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Dancers at auction


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The reason I bring this up is because it seems as the arts have been moving more towards a "Corporate" model, little things like ethics and morals suddenly seem to take a back seat.

Yes, in the arts as everywhere else, unfortunately. Not saying that everyone is immoral (and I'm sure Clara wasn't either!) but we're certainly in a money can buy you anything mode.

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In answer to BW's question about anonymity -- there are still a few. A group of donors recently "bought" the naming rights to a new outdoor sculpture park here in Seattle, and chose to name it after the mountain range it looks out on, the Olympics. It's pretty much open information in town who they are, but I was so touched that they didn't feel the need to put their names on their good deed.

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Perhaps the trend will extend to opera companies...divas could be "bought" on a per-pound basis.

Overall, the entire idea is rather juvenile...if you want to donate $10,000 to your favorite ballet company that is wonderful. If you have to be enticed into doing so by playing this type of game, it devalues the gift.

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I think what this plan is attempting to do is personalize the receiving end of the sponsorship. Out of every 10 dollars you donate to yr favorite ballet company at least 4 bucks go to people who never set a foot on stage when you're watching - not just the AD but to the financial big wig too, the promo and administrative dept and all kinds of folks who at best like ballet just as much as you do. This makes your wallet a lot less itchy, and I assume that's why they thought of these silly dancer auctions. It's bogus, obviously. The same part of your money goes to adminstration people etc. It just sounds like it goes to the dancers straight.

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I think it's not just that "money can buy you anything" is in the ascendant, but that the present view seems to be "money can buy you anything, and that's okay, who would expect anything different"?

BW raises an interesting point concerning the sex of the two patrons profiled. You have two middle aged women getting their pictures taken with young men, not old guys posing with young girls. (I confess I was wondering a little about the widow who’s sponsoring Stiefel as a sort of memorial to her late hubby.)

I think finally it’s a matter not only of business or ethics, but taste. You have to wonder about people who seem to have no scruple or second thoughts about publicly laying claim to another person's time and attention, no matter what the ostensibly beneficial circumstances.

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BW raises an interesting point concerning the sex of the two patrons profiled.  You have two middle aged women getting their pictures taken with young men, not old guys posing with young girls. ...

I think finally it’s a matter not only of business or ethics, but taste.  You have to wonder about people who seem to have no scruple or second thoughts about publicly laying claim to another person's time and attention, no matter what the ostensibly beneficial circumstances.

Again, I think this is a matter of degree rather than of kind. Company members have always participated in social events with sponsors, and companies have made them available on some level for this kind of association. The difference now, as you've pointed out, is that it is much more explicit.

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I think it's not just that "money can buy you anything" is in the ascendant, but that the present view seems to be "money can buy you anything, and that's okay, who would expect anything different"?

Actually, that was my point -- sorry it wasn't clear. It's the opposite of the scornful, "He only did it for the money" attitude of yore.

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If I had the money and the inclination to sponsor a dancer, I would choose a female from the corps even though I'm gay. It would feel kind of creepy to sponsor one of the boys, and might be a source of embarassment to the dancer. Even though many of the male dancers are gay, they probably wouldn't want to be viewed as the boy-toy of some tired old queen.

My co-workers call me "the gay guy with the straight eye" as I am always pointing out attractive girls to my straight buddies. I admire all the men in the company and find them sexy & attractive but I spend most of my time watching the females...I guess I sort of agree with Balanchine: "Ballet is woman!"

If rich, older women are sponsoring the males, who are the sponsors of the ballerinas? In general (and this is a broad generalization) many of the straight men I see at the ballet seem to have been dragged there by their wives. Snoozing is a favorite pastime for these poor blokes. (Yes, I know there are heterosexual male ballet fans, though I don't know any personally...)

Bottom line is, if I won Lotto I would write a check for $1,000,000 right off the top and hand it to Peter and I would not ask to have so much as a drinking fountain

named after me. Though I wouldn't say "no" to tea with Amanda Edge...

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No problem!

I've been mulling over the difference in effect/perception between viewing a photograph of a rich older woman with a young male dancer, and a rich older man with a young female dancer. I don't question at all that the two images conjure up different assumptions, but ... wouldn't it be nice to be able to look at the latter photo and say, "What a guy! He supports the arts" and the former, "What an attractive, powerful woman! What a lucky young man."

Any guesses which century that will happen?

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very weird: what if a dancer at nycb had to keep a sponsor AND martins happy

there are already enough strings attached

maybe, to bring in a little more cash, dancers could display logos, the way sports folks do

however, the idea of owning my own peter boal.............................

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I'd prefer an concept of a "Dancers Circle" for donors, rather than list them separately with the dancers they sponsor. Fang is a good example. She has a good City Center season in 2003 and somebody likes her enough to sponsor her. She doesn't do much at the Met season, does this mean her stock is down. For a young dancer, it's a lot of pressure. It's already an awkward situation when a corps dancer starts getting solo roles over their fellow dancers, now, in addition to the approval of the AD, she's got the added pressure of having a sponsor. If in a few years she doesn't rise so quickly through the ranks, does the sponsor move elsewhere? What is that like for the dancer?

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Very interesting topic and replies. My son attends RWB school and has received both scholarhip money and financial assistance. We have no clue as to who the patrons are, but I think he said he is required to be at certain events, "meet and greet" type of things. So it does start at a young age. Scolarship students are often under more scrutiny and can "lose" their scholarship for undesirable behaviour. However, without this type of generosity, my son wouldn't be able to study at the school.

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I heard an interview on Fresh Air with Amy Sherman Palladino, the creator of The Gilmore Girls, and watched an episode for the first time tonight. So this is a disclaimer that I'm not sure if tonight's episode was a repeat, making this old news.

The show opened with mother (Lorelei) and daughter (Rory) at their mother/grandmother's (Emily) dining room table, reviewing pictures of "City Ballet" dancers, to help Emily pick one to sponsor. After making fun of one potential choice's skin, and treating the entire process as a Jr. High School meat market cat-fest, Emily's choice is a blond Eastern-European-born young woman, because she is least like her errant daughter Lorelei (who was a great disappointment after having a baby at 17), and a fantasy/toy daughter is what Emily wants. When the dancer proceeds to ask Lorelei's long-abondoned magic eight ball over and over if she'll be rich -- her vapidness no longer adorable -- Emily trades her in for a pretty boy from Russia, who becomes a perpetual visitor in her sitting room until he storms out, having read a magazine interview where Lorelei compared her mother "jokingly" as Stalin, the killer of much of his family.

The portrayals of both dancers were condescending, although, being trapped with Emily as a sponsor was portrayed as the nightmare the entire personal sponsorship scenario could become.

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Hockeyfan, last night's episode of Gilmore Girls was a new episode. I watched 5 minutes of it, 3/4 of the way in and couldn't understand who that Russian man was. I guessed he must be either a dancer or an ice skater. What else could a stereotypical Russian be?

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I'm a fan of Gilmore Girls. I believe more so than making fun of dancers(which I don't think it was meant to at all, except to say the dance world is poor, which it is isn't?) But more about Emily and her snobbery...I also don't think you can take offense to everything. I personally found it kinda funny.

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this does not seem too offensive as they all seem to be corperations and not individuals.

I paged through the company and there were around four or five of dancers that were sponsored by individuals and a couple by family organizations. The rest were split between charitable trusts and foundations, and corporate sponsorship, though there are very few details about how individual dancers were chosen for the different sponsorships.

I did think it was rather sweet that several of the corporate sponsors were companies that could easily incorporate dancer sponsorship in their ad campaigns:

NZ Van Lines -- World Wide Movers

Peugeot

NZ Post

And then there was Two Paddocks Wines -- wasn't it Balanchine who kept comparing dancers and thoroughbred horese?

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The problem is not that people with cash support the arts as opposed to buying another pied a terre, rather it is the egotism it appeals to to and the crass commercialism. Put on top of that it reminds us of selling and owning slaves it is a completely odious activity. Shame on these companies who allow and promote such activities.

The ABT has their printed list of sponsors which are tiered by how much cash the donor gives. That is enough in my opinion. Even a plaque in the hall in bronze listing all the sponsors in order of their gilt amount should be enough to massage the ego of the wealthy generati.

In actual fact this privatization and appeal to the ideal rich to "own" a ballerina" may be just another thing which is off putting to the normal people who work for a living and enjoy or aspire to be in the ballet. The practice is so "American" and so repulsive.

I think these companies need to hear from balletomanes or are offended by this. I intend to write a letter, which will be ignored because they are interested in the cash and will do whatever it takes to get it... as obviously a tax deduction doesn't cut for the generati.

Is this the result of free market capitalism? Is this the gilded age coming around again where they rob and exploit the people and then give a library or sponsor a dancer to assuage their guilt?

And how humiliating for a dancer who is not bid for! The amount of ways that this practice is odious is too hard to count.

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The problem is not that people with cash support the arts as opposed to buying another pied a terre, rather it is the egotism it appeals to to and the crass commercialism. Put on top of that it reminds us of selling and owning slaves it is a completely odious activity.
If this practice reminds you of slavery, then you are certainly within your right to express your opinion. Speaking on behalf of others ("us") is not as clear, as many have expressed their own opinion already in their own words.
In actual fact this privatization and appeal to the ideal rich to "own" a ballerina" may be just another thing which is off putting to the normal people who work for a living and enjoy or aspire to be in the ballet. The practice is so "American" and so repulsive.
The practice of "owning" a ballerina was established long before ballet hit the shores of America. It was practiced by rich men, whose ownership was flaunted by the jewels around the neck of "their" dancers and is a quite old tradition, however odious.

I seem to remember reading in the program that one of the conducting positions at the Sydney Opera or Symphony was "owned" by the Sydney Opera House Car Park.

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I have a friend from overseas who had a "sponsor" while he was a violin student at a major US conservatory. He found that the sponsor was a "support system". He was invited to the sponsor's home for dinner; the sponsor attended all of his concerts, etc. Even after he left the conservatory and went on to his career, he has kept in contact with his sponsor. It may be that some ballet dancers actually enjoy knowing their sponsors. Just because one is wealthy enough to support the arts in this way, does not mean that they are some kind of difficult personality. So I don't know if I would view sponsorship as a problem....it is just another way to raise funds for the arts.

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