, is that Danny started in the jazz competition medium. It feels like he is going back to where he is comfortable and dancing what he wants to dance. Like I said, he already did the big company thing. I just don't find it right for people to say, that do not know him on some personal level, to judge what he is doing. While I wonder where his career will take him next, I don't worry about it. If he doesn't want the pressure of a big company, so be it. If he is in it for the money, so be it. If this is the art he wants to make, let him make it. If he is still finding his voice, let him find it.

I don't have a problem with being unhappy about where he is, but perhaps Danny is happy and to me, that is all that matters.

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I thought he did a good job on DWTS too. Thanks for the youtube link.

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Tidwell's situation might become more common in the future, as the number of companies (that can provide serious artistic challenges AND decent full-time income) declines.

Young ballet dancers spend so much of their lives, from a very early age, having to fit into rigid school structures and schedules, and being expected to abide by a large number of rules. Moving on to established companies can provide economic security, a home, a guarantee of performance opportunities.

I would imagine, however, would be stifling to certain kinds of people. I am thinking of Jeremy Cox and others who have left major companies to go to Broadway, Vegas, etc., or someone like Rasta Thomas who pursues his own artistic vision and touring group.

The situation might be analogous to those in the non-dance world who prefer to work at regular jobs, with a place in the hierarchy and a guaranteed pay check, as opposed to those who yearn to go out on their own as freelancers or owners of their own business.

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"Moving on to established companies can provide economic security, a home, a guarantee of performance opportunities."

Yeah, except when it doesn't. Let's not forget what happened to 11 New York City Ballet dancers last year.

No matter what audience members and fans might want, dancers' lives are their own, and they will do what they want. Working in a major ballet company is not for everyone.

Max van der Sterre and Katie Bergstrom are two of the dancers who were laid off. As horrible as it must have been at first, they said in interviews with the New York Times that they were happy, in a way, that it happened.

"Truth be told," van der Sterre told the Times, "I'm very happy that I'm one of them, because it allows me to do a lot of things that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise."

Bergstrom said she was "relieved" it happened. "I want to become just a well-rounded, educated person," she said. "Being with New York City Ballet, and having such a strenuous schedule every day, and having no time to do anything else, practically, makes it really hard."

Granted, these situations are different from Danny Tidwell's, because it wasn't their choice to leave.

The point is this: Working in a major ballet company is not the end-all, be-all for all dancers, whether or not they have Tidwell's talent, ability and fame.

I think it is also fair to say that major ballet companies don't always offer environments conducive for artistic growth for every dancer, even one of Tidwell's caliber.

This might be beyond the scope of this thread, but should anyone assume that artistic growth is even a priority for most dancers, or any dancer? How about decent wages? Decent working conditions? Affordable health care?

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This might be beyond the scope of this thread, but should anyone assume that artistic growth is even a priority for most dancers, or any dancer? How about decent wages? Decent working conditions? Affordable health care?
Thanks for that post, nijinsky1979. It seems to me that this is very MUCH in the scope of the thread, at least as it has developed in its second incarnation. (We might expand the thread title later on.)

Any more thoughts? Any more examples?

Edited to add -- I just changed the thread title to "Danny Tidwell -- and the matter of dancer career choices"

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The point is this: Working in a major ballet company is not the end-all, be-all for all dancers, whether or not they have Tidwell's talent, ability and fame.

I think it is also fair to say that major ballet companies don't always offer environments conducive for artistic growth for every dancer, even one of Tidwell's caliber.

This might be beyond the scope of this thread, but should anyone assume that artistic growth is even a priority for most dancers, or any dancer? How about decent wages? Decent working conditions? Affordable health care?

True enough, nijinsky1979, I concur entirely. I guess when I speak of my "unhappiness" re Tidwell it's completely selfish on my part: I want to see him do Theme and Variations!

I know many, many dancers who went to Broadway for security--most marvel at getting paid so much to do so (comparatively) little in terms of training and personal sacrifice. One woman I know became a dance captain for a long-running show; she had her own office! While she was technically on call to step into any part, she rarely had to (there was usually some eager young dancer waiting in the wings)--but even if she did, it was very easy stuff.

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I'm guessing that Danny and the others who appeared picked up a nice paycheck for the DWTS appearance, and they were able to appear on national television. I miss seeing Tidwell at ABT, but I'm glad that he seems to be doing just fine for himself. By the way, does anyone know if he is still in the ensemble of Memphis on Broadway? If so, I'm guessing you will be able to see him on the Tony awards telecast if Memphis performs a number from the show.

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Just a general comment about a dancers career choice. Yes perhaps you like a certain dancer a lot and would love to see them dance in your favorite big company, doing the ballets you love. People enjoy freedom. Maybe one doesn't like how the company is run, or how they are being coached, or the ballets they are doing. Not being in a company(big or small) gives you the freedom to make choices in what, when, where and how. And also the freedom to do other non-dance related things.

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I had suspected there would be negative responses to my post, and I'm glad to see my suspicions were unfounded. Thank you all for the positive comments.

I can think of two dancers off the top of my head whose career choices disappointed me: Joaquin de Luz and Sascha Radetsky. They became soloists at ABT at a time when the top male dancers were not only amazingly stellar (Stiefel, Corella and others) but also enjoyed lots of publicity ("Center Stage" and TV specials including "Born to Be Wild" and "Le Corsaire").

To me, it seemed inevitable that de Luz and Radetsky would soon be named principals and step into the major roles in ABT's repertoire.

But, for whatever reason — and to my great consternation — it didn't happen. Soon, de Luz made the leap across the plaza, and Radetsky leapt across the pond and back.

I won't pretend that I can read their minds and look into their hearts for the reasons for their career choices. I certainly can't do that.

But let's just say that dancers' career choices — anyone's career or life choices, really — are probably based on what they perceive to be financial, artistic and/or personal development. I say, more power to them, and the best of luck — I mean merde! — to them as well.

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