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Simon G

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Everything posted by Simon G

  1. You ask many questions for which there are no answers except if you were to ask the people directly involved and it's highly unlikely they'd spill the beans especially to a total stranger. No one knows the specifics and anything else is just rumour and conjecture. I only mentioned the question of sex as you brought up the issue of sexual harassment and I don't quite get what you meant by attorneys for ballet, why would an attorney practice slander? Most dancers aren't established, rich enough to hire personal attorneys, indeed why would they and if there's one thing guaranteed to ensure someone never works again in the arts it's to be perceived as a whistle blower or whinger. AS to the question of lacking backbone, it's endemic within the arts, I work in television in the UK and atrocious,immature vindictive behaviour is sadly par for the course. The arts are capricious and sadly some people just hate other people's guts, when it becomes dangerous is when the person who hates wields power. There have been cases when dancers are blacklisted universally but that's more to do with their behaviour than far reaching power of a single individual blighting them wherever they go.
  2. A director is absolute authority and power within his or her company. All they have to do is not cast, promote and totally ignore a dancer and that's it, sometimes it's a passive aggressive means of telling dancers to leave and find another company, it's not fair but that's the way it goes. Batalov peaked at first soloist level having spent much of his career not performing at all under Vaziev at the Mariinsky, that's some fifteen years, at the Paris Opera Ballet Lefevre has been frigid to the point of arctic towards Emmanuel Thibault who is now premier danseur but has not had the opportunities which he's sought elsewhere. When new ADs come in it's pretty normal for them to freeze certain dancers out and other times when they grow bored of a dancer they freeze them out of the rep. It's just the way the world goes, but if you look at Batalov you can see he was pretty phenomenal, he just didn't have a phenomenal career, there's no doubt he could have found a company which would have fully appreciated his talents, especially after glasnost when Russians could move around as they wished, but for whatever reasons he stuck it out in St Petersburg. Sex stuff happens a lot less than you'd think, it's not all Black Swan. The most infamous case in recent history was Ross Stretton at the Royal who lasted a year as AD, he was sacked and a great deal of the rumours centered around inappropriate relations with ballerinas he fancied.
  3. Batalov was pretty phenomenal, he's kind of the Emmanuel Thibault of Russian ballet, an incredible talent hamstrung by a vindictive, incompetent director, but given that Vaziev is the man behind the inexorable rise of Somova it's unsurprising if depressing that such a talent as Batalov suffered under his direction. You do wonder why Batalov didn't just take himself to another company where his talents would have been fully utilised and appreciated.
  4. The biggest difference is that BRB is a company where everyone gets to perform regardless of rank, artists and first artists are often cast in soloist and even principal roles and Bintley is keen to foster a fairer schedule and apportioning of parts. In the RB the artist/first artist rank is a graveyard for talent with people languishing there their entire careers. Also Bintley actively promotes and nurtures homegrown talent, people enter the company with a shot of rising through the ranks whereas the state of the Principal and first soloist levels at the RB is well known, the company has a seeming antipathy towards promotion, prefering to get in foreign dancers and guests - the saddest thing is that the lower ranks is teeming with talent that just stays there - that must be dreadful for morale. Also of course BRB is half the size so people actually have to all be together and get to know one another in a company of 100+ where principals and first soloists aren't obligated to take company class and just go to principal classes it's hard to nurture any camraderie and it shows, the corps just stand around looking very disaffected often.
  5. Can I just say that when it comes to Bintley I do think some of his one act ballets are beautiful, Dance House, Flowers of the Forest, Spirit of Fugue are lovely, it's the three acters that I don't enjoy, but he is extremely clever in the way he has created a rep around thee act ballets that sell and that's the thing he's made a company that really works, gives ample opportunities to perform to all members of the company and best of all he really venerates Ashton and gives him pride of place in the BRB rep, giving his works far more love, care and attention than he gets at the main company. I also think he's brilliant at giving dancers space to grow and reveal their talents. For instance Tyrone Singleton who was on fast track for promotion to First Soloist then principal had his progress stalled by a pretty bad injury a couple of years ago, but he returned to the company and was given space to get back into dance shape and has just been promoted to First soloist, compare this to Ludovic Ondiviela at the main company who was in a similar position fastracked for promotion to soloist from first artist, Ondiviela had a massive achilles tendon injury which stopped his promotion, returned to the company and has now seemingly been forgotten at first artist level, having been passed over several times. This is why I really wonder if Campbell will regret his move to the main company, external hires to soloist rarely work out well under Mason. However several dancers such as Jamie Bond spent a couple of years doing nothing at the main company before moving to BRB and rapidly progressed - Bond is now a principal, had he stayed at the main company he'd very likely still be an artist or first artist, likewise the new principal Thomas Caley had he joined the main company would probably be languishing in the lower ranks. That's another thing I've noticed about BRB, and this is my reading and could well be wrong, but Bintley seems to have created a very happy company where dancers feel truly valued and there's a homogeny of style and company cohesion often missing from Covent Garden where it seems most of the RB trained dancers are there merely to prop up scenery while the imported stars and favoured few get anything remotely meaty.
  6. Hey Leigh, I remember you saying that you'd seen him in the Black & White programme and not really noticed him, it's in the three acters that he comes alive and you really see what he's made of, especially technically, also he's really established a partnership with the veteran 40 year old Daria Klimentova and together they can be pretty sensational. It's a pity you haven't seen him in full stride, but yes within the classical rep he is exceptional. He's stated that he feels ill at ease within contemporary work and it does show, though the contemporary rep within ENB is limited at best, especially as having been hamstrung by the Arts Council they just can't afford to stage much. BRB have a great deal more money and are indeed a great deal more polished but the big onus of their rep is within the Bintley narrative works which make up the lion's share of their programming - which is of course a financial decision, those works by Bintely sell, he's a very clever man whose tailored a rep for the places they tour and perform in. BRB are a very pretty company, well trained, some very nice dancers, ENB however has some sensational dancers who sadly for the most part are performing sub standard works. Muntagirov is a very shy person and I think that comes across when he's feeling ill at ease or uncomfortable, certainly he's spoken about how his reticence and shyness has held him back in the past, especially in social situations but he is an exceptional talent with incredible potential. He is really all that or at the very least has the potential to be all that.
  7. I actually think too that Birmingham Royal Ballet is a perfect match for Westwell, ENB is actually a great deal more classically orientated than BRB which under David Bintley has become a good deal more story orientated, I don't like Bintley's works but I do acknowledge that he has very cleverly created a company that really works on a financial and professional level and really fills a market. Westwell is a dancer of some swagger and dramatic weight (though he can tend to be a bit of a ham) he's not a virtuoso or classical stylist but he is a very talented performer and that demi caracter mould really goes down well with the tone and feel of BRB and their rep. I suspect that ENB though sad to see him go, he'd recently been promoted to Junior soloist there, can survive losing him, especially as it will free up some more money, though I think they're far more terrified of losing Muntagirov who if not given opportunities could pretty much move anywhere he wanted. I wouldn't be surprised if Monica Mason regularly doorsteps him with jiffy bags stuffed full of cash to bribe him away from ENB. Another talented dancer whose made a move is Alexander Campbell from BRB to the main company and taken a demotion with the move. I do wonder how well this may pay off, as at BRB he had a very full rep and schedule, he's a demi caracter dancer with a good deal of virtuosity, though not in that platinum grade of a Muntagirov, but he's a really talented dancer who needs opportuntities and sadly given the rather capricious casting of the RB and also the fact the top heavy principal & first soloist ranks calling first dibs on the main principal parts and interesting soloist roles, I wonder how much he'll get to perform.
  8. The price range of $54-$70 isn't actually that bad, especially compared to London where ticket prices can reach the $200+ mark for a best seat ticket. The thing is though live performance costs a great deal and it's part of the joy and immediate pleasure of what makes dance, and in truth the Corella ballet is a good deal cheaper than a show on Broadway, a musical or indeed ballet in the city centre. But one thing is certain without those prices live performance simply couldn't exist.
  9. And what if the AD in question has no desire to market the dancer who markets themself?
  10. Indeed PT, so Miliosr care to share the contents with your chums?
  11. Do you generally frame your initial inquiries in a very general or very specific manner? The problem with youtube is precisely that, if you're too general you get absolutely everything they have to offer, so putting in Rose Adagio you'll get every Rose adagio going from every company. Probably you're best bet is to research a company, and certain dancers or choreographers then put in a search directly with key words ie "Ashton, Fonteyn" "Lynn Seymour" "sylvie Guillem" "wiliam forsythe" etc If you're specific about a certain choreographer or company you'll generally get results which directly link to that. However, you'll get very little on Balanchine as the Balanchine Trust regularly hunts down and removes all films of his work shared on sites.
  12. I found this little news curio from sometime in the 1940s Helen Keller visiting Martha Graham in her dance studio during rehearsals with the company:
  13. This is actually a very contentious issue, in the most notable cases such as Balanchine the choreography is actually part of a licensed trademark and copyrighted and belongs to the Balanchine trust and foundation, they release DVDs or excerpts to promote the work but the revenue collected from the work goes to further the work and cause of NYCB, the Balanchine Trust and Foundation. There's much on the internet but technically the work of Ashton, Macmillan and every modern choreographer who has set up or has a foundation set up to protect the rights and reproduction of their art and the format of their choreography are completely within their right to ensure that illegal reproduction and distribution of their work doesn't take place. Only the Balanchine trust is absolutely ruthless in ensuring unauthorised reproduction of the work, and while I can see the argument that putting videos into the public domain on sharing sites does potentially bring ballet to a wider audience (and I say potentially as no one without an interest in ballet is likely to look at these videos) the fact remains that authorised DVDs do give revenue directly to the performers, the choreographers company, the choreographers foundation. Indeed why should it be uncool to share films, music etc via illegal sharing sites yet ballet is fine? I got the point, I just don't agree that it will do anything to incite greater interest in ballet. It's an amusing little news item, designed to give people warm fuzzies at the incongruity of the homeless doing plies and while I'm sure meant a great deal to the homeless participating will do very little to instill interest in a new generation of ballet goers, certainly not when they see the prices of an average ballet performance. The topic of this thread was about initally dancers marketing themselves, but that's very different from dance companies marketing dancers and whether or not a dancer is considered marketable by the company. This is a really really big question, what exactly would you like to know? That's the great difficulty I have in answering your questions sometimes PT, the answers are pretty huge what direction would you like to start in? You could start with these sites: http://balanchine.org/balanchine/index.html http://www.ashtonarchive.com/ http://www.kennethmacmillan.com/ http://www.antonytudor.org/index1.html http://www.roh.org.uk/discover/ballet/index.aspx http://www.the-ballet.com/russianballet.php http://www.theforsythecompany.com/
  14. Youtube is the antithesis of what dance is about. Live performance, a video will never give anything but a vague impression however it's useful as a point of reference, especially for dance history and there's actually a great deal more available than you'd think on youtube, you just have to know how to search. There are actually many online libraries and resources for dance online. Certain choreographers' work, however, is rights protected and can't legally be put online, the problem isn't with there not being the resources, the crisis facing dance attendance is far more involved and complicated. Stories such as the Korean ballet for the homeless is nice, sure, but it's not going to bring in new audience members to an expensive art form which most of the public feels no connection or relevance to. Also Korea isn't a world ballet centre they do however have a couple of nice companies.
  15. It is business. Every seat not sold is a loss for a company, at the moment lyric theatres are operating at about 85% capacity at best, the NYCB has had to close the top tier of the Koch theatre because of seats unsold in many of its performances. Ballet companies all operate in a deficit and in this economic climate especially that's killing companies. Yes, ballet is art, but you can't eat art, art doesn't pay wages, doesn't keep theatres open. Even with 100% capacity companies couldn't survive without heavy private sponsorship and where available Government subsidy and the lower down the food chain a company is the less available private sponsorship there is. Stars sell seats, that's irrefutable, companies need stars to survive, except in today's culture even stars mean very little outside of the world of ballet. That's why a Carlos Acosta can continue to perform despite his much waning abilities as he's one of a rare handful of ballet dancers who's managed to make any headway into a wider media circle. Sylvie Guillem was almost unique in the past 20 years as being the only ballerina who could guarantee a full opera house wherever and whenever she danced - there's no one now to match that kind of cachet or charisma and even Guillem remains relatively unknown outside of the dance world. But within the context of dance she was big business and box office gold. Sadly even competitions like Varna & Lausanne now have practically no penetration into a wider media outside of the ballet media, winning Varna is no longer a guarantee of success or even stardom, but it helps and a company who can find a Polunin, Muntagirov, Bussell, Guillem, Acosta and promote them as a star would be foolish not to do so and most importantly for the public to take hold of this concept that this dancer is a star and will pay top dollar to see them. Performing arts have always worked as business from Diaghilev to Sol Hurok they all knew no matter how good the product without bums on seats there was no product and any company that thinks itself too good or rarified for commercial concerns won't be operating very long. Arts need to sell a product and it's no longer a sure bet to hide behind a name such as the Bolshoi, Mariinsky or Royal Ballet, not least because the product they sell is so expensive, stars sell tickets, ticket sales keep companies open and even with the greatest star dancer there's still no guarantee the public will care. As Sol Hurok said "if an audience doesn't want to come nothing will stop them."
  16. Hey Variated, I think the thing with Smirnova joining the Bolshoi as soloist (besides her undoubted massive talent) was Filin was determined to poach her from the Mariinsky and so his successful gambit was to make her an offer she couldn't refuse. This isn't unprecedented though the Kirov made Nureyev a soloist on entry in order to keep him as he'd received a soloist offer from the Bolshoi. Jensen, again another massively talented prodigy who'd caused a smash on the competition circuit entered Boston as a corps and was rapidly promoted to second soloist, big talent will invariably be rewarded with a rapid promotion. Vadim Muntagirov at ENB, a Lausanne winner, used his win to join the Royal Ballet School and rose to principal within two years of joining the corps, Polunin took just under four years to make principal from the corps, ditto Steven Mcrae, Alina Cojocaru, again another Lausanne laureate joined the RB as a corps member, was promoted after 16 months to first soloist, then made principal just under a year later. I suppose the moral of this story is that big talent will be recognised and promoted (in most cases) that the competition circuit is invaluable for bringing dancers who due to background, nationality or money wouldn't get to be seen by the big companies. Though of course it doesn't always work, most dancers enter the corps and sadly most stay there, even with massive talent, there are Varna, YAGP, Lausanne winners languishing in corps all over the world, it's as much to do with the taste and likes of the AD as anything else. Also many dancers don't grow into early promise and talent or have their injuries which destroy their careers - Julia Bolshakova comes to mind, fast-tracked for stardom her foot injuries developed as a student became chronic as her workload increased. The brilliant PR stunt of taking a very young dancer has been going on for ages, Diaghilev creating a baby principal with the then 12 year old Markova, demoted her at 14 to corps and was about to reinstate her as an adult principal at 16 when he inconveniently died on her. And then there are those dancers who create a stir as young corps virtuosos and soloists but who fizzle out as principals - Michele Wiles, Paloma Herrera & Bryony Brind come to mind. Competitions are excellent means for talented dancers to come to the attention of schools who for whatever reason decided against them at the initial selection process for instance Clairemarie Osta & Laetitia Pujol who trained in Bordeaux were offered places at the Paris Opera School and then positions with the corps of the POB after winning prizes at CNSM Paris, Lausanne & Varna, likewise Melissa Hamilton, now a soloist at the Royal was offered a corps contract with the RB after winning the YAGP. Though all these dancers had previously been turned down by the schools associated with their companies at earlier ages. I suppose what competitions gave them was a shot to make it within their companies without having been to the school. Everyone is always looking for the next "big" thing, every time a new male prodigy comes around there's the ubiquitous "New Nureyev" tag, but then due to the nature of ballet one dancer can't monopolise a whole repertory, it'd destroy their bodies if nothing else and due to the prices of ballet you need as many stars as possible to try and get the punters in. Sadly the media attention surrounding a new "star" is modest to say the least, a new flavour sandwich at Subway gets more widespread attention from the press, I suppose it's all relative.
  17. Mock & Hayward both attended the Royal Ballet School from an early age, rose through the years assessment after assessment and at the end of their training were both offered contracts. Going through the school is the primary way of getting into the company, some of the dancers enter the international competition circuit many don't, but entrance into the competitions and the large-ish media based attention they bring is no guarantee of getting into the company. The Royal Ballet is one of the best jobs in the dance world, full year contracts and around £30,000 pa starting wage, everyone wants to join the RB, though of course if you don't go to the school it becomes significantly harder if you're a student and not a star ready to import from another company. Also for dancers who live halfway across the world such as Zhou (US) & Dean (Australia) it's rarely financially or logistically practicable to go to the UK and join the school, even if they are talented enough, it costs around £15,000 a year now and that's where entering the international competitions comes into play, Lausanne has prizes which include scholarships to a top school of the contestant's choice, and they all choose the RB, and in certain cases an apprentice position to the RB. It's a fast track into the company and having a sexy website is neither here nor there, nor self promotion, Lausanne has a website and a great deal of web traffic so any dancer entering the competition is going to have far more google hits. If Mock & Hayward had entered Lausanne their google ratio would have gone up too, just like Zhou & Dean's. Principals who've benefited from the Lausanne scholarship include Nunez, Cojocaru, McRae, Polunin. But regardless of whether or not they'd had sites and featured in Lausanne videos Dean & Zhou would have entered the RB anyway because of their placings in competitions designed to find talent for the major companies such as Lausanne. It's relatively cheap to create your own site, many mediocre dancers do, it's not cheap to enter the Royal Ballet School without a Lausanne or other form of scholarship. For Mock and Hayward sites were unnecessary, as indeed was entering Lausanne, they had their foot in the door from the age of 10.
  18. Simon G

    Alina Somova

    In truth Somova is hugely divisive but I have to say too I have never seen a dancer with such an overwhelmingly negative press and opinion about her abilities from the majority. Which is why those who love her will love watching her videos and those who have problems with her will continue to do so. I have to say under Terekhova she has made huge improvements, I've even said so on this thread, though sadly in London apart from In The Night she garnered very bad reviews and seemed to fall back on many of her bad old habits, it's unfair too to say that Somova isn't talented, but she has a specific type of gift that perhaps would be better suited to a lyrical soloist, In The Night doesn't strain a dancer the way the classics and Balanchine do. It's not just Somova though, as Helene has pointed out the Mariinsky don't do Balanchine much justice, nor other contemporary choreographers such as Forsythe, one of the worst evenings of ballet I've seen in recent years was an all Forsythe programme by the Mariinsky, they were so out of their depth and didn't understand the dynamics and speed needed. Maybe too Somova wouldn't be so contentious had her rise under Vaziev been so rapid, if she'd been given more time to be coached and had her excesses reined in, and yes I do agree that there's an element of schadenfreude by many in seeing her opportunities in her home company hamstrung to such an extent. Again, I really feel for her, to have so few performances, to be buried in one acts and third and matinee casts must be galling and disheartening and deeply depressing after having been given so much. But she does seem to have taken opportunities where she can get them especially at La Scala where Vaziev continues his commitment to her. I think that's the thing though that in discussing this moment in Somova's career one does have to look at the subjective fact that she's been frozen out at the Mariinsky, that critics in the West are overwhelmingly negative to her when she dances the classics and the Mariinsky specifically put her in performances which the critics would not see, apart from In The Night which is a beautiful, lyrical ballet which makes no great demands on technique. One also has to look at what's happening to her in regards to her position, she's one of a handful of principals, the youngest in fact, in a company of nearly two hundred and her performance schedule with the Mariinsky should be fully booked, she should by right of position be given first nights, multiple castings in three act classics, first choice on new stagings, new roles - she should be given more than most coryphees but she hasn't been. And maybe if she wants to pursue a full career she may have to move to La Scala, where I'm sure Vaziev would be delighted to have her, or K Ballet in Japan, places where the ADs like her for what she is - because to be continually frozen out as she is in St Petersburg must be pretty soul destroying for her. To come back to Nikiya's death dance, yes she has improved remarkably, for me though with Somova all hell breaks loose in the Shades scene but that's beside the point, she's really come on and maybe if she wants to continue to grow with a full rep and full performance schedule she will have to move company.
  19. Simon G

    Alina Somova

    The video is set to private and it's not my photo. Sadly for her the critics, her company and audiences aren't backing her in any legitimate way, and like I said I think it's very sad for her to see her career fizzing out, but perhaps she should never have been promoted so fiercely to start with, and yes in certain ways she has indeed improved, I've even said so on this thread, but I still don't think she's a ballerina. But again as Natalia said, the FACT is the Mariinsky aren't casting her and I do feel for Somova, it must be pretty terrible for her. However, I'm sure there are boards out there championing Somova and online communities who love her.
  20. Simon G

    Alina Somova

    The Swan Lakes with Sarafanov were five months before the Mariinsky Festival where she wasn't given a single full length, do you really think an ambitious dancer, a principal would turn down an opportunity to dance Odette/Odile on her home turf because she'd done a limited run in a foreign city some five months before? Mea culpa, I got the dates wrong, but again the reason why Somova chose not to return, or rather perhaps was replaced following her poorly received Swan Lake is open to debate, none of us know the facts, but burying a dancer in third casts and matinee performances is a fact which speaks for itself. I agree that a photo is just a snapshot of a certain moment, but seeing Somova is again a fact that those certain moments aren't taken out of context. Though if you want facts the fact of this Rose Adagio pretty much speaks for itself .
  21. Simon G

    Alina Somova

    But she stayed for her Swan Lake, and In The Night which were both after the funeral?
  22. Drew, I'm sorry you feel that I was denigrating Healy as a dancer, the fact is she was very very young at LFB & only stayed there a very short time before deciding to give up dance and return to college. Schaufuss went on record as saying that when he took the helm of LFB now ENB the company was cash strapped and he didn't have the money to hire stars, so he decided to create a furore of his own with very young prodigies. Healy & Sevillano being 16 & 15 respectively when he took them into the company and elevated them to principal status. Of the two Healy was the ostensible "perfect ballerina body type" she was also a phenomenal virtuoso and was given roles which showcased those abilities. Ashton did indeed choose her over the experienced ballerinas to be his first cast for R&J, though it's also worth noting that not long after that career-defining experience she decided to quit dance to return to college. If you look at videos of Healy from that time the stunts she was pulling off are incredible, but for whatever reason she decided to call time on her career at precisely the point when technical virtuosity was deepening into artistic ability and developing her voice as an artist - like I said she strikes me as being a very intelligent woman and therefore it's probably not surprising that she decided to explore her intellectual life away from the ballet world. When she did decide to go back to ballet at Vienna, it would seem that her moment for stardom in ballet had passed, whether she would have gone on to capitalise on her R&J success and her position at LFB is moot, we'll never know. Nor was I intending to compare her to Sevillano & Susan Hogard, the other very young ballerina pushed by Schaufuss; they were all such very different dancers with different strengths and weaknesses, to compare is invidious. But the fact remains that it was Sevillano who proved the one who people connected with and who people came to see, who was given guesting roles and opportunities outside of her mother company and was the one the press, critics, audiences and ballet world decided was the one destined for stardom. When Sevillano left ENB Schaufuss decided to push Hogard in earnest but even though he then gave her every opportunity that Sevillano & Healy had, including using her to guest at the Kirov, she never took off nor was accepted as a legitimate ballerina.
  23. This was the 80s Bart, a real man wouldn't be seen dead in anything other than baggy pants, shoulder pads and thigh highs. Either that or you were totally Emo.
  24. Hunterman Here's another interesting use of costume and how it can dictate or work with a ballet or choreographer it's the Lyon Ballet's version of Cinderella by Maguy Marin from 1989. Lyon is a classically trained company, but they take a contemporary approach to the classics and ballet:
  25. He was pretty special at that time, it must be said. Also in terms of Karinska she truly was a genius, one of the greatest theatrical costumiers of all time.
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