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SFB: Sponsored principal dancers


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#1 PeggyR

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 05:47 AM

Something that appears to be new to SF Ballet:  sponsored principal dancers.  Davit Karapetyan, Maria Kochetkova and Yuan Yuan Tan all are listed as such.

 

I assume it has to do with money.  How does this usually work?  Does the sponsor pay the dancer's salary, or contribute to it, or what?



#2 abatt

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 06:25 AM

Interesting.  They have this at ABT, but at ABT every principal dancer has a sponsor, even if it's a corporation rather than an individual.  I think it's much worse for morale if only a few dancers are listed as "sponsored" because it leaves the impression that those who do not have sponsors are somehow not as good.



#3 California

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 07:10 AM

Colorado Ballet does this. In the spring 2013 print programs, every single principal and every single soloist is sponsored by a named individual. They don't include that information on their current web site, but I'm thinking that they might still be lining this up for the 2013-14 season (which opens in October 2013).

 

In the 2011-12 print program, all three female principals were sponsored, but none of the three males and none of the soloists.

 

EDIT: Let me add that in the 2010-11 print program, nobody is sponsored. But the Colorado Ballet hired a new Executive Director and new Development Director in 2011, so that probably explains this.

 

I have no idea what they charge for that kind of sponsorship and it's not indicated on their web site as an example of "sponsorship."

 

Development officers are always looking for new incentives for donors and this one seems like a good idea if they can manage it so nobody is embarrassed by omission. Is it the Royal Ballet that has a policy that nobody gets flowers on stage unless the principal that night first gets them, so somebody set up an endowment to ensure that principals always get flowers? Something along those lines to avoid embarrassment to anybody seems like a good idea.



#4 Swanilda8

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 07:10 AM

It's pretty common these days with symphony orchestras to have sponsored positions - so the principal musicians in every section are 'sponsored' by someone who has donated lots of money.  I've seen it pop up with some ballet companies (I think Boston Ballet has a couple of sponsored positions) but I agree it's more awkward in a system where you're funding a person not a position.  With the orchestra, it's clear that the first flute player is sponsored and if they quit, the next first flute player will still be sponsored.  With ballet, there's no way of doing it other than just sponsoring a particular dancer.  



#5 kbarber

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 07:10 AM

At the National Ballet of Canada they have a dancer-sponsoring program called "Dancers First" but it is not just for principals; any rank of dancer can be sponsored.



#6 abatt

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 07:27 AM

http://www.nytimes.c...nted=all&src=pm

 

I've attached a 2004 NY Times article in which the pros and cons of dancer sponsorships was discussed.  Interestingly, the article noted that SFB and NYCB were among the prominent institutions that had rejected dancer sponsorship.  I guess Helgi has become more desperate for money in the intervening 9  years since this aritcle was initially published.



#7 abatt

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 07:30 AM

In case the link doesn't work, the article title is How Much Is That Dancer in the Program?



#8 California

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 08:02 AM

Private fund-raising has gotten ever more urgent as government funding has continued to decline dramatically. The NEA request for FY 2014 is only $154 million (see p. 4):

http://www.arts.gov/...ons-Request.pdf

 

The "high-water" mark in NEA funding was $176 million back in 1992 (and remember that these are actual dollars, not inflation-adjusted):

http://www.nea.gov/a...onsHistory.html

 

Support from almost all states and cities has also declined over the past two decades.

 

I don't have a problem with dancer sponsorships, although some of the techniques are really creepy (e.g., auctions) and it seems at least some companies are avoiding such approaches. Wealthy donors sponsor productions, performances, special events, costumes, rooms in buildings, etc., etc. Why not dancers?



#9 pherank

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 11:05 AM

Something that appears to be new to SF Ballet:  sponsored principal dancers.  Davit Karapetyan, Maria Kochetkova and Yuan Yuan Tan all are listed as such.

 

I assume it has to do with money.  How does this usually work?  Does the sponsor pay the dancer's salary, or contribute to it, or what?

 

Funny that you would mention this PeggyR - I just noticed these designations myself last week on the SFB website. Note that these dancers also happen to be non-US citizens, so understandably may require sponsorship.

 

Interesting.  They have this at ABT, but at ABT every principal dancer has a sponsor, even if it's a corporation rather than an individual.  I think it's much worse for morale if only a few dancers are listed as "sponsored" because it leaves the impression that those who do not have sponsors are somehow not as good.

 

Or their position is financially more precarious? But I do think this sponsorship may be necessary to help out the foreign national dancers. I would imagine that if Froustey stays with SFB past the 1 year trial period, she will become 'sponsored' as well.



#10 California

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:32 PM

 

Something that appears to be new to SF Ballet:  sponsored principal dancers.  Davit Karapetyan, Maria Kochetkova and Yuan Yuan Tan all are listed as such.

 

I assume it has to do with money.  How does this usually work?  Does the sponsor pay the dancer's salary, or contribute to it, or what?

 

Funny that you would mention this PeggyR - I just noticed these designations myself last week on the SFB website. Note that these dancers also happen to be non-US citizens, so understandably may require sponsorship.

 

Interesting.  They have this at ABT, but at ABT every principal dancer has a sponsor, even if it's a corporation rather than an individual.  I think it's much worse for morale if only a few dancers are listed as "sponsored" because it leaves the impression that those who do not have sponsors are somehow not as good.

 

Or their position is financially more precarious? But I do think this sponsorship may be necessary to help out the foreign national dancers. I would imagine that if Froustey stays with SFB past the 1 year trial period, she will become 'sponsored' as well.

 

I'm a little confused by this. My former employer hired some foreign citizens periodically and it's true that getting the right kind of visa is treacherous and time-consuming (especially after 9/11), but the employer as an institution was the sponsor. Wouldn't SFB be the sponsor for the right kind of visa to work in the U.S.? Is there a new requirement that they also now find an individual to "sponsor" them for visa purposes?



#11 Swanilda8

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:52 PM

I'm a little confused by this. My former employer hired some foreign citizens periodically and it's true that getting the right kind of visa is treacherous and time-consuming (especially after 9/11), but the employer as an institution was the sponsor. Wouldn't SFB be the sponsor for the right kind of visa to work in the U.S.? Is there a new requirement that they also now find an individual to "sponsor" them for visa purposes?

 

 

 

I can't imagine that this type of 'sponsoring' is actually related to visa sponsoring, which is a complicated process that involves the employer.  Actually, are we sure that all three dancers are non-US citizens?

 

In any case, since so many dancers in the US are from other countries, I would imagine that it's just chance that the three dancers in this case happen to be.  



#12 pherank

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 03:50 PM

 

I'm a little confused by this. My former employer hired some foreign citizens periodically and it's true that getting the right kind of visa is treacherous and time-consuming (especially after 9/11), but the employer as an institution was the sponsor. Wouldn't SFB be the sponsor for the right kind of visa to work in the U.S.? Is there a new requirement that they also now find an individual to "sponsor" them for visa purposes?

 

 

 

I can't imagine that this type of 'sponsoring' is actually related to visa sponsoring, which is a complicated process that involves the employer.  Actually, are we sure that all three dancers are non-US citizens?

 

In any case, since so many dancers in the US are from other countries, I would imagine that it's just chance that the three dancers in this case happen to be.  

 

 

Of course I was referring to financial 'sponsorship' in this case. Tan now lives with her parents in the Bay Area, and I don't know if her father was able to get work in this country, so it has to be expensive for the Tan family to remain here each year.

 

I can't see it being coincidental that Kochetkova, Tan and Karapetyan are being helped in this manner - they are arguably the biggest draws for the company. Whether Karapetyan has gotten dual citizenship is a question (now that he is married to Zahorian). I would expect Tiit Helimets to get a sponsor as well, but I'm not sure of his citizenship standing (assuming that has anything to do with it).

 

I really just think that the SF patrons are trying to help make SFB a rewarding place to be for these dancers, so they are less likely to leave the nest.



#13 California

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:27 PM

 

 

I'm a little confused by this. My former employer hired some foreign citizens periodically and it's true that getting the right kind of visa is treacherous and time-consuming (especially after 9/11), but the employer as an institution was the sponsor. Wouldn't SFB be the sponsor for the right kind of visa to work in the U.S.? Is there a new requirement that they also now find an individual to "sponsor" them for visa purposes?

 

 

 

I can't imagine that this type of 'sponsoring' is actually related to visa sponsoring, which is a complicated process that involves the employer.  Actually, are we sure that all three dancers are non-US citizens?

 

In any case, since so many dancers in the US are from other countries, I would imagine that it's just chance that the three dancers in this case happen to be.  

 

 

Of course I was referring to financial 'sponsorship' in this case. Tan now lives with her parents in the Bay Area, and I don't know if her father was able to get work in this country, so it has to be expensive for the Tan family to remain here each year.

 

I can't see it being coincidental that Kochetkova, Tan and Karapetyan are being helped in this manner - they are arguably the biggest draws for the company. Whether Karapetyan has gotten dual citizenship is a question (now that he is married to Zahorian). I would expect Tiit Helimets to get a sponsor as well, but I'm not sure of his citizenship standing (assuming that has anything to do with it).

 

I really just think that the SF patrons are trying to help make SFB a rewarding place to be for these dancers, so they are less likely to leave the nest.

 

We don't know how the financial arrangements work at SFB (at least from what I've read here), but from that old NY Times article, it seems that it would be unusual for the sponsorship to consist of extra compensation over and above the salary paid by the company. I saw this mainly as a way to shore up company budgets by recruiting donors to pay some or all of that dancer's salary/benefits, although perhaps that's not always the way it works. Major donors like to have their names on things (buildings, theater chairs, classrooms, etc., etc.) and get recognition, so sponsoring dancers fits right in with that incentive.

 

The comparison with endowed professorships at Universities would not necessarily be helpful here. At some schools, the named endowment is buying a supplemental salary, research account, reduced teaching load, etc. in combination with the base university-paid salary. At others, the revenue from the endowment pays the full salary and perks of the professor who occupies the chair. So those professors with endowed chairs are getting extras one way or another but (as someone noted with endowed "chairs" in orchestras), the endowment stays with the institution and a succession of professors occupies the chair over time.

 

Finances are difficult for many U.S. dancers, not just those who are foreign-born, especially corps members. We had a link a few weeks ago, as I remember, to stories about how young dancers survive -- waiting on table, sharing apartments with several other dancers, teaching, etc., etc.



#14 Quiggin

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:45 PM

My understanding is that principal dancers at the level of Tan and Kochetkova do guest appearances off season and are able to supplement their income with those earnings. It's hard to imagine that San Francisco Ballet needs to sell sponsorships to make ends meet – Nutcracker and Cinderella pull in full houses and ballet seems to be on the "A" list of things to do in San Francisco. Productions are already sponsored by banks and the oil company and individual  donors. It would be great if the extra sponsorship money indeed went to corps members salaries or to retirement or health insurance for dancers once they'd left the company.



#15 pherank

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:46 PM

 

Finances are difficult for many U.S. dancers, not just those who are foreign-born, especially corps members. We had a link a few weeks ago, as I remember, to stories about how young dancers survive -- waiting on table, sharing apartments with several other dancers, teaching, etc., etc.

 

Absolutely - only principal dancers with major companies receive a 'decent' living (but then if it was really so good I bet they wouldn't feel the need to participate in galas at any opportunity). It can be really hard for Corps dancers at regional companies.

 

Someone should actually create a restaurant that is staffed solely by professional dancers (each working only a few hours a week at the restaurant). It would be the place to go for the arts community, haute-couture set and the demimonde! Just a thought.  ;)

The walls could be decorated with ballet photos and autographs...




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