Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Alexandra

The story that will not die: Boston Ballet

14 posts in this topic

Big piece in the NYTimes today by Boston writer Iris Fanger:

Tumult at the Top Leaves the Boston Ballet in a Whirl

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/15/arts/15F...ml?pagewanted=2

Have patience and read through to page 2 of this article, and learn the "ranking" (based on budget and number of dancers only) of several of our major American companies.

Share this post


Link to post

It's amazing that, still, no one has come forward to accept responsibility for firing the dancers. If it was a responsible decision, I would think there would be no reason to deny the action.

Share this post


Link to post

I agree. If you have a good reason to fire people, you should be able to defend the action. It's one of the many things that makes this situation so bizarre.

Was anyone else surprised that Boston Ballet has the fourth biggest budget of American ballet companies?

Share this post


Link to post

Alexandra, which one has the biggest?

ABT or NYCB?

Share this post


Link to post

NYCB, Terry. It's in the article (the link to it is in the first post in this thread; the second page of the story has the budgets and number of dancers for several American companies).

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, I was surprised at the size of Boston's budget; I would have guessed Houston would surpass Boston.

I don't understand the logic of hiring new dancers (at the recent, artistic directorless audition) to replace those let go; it doesn't seem to be a move toward consolidation.

From the dancers' perspective it's somewhat of a leap of faith - although they know what to expect in terms of rep for next season, a company without an artistic director is in a somewhat weakened position, no matter who else claims to be in charge. Certainly not a position to enfold - much less develop - a new group of dancers.

[ 04-19-2001: Message edited by: Sonora ]

Share this post


Link to post

To hire new dancers and announce a rep -- what will the new artistic director do the first season? It would be a difficult position. And, if s/he decides that an entirely *new* look for the company -- more contemporary, more classical, taller, shorter, etc. -- then there will be more turnover. It's not, IMO, the way to build an institution, but it sure will keep grabbing those headlines.

The one unanswered question for me that matter is, why was Holmes let go? I'm not trying to make a case for or against Holmes as a director; I don't know enough to do so. But if the stated goal of the company's management (which, of course, doesn't include its artistic management) is to have more story ballets for its audience and international prestige for whatever reasons it thinks that is necessary, what was Holmes doing wrong? And why have they vacuumed her ballets out of the rep? There's something going on there.

Share this post


Link to post

Alexandra, I do keep referring to that Globe article of Jan. '00. I think if you read between the lines, and re-read the other articles written in the past year or so, you will understand all. It is clear from that article (and others) that 1) Jeffrey Babcock wants to run the Boston Ballet without having to defer to an artistic director (at least not one with any political power); 2) Babcock wants to run the BB the way a business corporation is run; 3) Babcock does not approve of the Russian classics; 4) Babcock probably doesn't like Russian dancers or Russian training - one can then also conclude that he doesn't understand the history of ballet/ballet training; 5) Babcock DOES approve of a "European" style (? French); 6) no matter what Anna-Marie Holmes did it had to be wrong - on principle (note the criticism of her appointment of Christopher Wheeldon as Artist-in-Residence - something dance-savvy people applaud and further note that he isn't going to do a new ballet for the BB for the 2001-02 season, but will stage a revival instead). I would make a further guess that the dancers who were "at risk" of losing their jobs but who wound up retaining them were dancers that Gielgud wanted to get rid of but Babcock either had nothing against or felt their dismissal could lead to political problems (eg. Jennifer Gelfand, who is a product of the BB school and has been with the company for a long time and is very popular in Boston).

I also found it interesting that the BB relies so heavily on ticket sales in their budget. Organizations like the NYCB rely far more heavily on donations - particularly, I would think, from Board members. I'm sure a seat on the NYCB board, except for those with exceptional 'talents' that could be used to benefit the company, "costs" a fair amount of money. A serious financial "stake" in a company means that one will work hard to ensure its success. Clearly the Boston Board members aren't required to 'contribute' to the same extent as in NY. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post

If they raised all that money mostly through ticket sales, what does that tell us about the repertory :)

Share this post


Link to post

It is interesting to note that Babcock has tried to blame Holmes for "poor programming" - yet they must be doing well on ticket sales, so the PUBLIC likes what they are seeing. In the Jan. 2000 Globe article, Babcock clearly is talking (or at least made to sound like it is he who is talking) out of both sides of his mouth simultaneously. He mentions how well "Dracula" did at the box office and how it attracted a young, "hip" audience but then complains about the artistic merits of what Holmes has offered. THEN he complains that she didn't do enough to "follow up" on the "Dracula" with other ballets that would attract that audience. Geez! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Originally posted by felursus:

In the Jan. 2000 Globe article, Babcock clearly is talking (or at least made to sound like it is he who is talking) out of both sides of his mouth simultaneously.

An arts administrator talking out of both sides of his mouth? I'm shocked.

Share this post


Link to post

Let me hasten to add to my earlier flippant reply that there are many honorable, ethical arts administrators. As always, it's the bad apples that make the entire barrel look bad.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for that. Definitely one to watch. He's been on the Rumored Short List for quite awhile, and the announcement of a new director was expected at the end of August.

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0