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pherank

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Everything posted by pherank

  1. Of course. I was thinking in terms of transporting Robbins as is(!) into the present age. It's impossible for me to know how different Robbins (or the others) might be if he were born in 1990, say, rather than 1918.
  2. There's probably a better way to express this, but what I was thinking is that whenever a new dancer is hired they (for better or worse) have to prove themselves - not only to the AD and fellow company members, but to the audience and critics. A dancer that was hired specifically to diversify a company is in an even more difficult position. I don't envy them. Do they have to prove that they are "better than their white peers" in any case? Perhaps. Not with me, but I think that situation likely exists with the opposition (people who never wanted non-white dancers to be there in the first place). Here's a question: are companies that slowly trickle in dancers of color - one or two a year - being smarter about the whole thing? Or are they not really taking care of the problem in any kind of decisive fashion, and essentially just stretching out the inevitable?
  3. I'm so glad AR came forward to make a statement. And this is to the point: "Would Diaghilev, Nureyev, Robbins and countless other greats, who were not spotless, be able to work today? " In today's climate, Jerome Robbins would not have a career, period. That much I can say with certainty. As SFB soloist Madison Keesler phrased it in her post about Scarlett: "We are all human and we all deserve love and empathy, no matter what." I'm afraid not everyone agrees with that point of view, but there are plenty of people who do.
  4. "If at first you don't succeed...try, try again." It's sometimes difficult to say what will find traction in the press. Misty Copeland created a space for herself (and her opinions) in the media where so many others failed to gain notice. The media and general public are always going to focus on the 'public face' of these companies, but much like politics and industry, the real power lies with the boards, mega-donors/sponsors, unions, and less seen executive staff. And that's where things get real traditional and hierarchical. They are the enablers, and often the root of disinterest. From the SF Chronicle article: "Diversifying the workforce also becomes harder, Wilson said, when there are so few hiring decisions to be made." So the excuse is that they only had a couple of open positions? Funny how she bypasses the obvious question: why not raise the additional funds to create 5 more positions (for example) for dancers of color? During the pandemic, the audience donated $6 million to keep the company viable - well why not create another fund for diversification purposes? Will no dancers want to come forward and apply for these 'special' positions? Maybe, but someone is going to have to swallow their pride and prove themselves. In fact, that's going to have to happen throughout this particular dance culture.
  5. That makes me wonder if there were ever any official listings of the dancers participating in American Ballet/ American Ballet Caravan and Ballet Society.
  6. Video for 2017 of Washington Ballet dancer Maki Onuki throwing the first pitch on opening day: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNIBnDJFp1x/
  7. No one from the Royal Ballet has posted anything (regarding Scarlett) that I have noticed. It's all very quiet. Sarah Mearns did: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNxcMVXJ_tX/ And other dancers, and Ratmansky, left emojis or comments on Mearns' post, but that's about it. SFB's Madison Keesler: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNxhQqVA0e3/ Chris Wheeldon left a comment on her post. Most people obviously aren't sure how to process this news, and aren't coming forward, yet.
  8. I do think that Tomasson is retiring in part because he recognizes that his time has come and gone, that society is making particular demands on dance AD's and he is no longer the best person for the job. He KNOWS that he isn't the person to tackle theses issues (especially given his age), since the AD is going to lots of energy and a very tough skin - every hire will now be under the microscope. The job is no longer primarily about the AD's artistic preferences. The community/society is asking that arts companies step up and demonstrate real diversity, inclusion and equality on a daily basis. I have nothing against Julian MacKay myself, but I'm on the record saying that his hire was clearly a missed opportunity, and I still feel that way. I completely understand why Tomasson might want to hire him, but it didn't come off well given what was going on in society. SFB has a tendency to do everything quietly, out of the public eye, but I have to wonder if the organization had just made a public effort to recruit dancers of color things wouldn't look so off. Speaking of talking the talk and walking the walk - has everyone seen the 'infamous' 1983 David Bowie MTV interview in which he questions the MTV rep about the lack of Black artists on the channel? [this link is queued to the appropriate part of the interview] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3i53rjh-PA&t=661s There's been no one at SFB willing to put themselves forward in such a manner. Ballet remains a very conservative world.
  9. I think that's a common sentiment among conductors. I realize that this "sharing" of talent goes on everywhere, but... it just strikes me as another one of these "missed opportunities". Why not hire someone in the "middle ranks" of classical music that is promising (and not simply Euro White male)? I'm sure Neef had great reasons though. 😉
  10. Agreed - the word didn't come to me. "Allegations" would be the legal term.
  11. If I understand what you mean by "scenario" - the host family would not have to be any particular race.
  12. You may not know about the, now, 42 year old Dance in Schools & Communities program: https://www.sfballet.org/school-education/k-12-programs/disc/ The problem is, kids that take part are not necessarily joining the school full time, and making it all the way up through the ranks and joining the company hierarchy. But hopefully they are embarking on a lifetime of dance association - growing the audience is at least as important as creating professional dancers. The SFB School children that take part in Nutcracker are often of varying racial backgrounds, but again that doesn't mean the children "of color" specifically are making it into the company in large numbers. They're not. The Black community in the Fillmore, or Bayview-Hunters Point for that matter, continue to not give a hoot about ballet.
  13. Sounds like the RDB would not have cancelled the ballet based on other companies' complaints/insinuations - which is just interesting in itself. I say "insinuations" [allegations] because I don't know of any actual legal charges filed against Scarlett on any of the continents. Is that true, or no? It's interesting to note how many companies are posting tributes to Scarlett on Instagram, and how many are not. [RDB doesn't have an Instagram account] Yes: SFB: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNxw0zQrwh8/ BalletBoyz: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNxt3GtlRMR/ RB made a terse comment on Twitter (posted by VolcanoHunter above), which is looking like it will be eviscerated by many - https://twitter.com/RoyalOperaHouse Not yet - but maybe they'll feel the pressure to say something, anything: https://www.instagram.com/royaloperahouse/ https://www.instagram.com/englishnationalballet/ https://www.instagram.com/nycballet/?hl=en https://www.instagram.com/abtofficial/ https://www.instagram.com/qldballet/ https://www.instagram.com/nzballet/?hl=en https://www.instagram.com/miamicityballet/ https://www.instagram.com/norwegiannationalballet/?hl=en https://www.instagram.com/originalballetblack/
  14. I see how the contracts overlap, I just don't see how it's really possible to do all those things at once - effectively. In a shrinking classical music world, is it really the best choice to make?
  15. The Washington Post also posted an obituary: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/star-british-choreographer-liam-scarlett-dies-at-35/2021/04/17/f59dc228-9f77-11eb-b2f5-7d2f0182750d_story.html The entire situation has been tremendously sad and depressing.
  16. It's an unexpected choice to make for a symphony music and art director - I still don't know why he's doing it - but it does open up a plum position in the U.S. Perhaps for someone like Marin Alsop?
  17. Gustavo Dudamel, Superstar Conductor, Will Lead Paris Opera In a coup, the venerable company has hired as its next music director the rare classical artist to have crossed into pop-culture celebrity. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/16/arts/music/gustavo-dudamel-paris-opera.html
  18. After 11 minutes of talk by the announcer we have Hilary Hahn, Matthias Goerne, Mikko Franck and the Philharmonique de Radio France perform a Dvořák & Shostakovich program. Live today, but they also have a stream that begins at the beginning of the program (which is pretty great). Look for the Play button near the top of the page - beside the page title (reads" 2hr 28 min" below the button). https://www.francemusique.fr/emissions/le-concert-de-20h/Hilary-Hahn-Matthias-Goerne-programme-Dvorak-Chostakovitch-93981 Hahn's comments can be read here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNn3PvAMUDu/
  19. I thought I would create a category for discussion and updates on the subject of diversity, equity, and inclusion at SF Ballet, specifically. And so to start things off, here's an San Francisco Chronicle article on the subject, and a couple of SFB website 'official' statements too. S.F. Ballet Seeks to Diversify, Make Amends for Racial Inequities https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/dance/s-f-ballet-seeks-to-diversify-make-amends-for-racial-inequities SFB: Where We Stand https://www.sfballet.org/where-we-stand/ SFB: CELEBRATING MANY FORMS OF DIVERSITY https://www.sfballet.org/discover/idea/
  20. Mary Ellen Moylan, ‘First Great Balanchine Dancer,’ Is Dead at 95 The celebrated choreographer created roles for her. The critics hailed her. Yet her death a year ago went largely unnoticed in the dance world. By Roslyn Sulcas April 13, 2021 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/13/arts/dance/mary-ellen-moylan-dead.html
  21. Hilary Hahn reached Day 100 for this year's "100 Days of Practice" - this is her 4th year of 100 Days of Practice, but this time it is coming after a year long sabbatical. The 100 Days of Practice involves publicly sharing her thoughts on learning and re-learning many aspects of playing violin. Warts and all. She began with basic left-hand fingering exercises and no bowing: "I started today’s practice with this classic etude sequence, Urstudien. It seems easy, like I’m just tapping the strings to warm up, but it’s so hard to hold the proper position and articulate each muscle motion properly." https://www.instagram.com/p/CJgWjSajrbQ/ And now ends with a Dvořák piece (which I believe she will be performing in Paris before long): https://www.instagram.com/p/CNfwfh1AhLM/ "...This time around, I had a unique goal: to build back to touring shape from a starting point that was far from it. I didn’t know if I would travel anywhere within these 100 days, especially as concerts continued to evaporate. (Not complaining! We need to protect our communities’ health!) There’s something I didn’t mention at the beginning, because I didn’t want it to be analyzed without context or put pressure on my practice experience. But I’ll tell you now, because it’ll be illuminating in retrospect. Between September 2019 and December 2020, I took a total of a year off from practicing. Didn’t touch the violin, for lots of different reasons, all of them valid. At 41, I’ve spent enough years practicing thousands of hours per year that playing the violin is sort of like riding a bike. On the flip side, I’ve taken enough time away from the violin during planned and unplanned breaks, with therapeutic supervision during my rebuilding phases, that I know exactly how to restart without injuring myself. I don’t advise taking long periods of time away from the instrument without a very good reason and a solid plan for returning; it’s really risky..."
  22. Back to the Stage Ball | Thursday, May 13 Virtual or In-Person Experiences "Join Celebrity Host Lisa Rayam, Emmy Award-Winning Host and Senior Producer for NPR's Morning Edition on WABE 90.1 FM and Ballet Ball Co-Chairs Vanessa Delmer, Araya Mesfin, Taylor Meyer and Doug Weiss for an unforgettable evening. Atlanta Ballet's Back to the Stage Ball: A Global Affair will raise critical funds providing relief and recovery from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Patrons, ballet families and fans will experience extraordinary video performances, human-interest stories of dancers, and a mobile auction highlighting travel, attractions, entertainment, food and wine." https://www.eventbrite.com/e/back-to-the-stage-ball-tickets-150109301963?ct=t(04.12.21_ADV_BTTS+Ball_Invite1)
  23. Another crazy photo from Maria Kochetkova - both terrifying and funny: "Caption this... yes, that’s me about to ouch. First entrance of Don Quixote not even a minute on stage, but 3 more hours to go after that fall..." https://www.instagram.com/p/CNhoDGwrBXP/ The still image is hard to decipher - need some video to explain how things went completely fakakta.
  24. Getting back on topic... NYCB - When We Fell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8A9xFs31rg A visually arresting work. The look is kind of mid-century modern in greyscale. I like it as an art film. The "balcony" viewpoint camera position is initially effective in this particular piece, but I never recommend sticking with that for too long. Front camera and occasional side views are added as dancers are added (Claire Kretzschmar is joined first by Taylor Stanley, and then perhaps Jonathan Fahoury?). But that doesn't last long. The angled overhead viewpoint returns, and gets to be tiring, imo. But that viewpoint does give me the impression I'm looking down at sculptures on a museum floor. In the 2nd section of the ballet the camera view switches to a more standard front positioning - although the camera is now looking up slightly at the dancers - as well as an overhead positioning. In the 3rd section (a PDD with Lauren Lovette and Stanley) we get a simple lighting effect and a return to the front position camera. Here the overhead spot creates long shadows from the dancers bodies and that too reminds me of sculptures displayed in a museum. I need to rewatch this piece to have something to say about the choreography. I was neither thrilled nor bothered by what I saw - it may well grow on me. I did like the initial section of the choreography - the slow, deliberate movements. Everything very pensive. Villarnini-Velez's partnering of India Bradley was however, a bit clumsy looking. He just didn't move about her in a grounded, graceful manner. And there was too much effort being shown in the holds. That 'group' section of the piece was rougher looking in general than other sections, and simply felt under-rehearsed.
  25. Before I forget... The first two pieces were not my cup of tea, so I feel like I shouldn't say too much about those, but... Donald Byrd’s And the sky is not cloudy all day just wasn't appealing to me in terms of choreography, thematics, costumes and stagings. Some of the music choices were fine but I wasn't consistently interested in the choices or arrangements. The dancers looked to be committed to the project, but de Mille's Rodeo is enough of an evocation of the Old West for me. Byrd: "There is a tension created by what we know happened and this confection. It is my boyhood dream, a boy from the past’s playtime" > The concept is perhaps more interesting than the results. I wasn't particularly moved by the choreography. No more thigh slapping, please. "In these games nobody wanted to be the Indians because we knew the outcome if not the implication. We played the cowboys and we killed the Indians." > Funny thing is, when I was a boy, we all wanted to be the Indians, not the cowboys - and most of the kids in that neighborhood happened to be White. My school (north of Chicago) was much more racially mixed. But the Native Americans were held in more esteem by us kids than some might guess. I was good at drawing and was often asked to do drawings of an Indian for the other boys. Nobody was requesting cowboy pictures. Leah Terada and Miles Pertl were quite mesmerizing in Future Memory. But like perhaps a lot of people, I kept wondering, is this really dance? Or "body crafting"? Body sculpture in motion? Partly the music choices were to blame as they just didn't strike me as dance music, nor was any of the music particularly memorable, for me. The ballet struck me as form fitted for those particular dancers (especially Terada and Perti), but it never seemed to develop emotionally/dramatically and was rather enervating as it went on. Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, on the other hand, was exuberantly performed. And the company showed the necessary levels of stamina(!) for sustained allegro movements. I particularly liked Elizabeth Murphy in this ballet, but it was great to see many excellent dancers again (since retired). It's a shame that the archival video resolution was low - we really needed to be able to see this performance clearly and in great detail. Now the companies have a reason to pay for better quality archival films. 😉
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