Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

ABT Executive Director Louis Spisto resigns


  • Please log in to reply
29 replies to this topic

#16 Guest_DancerX_*

Guest_DancerX_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 16 August 2001 - 09:54 AM

Doreen Carvajal's article missed the mark, not in it's examination of Lou's activities, but in it's complete omission of Kevin McKenzie. Lou was "a" problem at ABT, not "the" problem, and Kevin and his people are thrilled that the press and public are buying the idea that with Lou gone, everything's back on track. As in the last dancer contract negotiation, they've shown that they will do virtually anything to avoid a public examination of Kevin and his staff. A house cleaning is in order at ABT alright, but Lou's "resignation" is tantamount to sweeping the dirt under the carpet. The recent scandals involving Lou and David Richardson, and myriad others of which the public is unaware, all transpired on Kevin's watch. Unfortunately, there is no Harry Truman at ABT: the buck stops nowhere. That is the story that needs to be told. As the Russians say, "The fish rots from the head."

#17 Guest_Marie Zeggane_*

Guest_Marie Zeggane_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 16 August 2001 - 02:26 PM

It is very easy to blame the messenger for missing the mark. However, it should be pointed out that few ABT dancers, if any, are willing to speak in public about their views of Kevin McKenzie and his leadership. And that is part of the problem as well.

#18 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,271 posts

Posted 17 August 2001 - 09:16 AM

I'd like to add a general note of caution re this thread: I very much understand how dancers are reluctant to speak out about their bosses, or issues that affect their company -- this would be the case in any company (ballet or accounting); it's unwise.

Whenever we have a thread about a backstage problem, there are people who register under pseudonyms and post very strong opinions, sometimes adding "facts." If you are associated with the company in any way -- are the fired dancer, mother of the fired dancer, are a currently disgruntled dancer, or work for the company in any way, etc. etc. -- it really is unfair not to mention that in the post. I don't want this board to become a place where nameless people hurl charges at each other, and people with axes to grind grind them :)

#19 Guest_PPinNYC_*

Guest_PPinNYC_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 17 August 2001 - 01:52 PM

I agree that the NYT report was very one sided. It was not good reporting. I am very surprised that the paper one printed a one-sided reporting for such an important issue.
No one person can ever be blamed.
I do not think that enough was considered with the large number in attendance, and the increased money rasied and earned.
That is a major accomplishment for any arts organization and particular with dance.

#20 Dale

Dale

    Emeralds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,072 posts

Posted 17 August 2001 - 02:27 PM

One dancer did go on the record with her displeasure with Kevin McKenzie -- Amanda McKerrow. In an interview with Time Out New York she said she didn't agree with the direction McKenzie was taking the company, but added she didn't want to go into it in print.

On the ticket sales increase, I'm not sure whether people are counting the income made from the sales or the number of the tickets. Because, at least for the Met season, the prices went up considerably. So, they could conceivably make more money but sell less individual tickets.

I'd also like to add support for Alexandra for wanting to keep this topic safe from a flame war. It's very easy to come on here, sign up under a tag or false name and hurl accusations, and then retreat into lurkdom. But it would really say something to come on under a real name and stand by your words.

[ 08-17-2001: Message edited by: Dale ]

#21 Guest_Peggy_*

Guest_Peggy_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 17 August 2001 - 04:31 PM

[quote]Originally posted by Dale:
[QB]One dancer did go on the record with her displeasure with Kevin McKenzie -- Amanda McKerrow. In an interview with Time Out New York she said she didn't agree with the direction McKenzie was taking the company, but added she didn't want to go into it in print.

On the ticket sales increase, I'm not sure whether people are counting the income made from the sales or the number of the tickets. Because, at least for the Met season, the prices went up considerably. So, they could conceivably make more money but sell less individual tickets.

I'd also like to add support for Alexandra for wanting to keep this topic safe from a flame war. It's very easy to come on here, sign up under a tag or false name and hurl accusations, and then retreat into lurkdom. But it would really say something to come on under a real name and stand by your words.

[ 08-17-2001: Message edited by: Dale ][/Q

Let me clarify for you that sales were up at the Met this season and that included substantial increases in actual seats sold both in subscription and single tickets. An increase of more than 12%. I'd be happy to show you the audited box office statements.

null[QUOTE] [/quote]
 
[*]null[url="http://"http://null"]web page[/url]

#22 Guest_DancerX_*

Guest_DancerX_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 17 August 2001 - 07:59 PM

My point was not to hurl accusations at Ms. Carvajal or to start some sort of fire fight on-line. In fact, she's the only one who seems to be interested in what's happening behind the scenes at ABT. I simply wished to inject a little reality into this discussion. Clearly, I'm a dancer. However, I was certainly not fired, nor am I "disgruntled," nor do I have an axe to grind. I am privy to a tremendous amount of information and opinion about this topic, though.

If one wonders why dancers are unwilling to speak out publicly on matters such as these, one merely has to look at Alexandra's latest post. Even on a forum like this one, a dancer speaking out is presumed to have an axe to grind, has been fired, is disgruntled, is skewing the facts, etc.. Is it not possible, just possible, that a dancer may have had a fine career with a company, danced many wonderful roles, and garnered much attention and satisfaction from their work, but is still able to recognize tremendous problems in the management of the company?

It's interesting to me that several people posting on this board are clearly "insiders," such as EdNYC and Brett, and yet no one is calling for disclosure on their part.

#23 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,271 posts

Posted 17 August 2001 - 10:42 PM

My comment is directed at all "insiders," including EdNY, Brett, Peggy and Dancer X, et al. Not a name, but "I work for the company," "I'm a dancer with the company," "I'm a friend of a dancer with the company," "I'm a close friend of Spisto" -- or whatever.

It's certainly possible that someone can have an opinion without being disgruntled -- and a fired dancer, or a successful dancer can certainly have opinions; I agree. I've seen too many topics like this one, however, turn sour and I'd like to avoid it. There's a danger in uninformed outsider speculation, too, of course.

I closed the thread, then came back in and opened it (in case anyone had seen the closure). I'd like to keep the discussion going, but it might be better if the temperature were lowered a bit -- no one is all good or all bad in this, or any instance. It's possible -- and probably helpful -- to question the way a company is managed. Perhaps we could try to stick to that.

[ 08-18-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

#24 felursus

felursus

    Bronze Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 250 posts

Posted 19 August 2001 - 12:46 AM

I think it would be nigh on impossible for anyone directly associated with ABT to reveal themselves, because unless they ARE Kevin McKenzie or Louis Spisto in mufti, they could be endangering their livelihood, as it is a fair bet that either Kevin and/or Louis or a personal friend of theirs may well be reading this board.

I have no personal axe to grind, but I would say, purely from my experience in the world of the arts and of the world of work in general, that if a large number of people who had been with an organization for a prolonged period of time are suddenly resigning, that is a clear indication of a problem.

With reference to McKenzie's leadership style, I will say that in a discussion I had with one of the men in the corps, he commented that he had been there several years, but that Kevin still didn't remember his name. Now it's not as though Kevin were Cecil B. DeMille and was dealing with a cast of thousands. And this was not the first time I had heard similar complaints.

As an audience member, I think the policy on ticket prices is foolhardy. The young and students can't afford to pay $20 for a standing room ticket and go more than a couple of times. When I was young the relative price for dance was MUCH lower (thank you, Sol Hurok) If the younger generation doesn't get "hooked" on dance, ABT will have succeeded in killing off the audience of tomorrow. :rolleyes:

#25 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 19 August 2001 - 02:01 AM

Originally posted by felursus:
As an audience member, I think the policy on ticket prices is foolhardy.  The young and students can't afford to pay $20 for a standing room ticket and go more than a couple of times.  When I was young the relative price for dance was MUCH lower (thank you, Sol Hurok)  If the younger generation doesn't get "hooked" on dance, ABT will have succeeded in killing off the audience of tomorrow.  :rolleyes:


If I had to name a reason why NYCB has such a diehard group of core followers, I think it would be that they kept ticket prices lower, and have always been more tolerant of the audience member who wanted to go a lot, but could only afford standing room. Standing room at the Met has always been mroe costly than at the State Theater and is in the orchestra, where there's a good chance someone would be taken aback having paid close to $100 for a ticket and seeing someone sit at the last minute who paid $20. At the smaller State Theater, it's in the fourth ring, where there is often extra room anyway. So the ushers at the Met rope you off and treat you like steerage. There may not be any immediate revenue out of cheap seats, but those standees become writers, choreographers, teachers, future patrons. And when I was a student we went to NYCB many times for every time we went to ABT because we could afford it.

#26 Guest_Peggy_*

Guest_Peggy_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 19 August 2001 - 06:44 AM

This entire story has been feuled by misinformation, heresay, innnuedo and gossip.

Take the comments about ticket sales. Revenue at the box office is up because the Company did sell many more actual seats. That's a fact. In fact, the actual number of seats sold is up 24%

Fundraising is up this year and was up last year. In fact, ABT's fundraising has been the best it's been these past two years.

ABT's financial condition is sound as the audited results will support.

In any event, isn't it time to moveon, move forward and work in positive ways to make ABT an even greater company instead of continuing to snipe, gossip and spread specious allegations about this and that?

#27 Dale

Dale

    Emeralds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,072 posts

Posted 20 August 2001 - 04:40 AM

DancerX -- I think the difference between you and the other posters you mentioned is that they have not come on to make serious allegations against someone. But if you know something that should come out, why not contact the New York Times arts section or Dance Magazine, Dance View/Ballet Alert, Ballet Review etc... ? You might get more satisfaction than just coming on the board and complaining that things are being swept under the rug. You needn't put your job in jeopardy if you make it clear to the writer that you want to be used as deep background -- off the record.

Peggy -- Thanks for clearing the attendance question for me. I'm sure that includes the half-price tickets offered on the web site. Perhaps, you can further clarify the reports that various productions were cancelled, such as the new Sleeping Beauty. And wasn't ABT a partner in producing Kudelka's Firebird, along with Houston Ballet?

[ 08-20-2001: Message edited by: Dale ]

#28 Guest_DancerX_*

Guest_DancerX_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 20 August 2001 - 08:10 AM

Dale- Good idea, and in fact several of us have already done that. But without giving permission for our names to be used, none of it makes the papers.

#29 Dale

Dale

    Emeralds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,072 posts

Posted 20 August 2001 - 08:42 AM

Well, that's understandable. I wouldn't go with a story based solely on unnamed sources, but I would take in the information and try to get confirmations that would go on the record. That could have been the case in the previous NY Times article -- the article appeared one-sided because the reporter could only get one side (the board members, who control the money) to go on record.

#30 LMCtech

LMCtech

    Bronze Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 310 posts

Posted 23 August 2001 - 04:32 PM

I am interested in the fact that so many admin people left. That is not so typical in the arts. When you get a good job with a major you company you usually hold on to it. There is always some attrition but over %50 in two years is not general attrition. Can that be blamed on Kevin MacKenzie? Probably not. Artistic directors don't seem to influence the atmosphere of the admin offices as musc as say the Executive dirctor does. It sounds to me talking to people who have worked there that the working environment was extremely hostile. I'm impressed they made all those gains in an atmosphere that was probably not very supportive.

Of course most of this is speculation based on personal accounts and my personal experience working for major performing arts organizations.

From afar, I feel for all those admin people, 'cause I'm one of them.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):