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Drug scandal at the RDB?


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#16 checkwriter

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 05:45 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. :)



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 . . .

#17 dirac

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:02 AM

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.)

#18 checkwriter

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:27 AM

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.'

#19 kfw

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 10:18 AM

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.




#20 dirac

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 10:27 AM

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.

#21 Quiggin

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 11:22 AM

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. "



#22 canbelto

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 11:44 AM

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.

#23 leonid17

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 01:21 PM



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.

#24 dirac

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 01:56 PM

Thanks, checkwriter, for directing us to the links.


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

#25 Simon G

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 03:21 PM

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.

#26 checkwriter

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:05 PM

Another post worth a read, this one about Hubbe from corps dancer Charlotte Amand (Again, c/o Google Translate): "But if you give a hundred percent of what you now put down on stage to give is there no end to the support you get, and the inspiration he accrues to you. If you are injured, he helps you. If you have personal problems or challenges, he gives you the space to solve it. Just you're honest. But if you meet the tired and listless and almost burps a piece of pastry into his head and your colleagues if you are busy talking with side companion or drink coffee when you are met for training, he gets angry."

#27 Quiggin

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:33 PM

Drug problems aside, this may have been fueled by resentment about all the quick changes Hubbe made – and Hubbe's intense charisma, which can be seen as mercurial and autocratic by those who don't really cotton to it.

According to an article in Reuters of June 17, 2011:

Hubbe said discipline was lacking, dancers skipped daily classes, and an abundance of teachers led to a decline in classical technique.

"I just don't believe 24 different teachers in one year is conducive to any deeper understanding of classical technique," Hubbe said during an interview after a rehearsal at New York's Lincoln Center where the tours ends on Saturday.

Hubbe imposed full daily classes, stressed pointe work for women dancers and whittled down the teaching staff to less than 10 to create consistency.


The Royal Danish management seems to have made a somewhat curious choice in its selection of the person who made the report. Helle Hedegaard Hein works with the Copenhagen Business School and her online powerpoint presentations revolve around the "Primadonna" type at the workplace:

An unreasonably demanding, self-concerned, vain, pompous, full of temperament (if not regular hysterical) personality, a megalomaniac who make unreasonable demands of his colleagues, his workplace and to Management, and senses a greater devotion to her own career and own yield than to the company.


Managing the professional primadonna

On the other hand she has a paper in English in which she identifies the four key types as: Prima Donna, Performance Addict, Pragmatist, Paycheck Worker. Here the Prima Donna type is the one for whom –

Their work is their calling.
Governed by extremely strong values and ideals.
Work is a primary source of meaningfulness, satisfaction and identity.
Willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of a higher purpose.:

Stepping into character

All of this would make a great early Bergman comedy, if it weren't also a bit sad.

#28 leonid17

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 11:10 PM

I am pleased to see that the last three posts have brought some healthy reality into the discussion and I hope that the readiness among some posters to,” do down" Hubbe all costs and lay down with the scurrilous, will now get back to some kind of dealing with only the facts that have been presented.

This is an "in house" affair which has been ineffectively controlled and probably temporarily damaging to to the RDB reputation.

The Reuters quote posted by Quiggin, is somewhat telling.

EDITED

#29 dirac

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 09:14 AM

I am pleased to see that the last three posts have brought some healthy reality into the discussion and I hope that the readiness among some posters to,” do down" Hubbe all costs and lay down with the scurrilous, will now get back to some kind of dealing with only the facts that have been presented.


I don't know of anyone here who is trying to "do down" Hubbe, leonid. A few have tried to point out that widespread cocaine use is not a good thing for any organization if such is happening. What information we have is not conclusive either way. Nor has anyone said that company politics are playing no role here.

The Royal Danish management seems to have made a somewhat curious choice in its selection of the person who made the report


That person is "no longer associated with the company." There could be any number of reasons for that, I should think.

#30 Simon G

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 10:31 AM


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.



I strongly disagree, he's acting responsibly. He commissioned a report and several people made hugely libellous allegations hiding behind anonymity which potentially could destroy careers and the company itself. Unless those anonymous people are prepared to come forward and offer concrete evidence, times, dates and a full history, as well as supply real information on how cocaine is endemic within the RDB, the only thing to do is ignore it.

The fact that Hubbe is "clean" at the time of report equally hardly proves that the allegations are true. Moreover Hubbe said he'd submit to any standardised drug test, which in a legal or corporate setting would include a hair strand test which can ascertain whether someone has been drug free for up to a year.

And if Hubbe did choose to do some drugs on his downtime, that's really no one's business but his.

Also coke is expensive, it's effects ephemeral. You get a 15 minute buzz and then you need to top up again. Coke addiction isn't something an addict can actually hide, especially not in the frame of a working day, nor a rehearsal situation. The physical symptoms of gurning, clenching, jitters, etc which comes with chronic use are unmistakeable - it'd be obvious highly obvious if the majority of the company were tweaking or using. There would be no need for a report the results of addiction are painfully plainly obvious.

But if the use is recreational, on the dancers' own downtime, out of the theatre, then it really is no one's business.


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