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San Francisco Ballet, Program 4A stellar night of dance


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#16 Helene

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 03:07 PM

Before Boal, at PNB there were Francia Russell and Kent Stowell, who were co-AD's of Frankfurt Ballet before PNB, Melissa Hayden, and Janet Reed (for the company which became PNB).

Pennsylvania Ballet was started by Balanchine protegee Barbara Weisenberger -- not all of the Children of Balanchine were among his most famous dancers -- and was lead by Robert Weiss for almost a decade. Christopher d'Amboise was AD at Pennsylvania Ballet before Roy Kaiser. Kaiser is a "cousin" in that he was SAB-trained, and his dancing brothers were at NYCB and other companies. The only non-Balanchine AD for the company was Benjamin Harkavy.

In the same time frame, E. Virginia Williams founded Boston Ballet, and Balanchine was instrumental in helping the company by giving her his ballets. Another Balanchine dancer who ran the company was Violette Verdy. Nissinen's was influenced through his tenure at San Francisco Ballet under Tomasson.

Kansas City Ballet's AD was Todd Bolender starting a few years after it was founded until the mid-90's.

San Francisco Ballet was founded by the Christensen brothers. I think Lew Christensen's chapter in Barbara Newman's "Striking a Balance" shows how much Balanchine influenced Christensen.

William Christensen founded Ballet West.

I know there was a Balanchine protege who ran a company in Switzerland, but I can't remember her name. Edited to Add: Posted Image Patricia Neary, at Geneva Ballet. Neary has also been Assistant AD of Berlin Ballet and was AD of the Zurich Ballet and La Scala Ballet.

More current artistic directors:
  • Ib Andersen-Ballet Arizona
  • Robert Weiss-Carolina Ballet
  • Daniel Duell-Ballet Chicago
  • Suzanne Farrell-Suzanne Farrell Ballet
  • Nanette Glushak-Ballet Toulouse. (She was also AD of Fort Worth Ballet.)
  • Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux (AD) and Patricia McBride (Assistant AD)-North Carolina Dance Theatre
  • Colleen Neary (co-AD)-Los Angeles Ballet
Some more distant relationships:
  • Gen Horiuchi-St. Louis Ballet. Balanchine picked him, but didn't work with him much.
  • Christopher Stowell was AD of Oregon Ballet Theatre through the end of last year; his parents were Francia Russell and Kent Stowell, and he went through the ranks at San Francisco Ballet as a dancer.
  • Nikolaj Hubbe-Royal Danish Ballet (career under Martins, but greatly influenced by the Balanchine rep)


#17 California

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 03:34 PM

And we shouldn't forget Arthur Mitchell and the Dance Theatre of Harlem! I understand that Balanchine was very generous in sharing rights to use his work and other assistance. I gather that NYCB dancers sometimes sent lightly used pointe shoes to the school.

#18 Helene

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 03:35 PM

Posted Image , Arthur Mitchell, of course.

#19 pherank

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 03:54 PM

And we shouldn't forget Arthur Mitchell and the Dance Theatre of Harlem! I understand that Balanchine was very generous in sharing rights to use his work and other assistance. I gather that NYCB dancers sometimes sent lightly used pointe shoes to the school.


Yes! Excellent list this is getting to be - we may need to consolidate it into a single, neat listing. I remember Jillana (Zimmermann) was being credited as directing San Diego Ballet long ago (I believe it was in the Francis Mason book), but I think she may have actually danced with that company, not directed. Now she has her own school - as do so many of the other NYCB dancers who didn't move into ballet company management.

#20 Helene

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 03:58 PM

Plus there are any number of teachers and Ballet Masters, like Gloria Govrin, who were direct artistic descendents of Balanchine on the faculty and staffs of many companies.

#21 Jayne

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 08:09 PM

Don't forget Maria Tallchief at Chicago City Ballet.

Back on topic - it's really a shame that the big 6 regional companies do not present each other. I could see PNB doing an exchange with MCB, Boston with SFB and Houston with Joffrey. Then rotate from year to year. List it as an add-on for season ticket holders - the same way Nutcracker can be added on. The hosting company could oftentimes provide the sets / costumes, as many have them in storage (and save on transport costs). It would be very good for the fans!

#22 pherank

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 08:54 PM

Don't forget Maria Tallchief at Chicago City Ballet.

Back on topic - it's really a shame that the big 6 regional companies do not present each other. I could see PNB doing an exchange with MCB, Boston with SFB and Houston with Joffrey. Then rotate from year to year. List it as an add-on for season ticket holders - the same way Nutcracker can be added on. The hosting company could oftentimes provide the sets / costumes, as many have them in storage (and save on transport costs). It would be very good for the fans!


Yes, the ballet fans would love to see more touring, but the cost tends to be prohibitive in this day and age (even with shared sets and costumes). It's not like the days when the Ballet Russes would ride across North America in their own train (living off little more than bread and butter). The theatre, and the train, the theatre, and the train. Oh, those were the days!

SF Ballet, as you probably know, created a relationship with Neumeier's Hamburg Ballet, and the two companies performed for each other's hometown audience, and the experiement seemed to go well. I know the SF audience enjoyed Neumeier's Nijinksky ballet. But having Hamburg ballet appear for a week of performances was a major undertaking - I assume that the companies don't really make money, but attempt to neutralize the cost of touring by having both companies tour in the same year. And who knows? Maybe they make some arrangement to split the earnings/costs.

I'd love to actually see the NYCB on the West Coast.

#23 Helene

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 12:06 AM

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. I don't know why they stopped. You'd think with a direct exchange, they could negotiate with the orchestra unions to play for each others' companies.

This past season Ballet BC presented Royal Winnipeg Ballet's "Nutcracker;" for next season the company offers the Alberta Ballet's "Nutcracker" as an optional add-on performanceas well as Alberta Ballet's "Fumbling Towards Ecstacy," its Sarah McLaughlin piece.

#24 Terez

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 11:21 AM

This is all so interesting and enjoyable to read!

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!)

#25 Helene

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 11:37 AM

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.

#26 pherank

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 11:37 AM

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. Posted Image "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.)

#27 pherank

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 11:45 AM

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.

#28 California

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 12:07 PM

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.

#29 pherank

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 12:37 PM


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.

#30 Helene

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 01:40 PM

Funny how these things always occur right before you get involved with something. Posted Image "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 Posted Image. Had it been Paris Opera Ballet, I would have been Posted Image .

(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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