Posted 22 March 2002 - 08:58 PM
Katharine, I haven't really been involved in the injuries issue, although I'll be glad to join in smile.gif I've been more on the dancer development issue -- which this article also addressed. There are a lot of issues here: proper preparation of the dancers for the repertory, building a repertory, giving classes that suit the repertory, knowing what works to put on a program, the amount of time needed to recover, etc. (The point about singers resting has often been made but can always be made again.)
I think Estelle's point about the short career is a good one, too. I think of dancers as soldiers. They're told to go over the top, they go. They'll do this day after day until they die. (And a good general doesn't send the same unit over the top when he has two or three others that could be used as well. If he doesn't like them, he doesn't fire them, or not use them, he works with them.) Couple this attitude with the fact that they're very young, very eager to try new things and know their career could end tomorrow and they'll have no place in the company after age 30 -- that's a combustible situation.
As for the so-called Stretton bashing, I think I'm becoming weary of anyone who raises a question about the Royal Ballet's directorship is STRETTON BASHING!!! STRETTON BASHING!!!! (I know this isn't what you meant, dirac) -- that's more spin, to me. And we internalize spin, that's why they spin it. Every day a new story comes out about Enron. The news reports it, commentators comment on it. Is this Enron bashing?
Directors -- anyone -- should be given a chance. They should also be judged on their actions. It's a fine line. I don't believe that someone should be damned on the basis of a single program or policy -- especially if a program could have been interesting, but went awry, or a ballet was gotten for a particular dancer and the dancer were injured; that happens, and when people jump on a director in such instances, that often IS Maestro Bashing. But there are also things to watch, if one watches institutions. You either point them out as they go along, or, in five years, you sit back and wonder what happen and think how odd it was that it happened right under your nose.
It's also useful to point out these things. If there's validity to them, and if a director is on a "learning curve," then the director may learn. I don't think the problems are because Stretton is a foreigner, but because he worked at companies that weren't venerable institutions geared to long-range thinking and preserving the ballets, and dancers. Fire everybody, bring in all new works, works just fine in some places, and in other places, people will say, "Hang on. What do you think you're doing?" If the British press doesn't question it, then this season will be a template.