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GretchenStar

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Dancer
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    California

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  1. It's a little late to still be talking about The Nutcracker, but I wanted to give props to Berkeley Ballet Theater for the way they organized their streaming Nutcracker. Rather than choose the last year's or a given year's production, they pieced together video from a number of years (per BBT's Youtube account, 30 years' worth!). So in a given scene, you'd see a 32 bars from one year, the next 32 bars from another year, etc. There was text added to the video so you knew which year the clip was from. It was neat to see how the choreography changed over the years depending on the dancers in the production - the Spanish divertissement as an ensemble (5(?) girls and 1 boy), as a trio of girls, as a pair of boys (maybe there were girls in that one too, but not in the clip), and as a pas de deux. I'm sure the students, parents, and alumni enjoyed the compilation. Such a great idea!
  2. I just watched a studio's performance of The Nutcracker on Youtube (a suggested video, since I've watched ballet clips before). It's not a professional production, so I didn't expect NYCB-level dancing, but it was... not good. The dancers' abilities were limited (only a couple of [teen] dancers wore pointe shoes) and there appeared to be no male dancers (the Nutcracker role was performed by a female dancer in pointe shoes; does not turn into a prince). But more than anything, I was super annoyed at the director and/or choreographer for putting together this disaster. How could they in good faith give such awkward choreography that even the most technical dancers would struggle with these sequences? Why didn't they rehearse these pieces over and over again so the dancers knew the choreography forwards and backwards (one girl was on the wrong standing leg when standing in a semi-circle and didn't seem to notice)? Why would one teen dancer think it was acceptable to stop in the middle of Waltz of the Flowers, look around, and then walk off stage like a pedestrian? (it appeared she was just annoyed and gave up; if she was seriously injured, she should at least try to exit the stage in character). I don't know anything about this studio (where it's based) or if the video was recorded this year (maybe this is the result of 9 months worth of Zoom classes). I've ran rehearsals before and know it's difficult to put together a production. But I just feel so sad for the students/dancers. They deserve much better. (I don't know - maybe I'm just too harsh - maybe the director/studio owner themselves doesn't know any better?)
  3. When I saw the articles about the reinstatement, I thought about what it would mean in practical terms. The dancers would be placed back on the roster and they would be paid. It doesn't mean they must get cast (unless there's a stipulation in the contract on casting for principal dancers?), nor will it guarantee a contract for next year. But I feel that it's not the point of AGMA's challenge - it's about what the firing of these two dancers would mean in terms of setting a precedence for possible future cases (and for dancers in other companies as well). I think there were two main discussion points that were brought up in the original thread: 1) Can an employer (NYCB) dictate what their employees do in their non-work hours, even if the alleged activity doesn't take place in the workplace or involve other employees? Looks like the arbitrator is saying "yes, they can". Per NYCB's statement, the arbitrator ruled that NYCB was justified in disciplining Catazaro and Ramasar and that suspension was appropriate. I'm not surprised by this. Depending on state law and collective bargaining agreements (CBA), employers usually have a fair amount of leeway in disciplining their employees (even if the activity has not been litigated in court). 2) Was firing the two dancers an appropriate punishment for this type of alleged activity? I feel the arbitrator is saying "no, the severity of the alleged activity does not meet a threshold for (essentially) an immediate firing". But that doesn't necessarily mean that other types of activity, whether criminal or or not, wouldn't warrant an immediate firing. For example, from what I know about CBAs for clerical unions, employees are supposed to get a verbal warning first; if the activity continues, then a written warning; and lastly termination. But my guess is that there are some activities that could warrant an immediate dismissal. AGMA's challenge of NYCB's firings was only for Catazaro and Ramasar, so we don't know whether the arbitrator would have ruled the same for Finlay.
  4. I don't think someone has to have danced professionally in order to be a good teacher - I know a lot of parents look at qualifications like that, but being a professional dancer doesn't necessarily make you a good teacher and not being a professional dancer doesn't make you a bad teacher. I vaguely remember a story of an Olympic swim coach who didn't know how to swim. He was able to be successful (his students went on to win gold medals) because he understood the mechanics but just couldn't do it himself. Thinking back on my ballet training, I think most (if not all) of the teachers I've trained with all started ballet when they were young (of varying ages). None of them started ballet lessons as adults. I'm not saying that an adult learner *couldn't* become a teacher and even be a great teacher - I just imagine it's quite rare? I skimmed through the video with the sound off - was there a reason given for such shallow plies before the pirouettes? And wouldn't such an open fourth position require more effort to push onto the standing leg (compared to a closed fourth)? I wonder what her past teachers/coaches (e.g. the ones who trained her from age 13 up to when she joined ABT Studio Company) would say if they saw these videos. I imagine this new method of training is quite different from the way they train, but maybe that's the point.
  5. The performances at the RDA National Festival (in Phoenix this week) is being livestreamed: http://www.rdanationalfestival.com/live-stream-page.html Performances start at 7pm Pacific (today through Saturday). About 15-16 companies performing each night. I was a member of an RDA company for many years. This is so cool! The RDA companies should definitely have promoted this on their own Facebook pages - I checked several companies that I know and only 1 mentioned it on their FB page.
  6. I'm disappointed that I missed the PBS broadcast. PBS SoCal (Los Angeles area) opted not to air it until Sunday, Dec 18th at 12pm (I got the time wrong so I missed it). They were supposed to rebroadcast it on Christmas eve at 2pm (on their 2nd channel) - their twitter feed even mentioned it - but later replaced it with a Jessica Simpson holiday special. Not that there's anything wrong with Ms. Simpson but I was looking forward to catching the Nutcracker. I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed by PBS SoCal, considering they did show SFB's The LIttle Mermaid, but it's Christmas, for heaven's sake. Why can't they re-air The Nutcracker? Not to mention, who broadcasts the Nutcracker on tv midday? Who's going to be home to watch it? It's as if PBS SoCal doesn't want anyone to watch.
  7. Without meaning to be mean, do you think what a fashion designer is allegedly to have said while in an inebriated state would affect what fashioniestas wear? As we have seen, a few misplaced evil comments can ruin a person, his reputation, and his work. Luckily, the team--in this case a company--simply terminated him. Words combined with media are powerful. I'm not sure if you're referring to an actual or hypothetical situation (I have no fashion sense whatsoever, so I'm not familiar with the fashion industry), but I think it would largely depend on the situation. I'm going to venture out on a limb and say no - it likely would not affect fashionistas. However, depending on what the comments were (say if they were racist, derogatory, vulgar, politically insensitive, morally outrageous, etc), there may be a little bit of fallout (say if some fashionistas started a boycott or something). What I meant about audience turnout not being affected by one dancer's comment was meant as a comparison to pro athletes and their comments. In sports, the winners are not predetermined. If an athlete alleges that referee Bob is fixing games, what is the point of going to watch Bob call fouls and goaltending when there are none? The situation is different in ballet (and arts). There's no "endpoint", so to speak - you're there to watch the process and the story (or lack of story, as the case may be). Even if dancer Joe alleges that his AD was biased and picks favorites, would that affect the production itself? The only examples I can think of where a dancer's comment may hurt audience turnout would be either a) blatantly offensive comments (like the categories I stated above) or b) dancer states that the production (choreography, music selection, dancing, costumes, whatever) are hideous and that no one should waste his/her time coming to see the ballet.
  8. I'm not sure how I feel about the proposed policy. I don't see the correlation between Albreda's tweets and the proposed policy (ban against comments on other dancers' injuries, etc). Sure, Albreda's tweets may cause some embarrassment for NYCB, but I think your director getting arrested for DWI is probably embarrassing already. It's not that Albreda is making crazy, wild claims on his Twitter feed. I don't have any major problems with the proposed policy - it is somewhat limited in scope, though does the ban still count if one NYCB employee takes a photo of another employee, without his/her permission, but they are both out in public? Or is the ban only limited to NYCB studios/theater and events? And the whole idea of NYCB having the authority to "police" or monitor their employees activities on social media sites just sounds wrong. Sure, the dancers/employees are posting on public (assuming the hypothetical Facebook profiles are not set to private) and it's their choice, but NYCB has the freedom to let people go or not sign them on for the next season (I'm assuming; not too familiar with union contracts). They don't need a policy to theoretically grant them the authority to do so. In pro sports, I believe most of the leagues have certain restrictions regarding comments made by players/coaches/owners. You criticize the refereeing in an NBA game, you get slapped with a $25K fine. However, those situations are somewhat different - if you question a ref, you are questioning the integrity of the game and alluding to cheating. From a business standpoint, the leagues could stand to lose money (why go see a ballgame when the results are already fixed?). For NYCB, is the potential for a decrease in business a real issue? Only in that donors may not donate. I don't think anything an individual dancer posts or says would have a significant influence on whether audience members continuing going to the ballet.
  9. Our director (small regional company) tells us that if the music stops, you continue dancing, but if the lights go out, you stop and take a pose (and just stand there). In our Nutcracker, there are fairies who appear in the beginning of the battle scene (right before the Nutcracker & soldiers appear) and essentially "transform" the living room. Anyway, in our first performance this year (an outreach performance), a lightboard went out during that scene so aside from the spotlight focused on Clara (asleep, downstage center), there were no lights. The music continued playing and so we continued dancing - it wasn't too harrowing, except having to dance/run amongst the other dancers and make sure we didn't run smack into them. Other lights came up as the Nutcracker appeared so the rest of the show was fine - though the audience missed the Christmas tree growing... After the performance, our director told us that she was very pleased with how we handled the situation - and that they (her or the stage crew, though in this particular theater - she doesn't sit in the light booth during the performance) would have stopped the music if they felt it was dangerous without lights.
  10. A bit late to the discussion.... I would find tattoos (particularly those that you can see from a distance) to be distracting. I already get distracted enough! For classics such as Sleeping Beauty or Giselle, they would be totally out of place. Some atheletes cover up their tattoos when competing (I'm thinking of gymnast Blaine Wilson, and soccer star David Beckham). Beckham wears long sleeves to cover up his tattoos (which obviously would not be an option for dancers - unless sleeves were part of the costume) and I think Wilson used skin-colored tape over his tattoo on his ankle (maybe a bandage or something like that). But I think for a dancer, it would be much more difficult to cover it up... (not to mention that whatever method used would have to be so seamless as to not draw even more attention to the tattoo/cover up).
  11. Just in case anyone is interested - Paris Opera Ballet's Jewels will be airing on Monday, August 28th (check your local listings for times). They finally set a date - I've been waiting for this since spring!
  12. I haven't been to many professional performances either. For our performances (and other regional ballet companies' performances), the audience does usually start to clap during a series of turns or similar "exciting" steps. Like if a girl is doing 32 fouettes (turns), they will start to clap after maybe 8 of them. The problem them becomes this- do you (as an audience member) continue to clap for the rest of the fouettes or do you stop and then clap again at the end or what? As the person usually doing fouette turns on stage, I have to say that I've gotten so accustomed to the audience clapping that if they don't start to clap, my mind starts to wander and I wonder why they are not clapping. I know, not very concentrated on my part, but the dancers do notice. I've had one teacher (accomplished choreographer) who told the audience (it was a student performance, somewhat casual) that it was unprofessional to clap for fouette turns... but I think the general public does applaud when they see something exciting, whether it be something difficult like fouette turns or multiple pirouettes, or something relatively simple like chaine turns.
  13. In So Cal, it will be on Channel 58 (KLCS) at 9pm on Monday (Dec. 22). I've programmed my vcr to record it since I will be at ballet. Can't wait to see it, though. If you go onto www.pbs.org, you can do a search to see if your local station is airing Sugar Plum Dreams. And don't forget, KCET (Channel 28) in Los Angeles will be airing the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker on Wed.
  14. Funny, I was just thinking about this topic. We had a show yesterday, and one of the former dancers (mid-teens) was in the audience. Okay, she's known for being loud and likes shocking people. But anyways, the audience was getting into the performance, cheering while applauding, etc. In the beginning of Waltz of Flowers, after the harp part, she yells out. Like "yeah!" or something. She did it again once during the dancing (I think). I talked to a friend who saw the show yesterday and she said that someone told the girl to stop that. Good. How annoying.
  15. This sounds pretty sad, although I have to say- I was pretty skeptical reading about this. I saw a link to a website for a documentary on the company and then went to the ASB website and read the "Letter from the Artists". Would seem like a scam to me (to drum up support and money), but considering people actually relocated to be a part of the company... I guess that would be too "Hollywood-ish".
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