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Demotion in ballet?


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Can you get demoted in ballet? I'm thinking if you are soloist or principal and you don't progress or even regress, can you get demoted down? Or do you just not get casted in roles or your contract is broken? I am pretty sure demotion within the same company is not a thing, but I wanted to confirm.

Also... could you get demoted if you switch from one company to another? Let's say you're a soloist in one company but maybe your contract gets broken and you get hired in another company, could they hire you in the Corps if they wanted to, or do they have to hire you as a soloist and give you the same rank as in your previous company?

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Yes and yes.

The first is rare, but Leslie Browne was promoted to Principal and then demoted to Soloist at ABT.

Plenty of dancers take a demotion to switch companies, usually to go from a smaller company to a bigger or more prestigious one or to join a company where promotions are made differently. For example, PNB Principal Dancer Lucien Postlewaite took a Soloist contract at Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, and in a Q&A he said that Principals in Maillots company were long-time dancers. At PNB there were Principal Dancers hired from other companies during the Russell/Stowell years who were hired as Soloists and then promoted rapidly to Principal. There have been corps members who were Soloists at other companies before joining PNB.

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Plenty of dancers take a demotion to switch companies, usually to go from a smaller company to a bigger or more prestigious one or to join a company where promotions are made differently.

Another recent example: James Whiteside. He was a principal for several years at Boston Ballet, joined ABT as a soloist and was promoted to principal the next year. http://www.abt.org/dancers/dancer_display.asp?Dancer_ID=300

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Oh interesting. Thank you. I figured it happened frequently when switching from one company to another, but I didn't think it was possible within the same company.

So within the same company, they would get demoted because they got worse, or because they didn't really progress and there are some better up and coming soloist that would be better in a Principal spot?

Could they get demoted if they get injured, and then try to come back and just cannot make it back to the same level they used to be at?

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Between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, ABT has also had Jeffrey Cirio join as soloist (from principal at Boston Ballet) and Simon Wexler join as a corps member (from principal at Texas Ballet Theater).

I would think demotion is essentially rather rare. The more likely scenarios would be:

1) Outright firing,

2) Left on the roster but not cast very much (as a signal that it may be time for the dancer to move on), or

3) The dancer is encouraged to leave but there's a face-saving farewell of "so-and-so left to pursue other opportunities".

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It is exceedingly rare for a dancer to be demoted in rank in the same company. It was odd that ABT did this to a dancer who was high-visibility, like Browne after "The Turning Pointe."

Outright firing is also rare: more typically, except in the few companies that have guaranteed employment until 40+, like Paris Opera Ballet -- the Bolshoi dancers gave this up in exchange for input into the bonus pool -- the company uses year-to-year contracts, and the dancer is kept on for the contractually mandated time. That could be until the end of the yearly contract, the dancer might be in a class in an AGMA contract that requires more than a year of notice that the company isn't planning to offer another contract based on number of years in the company, or a Principal contract might have its own terms. Also, a new AD may make it clear within the first year or two that the dancer is not welcome in the new company, although, some AD's have cleared rosters right away, like Duato when he changed Spain's national ballet from a classical ballet company to one that danced his work. A dancer might also be injured and kept on only as long as the company must by contract.

As miliosr wrote, it is more typical to be pushed out by not being cast and/or by a change in rep/next year's rep that isn't interesting to the dancer and/or doesn't have many opportunities for him or her.

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I think in one of the Somova threads there were citations of demotions of first soloists to lower ranks in the Mariinsky - two instances where dancers were lowered in rank. One or two got the hint and left the company.

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I think in one of the Somova threads there were citations of demotions of first soloists to lower ranks in the Mariinsky - two instances where dancers were lowered in rank. One or two got the hint and left the company.

This is true. Also, in the Mariinsky, (and the Bolshoi), one can be benched i.e. barely if ever cast or 'packed' for tours, and in some cases permanently. Furthermore, it doesn't matter how high one's rank.

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Wasn't there an article in The New York Times several years ago about three corps members of New York City Ballet who weren't having their contracts renewed? I believe the gist of the article was that management felt that they weren't going to progress within the company and it wanted to make room for newcomers. I would call that out-and-out firing, no?

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There have been some well-publicized firings. Gelsey Kirkland and Patrick Bissell were fired by Baryshnikov in December 1980 on opening night at the Kennedy Center. I believe Kirk Peterson was "let go" by Baryshnikov. But with the transition to a new ballet artistic director, that's not surprising. There have also been well-reported stories about ballet boards firing executive directors.

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Not renewing a contract is different than firing, although it may be treated the same way for unemployment insurance. Firing is being let go during a contract.

Except in those state companies that guarantee employment until a certain age, the only guaranteed contract renewals are where the group contract states that a dancer with seniority must be given more than a the typical four or so month's notice that the contract won't be re-offered for the following year or where an individual contract has specific renewal terms, typically for Principal Dancer contracts. Guaranteed promotion from apprentice to corps is built into some contracts, but there's no guarantee the corps contract will be renewed.

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I think in one of the Somova threads there were citations of demotions of first soloists to lower ranks in the Mariinsky - two instances where dancers were lowered in rank. One or two got the hint and left the company.

Fateyev demoted a blond girl who was a corpheé (I think her name is Elena Androsova) back to corps status.

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