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News on Ballett Frankfurt


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#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 29 May 2002 - 01:54 PM

There has been news circulating via email about Ballett-Frankfurt. Confirmation has come via the company that the city is in fact thinking of terminating Forsythe's contract. Nothing further was said in the email about the circumstances or motivations of this, and the company has made no official statement I can find.

#2 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 29 May 2002 - 02:19 PM

Forsythe's future, according to the local television station
Hessischer Rundfunk, is now in serious doubt. The ruling alliance on Frankfurt's city council is considering whether to replace him when his present contract expires in 2004. The background to this is the city's growing financial crisis. There are deep cuts in the culture budget and Ballett Frankfurt is the latest victim.

Forsythe's political support seems to be slender, and to come, in the main, from the Green Party, which says that any decision to dismiss Forsythe, would be a "declaration of cultural bankruptcy". If this happens, the Greens argue, Frankfurt's aspiration to be European City of Culture in 2010 would no longer have a shred of credibility.

The issue of Forsythe's future has not been triggered by the budgetary crisis alone. Senior members of the city council are increasingly resistant to Forsythe's aesthetics. They want a Frankfurt Ballet, which will present a more classically based repertoire.

Forsythe, who is very distressed at developments, is fighting back. He argues that he runs an efficient company - and that his budgets are better managed than those of Frankfurt's other cultural institutions. There has been a wave of international reaction to the news. Already a support website has been set up. The URL is http://www.sign.de/f...the/aktion.html

#3 dirac

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Posted 29 May 2002 - 03:59 PM

It looks as if Forsythe is history. Ismene Brown analyzes the situation for the Telegraph:





http://www.telegraph...equestid=155030

#4 Estelle

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Posted 30 May 2002 - 12:13 AM

"The financially strapped council apparently
thinks it would save about £4 million by closing the ballet, and another £3 million by closing TAT."

From that point of view, it sounds a little bit like what happened in recent years in several French cities (for example Nancy), except that in France it were traditional ballet companies which were replaced with (smaller) modern ones... I wonder why the officials in Frankfurt think that having a "classical story-ballet company" would be cheaper than Forsythe's company (especially if you have to build everything from zero)?

I wonder if all that had been a predictable problem for a while: I remember that, around 1998, when Roland Petit left the Ballet de Marseille, Forsythe had bee one of the candidates for the direction of the company, which looked a bit surprising at that moment, as Petit's company was more classical than his (but there were also modern French choreographers like Regine Chopinot, and it was believed that most of the candidates were interested only in the fact that Marseille was the second most subsidized company in France...)

I'm not especially a fan of Forsythe, and can understand that probably some part of the population of Frankfurt would like to see some real classical ballet (and also if the company spends much time touring, perhaps the local audience isn't very much attached to the company).
On the other hand, Forsythe is an important choreographer and it'd be a pity if he had no company of his own, and if the real motivation only is financial, there isn't much good to expect from it...

#5 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 May 2002 - 12:31 AM

There is a translation of the Hessisscher Rundfunk article over at Criticaldance -

http://www.criticald...TML/001517.html

If what they're saying is accurate, what at least some people are proposing is no company at all, and simply presenting guest companies. I'm also not Forsythe's staunchest artistic supporter, but to dismantle Forsythe's company in favor of presenting visiting groups is the the most mediocre solution possible. Love it or hate it, it's their company and has put the city on the map culturally. If it's Frankfurt's desire to distinguish itself as a cultural city (per articles, they are vying for such an appellation from UNESCO) visiting companies won't cut it.

#6 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 30 May 2002 - 12:50 AM

Just to clarify; Hessischer Rundfunk is Frankfurt's public radio and television service and not a newspaper.

This crisis has, apparently, been brewing for some time. The city of Frankfurt has deep rooted financial problems and it has imposed swinging cuts on its culture budget. The Opera, Theatre and Ballet have been told to save one million euros this year; next year, two million; in 2004, 3 million and, by 2005 four millions.
But it is not a question of money alone. Frankfurt's political establishment has tired in any case of Forsythe. There has been a clamour for more varied work from the outside, in preference to what a local journalist called 'own label records' . There is considerable feeling that interesting companies from outside simply bypass Frankfurt altogether.

The fact that Forsythe's work is so distinctive, and that it has put the city's ballet company on the world stage, no longer cuts any ice with the politicians. They criticise Ballet Frankfurt for travelling too much, and not spending enough time in Frankfurt.

Forsythe was to have announced a new artistic plan on June 6th. It is unlikely he will be doing so now.

#7 dirac

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Posted 30 May 2002 - 09:20 AM

Valerie Lawson reports on the situation, for the Sydney Morning Herald:




http://www.smh.com.a...2569813919.html

#8 Estelle

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Posted 31 May 2002 - 05:56 AM

http://www.lemonde.f...278085-,00.html

An article about it by Dominique Frétard in "Le Monde" (in French). It also mentions that it might be possible that the city theater of Wuppertal (home of Pina Bausch's company) might have to be closed within one or two years for financial reasons.

#9 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 31 May 2002 - 06:28 PM

I spoke with a German friend about the Wuppertal situation. It seems that Wuppertal has two theaters and one of them may be closed. However, that does not mean Bausch's company itself will necessarily be closed.


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