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Golden Jubilee Gala

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#16 Guest_kb_*

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 04:36 AM

In response to Lolly and Anoushka, well if you enjoyed the gala, all I can say is good, however with question to the RB as an artistic force and what it has come to represent in Britain today I see that the "Gala" stands as a fitting testament to how far from its ideals it has travelled.

If sitting watching a batterie of poor, mediocre "Modern" choreography sandwiched in between the usual gala pas de deux which have been trotted out again and again and again ad nauseum, is for you an exemplary display of what a great company is, within a theatre with horrifically overinflated prices, while the merry acolytes are crammed into hot theatres watching the "great and the good" on tv screens enjoy the "spectacle" within the hallowed hall of the opera house proper is egalitarian, is part of the RB experience, then I can't argue with what makes you happy, but I can argue that this is wrong, this is an insult to the pioneering vision that made the RB, at one point, the greatest ballet company in the world.

Firstly, the question of charity, the overinflated prices going to fund new choreography. I hate the term charity, it's a panacea, or should that be a placebo? Was there a list of the "charitable" institutions which the gala was to fund handed out at any point? Was there any indication of how the charity was to be handled, administered, how the vast prices of the seats would be translated into the germination of new choreographic pieces by young British choreographers? No, because charity like that other contemporary get-out-of-jail-free word, love, is so generic, so commonly used, so understood that its utterance will brook no come back, that no one dares to question its veracity or validity. I fancy that the ticket prices will be going to fund the new Sleeping Beauty production that Stretton is bringing in (the Bjornson production was so foul, I don't fault him wanting a new one) however, I'd like to know who exactly will benefit most from the charity on offer? I fancy it will be those in the top-prices house seats, which now accounts for 70% of the house, oh yes those poor souls in need of charity.

Now, the fayre on offer! Underrehearsed, atrociously staged on a worn out, exhausted disaffected company. Well, if you want to pay top dollar for that, it's not my problem. I'll just stop going to watch ballet, or the strain the RB practices nowadays. However, the commonly held truth that the company's first performances are now, due to chronic lack of stage time, a dress rehearsal is a severe and unforgivable insult to any paying audience member, whether they be in the cheap or expensive seats. A ticket is a contract, once your money is paid the contractual obligation on the part of the company is that you will be presented with a product fit for performance. In an interview Hubert Essakow said that his first night of The Dream, was actually his first time dancing the role on stage. It shows how much in contempt the management hold the audience in, that they won't notice, well I notice, I notice that I'm being served up luke warm attempts at dance pieces by dancers afraid to abandon themselves to the work because they are so unsure of the space they are performing in. The gala at 5000 a pop was an affront to a moral sense of decency that it was so shabbily presented that not even exit signs at the back of the stage were screened.

[paragraph on race redacted]

AS I have said the gala was for me perfect, a perfect example of an organisation created in the spirit of idealism which has long since closed its ears to the people it was created for.

And Lolly, one final thing, I would hope that by the tone of my postings you would gather that I am passionate, I'm passionate about dance, about the ideal of dance and its rightful place as one of the most everyman art forms on offer. And I am passionate that this diluted, innocuous abstraction the RB offers up is an insult to the ideal of Bayliss, De Valois and all that made the RB what it once was.

#17 Calliope


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Posted 26 July 2002 - 04:56 AM

Perhaps we should just stick to discussing the Gala as opposed to politics.

#18 anoushka



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Posted 26 July 2002 - 05:23 AM

Calliope, I think you're right, the politics of the gala belong elsewhere.

I also don't think we're in a position to comment upon the colour of dancers o our stage and whether they were home grown or not-we simply do not know about the intake of our national ballet schools and where their graduates go.

We should also perhaps be pleased that so many dancers from across the globe want to come and dance here?

#19 Alexandra


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Posted 26 July 2002 - 05:49 AM

Brendan, re Valerie Lawson's review, I don't think the Australian tour is an excuse at all. (First off, why was there an Australian tour, which has aparently exhausted and injured the dancers? It sounds like a victory lap for Stretton, and a bit early, too. It is very unusual for a company to tour during the first year of a new directorship.)

Dancers rehearse works on tour. They could have rehearsed before they went on the tour. A gala as important as this one should have been planned for well in advance. During the 25th annivesary Jubilee year the company was touring as well, and that gala was not odd bits grabbed out of the refrigerator at the last minute.

#20 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 06:05 AM


I didn't intend to express an opinion one way or another. But
I am told that the Australia tour was planned pre-Stretton and that it is not something he would have chosen to do in his first year. As it is, there seems to have been a considerable amount of rehearsal on the run for the Onegin/Don Q/Coppelia season.

Of this I am less sure: I have a sense that the Royal Gala crept into the diary quite late - that when this current season was being planned last year, no-one had any inkling of a Gala. The actual announcement, as far as I remember, was made only three months ago. Perhaps others can confirm the actual circumstances. The late planning may have been as much to do with the Palace as with the Opera House.

On the issue of royalty, I believe that social and political currents in the UK are relevant to the question of the RB's identity. While there is a touch of Swiftian saeva indignatio about kb's postings, he is not altogether off-beam.

#21 Guest_kb_*

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 06:06 AM

Why should we not discuss politics? Moreover, what do you understand politics to mean? Art is by its very nature a political statement, by this I mean the true nature of politics stemming from the Greek politkos - a citizen belonging to a society. If anything the gala was a political polemic, a soundless testament to the evolution of an arts organization and its alliance, or rather its removal from the ideal it was set up for to the current stance and political placement.

Lolly the statment vis a vis race is a strong and powerful one, whether you like to face it or not, funding for organizations within the UK is increasingly centred around ethnicity, or awareness of an ethnic remit laid down by Government watchdogs. If the Royal National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company or any other arts institution major or minor was so conspicuous in presenting a predominantly caucasian face to the public in the presentation of its material then it would have its funding seriously curtailed. I know the RBS and I know how few black and asian faces pass through its doors, and how few further end up on the stage.

You want to discuss the Gala? Well the gala was undivorcable from the arena of politics as it was there to comemmorate, "celebrate", mark an institution which has shown itself to be institutionally racist, divorced from the country as a whole. The ROH moreover has a duty to make its funding and allocation of resources a matter for the public domain. The scandals which ensued in the latter half of the nineties showed the ROH as an institution that had misplaced, sqauandered and abused public arts funding, taxes and grants. And yet when penurious and in threat of closure bleated with all the integrity and right of a spoilt child that its pocket money had been stopped.

You want to discuss the gala? Fine, Well the gala was there to also mark the path and progression of the ROH as an artistic institution, as a creative force within the UK. The poor showing of dancers nurtured within that institution, the poor treatment those same dancers are receiving within the organisation (and for this I do not blame Stretton alone, this started a long time before) is further testament to how far from the ideal of a national company, nurtured in a national style for a nation the company has become.

Art is political, if it has no awareness of itself as an organism, if it closes its ears to its public, its heritage and its ideals then it is worthless. This is seen by the eschewing of the repertory which placed it within the UK as a descendent of the Marinksy heritage, to take on the fools gold glamour of the current repertory.

To deny the political is to deny the art itself. Over in the General Discussion section of BalletAlert is a sociology paper damning ballet on several levels by a student from Wisconsin university. It is full of half truths, misconceived ideas, poorly written and researched and obviously conceived in bias and ignorance. However, it received an A grade, and is indeed interesting because it is a polemic to the predjudice which surrounds ballet as an art form, an art form divorced from society. All the criticisms the authour levies at ballet can be equally if not more so levied at any other profession, sector of society however, such shoddy research and scholarship would not be tolerated in a University Paper if say the subject was law, or medicine, or theatre even. But ballet is seen as being so lacking in moral or artistic fibre that such criticisms are taken as law, or truths. Now, one can poo poo the paper and ignore it, or one can study it, answer it give it all the credibility that it is undeserving of, because as a minority art form that is seen to cater for an elitist, exclusory section of society, ballet must do it. As must we lovers of ballet. Ballet must be a political body in the truest sense of taking responsibility for itself, only then is it an art form worth watching.

And Brendan isn't outrage better than apathy?

#22 Alexandra


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Posted 26 July 2002 - 07:10 AM

On the Australian tour -- I have no idea at all when it was planned, but I cannot remember any instance, in any major company during my ballet going years, when an outgoing director planned a foreign tour to take place after he left office. That it takes place in the native land of the new director leads me to assume that this tour was planned by the current director. I am speculating, but it's an educated guess. Also, regardless of who planned the tour, it's the current director's responsibility to plan the entire season in the interests of the dancers, the audience, and the repertory (not necessarily in that order.)

In my experience studying opera house managements, galas such as jubilees and anniversaries (the Ashton, the MacMillan, for example) are penciled in years in advance. The details are worked out closer to deadlinle, but everybody knows they're coming up, and this jubilee was a biggie. They may not have known the exact date until close to the wire, but they knew it was this year.

TO KB: I have tried to do ths through email, but that obviously isn't working. Discussing politics is fine when it is relevant. Passion -- positive or negative -- is fine. Rants are not. Stay on topic, stay to the point, AND STOP BEING RUDE. Your posts are offensive to many people here, not for their ideas-- which, I'm sorry if this disillusions you, but they're not new and have been expressed here, and elsewhere, often -- but because of your tone and your dismissive attitude toward other posters. If you wish to continue posting here, you will abide by the board's rules and policies.

#23 Lolly


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Posted 26 July 2002 - 07:17 AM

Originally posted by kb:

And Lolly, one final thing, I would hope that by the tone of my postings you would gather that I am passionate, I'm passionate about dance, about the ideal of dance and its rightful place as one of the most everyman art forms on offer. And I am passionate that this diluted, innocuous abstraction the RB offers up is an insult to the ideal of Bayliss, De Valois and all that made the RB what it once was.

kb, you might have noticed that I am passionate too. However, I think we present our opinions in different ways - I just hope to give people a taste of what I have seen. I do not call other people's opinions "utterly untrue" as you have called mine.

Perhaps I am also more trusting than you (and perhaps naively so) that when something is in aid of a cause, then that cause is where the money will end up. I believe the money raised by the gala will fund dancers from the company in their choreographic pursuits - why would I have any reason not to believe this?

Originally posted by kb:

Lolly the statment vis a vis race is a strong and powerful one, whether you like to face it or not

I find that statement quite rude.

#24 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 07:30 AM

kb - I removed the paragraph on race from your earlier post.

The ideas and thoughts are not forbidden, and you are welcome to restate them, but do it in a less incendiary manner that invites discussion rather than offense. I've got another job, as does every other administrator on this board, and I don't have the time to run after you every time you post, trying to deal with the potential fallout.

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