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Everything posted by Phrenchphry11

  1. Jumping in to say I finished the book and really liked it - I do think some of the coarseness of the language isn't for everyone, but I like that overall she clearly reveres ballet as an artform and takes a pretty realistic and nuanced approach to ballet in the 21st century. I liked how honest Gina was that ballet is a physical/visual art - so to some degree there will always be pressure to look a certain way - but I liked the nuanced point she made that more often than not the pressure to be stick thin is tied to artistic directors wielding power over young dancers. The book was pretty short, I got through it in maybe 2-3 days. Perhaps this would have taken the book too far into the gossip territory, but Gina kept alluding to the tumult immediately after Peter Martins left. I wished she had dug in more there, and I wanted more around how they picked the new leadership team, what has changed in NYCB since (if anything!), and what the future holds for NYCB. We got very little insight into the post-Martins era. I also wished she spent more time reflecting on her time on Broadway. I think those bits were the most interesting, since I know so little about the Broadway world! I can very much see why many NYCB dancers end up doing Broadway stints, as it seems like a much healthier atmosphere! If I had a bone to pick, I'm surprised she tired so much of dancing Nutcracker (and repeatedly called out how devoid it is of artistic expression compared to, say, The Cage) yet didn't seem to have the same issues performing on Broadway. I assume part of it is the easier pace on Broadway with ample understudies, etc, but I'd love to know more.
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/29/arts/dance/mitchell-button-dusty-button-abuse.html Hopefully this story isn't too off topic, but it seems relevant due to some of the Diversity & Inclusion discussions and #MeToo discussions happening in other threads. A few years ago I used to follow Dusty Button on Instagram, and even before that, I remembered seeing a nice profile on her on the news about her joining the Royal Ballet School, and I was inspired by her and felt she had quite a bit of talent. (I've never seen her perform live) Well, fast forward a few years later after she abruptly left BB, I started getting some odd vibes from her - particularly an interview about her philosophy around coaching and how she didn't mind being "harsh" on students. Well, fast forward to today, the story really makes me feel sick to my stomach. Never would I have imagined she'd be implicated in sexual abuse while at BB (and the allegations against her husband are even less savory - I won't list them here). I feel heartened by Boston Ballet's emphatic response. I hope these responses will usher us towards a new era where sexual assault and misogyny is taken more seriously in professional companies. I fear stories like this are only the tip of the iceberg.
  3. Wow, I did not know of the existence of this SF Ballet 2021 instagram page - I don't have an actual instagram account so I can't actually view who follows/likes the posts. However, I feel shocked, yet not surprised. Reading about the Lopes Gomes racism case in Germany (among other allegations of racism elsewhere), I'm not surprised dancers at SFB also feel the racism and discrimination - nothing about SFB seems all that different or unique from other major global companies. So I'd only expect that dancers in SFB feel a lack of representation in casting decisions, hiring, how big donors are sought, and types of choreography commissions, as dancers evidently do elsewhere. I can't help but feel a little bit skeptical about this posting: https://www.instagram.com/p/CK95tP1gZmv/ The group demands that 3 out of the top 5 AD candidates identify as black or indigenous people of color. The other AD thread has a list going of likely SFB candidates, and very very few of them are people of color. I think the best we can hope for (realistically) is a strong ally who will fight for representation and diverse choreography commissions. But that may be defeatist of me.
  4. What a real shame. Selfishly (because I'm based out of SF) I would have loved for her to have joined SFB. Echoing what others are saying about short dancers at SFB - with Maria Kochetkova and later Wona Park and others - I think Sarah Lane would have had a much clearer path forward as a short dancer in the company. I worry that Sarah has somewhat missed the window of being able to join a new company as a principal. Especially in this (almost) post-COVID world, ballet budgets are probably already stretched thin.
  5. I'm honestly just thrilled to see a new season lined up! Eagerly awaiting when I can return back to the opera house. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this season - it maybe seems a little less bold/risky than I would have expected coming out of a pandemic, but yet, I think it makes sense to go back to some of the more "bread and butter" ballets to draw audiences back. Don Q is so much fun and gives dancers lots of opportunity (both in dancing and acting) and I think SFB has a good roster of dancers extremely capable of excelling in Swan Lake. It seems like no Danielle Rowe work this season? I was really looking forward to seeing more from her.
  6. Ha, well there's no "quota" per se, we just have to interview at least one diverse candidate for any role. So we could still continue to hire straight/white/etc candidate over the so-called "diverse" candidate, it's more about exposure to a broader pool of candidates. It's taken from an NFL hiring policy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooney_Rule
  7. I appreciate you making this thread, @pherank. It's good food for thought. I do wonder if there are ways I could make a better impact on pushing for diversity - unfortunately I'm nowhere near the financial position needed to make an impact on hiring one diverse dancer, let alone anything more impactful than that! I do hope that hiring decisions to replace Tomasson are done with thought as to the future of ballet and diversity and inclusion. Agree hiring MacKay was a missed opportunity, despite the videos I've seen of him that show a very talented dancer. Slightly off topic, but after reading the Liam Scarlett thread and thinking about culture, diversity, respect, etc in the ballet world - it's clear to me it's all so complicated and ballet is fundamentally not a progressive artform (at least not in its current state). But who's to say that can't change! I think it'll take lots of work and lots of time to see real fundamental change. However, it would be heartening to see large-donor-level interest in making an impact when it comes to diverse hiring. You know, it's interesting you bring that up - at my current place of work we've instituted the "Rooney Rule" where we have to interview at least one minority candidate for every role we have open. I wonder if that's something that can be done in the ballet world.
  8. Just wanted to say thank you so much @Drew for what you wrote - it resonated with me. I'm truly heartbroken to hear of Scarlett's passing. So many of his works resonated with me, not the least of which was Frankenstein. I really hope there is a path forward for us to be able to continue to watch and appreciate his works. I do think Ratmansky somewhat misses the point about "cancel culture" - in our current society, nobody has the right to employment, and there should be consequences for bad behavior at work. However, reflecting on a lot of the current toxicity in the ballet world, I wonder if there was a way for Royal Ballet mentors and staff to intervene sooner when it came to Scarlett - I don't think Scarlett's actions happened in a vacuum. Banishing him from all of ballet simply isn't a path forward. Rooting out bad behavior on a case-by-case basis (especially in such a complex, not especially progressive culture as is in the ballet world) just simply won't work long-term - there absolutely need to be systemic changes.
  9. Wow, I'm so happy for her! I remember a few months back she linked to a podcast she gave about struggling with infertility. It was so heartbreaking to hear how she really felt she gave up so much to dance, so I'm glad she was able to get pregnant after what seemed like many many ups and downs.
  10. Wow, no more Frantziskonis? I'm really surprised, she seemed to be doing so well at SFB lately. Any idea of where she's going? Jimison got promoted really quickly, but she was fantastic in Colorforms (as was the whole cast, really! Everything about that piece was executed perfectly, imo!). In some ways, I'm a bit relieved - less attrition than I was fearing, I was worried Covid would cause a lot of dancers to rethink their careers and living situations.
  11. Wow, I'll really miss seeing her onstage. Though, given how candid she was about reconsidering her relationship to ballet in her Megan Fairchild interview, I can't say I'm too surprised. That NYT article is fascinating, though! I feel heartened that Lovette sees her role as a full-time choreographer as an opportunity to improve some body image issues in the ballet world. Here's the Fairchild interview for those who have not watched:
  12. WOW those are incredible!!! "Price on request"... that can't be a good sign.
  13. Oh! And another thought - it's stuck me that Madison Keesler is being groomed for something post-dancing. She's got charisma and poise, and she seems able to interface well with donors and patrons. She's still young and has quite a few years ahead of her in her dance career, but I could see her taking on some other role within SFB when she's done dancing.
  14. Oooh I like this. Honestly when the announcement was made, Sofiane Sylve was the first person who came to my mind. Both because she seems interested in teaching younger students (which would mesh well with the "school to company" approach) and because she's got experience coaching older dancers and seems to have good relationships with various choreographers around the world (and could presumably commission some of their works). Millepied and Sofranko are both interesting ideas I hadn't considered! I have often wondered about YYT's goals post-ballerina career! For whatever reason she's never stuck me as being interested in the administrative side, but I wonder what would happen if SFB followed the NYCB lead and had a "team" rather than an individual leading the company. YYT does seem to maintain good relationships with many prominent choreographers out there. Another few names I've thought of (particularly with the "team" approach) are Danielle Rowe and Cathy Marston. They've been doing lots of work on SFB dancers lately and seem to get on well with the company.
  15. Did anyone get to watch the "Select" gala? I just did! A few thoughts: - Madison Keesler makes a great host! She's got a great speaking voice and lots of poise. Makes me wonder if she'll pursue anything with that in the future! - The curtain calls without applause made me sort of sad. A reminder there's no live audience. - What were the costumes in Harmony?! They looked like corseted pajamas!!!! Costuming aside, I liked the piece. It seems I haven't seen much of Natasha Sheehan the past few seasons, so I was glad I got to see her here. I remember Helgi mentioning he felt she had tons of promise. Julia Rowe had a solo that stuck out to me with some nice footwork. - Mrs. Robinson was my favorite of the pieces! The filmography with the SF skyline in the background was magnificent. Walsh and Van Patten are amazing actors. All around it was a lot of fun! Will definitely rewatch. - Didn't know much about MacKay before joining, but he looked great in Don Q - I saw some footage of him performing the same pas de deux with Christine Schevchenko a little while back, but unfortunately the stage they were on there seemed a bit cramped and didn't really do his dancing justice. He looked like he took a lot more risks with his jumps and turns in this SFB recording of it! IMO Fogo looked a little bit tense/stiff in the upper body. Wonder if it was nerves? She's got lovely feet and legs though, it seems nice to have a taller dancer in the principal roster now!
  16. Just got the email! Wow, I'm surprised! But then I realized he's been with the company ~40 years... he's certainly earned a well deserved rest! The Datebook article mentions he has family in Europe. I already find myself speculating on who will take over 😉 Seems like diversity is a big topic, so I'm glad it already sounds like they're focusing their search around that. I'm purely an outsider, but I will really miss Helgi. He brought in some fantastic choreographers, the Unbound festival was a huge achievement... these will be big shoes to fill.
  17. Thanks for sharing! (and unrelated, but I was very glad to see Sarah Lane dancing!) I will admit I was originally a bit surprised about hiring McKay, but now I think it'll be great to have someone with his Russian training and experience doing these big classics. I looked a bit more into Live Arts Global - looks like McKay's brother is involved in the filming and production? Would be neat to see more of these online gala type things during the pandemic!
  18. Loved the Merrill Ashley interview! She's so candid. Some interesting insights: - She was so open about her interactions with Peter Martins. In particular, it was interesting hearing about Martins' opposition to individualized coaching... curious for more about that. In particular, it seems like a good number of apprentices wash out, and Ashley seems to have pushed for a company with more individualized mentorship/coaching that never came to fruition. Wonder why. - Merrill Ashley had some *extremely* candid remarks about her experience with the Bolshoi. Interesting that she said the highlight of her career was staging Diamonds on Olga Smirnova. Also, she confirms all the rumors about the directors and coaches being abusive to the corps members. The story about the director yelling at the dancer for rehearsing in her flat shoes was particularly illuminating. She comes across as so well-spoken and thoughtful. Was definitely one of my favorite interviews Megan Fairchild has done!
  19. Yeah - I do agree that just because she's been on multiple magazine covers, tv shows, etc, doesn't mean any of that will translate into her being a great dancer. She probably could have done without those references in the video. I think it diminished from her main story around the problematic behaviors of MCB promising her roles early on and not living up to those promises. Unfortunately, having a loud social media and PR presence does seem to come with the territory of being a successful ballerina nowadays. I do appreciate that Morgan uses hers in ways that seem more "real" than what some other dancers tend to sell on their social media platforms and various magazine interviews.
  20. Wow. Nothing new to add, but just echoing that nothing about Kathryn Morgan when they hired her was an unknown quantity - she's been extremely open for years about having struggled with her weight nearly her entire professional dance career. Furthermore, Morgan's always been outspoken on social media about her past dance experiences, struggles with casting, partners, working at NYCB, etc. She's not stick thin, and she's got a huge social media following - why even hire her in the first place? It reflects extremely badly on MCB. Hoping Morgan finds something better. She deserves it, and even though she doesn't really fit the current stick thin ballerina mold, she really does have a special, intangible quality to her dancing, so I hope her career can continue.
  21. Wow, sad but maybe not surprising. It seems like it got a bit toxic at the end for her, with the Firebird casting, among other things. Has she mentioned anything about finding a new company? Nevertheless, regardless of what happens with her performing career, it does seem like she's sort of evolved her social media platforms to speak out about cultural issues in the dance world, I hope there's a bright future for her around activism for the physical and mental health of ballet dancers. This is a bit of an older video, forgive me, but I thought this video was really thought provoking:
  22. This was great! Felt so much San Francisco nostalgia, just missing out on all these beautiful locations while in my apartment. Loved Walsh's segment - presumably that was Peck's choreography, and it looked great! The filming in the fog was really enchanting for Hummel and Deivison-Oliveira's scene. The wind in Chung's scene was so great. I think my favorite bit of cinematography was the PFA. All of it was very well done. Definitely a great watch!
  23. A few weeks old now: Nederlands Dans Theater in a work choreographed specifically to be distanced.
  24. I've only been able to watch the first 20 minutes so far, but what a treat! Stars and Stripes is so much fun!
  25. Agree with you 100% Pherank! And, I've always enjoyed that SFB has had a few Russian dancers on the roster. Kochetkova was one of SFB's most versatile dancers, and with her Bolshoi foundation, I think she really did push SFB to a very high level. Same to be said for many other Russian-trained dancers at SFB. Yeah - probably there's a bit of unfortunate timing here, too. I know this hiring didn't happen overnight. Had this been announced a few months ago I'm not sure we'd be having this discussion. I do feel heartened that SFB hired Fogo (and I know they didn't hire her purely for diversity reasons, she's an EXTREMELY capable dancer, with experience in the classics, Balanchine, and modern stuff). I do just worry that ballet as an artform will get left behind in the US, and especially in a more progressive/activist city like SF. The longer we see stages and opera houses without black dancers, the more we'll alienate modern audiences, I fear. Misty Copeland has done a lot to shift the conversation about race in ballet, but this happened years ago, not months or weeks ago. Not to mention Kathryn Morgan's YouTube clips about body type and costumes in dance (but that's probably a separate discussion). Perhaps you know better than I, pherank! Where are these discussions/comments allowed? I suppose there is nothing from stopping me reaching out to the company directly
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