sandik

a question about promotions and retirements

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I've been following along with the discussion about promotions at ABT while speculating about what might happen in my hometown company (Pacific Northwest Ballet) and it occurred to me that there seems to be a different calendar for these kind of announcements at different companies.  In Seattle, the official announcements generally come at the beginning of the season, alongside all the other "back to school" things.  But at ABT, it seems like it's an "end of the season" event -- is that always the case? 

 

And here, the company often announces that this will be someone's last season quite early in the year, though that's more true for higher ranking dancers than it is for corps.  And although some dancers want to leave with as little fanfare as possible, the company has developed a lovely tradition of recognizing those transitions at their year-end performance. 

 

So what do other companies generally do -- how does your hometown company handle these kind of official announcements?

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PNB also has first-rep-after-Nutcracker promotions, if they don't come at the beginning of the year; this may be money-related.

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And that's an interesting situation, since they are technically happening mid-contract.  I don't know enough about it to say anything specific.

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2 hours ago, sandik said:

I've been following along with the discussion about promotions at ABT while speculating about what might happen in my hometown company (Pacific Northwest Ballet) and it occurred to me that there seems to be a different calendar for these kind of announcements at different companies.  In Seattle, the official announcements generally come at the beginning of the season, alongside all the other "back to school" things.  But at ABT, it seems like it's an "end of the season" event -- is that always the case? 

 

And here, the company often announces that this will be someone's last season quite early in the year, though that's more true for higher ranking dancers than it is for corps.  And although some dancers want to leave with as little fanfare as possible, the company has developed a lovely tradition of recognizing those transitions at their year-end performance. 

 

So what do other companies generally do -- how does your hometown company handle these kind of official announcements?

Helene and sandik this is interesting. I have also read some very moving tributes by Peter Boal to dancers who are leaving.

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Posted (edited)

On 7/8/2017 at 1:44 PM, sandik said:

So what do other companies generally do -- how does your hometown company handle these kind of official announcements?

 

SFB has followed a similar pattern to PNB, but the last two seasons have been particularly wonky with retirements and leavings. The generational 'changing of the guard' certainly upsets the usual pattern to some degree. There are sometimes promotions at SFB after Nutcracker performances, but mostly promotions wait until the end of the season or until summer. Retirements of lead dancers are announced fairly early in the season, but this last year Zahorian and Karapetyan surprised us all with a sudden retirement and adieu (though no one faults them for moving on to the next level of their careers). But in the Trump era, we seem to be seeing a lot of volatile reactions in the artist community. Lots of movement going on...

 

EDIT:

I think I should add - I've said this elsewhere on the forum - I think Tomasson changed his promotions schedule this past year to try to mitigate the sad feeling around so many departures, and to give a sense that things were indeed moving on and not stagnating.

Edited by pherank

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12 hours ago, pherank said:

But in the Trump era, we seem to be seeing a lot of volatile reactions in the artist community. Lots of movement going on...
 

 

An interesting observation -- I'm not sure how the multiple shifts in global relationships will affect what we see in the theater, but I'm sure that several years from now, we'll look backwards and trace a very clear pathway.

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Here in the UK they tend to be "end of season" announcements issued just after the season has ended.

 

If a long standing dancer is leaving it may be that that is announced earlier in the season so that people can mark the occasion.  However sometimes dancers seem to prefer to slip away quietly and without fanfare.

 

ENB has bucked the trend a little recently by announcing some joiners and a promotion before the end of their season.

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5 hours ago, JMcN said:

Here in the UK they tend to be "end of season" announcements issued just after the season has ended.

 

If a long standing dancer is leaving it may be that that is announced earlier in the season so that people can mark the occasion.  However sometimes dancers seem to prefer to slip away quietly and without fanfare.

 

ENB has bucked the trend a little recently by announcing some joiners and a promotion before the end of their season.

 

It's looking like there's more flexibility about retirements than there is about promotions, partially because of the individual desires of the people leaving and partially because of the fairly uniform aspects of hiring contracts. 

 

After watching several dancers retire after announcing early on that this would be their last season, I know it does really affect how I see them in performance (and how I organize what I'm going to see).  Promotions don't have the same gravitas for me -- it doesn't really occur to me that a change in status will affect how I watch them.  In part because so many dancers are working at a level above their official pay grade, seeing that they're promoted doesn't make me think that they will suddenly be dancing differently or that they will be getting different roles.  I'm always glad to see them get the recognition, in part because I think it helps solidify their connection to the company (not to mention the pay increase).  But it doesn't affect me anywhere near as powerfully as a retirement.

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I agree with every word Sandik.

 

When Kenny Tindall retired from Northern Ballet his final performance was announced to be Heathcliff in Milton Keynes on a Saturday night.  A lot of us went, despite issues with roundabouts!

 

It was a very wonderful night!

 

I will never forget the final Birmingham performance of Ambra Vallo and Vicky Marr of BRB (dancing Giselle and Myrthe respectively).  Members of the company who weren't dancing in the performance showered the stage with 200 red roses. Many tears were shed!

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54 minutes ago, JMcN said:

When Kenny Tindall retired from Northern Ballet his final performance was announced to be Heathcliff in Milton Keynes on a Saturday night.  A lot of us went, despite issues with roundabouts!

 

And here I thought if you were a UK resident, the roundabout system was no trouble!  We're getting more of them here, mostly in residential neighborhoods as a way of slowing traffic down, and you'd think that we'd all grown another head.

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9 hours ago, sandik said:

 

And here I thought if you were a UK resident, the roundabout system was no trouble!  We're getting more of them here, mostly in residential neighborhoods as a way of slowing traffic down, and you'd think that we'd all grown another head.

 

It is not the roundabouts per se it is the lack of directions on them!  A number of "new towns" built up here in the 1950s/60s, designed to be efficient and pedestrian friendly.  They all seem to be surrounded by roundabouts with very little in the way of telling you which exit you need.  And please don't get me started on the masterpiece outside High Wycombe!!

 

I think special celebrations for retiring dancers is comparatively recent outside of the London-based companies.  The first I was aware of was Jeremy Kerridge at Northern Ballet when he came back a couple of months after he had actually retired for a valedictory performance as Scrooge in Christmas Carol.  Apart from announcing this in advance it was marked by David Nixon coming on stage for the curtain calls and making a speech.  A couple of years later when leading lady Chiaki Nagao retired there was a speech followed by all the dancers presenting her with flowers.

 

At BRB they have made a couple of announcements in recent years for Robert Parker and for Ambra Vallo and Vicky Marr.  

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I've become very fond of the retirement programs -- I imagine some dancers would like to avoid them (and we've had a few people who have just quit with very little public recognition), but I really appreciate the chance to mark that transition.

 

(I will take your word for it about the roundabouts)

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I think JMcN is talking about real roundabouts, not the little ones we have at four-way intersections.  I remember going round and round a major one trying to get out of the Dublin airport (and taking the wrong branch in the dark), and there was one to get to the South Dublin office park I used to drive to.

 

When I came home after six weeks in Ireland, I got to one of the little Seattle ones a block away from my apartment building and froze:  I couldn't remember which way to enter it.

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6 hours ago, Helene said:

I think JMcN is talking about real roundabouts, not the little ones we have at four-way intersections.  I remember going round and round a major one trying to get out of the Dublin airport (and taking the wrong branch in the dark), and there was one to get to the South Dublin office park I used to drive to.

 

When I came home after six weeks in Ireland, I got to one of the little Seattle ones a block away from my apartment building and froze:  I couldn't remember which way to enter it.

 

I'm sure that ours are dinky in comparison, but even so I still hear all kinds of complaints.

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Allow me to throw in this "data point"......

 

My home company is also PNB.  I have little direct experience with other companies other than SFB many years ago.

 

From what I hear, PNB is unusual in the ballet world in that dancers tend to stay in the company for years....many even for their entire careers.  The audience gets to know the dancers very well....even corps dancers to some extent. So my surmise is that it is "more" natural for big send offs at PNB than at many other companies given the chance for the dancer and the audience to bond over many years.

 

Case in point, is the recent retirement of Carrie Imler.  As I've often said, Carrie is/was my most admired and respected dancer.  But not only that, she was in PNB for her entire career (23 years I think it was).  Her admirers were legion....and there must have been 1500-2000 of them there for her well billed send off.....all screaming their heads off.

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I think a lot of the top ten-ish companies in the US have that kind of stability if there is stability after a change in AD's, unlike the bloodbath in Philadelphia.  There are companies in the next rank where there would be more fluidity where dancers leave for bigger companies with better contracts, more work, more prestige, where they grew up, etc.

 

Remember that now at PNB, the upper ranks are full of dancers who spent time in the school and joined PNB as apprentices or joined as corps members after brief careers elsewhere (James Moore, Rachel Foster, Benjamin Griffiths, Jerome [New Dad!] Tisserand, Sarah Ricard Orza, Matthew Renko, William Lin-Yee), while when Russell and Stowell were building the company, many of the Principals and Soloists came from outside the company and finished out their company careers with PNB, like Stanko Milov (Pittsburgh), Le Yin (Houston), Phil Otto (PA Ballet), Jeffrey Stanton, Kimberly Davey, Lisa Apple, Paul Gibson (SFB), Kaori Nakamura, Olivier Wevers (Royal Winnipeg Ballet), Louise Nadeau (Kansas City Ballet), as well as a few dancers who only stayed for a handful of years.

 

Companies like NYCB, POB, the Mariinsky, Royal Danish Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet also have a high percentage of lifers particularly among the dancers who went through their schools (or in the case of the Bolshoi, dancers who went to the Vaganova Academy.  The Royal Ballet used to be like that.  

 

There seems to be a lot of moving around among the international dancers in companies like Dutch National Ballet, but I'm not sure how much movement there is among native born dancers.

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2 hours ago, SandyMcKean said:

... From what I hear, PNB is unusual in the ballet world in that dancers tend to stay in the company for years....many even for their entire careers.  The audience gets to know the dancers very well....even corps dancers to some extent. So my surmise is that it is "more" natural for big send offs at PNB than at many other companies given the chance for the dancer and the audience to bond over many years.

 

Case in point, is the recent retirement of Carrie Imler.  ... Her admirers were legion....and there must have been 1500-2000 of them there for her well billed send off.....all screaming their heads off.

 

Thinking about the last several years, there's always some movement in and out of the corps, with people coming to try us out or leaving to find someplace else (Jahna Frantziskonis and Raphael Bouchard come to mind), but once they hit principal status, they usually only leave with retirement.  (Carla Korbes being the notable  exception).  And by the time they are principals, the audience really does know them, so that's also a factor in the kind of recognition we give retirement.

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I just came across this little video of the "official" retirement for Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan (a married couple) after their final performance together at SFB (2017 season). Helgi Tomasson did the presentation. An official commemorative video was also released online.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVSfC7dASQP/?taken-by=diegocruzcooosss

 

For the retirement of Lorena Fijoo (same season, 2017) the presentation was a little different (Feijoo opted out of a special performance). To quote from one of Quiggin's postings on this forum:

"Lorena took the stage and dancers of the company filed out individually and presented her each with a single red rose – including the Cuban group: Joan Boada, Taras Domitro and Carlos Quenedit. Pascal Molat was also there as well as Vitor Luiz and Feijoo's sister I believe (though it was difficult to see over the standing crowd; maybe someone else can correct and fill in). Most touching seemed to be Yuan Yuan Tan's rose and big hug. All in all a lovely commemoration of a very fruitful 17 year career with the company."

An online video honoring Feijoo was also released.

 

 

 

 

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Those are just lovely -- many thanks for the links!

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