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Sad news for Atlantic Southeast Ballet Company

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Yikes! Hard times are already falling on this new ballet company. I received this today. And I am saddened by this news.:thumbsup:


We are artists. 80 people from 13 different countries (United States of America, Spain, Argentina, France, Albania, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Korea and Australia) who comprise Atlantic Southeast Ballet & Orchestra in Charleston, South Carolina. Who live for what we love the most: to perform. We knew from our first steps what we wanted to do in our lives; to offer our souls through dance, to give life to music, and to create magic on stage.

We came from all over the world to join a new company dedicated to creating an atmosphere of respect and integrity for the dancer. We believe so strongly in the mission of this company that we gave up everything to move across the world to join this brand new company, prepared to meet the challenge.

Because of Atlantic Southeast Ballet & Orchestra, we are fortunate to be able to become part of an incredible team. Dancers, musicians, production, administration -- we are truly all a big family. The mix of languages and cultures is amazing, and little by little we are creating a new circle, where there are no limits and no boundaries, where we protect each other, and learn from each other everyday. For two months we’ve trained for hours and hours, giving the best of ourselves for the first of the 93 performances that we have this season. Suddenly, one week from the beginning of our season, an unexpected economic crisis jeopardized the future of the company.

It took us all by surprise, so close to our opening night. However, at the same time, this situation showed us a different side of the company, a new strength and cohesion, which we are all exceptionally proud to be part of. We decided that we must go on.

After only two months of working together, we were just beginning to come together as a team. When we found ourselves in the middle of this crisis, the 80 people that form the company automatically decided to come together to save the dream of Atlantic Southeast Ballet & Orchestra. In the last 48 hours, with lack of sleep and food, we found ways of going on, doing everything possible ourselves to make this company a reality. We began by organizing each other, dividing the work in groups. One group is designing the web page, another group is finishing the costumes, and another group is in charge of the advertising and marketing, putting up posters, giving out flyers, and even talking to people on the street about the company.

Thanks to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, who believed in us and offered the theater free of charge, we will be performing a special tribute for September 11. At this moment, our biggest desire is to make to this performance, on September 11, the most astounding ballet performance in the history of dance. We want to show the world what we have to offer, not only as artists, but also as human beings, and prove that for us ballet is not only our job, but our life. These days a lot of companies and dancers forget the meaning of art, making it only a routine job, and not a passion.

We don’t know if this is going to be the first or last performance of ASB, but we don’t think about that. We’re only concentrating on the hope and faith we all carry inside that we will succeed. This performance will define our future, and none of us is willing to give up, not now that we are so close to reaching our goal.

The most positive thing about all this is that after uniting to overcome this unforeseen obstacle, something better is waiting for us, something that we didn’t think that we had. What we are building now, we did together, as a team, from our hearts and souls, and the spirit that we’ve created is priceless.

This performance will be unique, and we can assure you that every person involved, the dancers, musicians, audience, and production crew, will leave the theater with an experience they will never forget.

Unfortunately, the reality of our economic dilemma is different, and the good intentions and the positive energy is not enough for us to triumph. Right now, a lot of people in our community are interested in our story and are doing their best to help us as well. The bottom line is that to keep going, we need financial support. We need your help. Any kind of collaboration will be welcome, so together we can fulfill this great future that Atlantic Southeast Ballet possesses.

Tell our story; be a part of it. Help us in any way you can. Please tell your friends about us, forward this e-mail, write Oprah. Help us to give a “fairy tale ending” to this story.

Check out our website at www.atlanticsoutheastballet.com or e-mail us at asbceo@atlanticsoutheastballet.com


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Don't give up. Keep applying for every grant you can think of. Throw fundraisers, complete with dinner, silent auction, live auction, and performance, even if this means having to serve the meals and wash the dishes yourselves afterwards (I know -- I've been there!).

Have a gigantic flea market, and begin it late at night, calling it "Midnight Madness" or something like that, just in time for the approaching Halloween season. Hold it in an area where people like to party at night. Many a fella whose disposition has been enhanced by a glass or two of wine will be entranced by your ballerinas. Everything sells at these things, including autographed items from the dancers.

Approach every elementary, middle and high school in the area, requesting to do lecture demonstrations.

Set up a booth in your local mall, and have company members man a table with brochures and newsletters about the company, press releases, etc., as well as photographs, t-shirts, and other items for sale. Be in costume while you do this.

Hound the lifestyle and arts and leisure editors of your newspapers for publicity. There must be at least one writer who would love to make your their cause celebre. Ditto for the tv stations.

Put posters throughout Main Street, and get your Chamber of Commerce into the act.

Get involved in bringing ballet to the inner city and to underprivileged children in the area.

Ask the major office buildings in the area if they ever have noon hour tributes to the arts. Start this if they don't -- and get the other artists in the community involved in some kind of main lobby event. People love to have something exciting to do during their lunch hours.

Good luck from a dancer whose company has done every single one of these things and then some, and whose company is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary season.

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Very interesting, citibob. It sounds like they definitely have champagne taste and beer money at this time. It seems overly ambitious at this point, particularly with a couple of resident companies in place. I'm surprised they aren't trying it on a smaller level, like a chamber ballet theater. Also, I don't believe they were very clear in their reasons for rejecting fundraising, and instead going straight for tickets at $25 a shot. It's nice to have ideals and to think big -- problem is, you can never get off the ground if you want them all to come to fruition from the beginning.

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I hope that the company makes it. I got a chance to see some of the company members while they were in SF auditioning for dancers. Although I didn't get to see them dance, the sheer physical beauty of the ones I saw was astounding.:) I would pay to see some of those wonderful faces and bodies on stage just posing! :D

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The business plan sounds flawed. I thought it was axiomatic that arts organizations could not survive on ticket sales. In order to meet their $2.7 million budget, they will have to sell 108,000 $25 tickets (or twice as many of those discounted ones!). That means that each of their 93 performances will have to play to almost 1200 paid seats. Seems unlikely even for an established company.

The moral here is ALWAYS DO THE MATH! This really is a life lesson. Unless all the artists were duped, they could have saved themselves a lot of disappointment by using the facts to question the claims.

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I have a close friend who was burned in this sad tale. Has there been a resolution to the debts yet? I narrowly escaped the move to Charleston for this company myself. (Couldn't take the heat. [literally!]) Have the "directors" turned up? If so, perhaps there were simply lessons learned for everyone in this scenario.


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This is what I have gleaned so far from the Charleston Net:

Story last updated at 6:54 a.m. Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Ballet owes firms close to $50,000

Painters, welders, carpenters unpaid following collapse


Of The Post and Courier Staff

Several area companies are owed almost $50,000 in unpaid bills following the sudden collapse of the Atlantic Southeast Ballet & Orchestra in North Charleston.

In addition to owing $30,000 to Gil Schuler Graphic Design, the ballet owes $7,171 to eight carpenters, painters and welders, said Thomas A. Morris Jr., a local construction manager for theater and film who fabricated the ballet's road equipment.

[Rest of story deleted by Alexandra:

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and one one from a week earlier.....

Story last updated at 9:47 a.m. Thursday, October 9, 2003

Curtain falls on ballet, CEO exits Charleston


Of The Post and Courier Staff

The Atlantic Southeast Ballet and Orchestra has folded, leaving a trail of devastated dancers, staff members and musicians, and its chief executive has left town.


Dancers with the Atlantic Southeast Ballet and Orchestra rehearse at the School of the Arts in North Charleston in July.

About noon Wednesday, Gordon Crowder, the artistic director and CEO of the nonprofit ballet company, left a message on the answering machine of Jooyong Ahn, the ballet orchestra's conductor. The message said Crowder and his wife, Susanne Crowder-Puerschel, who is associate director of the ballet, "have no money and have gone on a little vacation."

[rest of story deleted by Alexandra; see above]

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Good grief...what a trail of tears...I remember the trio from their fairly brief stay at OBT. There was great drama in their leave-taking as I remember, but one didn't know how much of it to ascribe to Canfield and his peculiarities.

Here's my question: If Suzanne Farrell Ballet, with all her support, star power and reputation after 3 years has a 1.5 million budget, a pick up company and only 20 weeks a year, who did these folks think they were? Starting with a $2.7 million budget?! Based on ticket sales!? Wow...

The lack of a general manager or financial officer seems a critical mistake.

What's so sad to me is the uprooted, devestated lives of people who just wanted to dance. Not since LA Ballet...

Stars in your eyes can quickly turn to tears.

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Charleston already had two companies. But supposedly, ASB was supposed to serve a wider region.

Another problem was their disdain for hiring Americans. I learned today that English National Ballet is allocated two work visas per year. They regularly turn down qualified non-British they would otherwise like to hire, in favor of British dancers. Until Globalization becomes universal (probably not a good idea), there will/should always be restrictions on hiring foreigners.

And yet here was an American company that showed very little desire to hire American dancers...

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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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Actually, (at least based at the roster on the website), a large number (most?) of the Atlantic Southeast Ballet dancers are from the US, or at least were trained in this country. They include four SAB Workshop alums, two who formerly danced with the Carolina Ballet and one from the Kansas City Ballet.

And on a slightly different theme....would we really be so happy if companies in the US did not hire foreign dancers or the restrictions were tighter than they are now?

Think of all the foreign dancers who have and continue to enrich American dance...14 of the 19 principal dancers at ABT are foreign born (15 if you include Gillian Murphy) and I have not noticed many complaints about the international diversity in ABT (or in NYCB, though to a lesser extent).

I think that the diversity of our ballet companies is one of their main strengths and we should not hire American dancers just because they are American. American immigration laws will always limit who can be hired, we don't need to add any more barriers. As for the English National Ballet-they have plenty of foreign dancers, restrictions or no restrictions. Jose Manuel Carreno and Carlos Acosta both danced with ENB in the early days of their careers...


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I got the impression from reading the articles that ASB received some kind of special dispensation allotment of visas.

14 out of 19 ABT principles are foreign-born? That just indicates to me the poor state of ballet in this country. Why can't we do better? That means to me that if we weren't so wealthy and able to attract foreigners with high salaries, we'd barely have a ballet at all.

Contrast with Balanchine: he built a system that turned out great dancers, and he was willing to hire them.

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Contrast with Balanchine: he built a system that turned out great dancers, and he was willing to hire them.


The key is in your last phrase.

Balanchine was willing to hire American dancers. Unfortunately, many American companies have the idea that "foreign is better" (it used to be "European is better," but the Chinese seem to be in vogue right now), so many American dancers have to go overseas to be appreciated.

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Here is the film that will explain it all. You can see my buddy Nikolai, Liesl, and Kerrie Anne. Three former Ballet Internationale dancers. They are great friends who got burned by liars and cheaters. Empty promises. Contracts not signed. Pledges not in writing. The Crowder's should have a class action lawsuit filed against them. I wouldn't be suprised if they are in a different country by now.


Enjoy this sad story...


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