Brioche

2011-2012 Trouble

24 posts in this topic

Nahat, the company’s artistic director, said that in October he was formally notified by the board of directors that it has ultimate authority in all artistic matters, including choosing dancers and designating their rankings, casting roles, and planning future productions. At present Nahat’s sole duty is rehearsing The Nutcracker, he said, and no other productions (to his knowledge) are currently in the works or in rehearsal. The dancers have not been told of the company’s plans either, and questions to the management from their union representative have not been answered.
Wow, board supervision of artistic matters is a recipe for failure. The founder of Fry's Electronics may be a gifted business owner, but I do not think he should supervise casting decisions, or has the ability to judge taste in the types of ballets to acquire for the company, or judge which dancers deserve promotions.

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Why are Boards deciding to pull this lack of judgement? What makes them feel qualified in any way to decide artistic decisions? Artistic decisions should be made by committee? Has China been so successful with this artistic model that the US wants to follow it?

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Am I the only one who finds this suspicious : http://www.mercurynews.com/entertainment/ci_19605515.

BEGIN QUOTE

The "artistic and training partnership" will allow Ballet San Jose to implement ABT's renowned curriculum at its ballet school and will provide a range of other opportunities for Ballet San Jose dancers and staff, Executive Director Stephanie Ziesel said. She added that the agreement included everything from the possibility of staging ballets from ABT's deep repertoire, to getting advice and training from specialized coaches.

But the announcement stopped short of revealing which ballets will be performed in the coming year; that news will be delivered Jan. 3, Ziesel said. That's nearly five months after the company announced it would not stage any autumn performances for the first time in decades.

END QUOTE

... Suspicious because there has been no parallel announcement from ABT... Is this just repackaging for public relations consumption that they are considering affiliating with ABT's training program? At Hartford Ballet's partially-board-generated demise, it almost seemed there was a promulgated view of the company as a proving ground for local wealthy families' daughters... and no will to see ballet or the company as more than that... (The Board practically implied at the penultimate annual gala that the dancers were children as they announced they were presenting them with lollipops as a thank you present). Is this the same path Ballet San Jose is headed down?

Why is there no announcement on ABT's site?

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Another article published today, which doesn't clear too much up. It still sounds as if Nahat is toast, but not immediately, evidently.

"Dennis and the board are talking right now about what his relationship will be with the company," San Jose Ballet spokesman Lee Kopp said Friday, when the ballet announced a new partnership with American Ballet Theatre that gives it access to ABT's rich repertoire, training curriculum and artistic advisers.

"Dennis has some decisions to make and so does the board. We are not hiring an artistic director."

Artistic decisions should be made by committee? Has China been so successful with this artistic model that the US wants to follow it?

Well, I'd not go that far. Very difficult to tell what's really going on although I expect that money is the issue at bottom. It usually is.

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At least they are being more straight forward about the ABT relationship... I really didn't care for the shared repertoire spin... Seemed dishonest. They aren't planning on hiring an Artistic Director, and yet that doesn't make those tasks go away. Who will audition new dancers? Who will decide the season? Sounds like it's turning into a pre-professional venture rather than remaining a real company. Offer less and you get less... becomes a situation of dwindling returns until no one cares enough for the organization to continue to exist. That is one thing a good artistic director will always do... fight for for the survival of the company. If I were a professional dancer, I would surely hesitate to relocate to San Jose with the company direction so vague.

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Another NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/arts/dance/ballet-san-jose-in-agreement-with-american-ballet-theater.html?ref=dance

"The organizations are not merging; Ms. Ziesel said that her ballet would not become a triple-A farm team for the American Ballet Theater but would have access to the bigger group’s “toolbox and Rolodex.”

What on earth does that mean? I can't imagine they mean the development director's roladex... And the artists and craftspeople most likely do not hide their involvement with ABT. What contact info could she mean? And what toolbox?? And no mention of the training program relationship. I find this situation to be stranger and stranger.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this, except at the movies,” said Nora Heiber, national dance representative for the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the company’s 34 dancers. “It’s a better script than ‘Black Swan.’ ”

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The union has filed grievances:

...the union representing the dancers filed grievances accusing management of breaches of various contract provisions and bargaining procedures. One grievance alleged that the "Swan Lake" performances by noncompany dancer Carlos Acosta -- a star in the ballet world -- violated collective bargaining agreements. Ziesel, however, said there have been no violations. This matter will be part of a Jan. 18 arbitration hearing.

The union alerted the company to another grievance in a Dec. 23 letter, alleging "harassment" by Fry. In that letter, the union's national executive director stated that Fry is involved in a relationship with ballerina Alexsandra Meijer, creating a "widespread perception among unit employees that Mr. Fry is granting favorable treatment ... and thereby creating a hostile working environment for the other dancers."

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Pick the one that most represents your take on Boards making artistic decisions. Think about Miami City Ballet, and a host of other examples:

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I wonder what Acosta's fee was.... (Not that I'd object! It must have been nice for the dancers to meet him.) Also, strange that all this is happening in the midst of a budget surplus.

Your emoticons are more than eloquent here!

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Mein Gosh, what a recipe for a troubled dish of limited appeal. This may flow from the small refence in a local mall type paper that was quoted to a friend as a humorous wonder that reflects on the "family's anger and determination to change the policy" that was expressed by the apparent subject "child" who was denied participation in some role that she had chosen for herself. The rejection was apparently based on her age ( too old or too young was not discussed ) and her size ( also not revealed ). I do not know the board involvement, but schucks folks; is this too dang much? The country is nertz.

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Dear Mine gosh,

I think we and you are perhaps being had. The quote is quite amusing, yes. That a mall paper, unless somehow compelled to print this child's sqwawk by an IMPORTANT parent, contains such exclusive stuff along with the cream, chicken, cilantro and celery adverts is just too much. Then again there was the once reported case with SF Ballet where a fat kiddee was rejected for Nutcracker, I seem to recall, and suits were threatened by the litigious parents, whose lipid state was not reported. There was no follow-up to that which is remembered here. I like the nertz bit. The genuine subject, interfering boards, is important.

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Dear Mine gosh,

I think we and you are perhaps being had. The quote is quite amusing, yes. That a mall paper, unless somehow compelled to print this child's sqwawk by an IMPORTANT parent, contains such exclusive stuff along with the cream, chicken, cilantro and celery adverts is just too much. Then again there was the once reported case with SF Ballet where a fat kiddee was rejected for Nutcracker, I seem to recall, and suits were threatened by the litigious parents, whose lipid state was not reported. There was no follow-up to that which is remembered here. I like the nertz bit. The genuine subject, interfering boards, is important.

Idiots every where I see. Perhaps the "Chron" is more reputable.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/14/DDJV1MOJT7.DTL&ao=all

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"Dennis was absolutely in shock. It was absolutely painful to watch," says Loewenstern. "He had just been shoved out of his life's work - out of everything he built and ever cared about."

This is a company he used 40 years of his life to build and they're pushing him out this way? Is he guilty of some heinous crime?

I think we should give some sort award for hitting all the bases.

Makes me rather worried about how ABT is actually run that they aren't staying as far away from this as possible?

Every time someone pokes this story another ugly detail crawls out.

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Flattering, I'm sure, but living on the wrong coast, the idea doesn't rise.

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Perhaps this is but an element of a kind of evolution of american ballet. One might not be surprised that one day there will be a homeless ballet, sans specific choreographic intent. Without apparent purpose, just rounded up folks compelled to be kept wandering about the stage whilst the doorman's radio plays some blurred folk tunes from mount idee(sic), with variations consisting of individuals staggering downstage to inquire if they might please go, now. Who knows what the bosses will want?

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Curioser and curioser. (The link Brioche posted (#15) doesn't work any more, but Hunt's article and the score or so comments on it are worth reading. Try this: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/14/DDJV1MOJT7.DTL&ao=all )

What's really puzzling about this no-AD "flat" corporate model the business people seem to be bent on converting the company to is, who's actually going to choose the choreographers and "stagers" who prepare the ballets?

More seriously, can the same 33 dancers, say, serve the audience by mastering the range of styles to do justice to the range of repertory being tossed about? MCB or the Joffrey Ballet may give us a good time with Taylor's Funny Papers or Ashton's Cinderella, but the flavors are inauthentic compared to what we get from the dancers trained in those traditions.

One model for a ballet company is a restaurant run by a versatile, master chef, who offers a varied menu - the analogy offered in so many words by George Balanchine, long ago and far away. I doubt that Nahat is another Balanchine exactly, but I wonder whether San Jose is abandoning the restaurant in favor of a food court.

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Can anyone give me an example of another ballet company that succeeded with this model? Any other arts organization? If there is no A.D., who picks the choreographers? The board of directors? I just don't see this working. Even "flat" organization charts at technology companies still have a chief executive officer to run the organization.

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Excellent question, in re the flat artistic direction model. Reminds elders of the Denham/Novak mess for Ballets Russe. Wherein the mildew and rodents appeared to be, albeit in cahoots with Miss Nina, the only contented. Locally the other AD out model was the Oakland company, of some few years past, or so I am told. At that locus there is now a new feller doing the job, however. Can it be true that the Fry was essentially the only support of the Company?

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Did I miss before that they "released" their school principle from her responsibilities? I just recieved a press release announcing that Dalia Rawson was replacing the "released" Lise La Cour.

I wonder what the circumstancss around the relase were.

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Excellent question, in re the flat artistic direction model. Reminds elders of the Denham/Novak mess for Ballets Russe. Wherein the mildew and rodents appeared to be, albeit in cahoots with Miss Nina, the only contented. Locally the other AD out model was the Oakland company, of some few years past, or so I am told. At that locus there is now a new feller doing the job, however. Can it be true that the Fry was essentially the only support of the Company?

And don't forget the Joffrey company's experience with Rebekah Harkness.

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