Somebody Else's Dancers?
Posted 08 March 2002 - 08:16 AM
Now what is it that makes the new director feel that he/she has to make wholesale changes, let large numbers of dancers go, etc.? Should this be done with no consideration to the turmoil it causes in people's lives? Sometimes those who are released are corps de ballet; for the most part (and I think of particular instances here) who've made a career so far of fitting in with a group even if they dream of making soloist some day. What is it that makes a director let these people go right away, after seeing them, in most cases, for only a short while? Why don't directors make a bigger effort at making these people do different things?
[ March 08, 2002, 08:40 AM: Message edited by: Mme. Hermine ]
Posted 08 March 2002 - 09:52 AM
Directors have cronies who need work.
Firing a bunch of dancers means that anyone with loyalties to the previous administration will either be history, or think long and hard about disagreeing with the new management.
It makes them look good to the board, as they can point to how busy they've been cleaning house and improving the standard of the company.
Posted 08 March 2002 - 09:58 AM
I think the "cronies who need work" is the key here -- I'd like to think it was artistic vision, but when was the last time you saw that? -- and also the fact that the ability to hire and fire is an index of power. It's building a power base and networking. I give a job to this teacher, who's connected to this network. This will help me down the line.
Posted 08 March 2002 - 10:23 AM
The last issue of Vanity Fair covers Anne Bass and a run-in she had with Lincoln K. over at NYCB (it also covers her Fort Worth Ballet days).
With regard to dancers, sometimes salaries come into play as well as loyalties.
Posted 08 March 2002 - 10:44 AM
Perhaps because they lived through the years of being a dancer with little to no power at all? But even so, the WAY that power is often used brings many questions. The past does not justify a lack of humanity in dealing with human lives. Dealing with dancers is just not at all the same as dealing with individuals in major corporations. (Not that a lack of humanity is justified there, either, but dancers are artists and, I think, far more vulnerable as individuals than those in the "civilian" world.)
A new director is certainly entitled to a creative vision, and to make some changes in terms of realizing that vision. However, I feel that these need to be done over time, and after giving the dancers and other artists of the present regime an opportunity to work with the new vision. Changes can be made without charging in and sweeping out the place and starting over, assuming that there is a solid and well functioning company in place.
Time and patience are always at a premium in the lives of AD's, and even those with caring and compassion do succumb to these pressures, it seems. Their jobs are huge, and the demands on their time unbelievable. But making the time to do what they want to do in a way that does not destroy others should also be a top priority.
Posted 08 March 2002 - 12:35 PM
Posted 08 March 2002 - 12:49 PM
Posted 08 March 2002 - 01:32 PM
Posted 08 March 2002 - 03:10 PM
Posted 08 March 2002 - 03:52 PM
I'm sure dirac is right that this is the way of the world, but "what's good enough for Enron is good enough for ballet" doesn't work for me. (I think it's been terrible in the publishing industry too. Every time I speak with my agent I hear about another group of editors -- with best-selling authors, who have performed well, who are team players, intelligent people -- let go from this or that publishing company because Mogul X has bought Grandfather Books.
Posted 08 March 2002 - 05:08 PM
In other cases, I have heard a board stipulate there will be no dancer firings (or only a maximum number, like three or four) for the first year of a new directorship. It's a very effective way to tell a new director they are interested in continuity.
Posted 15 March 2002 - 02:20 PM
What would happen if each new conductor fired half the Berlin Philharmonic because he's suddenly decided he prefers the French fiddle school to the German ?
That's how one should see it I think: most company directors today do not see their dancers like a fledgling Berlin Philharmonic, potentially a truly great ensemble, moving forward like one man, with a vast repertory they know on the tips of their fingers.
No ! Dancers today have about the status of hoofers in a lineup from the Crazy Horse Saloon. Company directors move amongst the serried ranks of high-kickers, and retain those who appeal, or whatever... who knows...
I've quite literally heard of new directors coming in, looking round a class and saying things to the effect of "Good dancer, but Italianate type. I prefer a cooler, sleeker Nordic look".
Until we get back to the idea of classical dance as a branch of musical culture, rather than as a people-show to goggle at - Gwyneth Paltrow doing a fashion shot - we are going to be bicyling through heavy sauerkraut, as the French say.
Posted 15 March 2002 - 03:37 PM
Whim is not something that should be applied to community cultural treasures. The public, which supports companies through ticket sales and government funding, but has no unified voice, deserves better. So do the dancers and employees of a company.
I question the Board that hires a director who will make wholesale changes to a company's repertoire and style. Drastic change would not be necessary if careful oversight were maintained to ensure the best mix of style and leadership at all times.
Posted 16 March 2002 - 06:29 PM
If the new AD can't stand this person he may have to work with, or if that person can't stand the AD or won't make the changes the AD wants, something has got to give and it will be the person lower down on the ladder.
I have said before that every AD has the right to have working for him or her people who can share his artistic vision or help him acheive it. Sometimes that has little to with talent or tenure or experience, but with personality.
For instance, I don't like working for micro-managers, if someone new was hired to be my boss that managed that way, either I would have to leave, or I would be fired. And it wouldn't be because I couldn't do my job, but because under the new conditionds I would no longer be able to do my job as effectively.
Dancers (and their managers) work VERY closely with one another, it is essential that they can respect each other. One personality conflict can ruin and entire ballet, ballet season, ballet company.
[ March 16, 2002, 06:33 PM: Message edited by: LMCtech ]
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