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Drug scandal at the RDB?

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A new study alleges heavy snowfall and leadership issues at the Royal Danish Ballet. Two articles posted in the Links, one in the July 9 thread and another in the July 7 thread.

Earlier in the day, Møller himself had also downplayed the controversy, calling the allegations an “internal personnel affair”. Later, however, as criticism from opposition politicians grew, he changed that message and urged Jacobsen to “take care of the problem”. Møller emphasised that he was confident they would deal with the issue properly.

The accusations of rampant cocaine use by the ballet’s dancers and appeared first in an internal study commissioned by the Royal Danish Ballet itself and completed on March 15. In the report several anonymous employees claim that cocaine abuse is widespread at the ballet. They also complain of mismanagement and unprofessional, temperamental leadership from Hübbe.

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I read this yesterday and wasn't surprised, not because I know them, but because most younger Europeans I've met have a more permissive attitude about cocaine than people from other continents. Please don't take this to mean I agree with that attitude, because I think cocaine is no different than buying blood diamonds.

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I read this yesterday and wasn't surprised, not because I know them, but because most younger Europeans I've met have a more permissive attitude about cocaine than people from other continents. Please don't take this to mean I agree with that attitude, because I think cocaine is no different than buying blood diamonds.

As to Cocaine use in Europe here are some statistics at:-

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/stats10

If you would like to compare USA statistics see:-

http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/HSYouthtrends.html

In the reports of this case which were posted, one cannot help to be suspicious that there is a classic case of theatre politics where inappropriate temperament has rightly or wrongly been added to and ascribed to high profile member of the company in terms of their behaviour.

Since the 1960’s the socially damaging effect of the encouragement of prurient interest in peoples lives by the media, has degenerated to a level which is in my opinion appalling.

Celebrities, real or manufactured beyond their talents, are not such a significant group of people in any society. They are a product of a commercial process and given a status that should belong to the many unsung heroes who perform decent and life supporting acts on behalf of others.

I do not believe in “the public right to know” when the subject is not guilty of a criminal act.

I have received an email this morning from an acquaintance in respect of the subject in question which started, “If you are the kind of person who likes scandal and trashy reports demeaning personalities, you might like to read the following report in a Danish newspaper.”

I didn’t read it.

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I agree with Leonid, this has all the hallmarks of a muck-spreading exercise to discredit and "Shame" and oust a maverick artistic director whose methods offend the old guard. Nevermind the fact Hubbe has revitalised RDB, they wanted it to be revitalised in a way that they "approved" of.

To take Hubbe's statement about cocaine use in NY out of context is specious and meaningless, cocaine is massive business, he could just have easily said that anyone within certain industries anywhere in the world has done cocaine. It's estimated that over 80% of bank notes in circulation in London have trace residues of cocaine on them.

The nameless "four" who were taken to Hubbe's office and plied with drugs, while he sat there and did what? Watched them? On that I really call shennanigans. Why would an AD take four corps members into his office and give them drugs? They obviously aren't afraid for their jobs because if this truly did happen Hubbe would know who they were and could sack them. What would be the sense of taking four people you don't know you can trust into your personal professional space and inveigling them to engage in criminal activity that could get you fired? Hubbe has categorically stated he doesn't do drugs, will submit to any test. It's just a dreary salacious piece of tabloid level lies and fingerpointing by four members of the corps who obviously feel their talents aren't promoted as they believe they should be.

As to cocaine use being rife within the RDB? So what, do they think it's unique to the RDB? Dancers work horrendously long hours, they can't eat while exercising, they also have to stay thin, they're totally exhausted and need energy, their tense, worried constantly. Cocaine suppresses appetite, gives boundless energy, confidence - is it any wonder it's a dancer's favourite drug of choice?

The anti-Hubbe cabal is obviously pulling a Gelsey, except they're accusing Hubbe of pimping out the entire company, Kirkland just pimped her own ride and it's crass and tasteless and muddies the waters so much that dancers with legitimate personal issues will only be afraid to seek help.

I also object to this image of dancers being so totally immature and lacking in any kind of backbone or intellect that they'd be so facile as to allow themselves to pushed into drug abuse against their will. That in no way was it their decision to take coke for the real benefits it can provide an exhausted, stressed dancer.

And why single out ballet? On any given day in industries ranging from the media, to banking, medicine and the armed forces cocaine use is rife for very real and much the same reasons, not to mention its recreational popularity.

The specious notion of a war on drugs is a complete misnomer, it's a war on human behaviour and that one no Government, drug enforcement agency or hypocritical right will ever win. Blaming drugs is like blaming a sneeze for being the cause of the cold.

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I know we are not talking about Spanish dancing, but I say to Simon G, "OLE".

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"prurient interest in peoples lives by the media, has degenerated to a level which is in my opinion appalling."

-or others using media or other methods. It is appalling, sad, and horrifying.

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Actually this isn't really a "News of the World" / media sort of thing. It appears to have begun as an RDB internal report, was not acted on, and now has become a political hot potato. Maybe the stresses and preparations of the tour distracted everyone from dealing with whatever problem there might have been early on.

In general individual cocaine or pot use is fine, but where it becomes part of the culture of an organization, it creates problems, with everyone on different mood gradients – upwards or down. At least that was my experience in working at such a company...

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I agree with the points Quiggin made and I don't see any evidence of media overreach related to "celebrities" here, unless I'm missing something. No doubt company politics are part of the story, they usually are.

I quite agree about drawing too many conclusions from statements taken out of context. Nevertheless, "Nobody lives in New York for 15 years without trying cocaine," sounds suspiciously excuse-making.

Dancers work horrendously long hours, they can't eat while exercising, they also have to stay thin, they're totally exhausted and need energy, their tense, worried constantly. Cocaine suppresses appetite, gives boundless energy, confidence - is it any wonder it's a dancer's favourite drug of choice?

All the more reason to look into these allegations. Dancers are often very young and under great pressure - a vulnerable population, I should think.

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Actually this isn't really a "News of the World" / media sort of thing. It appears to have begun as an RDB internal report, was not acted on, and now has become a political hot potato. Maybe the stresses and preparations of the tour distracted everyone from dealing with whatever problem there might have been early on.

In general individual cocaine or pot use is fine, but where it becomes part of the culture of an organization, it creates problems, with everyone on different mood gradients – upwards or down. At least that was my experience in working at such a company...

As stories in "The Times" and the "The Telegraph" are reported in a certain manner, there are always bottom of the sea creatures writing anonymously in the "rags" to create as negative a view as possible.

We are looking at a report that has spawned comments from anonymous persons(?)to make comments which have been taken up by the less refined Danish press.

The Royal Theatre's Managing Director, Eric Jacobsen, rejected the report's allegations stating they were made on a "frivolous basis," and he stressed that "passed on rumors of drug abuse is not substantiated and can not be verified."

Jacobsen has further criticised the employees who spoke anonymously in the report, writing that the other dancers and director "don't deserve this anonymous suspicion".

"We can't throw suspicion on people in that way," Jacobsen told Jyllands-Posten, "In a society governed by the rule of law we are obliged to take people at their word, even if there are well-documented complaints."

Hubbe when confronted, offered to take a drug test on the spot.

What more is needed to be said.

Surely we are not beginning to see a concerted effort from both sides of the Atlantic to do Hubbe down?

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If I may play devil's advocate here, if this story is true then it may go some way towards explaining the very mixed reviews the company received on the recent US tour. :FIREdevil:

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If I may play devil's advocate here, if this story is true then it may go some way towards explaining the very mixed reviews the company received on the recent US tour. :FIREdevil:

When you say " if this story is true then it may go some way towards explaining the very mixed reviews the company received on the recent US tour." I think it is a correlation to far."

As much as one might admire a particular critic, reviews are never an absolute measure of performances as they only reflect a personal view and as we know not all critics whole heartedly agree with one another regarding a performance.

Have you measured the track record over a period of time of the critics who wrote the critical reviews of the company? What was the same critics record of reviewing Mr Hubbe as a dancer in New York?

I love everything about the history of the Royal Danish Ballet and especially its personal stylistic link to the era of the Romantic Ballet. However for me, the Royal Danish Ballet has never attained the same qualities in performance as those I witnessed in the 1960's despite their obvious charm and the important retention of the Bournonville School. Mythologies about this company abounds, especially when you read reviews of the last forty odd years regarding the casting of Madge.

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There is an interesting concept in Danish society known as "Jante Law" - I won't pretend to have a complete understanding of it, but the gist of it seems to be that you're not supposed to get too big for your britches; the individual is not supposed to rise above the general population; that even if you're successful at what you do, you should be made to understand that you are no better than anybody else. The attacks on Hubbe in the press - particularly given their origins in a less-respected tabloid - could be a manifestation of Jante Law in action.

The Royal's Chief Administrative Officer has a thoughtful and measured response in today's "Politiken." The link is to a Google Translate version. His point is that the consultant's report covered a number of management issues (it was not a report that was focused on drug abuse) and, in particular that "The report's author can not, although directly asked, provide documentation of its claims." There is also a detailed Q&A that provides even more detail, and is also worth reading.

As for any suggestion that any poor reviews during the US tour had anything to do with cocaine abuse - that is a perfect example of heaping supposition on top of hearsay, and is exactly the sort of thing that has made Fox News and its ilk so successful over the past few years. It is irresponsible to raise loaded questions and then not bother to seek, let alone provide, the answers.

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I love everything about the history of the Royal Danish Ballet and especially its personal stylistic link to the era of the Romantic Ballet. However for me, the Royal Danish Ballet has never attained the same qualities in performance as those I witnessed in the 1960's despite their obvious charm and the important retention of the Bournonville School. Mythologies about this company abounds, especially when you read reviews of the last forty odd years regarding the casting of Madge.

I never saw this company until the early 1970's so I cannot comment on the standards of 50 years ago, In the past five years or so I've seen a couple of dozen performances by the company both in London and Copenhagen and have witnessed the change over in directors. Compared with other companies they are doing well and it is unusual to come away from their performances with the deep feeling of dissatisfaction I experience after watching certain other companies that I've also watched over a long period of time.

A great deal of ballet watching is subjective to some extent, but I believe the RDB tours less extensively than other leading companies of high reputation which may account for those divergent reviews: a mixed response to an unfamiliar style. I didn't see the company in the US so whether there has been a sudden drop in standards or not I can't say but up to 2009, when I was last in Denmark, I was impressed by the level of performance in particular the way the company performs as an ensemble, the depth of characterisation is every bit as rich and convincing as it has ever been and the standard of actual dancing is high. Based on what I've seen myself the US critics should have been grovelling at their feet - but that didn't happen.

By the way, a Danish speaker interested in these revelations emailed me today to point out that Jyllands Posten and Berlingske can't be compared to the gutter press as both are highly reputable publications perhaps the equivalent of The Telegraph and The Independent in the UK. Furthermore the case has also been aired on national television news. Jyllands is in possession of the complete report and has now published an editorial on it as well. The original report was officially commissioned and is currently being scrutinised by the Parliamentary Culture Commission.

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"In a society governed by the rule of law we are obliged to take people at their word, even if there are well-documented complaints."

Does that sound logical to anyone? Is it against the law to investigate a complaint if the accused deny the behavior? If the law obliges taking people at their word, why didn't Jacobsen treat the complaints, the first words given here, as if they were true? Regardless of what is or isn't going on in the company, that statement makes Jacobsen sound less than confident that it's nothing.

There is an interesting concept in Danish society known as "Jante Law" - I won't pretend to have a complete understanding of it, but the gist of it seems to be that you're not supposed to get too big for your britches; the individual is not supposed to rise above the general population; that even if you're successful at what you do, you should be made to understand that you are no better than anybody else.

That concept is charmingly illustrated by Garrison Keillor in his monologues on A Prairie Home Companion. :)

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"In a society governed by the rule of law we are obliged to take people at their word, even if there are well-documented complaints."

Does that sound logical to anyone? Is it against the law to investigate a complaint if the accused deny the behavior? If the law obliges taking people at their word, why didn't Jacobsen treat the complaints, the first words given here, as if they were true? Regardless of what is or isn't going on in the company, that statement makes Jacobsen sound less than confident that it's nothing.

There is an interesting concept in Danish society known as "Jante Law" - I won't pretend to have a complete understanding of it, but the gist of it seems to be that you're not supposed to get too big for your britches; the individual is not supposed to rise above the general population; that even if you're successful at what you do, you should be made to understand that you are no better than anybody else.

That concept is charmingly illustrated by Garrison Keillor in his monologues on A Prairie Home Companion. :)

I think if you read both the article and the interview, there was an investigation conducted. But keep in mind this is a workplace, and certain rules apply. Many court battles have been fought in the US about where the employer's right to investigate employees ends and the employee's right to privacy begins. And what is he to take as true: the anonymous complaints made to a consultant by dancers (many of whom may have an agenda, given that Hubbe has raised standards since he arrived and introduced a NYCB-level of accountability and discipline to the corps in particular); or identified responses made to direct questioning? The RDB has had a well-established support system for dancers, and those who have problems are given both the resources and the time to remedy them. This is by no means a cut-throat company. So is the answer to abandon that in favor of a "let us search your dressing room" and "fill the cup" sort of regime? This is a dance company here, not Wal-Mart. There must be a high level of trust or the dancers won't grow and take chances as artists.

And yes, I was thinking of Keillor's Norwegian Bachelor Farmers even as I was typing my post . . .

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This is by no means a cut-throat company. So is the answer to abandon that in favor of a "let us search your dressing room" and "fill the cup" sort of regime? This is a dance company here, not Wal-Mart. There must be a high level of trust or the dancers won't grow and take chances as artists.

If this proves to be nothing but company politics and the beefing of a few disaffected people, then well and good. But as pointed out earlier in the thread, endemic use of a drug like cocaine within an organization is bad news and not to be shrugged off. (I would also disagree respectfully with the apparent suggestion that employees of Wal-Mart are somehow not worthy of the same protections afforded to dancers.)

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If this proves to be nothing but company politics and the beefing of a few disaffected people, then well and good. But as pointed out earlier in the thread, endemic use of a drug like cocaine within an organization is bad news and not to be shrugged off. (I would also disagree respectfully with the apparent suggestion that employees of Wal-Mart are somehow not worthy of the same protections afforded to dancers.)

That was not my point. Both are entitled to the same levels of protection. But goals of the two organizations are markedly different and the two groups need to be managed quite differently. I was not implying, as your post seems to assume, that I consider Wal-Mart employees to be "not worthy of the same protections afforded to dancers."

And from what I can tell from the many news reports I've read - in particular, the two that I most recently posted, which are worth a read if you haven't yet bothered to inform yourself with anything except the posts on this thread - it's not being 'shrugged off.'

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I think if you read both the article and the interview, there was an investigation conducted.

Yes, and it turned up anonymous reports of cocaine use, which Jacobsen squelched and now refuses to investigate further. It’s possible he’s trying to protect his dancers because he believes they’re innocent, but everyone knows that the way to do that is to authorize a full investigation. (And Hubbe’s being clean at the time the news broke hardly proves the allegations are untrue). He’s acting like he thinks they’re guilty. Commissioning a study and then dismissing its findings as “unfounded” speaks for itself.

But keep in mind this is a workplace, and certain rules apply.

If rules do prevent Jacobsen from taking action, his statement, which sounds illogical on its face, didn’t specify them, and Moller and other apparently haven’t heard of them.

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That was not my point. Both are entitled to the same levels of protection. But goals of the two organizations are markedly different and the two groups need to be managed quite differently. I was not implying, as your post seems to assume, that I consider Wal-Mart employees to be "not worthy of the same protections afforded to dancers."

I appreciate your clarification and am glad to know that you intended no such implication. Regarding "shrugged off," kfw just made the point I wanted to make much better than I did and I'll leave it at that.

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Thanks, checkwriter, for directing us to the links. The report had been about general working conditions. From the interview between Henrik Sten Peterson and Torben Benner of "Politiken" - via google translate -

"We were aware that Nikolaj's leadership style is different and is based on the American influence that he has had for the past 17 to 18 years. It has provided some challenges for the company and given [us] some shaking [up]. It has changed the sense of security the Company has had til now.

...

It is important to remember that if Nikolaj is pushing a dancer hard, it is not to inflate his own ego – it is because he sees a potential of each dancer and would wants to [bring it out completely]. Therefore he presses the game forward. And when that [results] in a boost in performance, he is equally effusive in the other direction, and so he is jubilant.

...

You have probably also stars and water carriers?

"Yes. And when Nikolaj promotes Alban Lendorf so ferociously [sa voldsomt] and says that he is the greatest talent in 50 years, it's a way to treat the talented dancers that we have not seen before. It is clear that there will be others who sit on the bus and say, well, [it's certainly] not me who was the greatest talent in 50 years.

Of course there is a hierarchy. First you're corps dancer, and you're clever, you are a soloist, and are you a talented, you will be soloist. That's the route Alban Lendorf has taken in a very short time. Nikolaj is more [candid about] the great talent and he is also more direct when he says: I do not think this company and you are the right match. He is quite honest. "

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I do not believe in “the public right to know” when the subject is not guilty of a criminal act.

Well ... to play devil's advocate here I'd say that the RDB is a dance company who has to put on presentable performances of revered ballets, and that cocaine has well known health effects that impede a dancer's ability to perform at the highest level. Tragic cases in point would be Gelsey Kirkland and Patrick Bissell. So if a whole company is snorting then eventually the quality of the performances will go down. So the public in that sense does have the right to know.

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I do not believe in “the public right to know” when the subject is not guilty of a criminal act.

Well ... to play devil's advocate here I'd say that the RDB is a dance company who has to put on presentable performances of revered ballets, and that cocaine has well known health effects that impede a dancer's ability to perform at the highest level. Tragic cases in point would be Gelsey Kirkland and Patrick Bissell. So if a whole company is snorting then eventually the quality of the performances will go down. So the public in that sense does have the right to know.

Where did you find the absolute evidence that drug taking had occurred? As far as I can see this is so far an unsupported statement and in that case it seems shameful to bring the names of dancers not concerned with what appears from reports to be a bitchy farrago when all decent people want to read about is a fandango.

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Thanks, checkwriter, for directing us to the links.

I forgot to mention that. I add my thanks to Quiggin's.

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I think people need to get out of their Gelsey Kirkland/Dancing On My Grave mindset. The kind of Amy Winehouse-esque addiction is rare, very rare and has nothing to do with the profession of dance and everything about personal choice. A Kirkland or Bissell would probably have found their way to addiction whether they were a dancer, doctor, PR guru or landscape gardener.

I also think it's highly convenient that this "report" was commissioned and the totally anecdotal vague findings published to coincide with Hubbe's tenure and the growing claque against him, as if drug use in the RDB didn't exist before he arrived to coax poor innocent dancers into his office while he chopped up lines and sat there while they snorted, against their will - so what did he do, kidnap their families and threaten to have them killed if they didn't partake?

Those four dancers are not only cowards but dangerous, this kind of false anonymous accusation sticks and destroys reputations, though thankfully due to their cowardice it would be utterly ineffectual in sacking Hubbe. Someone said that this isn't in the realm of tabloid reportage, but anonymous sources accusing individuals of criminal acts is what tabloid journalism is made of.

This notion that the RDB is a coked up orgy reminiscent of backstage with Guns & Roses when they're not onstage dancing Napoli is so idiotic to give it credence is not only an insult to the dancers, Hubbe but an insult to one's own intelligence too.

I have no doubt certain dancers take a line of Columbian Marching powder every so often, every company does, every organisation throughout the world whatever the industry has people within it who do drugs from time to time. It's part of life, it happens.

It is rather strange though that drugs like sex are so popular as no one will admit to doing it.

Yes, severe addiction will destroy a dance career, indeed severe addiction will destroy any career, no matter the industry, but until someone in the RDB comes forward and admit that they are a drug addict all this is harmful, specious conjecture and muck spreading. And were a dancer to come forward as an addict they'd find they receive pretty short shrift in rehab were they to blame Hubbe or anyone else for their addiction, taking full responsibility for one's actions, behaviour and addiction is the cornerstone to recovery.

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