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ltraiger

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  1. Kelly Tweeddale, SF Ballet's ED, stepped down today: https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/dance/kelly-tweeddale-steps-down-from-top-spot-at-san-francisco-ballet
  2. Yup. That says nothing. And this rising arts and cultural class idea is something we're seeing in many mind-sized cities around the country willing to invest a bit in some forward-thinking planning to attract new, younger residents to downtowns. If TWB can't find a niche and differentiate itself, the future doesn't bode well. As for its school, there are plenty of find ballet studios and academies throughout the DC metro area. The main attraction parents have to the School of The Washington Ballet is to see their little ones dance in the lavish "Nutcracker" at the Warner Theatre.
  3. A few points to add to the many already contributed to this discussion: 1. The Washington Ballet is a separate institution from the Kennedy Center and when it performs there it is a rental. Thus, the Ken Cen has neither a relationship nor a reason to place Washington Ballet programming on its Ballet Series subscription. And, placing a regional caliber company adjacent to the major companies that have come through in recent decades will only show TWB in a poor light. 2. I would attribute the more lackluster Ken Cen ballet programming not to the departure of Suzanne Farrell (I'm not certain how much input she actually had in booking seasons, if any at all), but to the departure of Michael Kaiser. Kaiser was a ballet and dance lover, and as CEO or executive director or president or whatever his title was, he demonstrated his commitment to dance in the growth of very interesting programming, including a decade-long contract with the Mariinsky Ballet and a brokered deal with the orchestra union to get NYCB to town regularly, now yearly. Kaiser was the turnaround kind who righted ABT's, Ailey's and Kansas City Ballet's finances in the '90s. The new artistic leader of the Ken Cen comes from the orchestra world and, as a populist, wants to make the center appeal to younger audiences with programming like Ben Folds, a skateboard part on the plaza, morning dance and yoga parties and the like. Dance isn't really in her purview, let alone ballet. 3. While becoming a repository for Tudor works sounds interesting, it would be a huge shift from the Webre years. Like it or not, Webre was a populist and a showman. By dint of his personal charisma and his ballet spectacles he attracted audiences that would never set foot in ballet under other circumstances. For one program he had a mariachi band rise from the orchestra pit and play, then they came out and played at intermission. For his "Gatsby" ballet, there was a jazz band and a local female jazz singer who crooned, and was joined by a tap dancer. He also did respectable versions of "Romeo and Juliet," "Giselle" and the highly publicized Misty Copeland/Brooklyn Mack "Swan Lake," which for a company of that size was a major challenge. They pulled it off and the company performed well. 4. Much has been said about the financial arrangements for Kent and her family, so I'll leave it at that and note that I'm disgusted. 5. Mary Day left a wonderful legacy company. It was chamber-sized and didn't need to perform the warhorse classics. She discovered and nurtured Choo San Goh, who gave the company a wonderful signature and stature with contemporary, clean choreography that was performed with elan. She also tried other choreographers as well, including the late (DC based) Eric Hampton, Lynn Cote, Kevin McKenzie before his ABT days, etc. And I'm sure I'm forgetting many. She was proud about finding and supporting new choreographic voices for her company. Kent has ignored that legacy, perhaps under the direction of the board. We don't need what I've called from the start of her tenure "ABT South," and her buddy system of hiring friends/choreographers from her ABT days. (I'm thinking of Ethan Stiefel and that awful space program ballet that must have cost a $100,000 or more and should have never seen the light of day. It was simply an embarrassment, again from a neophyte choreographer who hadn't had a chance to fail elsewhere in a smaller, less public venue.) 6. Here's what I wrote on my own FB page in response to a similar discussion: "Well, the audiences simply aren't coming so Kent has to find a way to draw them in. I'm not sure ABT-south is enough in a market where we see the canon of great ballets year after year from some of the world's greatest companies, including, of course, ABT along with Mariinsky, City Ballet, and more. Mary Day gave the company a unique voice and look with the discovery and nurturing of Choo San Goh. It was a chamber-sized company and didn't need to do the big story ballets. Septime Webre took the company in a new direction by envisioning a new repertory of "American story ballets" -- Hemingway, Fitzgerald, even Washington Irving. The other thing he did, earlier in his tenure, was seek out city institutions, working with local artists and musicians -- I'm remembering Sweet Honey in the Rock as one example. He made the company feel like the hometown team. Does Washington need a home town ballet company? I hope so, but Kent needs to make a case for it and differentiate it from what we can get at the Kennedy Center. It's great to see guest artists, but I'm not going to "root" for Marcelo Gomes (and his unsavory past), as much as I would for Brooklyn Mack, and the many dancers who make their homes here. Is it great that the company is dancing better? Of course, but it's not enough to fill those houses, especially at the Opera House ("Romeo & Juliet"). The number of empty at the season opener this month were shocking. And I heard tickets were given away. Yes, better to fill the house, but that's not way to run a ballet company. I think Kent has not exhibited the vision needed to make the company viable in a tight ballet market." 7. I hope the board and Kent take a hard look at what they have wrought and don't drive this company into the ground. It would be a great shame and a huge loss. Mary Day was never a great dancer, but she was a great teacher and a visionary in crafting a ballet company that fit and fulfilled the needs and wants of its hometown audience.
  4. Sharing an excerpt from an interview Frederic Franklin did with dance critic and writer Mindy Aloff in 2008 on behalf of Dance/USA. Franklin received Dance/USA's top honor that year. http://www.danceusa.org/ejournal/post.cfm?entry=remembering-frederic-franklin-dance-usa-honor-recipient
  5. Yes, of course, but don't say that Paul McCartney was meant to attract a younger crowd. That's just silly. Plenty of regional companies around the country have a far younger footprint and reach 20-, 30- and 40-something audiences using more contemporary music including the likes of Beck, Outkast, The Shins, etc. I won't vouch for the quality or staying-power of the choreography, but the intention is clear.
  6. I was surprised that they allowed Stahl to do the report, as she is a former ballet board member. Additionally, this seemed to sit in the can for a year. The McCartney ballet premiered in the fall of 2011. And I believe Fairchild made his Apollo debut also in early fall 2011. I find Martins' decision to invite Paul McCartney to compose his ballet to attract new, young audiences questionable at best. Young under-30, or even under-40, audiences are not seeking out music from a geezer like the ex-Beatle. That ballet is aimed at aging baby boomers, who are now reaching social security age. I will finally note that the ballet and dance audiences I experience (granted not in New York) are considerably younger than the classical music audiences. I don't think aging audiences are the ballet's biggest problem -- at least not in the Washington, D.C. area where I'm seeing many young professionals and young families making up the ballet crowd.
  7. Thanks, RG. That is the version I have, taped from TV w/ an old VCR in the distant past. It is now quite degraded after many years on the shelf and many years of use. I wish these materials could become available somehow for educational purposes.
  8. Again, in transferring my (made from TV) videotapes onto DVD, I'm finding some that are too degraded to make the switch. I'm looking for a complete version of "Serenade" to use in a college-level classroom setting. I know there are excerpts on the "Balanchine" documentary, but I like to show students more. What about the "Bringing Back Balanchine" release from last year? How complete is "Serenade" on that? Does anyone know? Or is there another company that has been recorded doing "Serenade"? With thanks.
  9. Over the years there have been a very elite few who have earned their livings solely as dance critics. Aside from the well-known writers in New York who worked for the Times, the NY Post, and those at the Washington Post, the SF Chron and perhaps a few other publications, most dance critics hold or held other jobs or covered other beats like music, fashion or theater, alongside dance. As for how one 'learns' to become a dance critic, aside from practice and the same 10-plus years of dance-going that it takes to make a dancer, there is an organization, the Dance Critics Association, based in New York, that offers yearly conferences, a newsletter and opportunities to connect with other dance writers around the country. Presently, a number of former or freelance dance writers teach dance writing and criticism at workshops and on college and university campuses. From anecdotal knowledge, I believe that most of these critics are not full-tenured faculty, but adjunct (or freelance) teaching on an as-needed basis. Currently, I believe there may be three dance critics in the United States who make their livelihood entirely from dance criticism. This is neither a growing nor a lucrative field in light of the dearth of healthy print publications. Here is a link to a survey the Dance Critics Association conducted of its membership in 2006. Keep in mind that four years later the picture is grimmer in light of additional newspaper closings and layoffs, magazine consolidations, and far fewer paid opportunities for dance writers: http://dancecritics.org/surveyresults.html
  10. You're right, Mel. But the red v. blue plaids in the POB version are so dominant it makes the whole first act feel like Sharks v. Jets. Thanks again for all the helpful comments. I will be using the Amazon link above to order the RDB version.
  11. Juliet, sounds lovely, but in the teaching environment I'm working in, I must use commercially available materials. I've run into trouble with my own recorded-off-PBS, homemade, etc., tapes and DVDs not playing on the new equipment and the technology department won't support teachers who use non-commercial materials. I did have to teach "La Sylphide" today using the Paris Opera Ballet recording and I was pleased at my students' very astute questions about why James and Effie danced together, why he could touch her, why was Effie already dressed in James' tartan, etc. I explained that in the Bournonville versions, those are no-no's is putting Effie and her entourage in pointe shoes, which, for me, ruins the entire ballet. I did find a clip or two on YouTube that I could show them with the women in character shoes. Marcmomus, thanks. I'll look into the RDB recording. I put the question out there because I was so disappointed in the POB version after I bought it. While it's beautiful to watch (love the flying in act ii), it didn't serve my instructional purposes. I just hate to buy something only to find that it's not right, especially since I'm not getting reimbursed from my department.
  12. Does anyone know of a commercially available version of "La Sylphide" where the dancers in the first act wear heels or character shoes instead of slippers? The one I had been using, Peter Martins' staging for the PA Ballet, is no longer usuable (my old tape won't play on new equipment). I liked it so much because it clearly shows the contrast between the heels of Effie and the wedding guests and the pointe work of Sylphs. That's what I'm looking for. I purchased the Paris Opera Ballet version, but the act one dancers are in slippers. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  13. I caught the end of an NPR interview with Bill T. Jones on NPR yesterday afternoon. He was speaking about "Fela," his new Broadway show about the life of Fela Kuti.
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