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Drug scandal at the RDB?


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#1 dirac

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 08:42 PM

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.



#2 Jayne

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 12:03 AM

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.

#3 leonid17

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 01:49 AM

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...outhtrends.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.

#4 Simon G

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 02:05 AM

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.

#5 leonid17

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 02:11 AM

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

#6 puppytreats

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 03:47 AM

"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.

#7 Quiggin

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 08:17 PM

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...

#8 dirac

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 09:16 PM

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.

#9 leonid17

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 10:31 PM

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?

#10 leonid17

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 11:27 PM

The following interview gives an insight into Nikolai Hubbe's personality and perhaps confirms that his successful sojourn in New York created some jealousy back in Copenhagen.

http://www.nytimes.c...nce/10kour.html

EDITED

#11 Mashinka

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 01:18 AM

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:

#12 leonid17

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 01:54 AM

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.

#13 checkwriter

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 03:56 AM

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.

#14 Mashinka

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 04:26 AM

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.

#15 kfw

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 05:22 AM

"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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