Terez

San Francisco Ballet, Program 4

35 posts in this topic

PNB did do that: they had NYCB (before I moved to Seattle) and Australian Ballet (my first year there). The companies' performances were part of the subscription season.

Funny how these things always occur right before you get involved with something. smile.png "Oh, you should have been here 2 years ago!"

One thought I had as a SFB patron, upon discovering that Hamburg Ballet was performing within the SFB's season... Actually, it was two thoughts. First was an "oh, cool!" for the above reasons (seeing another ballet company perform as an exchange of sorts). But then I realized if I was only going to be attending 3 performances of the SFB for the whole season, I wanted to make sure and see as many of the SFB dancers as possible. (Does it frustrate the rest of you when you go 3x in a season and, coincidentally, the same dancers are cast on all those nights?) I like the familiarity of seeing "my" dancers, getting to know their specific skills and nuances, and when a company roster is so large (SFB is what, these days? 70?), one's odds go down. Am wondering if other ballet patrons feel the same. I

Pherank - I echo you that I'd love to see the NYCB out here. Even more so the Paris Opera Ballet. (But I'd settle for the PNB!)

I agree that it can be difficult to decide which programs to pick, as money is an object, and of course we generally lean toward seeing something we know we are going to like. I suppose it all depends on who is touring, and what they are presenting (Swan Lake! Again?!!!)

The POB touring the West Coast of the US? That only happens in dreams. And if the Benjamin Millepied POB does any sort of world tour, it will be after all the members of the present, great generation have all retired (Legris, Bart, Le Riche, Osta, Letestu, Dupont, Gillot, Pujol, etc.)

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There was an abandoned plan during Russell/Stowell's tenure to have PNB and SFB co-produce and co-perform "Vienna Waltzes." Practically-speaking, from PNB's side, that would have meant sending at least part of SFB's corps, and maybe a guest soloist or two for goodwill. I don't think SFB needed any of PNB's corps, since the company is at least 50% larger -- at the time, it may have been closer to 60% -- but PNB could have exchanged a soloist or two.

I have to think that there is a lot more to it than just money - union regulations and licensing issues come to mind. But it's pretty rare to hear any details on all the issues involved.

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Pherank - I echo you that I'd love to see the NYCB out here.

Ah, but NYCB IS touring -- MOVES, their non-unionized subgroup has been all over the country to smaller cities for the last few years. One wonders if the tough contract with their orchestra has as much to do with this change as the dancers' union requirements. I also remember talking with someone in a staff position with NYCB about the fact that the MOVES dancers were flying from New York to the Vail festival the day before they had to perform. The standard dancers' union contact requires two rest days -- with pay -- when they perform at altitudes over 5,000 feet, as Vail obviously is.

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Pherank - I echo you that I'd love to see the NYCB out here.

Ah, but NYCB IS touring -- MOVES, their non-unionized subgroup has been all over the country to smaller cities for the last few years. One wonders if the tough contract with their orchestra has as much to do with this change as the dancers' union requirements. I also remember talking with someone in a staff position with NYCB about the fact that the MOVES dancers were flying from New York to the Vail festival the day before they had to perform. The standard dancers' union contact requires two rest days -- with pay -- when they perform at altitudes over 5,000 feet, as Vail obviously is.

Yes, I thought about MOVES, but as you say, they are the "non-unionized subgroup" of NYCB. It's rather sad that special entities need to be created to make anything happen. I do love the "two rest days -- with pay -- when they perform at altitudes over 5,000 feet" clause. I would like a rest day, with pay, when dealing with a really infuriating and disrespectful client. ;)

I should add that Las Vegas was the closest they got to the West Coast with their last MOVES tour. That's one place I have no desire to go.

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Funny how these things always occur right before you get involved with something. smile.png "Oh, you should have been here 2 years ago!"

I was living in NYC attending NYCB often during the NYCB stint in Seattle, and I never expected to leave, so I can't complain about this one smile.png. Had it been Paris Opera Ballet, I would have been mad.gif .

(Does it frustrate the rest of you when you go 3x in a season and, coincidentally, the same dancers are cast on all those nights?)

Not if Lorena Feijoo and Maria Kochetkova are the dancers. (But I do understand your point.)

I have to think that there is a lot more to it than just money - union regulations and licensing issues come to mind. But it's pretty rare to hear any details on all the issues involved.

I don't think the Trust was the issue, since they gave permission for the SFB/PNB joint re-design of "Coppelia" and I got the impression from Rusell's Q&A and there was not an issue with the rights, as long as they were willing to invest in the costumes and sets. The Trust occasionally gives permission not to use all of the original sets and costumes -- they made an exception for excerpts from "Liebeslieder Walzer" to be performed without the sets for Russell and Stowell's retirement gala -- but for "Vienna Waltzes" this was not an option, and only the two companies combined might have afforded it.

The only union issue I can see is if the SFB orchestra objected to the PNB orchestra playing the performances in Seattle using SFB corps members. Dancers guest, and as far as I know, the orchestra has no say in the matter, but it's possible they might have considered a group of corps members a tour.

I believe it was money-related: SFB took a huge hit financially when War Memorial Opera House was updated for seismic improvements, and the company had to perform in two less-than-1000-seat venues (one in SOMA and one at the Exploratorium), except for a season-closing program at Zellerbach ("Swan Lake"). It was closed for 18 months, re-opening in 1997.

Fast forward just a few years (2000-2003) and the Seattle Opera House went through the same process (and, as long as the building was being torn up, included an upgrade), and although Russell and Stowell had been extremely conservative fiscally, PNB was left with a mega-deficit (and almost now endowment), losing audience and donors in the years they had to perform in a hockey rink, where the side seats were permanently affixed and pointing towards where the ice would be, not the stage. They stayed a couple of extra years after their original retirement date to put the company back on solid financial footing.

Ah, but NYCB IS touring -- MOVES, their non-unionized subgroup has been all over the country to smaller cities for the last few years.

They seem to be performing in small performing arts centers and maybe universities, not in major cities. They're bringing ballet to many places where it is rarely seen.

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I believe it was money-related: SFB took a huge hit financially when War Memorial Opera House was updated for seismic improvements, and the company had to perform in two less-than-1000-seat venues (one in SOMA and one at the Exploratorium), except for a season-closing program at Zellerbach ("Swan Lake"). It was closed for 18 months, re-opening in 1997.

Fast forward just a few years (2000-2003) and the Seattle Opera House went through the same process (and, as long as the building was being torn up, included an upgrade), and although Russell and Stowell had been extremely conservative fiscally, PNB was left with a mega-deficit (and almost now endowment), losing audience and donors in the years they had to perform in a hockey rink, where the side seats were permanently affixed and pointing towards where the ice would be, not the stage. They stayed a couple of extra years after their original retirement date to put the company back on solid financial footing.

I forgot about the SF retrofit construction - what you are saying about the construction costs, and the resulting lower ticket sales for these two companies does explain a lot. But how to get companies to do exchange tours as part of their regular programs? And, where possible, extend the seasons somewhat to accommodate everyone's needs?

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I keep harping on the orchestras because it was widely reported as a very big deal and breakthrough when Michael Kaiser negotiated for an every-other-year NYCB orchestra appearance at the Kennedy Center. For a company of under-50 dancers like PNB, touring with the orchestra is a very expensive proposition, and the logical solution would be, in a direct exchange, for each orchestra to play for the visitors and get paid for an extra performance for the season if it extends the season.

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I keep harping on the orchestras because it was widely reported as a very big deal and breakthrough when Michael Kaiser negotiated for an every-other-year NYCB orchestra appearance at the Kennedy Center. For a company of under-50 dancers like PNB, touring with the orchestra is a very expensive proposition, and the logical solution would be, in a direct exchange, for each orchestra to play for the visitors and get paid for an extra performance for the season if it extends the season.

Touring with your own orchestra definitely sounds un-doable. I thought that normally the company's conductor went along on the tour to rehearse and conduct the orchestra in the tour city, no?

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It depends on the contract and whether an exception can be negotiated, if necessary. For example, Ballet Arizona does not have an orchestra (for performances at Symphony Hall, which has an orchestra pit) -- the orchestra is the Phoenix Symphony. PNB has its own orchestra, and, unlike Seattle Opera, doesn't have a contract with Seattle Symphony to provide supplemental work for the symphony musicians.

PNB brought its orchestra to the last two NYC full-company tours, in 1996 with Kershaw, and this past winter with de Cou. They did not bring the orchestra to London: the BBC Concert Orchestra played. A performance was recorded live and broadcast on BBC and later released on the BBC/Opus Arte label.

I don't think it would have been reported as such a breakthrough agreement if the NYCB orchestra expected not to go to the Kennedy Center performances.

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A recent interview with Christopher Wheeldon touched on the subject of touring:

Aimee Ts'ao: "In this country, the touring has virtually stopped. It’s unfortunate because people and dancers don’t have that “food” and you need it to grow as an artist."

Wheeldon: "Yes, the dancers in SFB are very good about that [getting out to see things]. The dancers in New York tend to get a bit lazy because it’s all there and suddenly you wonder, why aren’t they out seeing all these wonderful companies. Like Nederlands Dans Theater. Unfortunately they had only two shows in New York because it is so expensive to be there. There were so few dancers at their shows. Perhaps because of where I was sitting I couldn’t see, but I felt that because there were only two shows, I should have seen half of American Ballet Theatre and half of New York City Ballet there."

And for SF Ballet fans, there was this exchange too:

Aimee Ts'ao: "Just a month ago when SFB was dancing Within the Golden Hour I just couldn’t believe what was happening on stage. Somehow all the dancers had risen together and whatever they were doing was like magic."

Wheeldon: "It’s so beautiful when that happens; it’s so special. It doesn’t happen that often, but it happens more often with this company than with any other company I’ve worked with. There’s a magic about this company. Even in work that isn’t so interesting. I guess they just work so well together, they understand each other. They have a collective energy about them and I’m so impressed. They get on with the work. Not to be down on any of the other companies that I work with because I love them all with their various quirks, but this company has a way of getting on with the job with less fuss, so they have more energy to find those connections on stage. It’s impressive. And saying that, I have to get on now and go rehearse with them!"

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