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End to Permanent Contracts at Russian Companies?Legislation introduced to require competency exams


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#1 Jayne

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 02:15 PM

http://www.worldcrun...andal/c3s11750/

I think this will become known as the Tsiskaridze Law. However, it may positively affect the younger dancers. If some of the Principals who are on the leader board are required to retire - there will be more opportunities for promotions - and the ripple effects.

At Mariinsky, I assume this will mean Makhalina and Nioradze will "fail" their exams. Will Pavlenko "fail" if she continues to advocate for the corps' salary concerns? Is Igor Zelensky even dancing? I thought he was full time AD at the Stanisvlaski Theatre?

Will there be a backlash from the dancers? Will the examinations be judged by the likes of Fateyev? Or will the dancers try to exert some political muscle - and the exams are judged by other dancers (see POB)?

#2 volcanohunter

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 03:07 PM

What if a dancer were injured (or pregnant) during the examination period? If a dancer at the POB is indisposed during the annual competition, he will have to forgo the chance at promotion that year, but he is not at risk of losing his job.

#3 Helene

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 04:03 PM

The way the law is described in the article, the law assumes that not-performing and the ability to pass the exam are one and the same, as if the dancers had office jobs at which they were expected to show up every day and perform a fixed task, not waiting for management to cast them, which, aside from dancers on maternity leave and recovering from injury, is not the case. A dancer can be not cast and out of favor for more than being out of shape or incompetent. He or she can be more expensive than an up-and-coming dancer. He or she may be of a rank where it's possible to take better care of his or her health instead of doing a crazy number of performances to earn a living wage and to get ahead. The dancer might not be to a new AD's liking.

I doubt this will impact Tsiskaridze or any dancer with connections.

Aside from a few state-affiliated/supported companies with lifetime contracts, the Western standard of having the AD issue year-long contracts and decide not to renew them at will means the ability of a dancer to abuse a contract is, at worst, limited to a short time, if management wants to act. (Which it might be reticent to do in any environment where a dancer has connections or powerful donor supporters.) At least now some of the dancers at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky have a power card to play, too, if the percentages cited in the article aren't primarily injured dancers or those on maternity leave and abuse is so rampant.

#4 Cygnet

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 12:41 PM

It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out. Unfortunately, I don't think much if anything will come of it. Helene is absolutely right: In Russia, money talks - and it dances too. It influences casting decisions, theatre nominations, wins awards, and can pass mandatory evaluation exams whether they're annual or not. Also, who will determine and what will be the Ministry of Culture's criteria for "professional competence?" The Bolshoi doesn't really have a "strong-man" in Iksanov, but this proposal is a baby step in the right direction. However, the Mariinsky is a dictatorship/fiefdom, and there's no telling how this will be implemented even if it does become law.

Jayne asked:

Is Igor Zelensky even dancing? I thought he was full time AD at the Stanisvlaski Theatre?

The answer is yes to both questions. He is full time AD and danced Rudolph in "Mayerling" at the Stan
about a month ago.

#5 Catherine

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:47 PM

Zelensky is not performing at the Mariinsky and hasn't in years. He's not even in St Petersburg. Same for Nioradze. With the exception of a 5 -minute walk-on acting role *last* year (or was that two years ago) Makhalina is also not performing. These are people receiving salary past retirement age and not performing. These are who the new law is directed at. The creme at the top...

#6 Catherine

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:51 PM

Will there be a backlash from the dancers? Will the examinations be judged by the likes of Fateyev? Or will the dancers try to exert some political muscle - and the exams are judged by other dancers (see POB)?

There's no way the exams will be judged by peers...that won't work in this system. Yes I think Fateyev and/or appointed pedagogues will take on the task. I dont think corps members will be able to exert much political muscle at all, and I"m sure the assessments at that level may be subjective. That said, Fateyev has had huge problems lately finding enough dancers to cast given that he's out so many on maternity leave. So we are seeing the same group over and over again. I dont therefore see this affecting corps or coryphee level as much as it is truly aimed at principals who are listed on the roster but haven't showed up on the (in this case I refer to the Mariinsky only) stage in years (Nioradze).

#7 Helene

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:00 PM

These are people receiving salary past retirement age and not performing. These are who the new law is directed at. The creme at the top...

Then the proposed solution makes little sense: if Zelensky is performing for his own company and was supposed to perform in England with Polunin, why wouldn't he be able to pass an exam? I'm sure many dancers who've fallen out of favor with management and haven't been cast could pass an exam.

If they want to address dancers who don't live in the same city and perform, and, like Zelensky, have full-time jobs elsewhere during the season, they'd create their rules based on these conditions.

#8 Catherine

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:04 PM


These are people receiving salary past retirement age and not performing. These are who the new law is directed at. The creme at the top...

Then the proposed solution makes little sense: if Zelensky is performing for his own company and was supposed to perform in England with Polunin, why wouldn't he be able to pass an exam? I'm sure many dancers who've fallen out of favor with management and haven't been cast could pass an exam.

If they want to address dancers who don't live in the same city and perform, and, like Zelensky, have full-time jobs elsewhere during the season, they'd create their rules based on these conditions.

He will likely pass, since he is still dancing and "in shape". But others are not dancing and just receiving money...they will likely not pass, although who is to say? It sounds like it will be very subjective. "Can you do a double pirouette?" A lot of non professional dancers can... so what their measuring/mark will be is not clear. "Can you carry all of the 3-Act Swan Lake, have the stamina for it, and sell tickets? Do people WANT to see you on stage?" That's another question.
Another thought - it could have to do with standards. ie Zelensky, for all his wonder, is not the same dancer he was at age 25. Same goes for *most* principals, but not all. They may be looking to see who are injured, whose technique (or physique) is fading... Again I think it's mostly a question of dead weight> I personally dont see the point of keeping someone on roster when they NEVER perform with the company (for whatever reason: out of shape, living elsewhere, running a company, whatever). Why are they being paid? Pensions are another issue bc dancers do receive pensions after their requisite 20 yrs in the theatre.

#9 Helene

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:22 AM

so what their measuring/mark will be is not clear. "Can you carry all of the 3-Act Swan Lake, have the stamina for it, and sell tickets? Do people WANT to see you on stage?" That's another question.

The answer to both isn't yes for all of the dancers who are cast and performing, either.

#10 Catherine

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:25 AM

The answer to both isn't yes for all of the dancers who are cast and performing, either.


exactly ... Posted Image

#11 Birdsall

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:29 AM

Although I agree that Makhalina for the most part does not dance with the Mariinsky anymore and probably should be retired, she did do an Aegina in Spartacus this past season in December. It was a matinee. I don't think it got as much attention as the evening Spartacus performances at the same time b/c Pavlenko and Kondaurova were the Aeginas in those performances and they are both dancers people are watching nowadays.

#12 Buddy

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:35 AM

That said, Fateyev has had huge problems lately finding enough dancers to cast given that he's out so many on maternity leave.


[size=4]
As somewhat of an aside, Catherine, the chance to see some of the other dancers featured in the interlude has been quite wonderful. Ekaterina Kondaurova had her own Remarkable festival at this year's Mariinsky Festival. Also being able to see Oxana Skorik, Anastasia Kolegova and Maria Shirinkina much more than usual has been an absolute delight ![/size]

#13 Helene

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:00 PM

According to this article from the Russian press that Ismene Brown posted to her blog, there may already be a provision in which lifelong contracts can be terminated by an action of the dancer, who then transitions to fixed-term contracts:

http://www.ismeneb.c...f_to_blame.html


Please could you clarify for me once more about Nikolai's contract.

It's not all entirely clear. There may be a variant that, by drawing on his pension (he registered on it some years ago, as I understand, after 15 years' employment), Nikolai moved over onto a fixed-term contract, which, for example, is renewed every year or two. In this case (non-renewal) he would automatically quit. And then no need for any rows or shouts or noise, no court can reinstate him.



#14 volcanohunter

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 08:07 AM

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts, whether in fact "double dipping" constitutes forfeiture of a lifetime contract. It strikes me as a very novel concept. If it were possible to terminate the contracts of older performers this way, why would proposals to test for "professional competence" even be necessary? If this "loophole" stands, will dancers opt to protect their permanent contracts by delaying drawing on their pensions?

#15 Helene

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 08:52 AM

The way I read this, the dancer would have to draw upon his or her pension before he or she stopped performing for this to be applicable. If the dancer did not, the dancer would not convert from lifetime employment to a fixed-length contract.


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