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NYCB Dancers Cut


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#61 Helene

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 12:36 PM

I agree that we're not going anywhere, but I'd like to comment on the structural way this thread has evolved:

1. NYCB needs to address a financial crisis, including a deficit issue that has no end in sight.
2. NYCB has addressed this with the decision to cut management salaries by X% and to save a net of 1.2 million - X (for apprentices) by cutting 11 corps members.
3. There is a limit to what NYCB as an organization has control over, which includes executive salaries, marketing budget, back office operations and staff, new productions (that aren't from designated donations or funds, or grant applications), general maintenance, corps, and apprentices. There may be others, but, orchestra, principal, soloist, and back stage contracts tie the company's hands, and operating costs from electricity to toilet paper aren't going down.
4. NYCB has decided that reducing the corps by 11 is a higher priority than cuts/more cuts elsewhere in the budget where they have control.

These are the trade-offs that businesses worldwide face, although the details differ.

This has led to two basic conclusions:

1. If saving the contracts of the corps members is the lowest priority, there must be something wrong with them and/or a better use of the money elsewhere, and management knows best OR
2. Since management claims that finance was the only consideration in their decision, there are/could be other ways to save the money that would have left the corps intact.

#62 Beatrice

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 01:00 PM

I would hope that others who've actually read my numerous posts don't view me in such a negative light. Though I agree you and I will never see eye to eye.

The reason why I somewhat glibly perhaps put a "black and white" perspective on such a complex issue is precisely that as Leigh stated this thread is going round and round in circles and nothing new is being said.

The thing is unless Peter Martins says words to the effect that his house in the Hamptons needs reroofing, and new plumbing and so taking a substantial salary cut at this time just wasn't an option - so the cuts had to come somewhere else, or some other major clanger, what can be gained from increasingly debating an issue where we know all the facts as presented by the company and know how we feel personally on certain issues and all that can concluded are the same points over and over again, with nothing more than conjecture and bias to distinguish one point from another?


Not sure if it was you or a moderator who editted the beginning line in your post. However, the very fact that you so "glibly" put it in black and white is why I answered the way I did. I have expressed NOTHING that comes close to the expressing the idea that I don't care about the dancers - both the ones whose contracts were not renewed and those who will continue on with the company. I take that allegation insultingly because it is, quite simply untrue. When you put things as black and white as insinuating that ANYONE on this board doesn't care about the dancers, you are entering a rather dangerous territory.

As for Martins' alleged "house in the Hamptons"... why is it so important for you to believe that Martins made these decisions for selfish reasons? You're the first one to call out allegations of libel, conjecture, and dangerously untrue statements, but you insist on insinuating over and over that Martins' decisions are those of greed and self-interest. I am not operating under the belief that all Martins does is correct. I'm just - perhaps naively - hoping that someone who has given his entire life in service to this company would be basing his decisions on what would serve the company best in the long term. I'm hoping that Balanchine's last ballerina would not be married to a man whose main concern was with his Hamptons house over the continuation of the legacy.

Contrary to another one of your editted allegations, I don't "need to be right" to a bunch of anonymous strangers on the internet. I don't even need to be right to you. I would just appreciate it if you'd stop with comments along the lines of "either you support the dancers or you support the administration" and "Martins needs a new roof on his beach house". I do not believe that anything we are currently discussing is as cut and dry as that.

#63 Simon G

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 01:05 PM

Beatrice,

Please, just leave me alone? Okay?

#64 Helene

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 01:21 PM

. I have expressed NOTHING that comes close to the expressing the idea that I don't care about the dancers - both the ones whose contracts were not renewed and those who will continue on with the company. I take that allegation insultingly because it is, quite simply untrue. When you put things as black and white as insinuating that ANYONE on this board doesn't care about the dancers, you are entering a rather dangerous territory.

There are a number of reasons why choosing to reduce the corps might be good for the long term health of the company compared to other solutions, such as more cohesion, the realization that the ideal size of the company is smaller, a medium-term strategy that sacrifices corps in the short-term until natural attrition of the soloists and principals allows the company to re-adjust, or an artistic decision to reduce long-time corps members with potential soloists (although, to note, not all 11 were long-time NYCB corps members). I don't know if any of these came into play, but I hope you can appreciate the difference between reasons that are dancer-specific, which the company has not in any way suggested but that you raised in your posts, and company-specific reasons that have little to do with these specific dancers.

#65 Beatrice

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 01:27 PM

I absolutey do, Helene. For me, what this all comes down to is that there is a bigger picture that none of us are fully aware of. There are a myraid of tiny details that came together to lead the administration to take the steps that were taken.

edit to reflect previous post's edit: the dancer specific points that I brought up were a way to illustrate that any number of situations take place within the company that we are not aware of. At the end of the day, 11 were chosen. And there are reasons that those 11 were chosen over the ones who remain - it simply wasn't a matter of "we need to save 1.2 million, let's pick names out of a hat". And whatever those reasons are, they are likely tied in with the larger equation of company dynamics that we are not privvy to. It was Ms Flack who said something along the lines of them "cleaning house". I'm just saying that sometimes the house needs to be cleaned.

#66 britomart

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 01:49 PM

I realize that this statement is not going to contribute to the discussion, but a good bit of this thread and the other one on the dancer layoffs from NYCB feels like a bad day in law school or an academic conference that has gotten out of hand, where someone just wants to be right at the expense of the ideas being circulated.

#67 Helene

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:08 PM

edit to reflect previous post's edit: the dancer specific points that I brought up were a way to illustrate that any number of situations take place within the company that we are not aware of. At the end of the day, 11 were chosen. And there are reasons that those 11 were chosen over the ones who remain - it simply wasn't a matter of "we need to save 1.2 million, let's pick names out of a hat". And whatever those reasons are, they are likely tied in with the larger equation of company dynamics that we are not privvy to. It was Ms Flack who said something along the lines of them "cleaning house". I'm just saying that sometimes the house needs to be cleaned.

Which makes theses 11 dancers problems that needed to be fixed, which is not what the company said.

Again, it could be any combination of salary, the need with a smaller corps for dancers who fit specific roles (especially with regard to partnering) and/or size(s), who are all-around stylists vs. specialists, etc., and having nothing to do with interpersonal dynamics (which works both ways).

#68 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:12 PM

Folks, how about you all take one more post to conclude your thoughts - if you need to. Otherwise let's say this thread has run its course.

#69 Beatrice

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:16 PM

Helene, I definitely agree that all the things that you just listed could be part of the equation. Or all of the equation.

All I've been trying to express is that nothing here is simple. Right or wrong, I believe that for all of this faults, Mr Martins cares deeply about this company and is trying to make the best choices for it in very difficult times. When you have to pick eleven hearts to break, it's not an easy decision and I'm sure that a million factors were considered when his decisions were made.

I, personally, don't think that the adminstration has acted irresponsibly. I'm sad for the dancers whose contracts were not renewed, but at this point, I don't see any proof that the administration is at fault. In a year, I may think otherwise. But right now, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

edit: Thus being my concluding thought on the matter, Leigh Witchel :D . If anyone wants to talk to me further via PM, you know where to find me.

#70 canbelto

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:21 PM

Another issue might be the different way the public (and dancers) perceive Martins compared to the way the dancers perceived, say, a Balanchine, a Diaghilev, or a Ninette di Valois. My feeling from reading historical books about ballet was that Mr. B, Diagilev, and "Madam" were perceived as almost gods, and their judgment was not to be questioned. They were revered by both the press and the dancers. When there were internal disagreements dancers were promptly kicked out and not welcomed back. I think it's a different era now. Peter Martins or Kevin McKenzie don't inspire the same amount of awe, fear, and reverence. Not that I think they deserve to, just that Mr. B never would have had to deal with these kinds of PR issues because he was, well, Mr. B. and his word was law.

#71 bart

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:31 PM

I think it's a different era now. Peter Martins or Kevin McKenzie don't inspire the same amount of awe, fear, and reverence. Not that I think they deserve to, just that Mr. B never would have had to deal with these kinds of PR issues because he was, well, Mr. B. and his word was law.

An fascinating point, canbelto. The times are different. There has been a proliferation of outlets in which can express opinions about everything under the sun. Given this, COULD anyone today inspire the kind of respect -- and, more to the point, obedience -- that those earlier figures did?

#72 Helene

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:47 PM

I think it's a different era now. Peter Martins or Kevin McKenzie don't inspire the same amount of awe, fear, and reverence. Not that I think they deserve to, just that Mr. B never would have had to deal with these kinds of PR issues because he was, well, Mr. B. and his word was law.

An fascinating point, canbelto. The times are different. There has been a proliferation of outlets in which can express opinions about everything under the sun. Given this, COULD anyone today inspire the kind of respect -- and, more to the point, obedience -- that those earlier figures did?

I doubt it, if only because neither Martins nor McKenzie has the reach that Balanchine did in his day, especially after the Ford Foundation grant, which extended his reach to many of the US training academies. When Farrell and Mejia trying to get guest gigs after they left NYCB, very few companies would touch them, because they couldn't risk getting on Balanchine's bad side. Does anyone have that kind of authority now, especially with the number of dancers who are able to move from continent to continent, and with foundations managing the right to perform the greatest works?

#73 abatt

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 06:16 AM

I think it's a different era now. Peter Martins or Kevin McKenzie don't inspire the same amount of awe, fear, and reverence. Not that I think they deserve to, just that Mr. B never would have had to deal with these kinds of PR issues because he was, well, Mr. B. and his word was law.



No Artistic Director inspires the fear/awe the way a genius like Balanchine did. But it's also interesting to note that dancers from other companies who have been let go do not appear to be running to the press to bad-mouth their artistic directors in the same way that former NYCB dancers do. There is a negative perception of Martins which, I think, is fueled in part by issues of nepotism, in part by the fact that he never will be the equal of Mr. B (who could!?) and in part by the fact that he has loaded down the NYCB rep with mediocre (sometimes awful) ballets that he has created.

#74 Dale

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 07:29 AM

Abatt, dancers definitely spoke out when Ross Stretton fired (let go) dancers when he took over the Royal and later when he left the company. The same happened at Boston Ballet and at San Francisco when there were regime changes. I guess the difference here was this was not a new AD coming in but rather a financial situation. Maybe it was just not handled well. In the 1990s, there was a trimming of older corps members. Maybe the difference then from now is the world they were being released into was more secure. And they had fewer avenues to vent to. Or the dancers of today are products of their culture. Meaning they are more vocal about what concerns them and they use the media available (Newspapers, Magazines, websites, blogs, twitter, Facebook etc...) to get those concerns out there.

#75 canbelto

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 10:38 AM

No Artistic Director inspires the fear/awe the way a genius like Balanchine did. But it's also interesting to note that dancers from other companies who have been let go do not appear to be running to the press to bad-mouth their artistic directors in the same way that former NYCB dancers do. There is a negative perception of Martins which, I think, is fueled in part by issues of nepotism, in part by the fact that he never will be the equal of Mr. B (who could!?) and in part by the fact that he has loaded down the NYCB rep with mediocre (sometimes awful) ballets that he has created.


I'm thinking maybe people skills are also an issue here? Firing/layoffs are an inevitable part of running any large organization but there are ways to do it that minimize ill-will or hurt feelings. This isn't the first time fired/laid off NYCB workers have gone to the press with grievances and angry words under Martins' reign.


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