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pherank

Red Flags: Don't Ignore These Warning Signs at Your Company

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Posted (edited)

Referring to the rise and immediate fall of American National Ballet (with a name like that, what could go wrong?), here's an article by Claudia Bauer in Pointe Magazine:

https://www.pointemagazine.com/red-flags-ballet-companies-2560585815.html

"ANB, which officially dissolved a few months later, is only the most recent example of a company that's come and gone, leaving dancers in the lurch. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet shuttered in 2015, Silicon Valley Ballet closed mid-season in 2016, and Ballet Pacifica folded in 2007—after 42 years."

"...Thompson noticed red flags shortly after starting at ANB, such as rehearsals that seemed random rather than directed toward an upcoming season. "We were essentially given busywork," she says. And the conservatory teaching hours she was expecting? "There were multiple nights where I didn't have any students, which meant I did not get paid."

Missed payments or bounced checks are major warning signs. "If they don't even have a bank account and payroll set up, that's a big problem," Braun says. ANB dancers received their agreed-upon salary payments for their five weeks of work, but in unconventional ways: the first payroll in cash and the second through a New York–based dance company, with that state's taxes withheld."

 

Edited by pherank

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Similarly, I'm wondering what United Ballet Theatre's long-term prospects will be. Joseph Gatti founded the company last year, but I still don't see any performances listed on their website (maybe they just haven't updated it yet). According to their website, they've hired Rasta Thomas (after his ill-fated ANB directorship) and Matthew Golding as guest artists. Gatti's Instagram mentions other new dancers and currently they have Marcelo Gomes choreographing a new piece for them, but for what? And, this is the only rep that's mentioned. Their Exec. Director has extremely limited experience in running any type of company, according to his bio on their website. He founded his own arts non-profit 2 years ago, but I'm unclear as to what that co. did or how successful they were. He has a BFA in dance but no business or arts management degree. Gatti has no experience running a company either. He does have a lot of high-profile dancer friends who may be of help in terms of raising the company's profile with guesting, etc. Maybe they'll be very successful. But, I'd be weary about joining this company or giving them any money.

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I don't know the history of Silicon Valley Ballet, but both Cedar Lake and Ballet Pacifica had significant runs before they closed their doors -- American National Ballet didn't seem to even begin before they were done.

I'm always excited when someone will take the risk to start a new venture, but it's a more complex process than many hopefuls seem to realize.

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17 hours ago, pherank said:

\

Missed payments or bounced checks are major warning signs. "If they don't even have a bank account and payroll set up, that's a big problem," Braun says. ANB dancers received their agreed-upon salary payments for their five weeks of work, but in unconventional ways: the first payroll in cash and the second through a New York–based dance company, with that state's taxes withheld."

 

Goodness, I thought these days were long gone. I was in a ballet company many years ago (co. to remain nameless). The company manager came to each of us the day before payday and said the words, "How much do you need?" Seems there wasn't enough money in the bank to cover payroll, and he was asking how much each person needed to get by for the next two weeks. I still remember the horrified look on his face when I said that I needed my paycheck.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, vipa said:

Goodness, I thought these days were long gone. I was in a ballet company many years ago (co. to remain nameless). The company manager came to each of us the day before payday and said the words, "How much do you need?" Seems there wasn't enough money in the bank to cover payroll, and he was asking how much each person needed to get by for the next two weeks. I still remember the horrified look on his face when I said that I needed my paycheck.

I really don't know how Corps dancers in New York and San Francisco survive, except to share a large apartment between 4 or 5 people. This kind of situation is virtually impossible to maintain in a major city:

'The small rep company is now in its third year, and no one gets paid, but Neugebauer loves being an artistic director. In the future she would like to pay the dancers and take a salary herself, but her first priority is operating within PDX's budget. "We only rehearse Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 2:30 pm, so the dancers can have part-time jobs."'

A part-time job does not pay a living wage in SF or NYC, probably not in Boston or LA either.

Edited by pherank

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9 hours ago, pherank said:

I really don't know how Corps dancers in New York and San Francisco survive, except to share a large apartment between 4 or 5 people. This kind of situation is virtually impossible to maintain in a major city:

'The small rep company is now in its third year, and no one gets paid, but Neugebauer loves being an artistic director. In the future she would like to pay the dancers and take a salary herself, but her first priority is operating within PDX's budget. "We only rehearse Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 2:30 pm, so the dancers can have part-time jobs."'

A part-time job does not pay a living wage in SF or NYC, probably not in Boston or LA either.

I wondered if she really meant “side job” instead of “part-time “ for the reasons you say. If they rehearse till 2:30 everyday, that makes working as a waiter, bartender, etc doable as most restaurants want the evening staff on by 4pm. They could work full-time then. But, rehearsing in the middle of the day makes many other jobs unavailable unless they have have their own businesses or teach.

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10 hours ago, pherank said:

I really don't know how Corps dancers in New York and San Francisco survive, except to share a large apartment between 4 or 5 people. This kind of situation is virtually impossible to maintain in a major city:

 

This is true for many young people. I know many college educated young people with full time jobs who can't afford an apt. in NYC without house mates. If you don't enter a field in which there is a lot of money to be made, like finance or corporate law, it's tough to find afford housing in an expensive city.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, vipa said:

This is true for many young people. I know many college educated young people with full time jobs who can't afford an apt. in NYC without house mates. If you don't enter a field in which there is a lot of money to be made, like finance or corporate law, it's tough to find afford housing in an expensive city.

Don't they have housing for big companies

Edited by Vs1

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2 hours ago, Vs1 said:

Don't they have housing for big companies

Not that I'm aware of.

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MAybe I am thinking of gelsey book, pnb book, Baryshnikov and Nureyev movies, Sab, pob movies , Darcy movies, polinin stories, theatre st movie, bun heads , Farrell, and other books and misty c articles .  

 

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On May 11, 2018 at 10:09 AM, vipa said:

This is true for many young people. I know many college educated young people with full time jobs who can't afford an apt. in NYC without house mates. If you don't enter a field in which there is a lot of money to be made, like finance or corporate law, it's tough to find afford housing in an expensive city.

Well govt employees have it easier getting mortgages and leases.  Maybe top lawyers or financiers fit your bill or ones during their period of productivity. In expensive suburbs the help always has a section too for obvious reasons. Never understood reason to price the help out of the city  or commerce either but it seemed the plan 

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2 hours ago, Vs1 said:

... pnb book ...

 

Not sure what you're referring to here.

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The book on the PNW ballet

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8 minutes ago, Vs1 said:

The book on the PNW ballet

Which one?  Wayne Johnson, Steven Manes, or one of the books published by the company itself?

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I don't keep track

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4 hours ago, Vs1 said:

I don't keep track

That's too bad -- I don't recall any mention of company housing in any of these, but if you remember where you saw it, let me know.

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Posted (edited)

Some European State Theatres maintain appartments in a building where they rent out - cheaply - to choice members of the theatre. Most members must find their own housing, though. Guests are often put up in theatre-run/rented appartments. 

I have no experience in the USA, though I have until now not heard of any housing provided to members ot the theatre companies; students at the conservatories somjetimes have housing, though, don't they? 

-d-

Edited by diane

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5 hours ago, diane said:

Some European State Theatres maintain appartments in a building where they rent out - cheaply - to choice members of the theatre. Most members must find their own housing, though. Guests are often put up in theatre-run/rented appartments. 

I have no experience in the USA, though I have until now not heard of any housing provided to members ot the theatre companies; students at the conservatories somjetimes have housing, though, don't they? 

-d-

A few of the larger company schools do have some kind of housing (SAB and Julliard share their dorm, I think), and guest artists sometimes have housing supplied for them (others prefer to make their own arrangements), but I don't know that there are any companies in the US that arrange housing (and more importantly, give subsidies or discounts) for company members.  Though I imagine that would be a very welcome program.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, diane said:

Some European State Theatres maintain appartments in a building where they rent out - cheaply - to choice members of the theatre. Most members must find their own housing, though. Guests are often put up in theatre-run/rented appartments. 

I have no experience in the USA, though I have until now not heard of any housing provided to members ot the theatre companies; students at the conservatories somjetimes have housing, though, don't they? 

-d-

San Francisco Ballet manages a successful "dormitory" for select students:

"We offer housing for 28 students in the desirable nearby neighborhood of Pacific Heights. The San Francisco Ballet School Residence features single, double, and triple rooms, on-site residence staff, and a short ride on public transportation from the School. Of course, students may also choose to arrange their own accommodations for independent living.

Space in the residence is limited and available by invitation only. Lack of availability does not preclude participation in our program."

https://www.sfballet.org/school/about/student-life

The problem is, there isn't any help for company members of any U.S. company that I have heard of - it's 'sink or swim' with housing. If there weren't so many dancers looking for paid opportunities, I suppose the companies would have to go to more trouble to provide housing services to dancers. There's need for a Non-Profit organization to aid dancers and classical musicians in finding affordable housing - something like this:

https://missionlocal.org/2017/09/nonprofit-launches-program-to-help-artists-find-affordable-housing/

Edited by pherank

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So true; there are just so very many dancers willing to do anything to dance, and the market dictates that they are therefore not really "worth" that much. (".... like sand at the shore..", they used to tell us at the academy; we are like sand at the shore...) 

That is a great idea to try to help dancers and musicians find affordable (and nearby!!) housing! 

-d-

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Competing with dance company nonprofits 

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The debacle at ANB really makes me wonder if there could have been an intervention sooner to set the company on a sustainable path?  Or was the hubris so great on the founders’ part that nothing could have stopped this? 

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9 hours ago, diane said:

So true; there are just so very many dancers willing to do anything to dance, and the market dictates that they are therefore not really "worth" that much. (".... like sand at the shore..", they used to tell us at the academy; we are like sand at the shore...)

"like sand at the shore" - that's such an inspirational quote.  ;)

I'm reminded of a talk about the constant negative criticism that dancers live with (from a Conversations on Dance podcast with Ferraro and Breeden)

[Jump to 11:40]
https://conversationsondancepod.com/2018/04/10/dancers-negativity-and-perspective-post-retirement/

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Thanks, pherank. Yep, things have not changed. (nor are they likely to...) 

One thought: There are cultural differences to criticism, and there are indeed some cultures/languages where what we - in the West and in English - would consider "harsh"  statements/critiques, they are there considered quite "normal" and not at all harsh, just "direct". That is something which we have to get used to as the world becomes even more connected. (in dance this connection  is happening faster than in many areas, I would say) So, yeah... perhaps if one is working for or with some people from Eastern Europe (and former Soviet countires, for example), one should take that into consideration. :) :) Not everything which is said can and should be taken the way we may see it at first.  

But, this is, I fear, digressing horribly, so I will now stop. 

-d-

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Compare the answer to "how are you" and see if one smiles.  

Or see if or how one comments on one's bodily functions or appearance.

 

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