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volcanohunter

2016-17 season

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1 minute ago, Canadian said:

What a serious affront to both G. Cote...

 

We'll have to disagree about that. 

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17 minutes ago, Olga said:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/woodbridge-selects-long-time-executive-david-binet-as-president/article5817126/?ref=https://www.theglobeandmail.com&service=mobile

 

Profile of David Binet, Chairman of National Ballet of Canada and father of young Robert Binet. He manages $20 billion for Canada's wealthiest family. 

Wait so the fathers company also owns The Globe and Mail?

 

9 minutes ago, Canadian said:

 

I guess that  is easily explained by this:

 

 

 

 

Which is pretty disgraceful to be honest. What a serious affront to both G. Cote, and the rest of the talented dancers in NBoC. 

Agreed. A serious affront to Cote and the dancers absolutely (there are probably great budding choreographers among them). But most definitely a very questionable ethical move by leadership.

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Hannah Fischer might have talent but her performance in The Winter's Tale was emotionally flat, apparently too young and inexperienced for the role and raised questions about why she was placed in the first cast. And her performance of The Dying Swan in Svetlana Lunkina's gala was mediocre, jerky and one of the worst performances I saw of this ballet so I thought what a bad joke to have her perform Odette/Odile in Swan Lake when there are other dancers (and principals!) who have already proved they can do the role perfectly. 

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20 hours ago, naomikage said:

Hannah Fischer might have talent but her performance in The Winter's Tale was emotionally flat, apparently too young and inexperienced for the role and raised questions about why she was placed in the first cast. And her performance of The Dying Swan in Svetlana Lunkina's gala was mediocre, jerky and one of the worst performances I saw of this ballet so I thought what a bad joke to have her perform Odette/Odile in Swan Lake when there are other dancers (and principals!) who have already proved they can do the role perfectly. 

Well we will see her in SL soon enough. I have seen her before as Myrta, a Step Sister in Cinderella and also Rubies and thought she was okay. Not great. I agree she is very young. It all just seems to much to fast.

Also I think we should ask why would you choose to work in the one place your parents run things? It just seems like a terrible decision that is almost asking for problems.

 

And thank you Olga for sharing the info link on Binet's. As unfortunate as it is it does start to make sense now. Here we were the last few years wondering how the heck this kid was managing to be programmed so much by KK and little did we know his father was on the board. After a google search I see even of the Board of the art gallery! And owning the national newspaper? I remember being so suspect at all those articles!!! My partner too I remember saying "something isn't right here because that show was so bad" lol. 

I don't think I've ever seen something that was so ...... brazen. Most of the time [from what I've seen in various company's at least in the US] when there is even the potential for nepotism people go out of their way to avoid giving even the impression of it. But here it doesn't seem like they even try to hide it.

People should achieve things on their own merit. Shouldn't everyone.

It feels pretty gross to be honest. Gross and kind of sad. :crying:

 

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Lindsay Fischer and Mandy-Jayne Richardson don't "run things" at the National Ballet of Canada. They're ballet masters, so they "run" rehearsals. Fischer also "runs" a community outreach program that utilizes the company's apprentices. I don't think it's unusual for graduates of a company-feeder school to want to join the company the school is feeding. Given her physique, I'm not surprised Hannah Fischer was accepted by the National Ballet School, though I don't know whether anyone there seriously considered the possibility of rejecting her. But the children of ballet dancers often inherit their parents' physical abilities. Juliette Hilaire joined the Paris Opera Ballet when her father was still chief ballet master there. There is precedent for this kind of thing.

 

If the objections to the casting of Fischer, Saye, Hawes and Gerty stems from a sense of offended justice (i.e., outrage at worthier dancers being passed over for roles), then I understand this perfectly. I'm sure it's soul-crushing for the dancers who don't get the roles and/or tours they deserve. Tragically, it happens a lot in the ballet world, and if there is one thing that I find truly repulsive about the way ballet functions in the real world and one thing that makes me want to spit on it and walk away forever, this is it.

Edited by volcanohunter

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The life of a dancer is almost entirely studio rehearsals. Her parents run them. 

Of course it's natural to want to join the national company of where you're from. What isn't common is your parents being the artistic staff. That's what makes it different.

However many examples of nepotism any of us might find throughout the ballet world or anywhere doesn't make it right. Any way I agree it also makes me feel sad.

I am unable to feel "outraged" about the SL casting because I haven't seen the shows yet haha. But if it turns out that Fischer does an incredible job (or even just the best job of the dancers available in this company at this time) I think it justifies her casting. So we will see I suppose. Either way it's awkward I am afraid.

Binet on the other hand I have now seen repeatedly, tragically, relentlessly. And now that I know the context of why it keeps being presented i must say I feel even more comfortable acknowledging that it's just bad.

pS: I hope you never walk away forever! I enjoy your thoughts on here to muchf :lol:

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For what it's worth, Richardson typically runs corps rehearsals. The principal roles are usually rehearsed by Magdalena Popa or Rex Harrington. Perhaps Fischer is relieved not to be under her mother's watch now! I spent a year in my mother's classroom, and I spent most of it being ignored. I also completed a couple of university courses taught by my father. He was a mortifying parent on more than one occasion.

 

It might really be better for Binet Sr. to step down from the company board for his son's sake. However, this is also not the first instance I've encountered of a dancer's parents being board members or major donors to the company that employs their child.

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15 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

 

It might really be better for Binet Sr. to step down from the company board for his son's sake. 

I guess I'm just concerned that the damage has been done at this point. Regardless of whether or not that's justified, that reputation is going to follow that poor kid.

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I have to agree with volcanohunter and Canadian and say I worry that so much damage has already been done.

I think the best thing would be for Binet Sr. to step down and for Binet Jr. to focus on his (presumably genuine) choreographic ambitions on other company's. Perhaps open his own? Who knows? Why not. I have also as mentioned above heard rumblings from many at this point people who literally work for the company that the whole situation is out of control and needs to stop. Sorry if this is hearsay.

 

This situation is so compromised at this point. I can't think of another industry where this level of conflict-of-interest would be accepted. And I think it's time the leadership and members of The National Ballet really ask themselves if they are leading in a way that is ethical. 

 

I think anyone with a conscious will realize they aren't. 

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On 6/14/2017 at 4:26 PM, naomikage said:

Hannah Fischer might have talent but her performance in The Winter's Tale was emotionally flat, apparently too young and inexperienced for the role and raised questions about why she was placed in the first cast.

 I saw three performances of The Winter's Tale in New York last summer with different casts, and vastly preferred Heather Ogden and Jurgita Dronina as Hermione. I found Fischer one-dimensional and immature artistically, and did not understand why she was first cast. Though her dancing was very nice, it wasn't enough for that role.  

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11 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

 Juliette Hilaire joined the Paris Opera Ballet when her father was still chief ballet master there. There is precedent for this kind of thing.

 

Yes but I heard that Laurent Hilaire did not participate in the evaluation of his daughter's entrance exam, and after she joined the company he also did not evaluate her at the annual promotion exams to avoid criticism. And Juliette Hilaire was not pushed hard for roles in the company when her father was the ballet master. Laurent Hilare had another daughter enrolled in the POB school but she was not accepted in the company. 

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9 hours ago, JumpFrog said:

 I can't think of another industry where this level of conflict-of-interest would be accepted.

 

Other than the US Presidency, perhaps?

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9 minutes ago, kbarber said:

 

Other than the US Presidency, perhaps?

This seems like reasonable equivalence. Good job Kathy! 

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4 hours ago, naomikage said:

 

Yes but I heard that Laurent Hilaire did not participate in the evaluation of his daughter's entrance exam, and after she joined the company he also did not evaluate her at the annual promotion exams to avoid criticism. And Juliette Hilaire was not pushed hard for roles in the company when her father was the ballet master. Laurent Hilare had another daughter enrolled in the POB school but she was not accepted in the company. 

Thank you for this naomikage. I had not heard of this before. I know of two or three instances in San Francisco where young dancers who had parents as staff/donors of the ballet company and were encouraged to go elsewhere in order to avoid conflict. I'm not sure if this is an actual policy but it does make sense.

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There are family dynasties in the Russian, Danish, and French companies.  There have been generations of the same family at NYCB, notably Peter Martins, who was his son's boss, and is his son's step-brother's boss.  Sometimes that influence is direct, and sometimes, like in the Hilaire example, the older generation distances him- or herself.

 

If I had buckets of money and a kid who wanted to choreograph, I would start a small, private foundation for budding choreographers, and among the small grants the foundation would give out would be to my kid, so kid could go to small companies with money in hand and get practice, hone skills, and attempt to create a reputation that would make it credible to be selected for a mainstage production at the Mothership.

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Rob Binet did not suddenly appear as a choreographer when his father became chair of the NBOC board. And he didn't need daddy to set up a foundation to funnel money and work to him. He had been choreographing since he was in the National Ballet School, and was then mentored by John Neumeier and commissioned to do work for the Hamburg Ballet junior company (and other companies, such as Dutch National Ballet's junior company and Ballet Black). He then was named "choreographic apprentice" or some such at the Royal Ballet where he was mentored by Wayne McGregor. He created The Blue of Distance for New York City Ballet after participating in sessions of New York Choreographic Institute in 2011 and 2014. He has also been commissioned to do work for the Estonian National Ballet and Theatre Ballet Moscow. Clearly some big names in the ballet world believe in him, and they aren't influenced by daddy. And... he's not even 25.

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1 hour ago, kbarber said:

He had been choreographing since he was in the National Ballet School

Where his father was also head of the Board. 

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1 hour ago, JumpFrog said:

Where his father was also head of the Board. 

oh for heaven's sake. This strikes me as unjustly maligning both Rob Binet and his father.

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1 hour ago, kbarber said:

 He then was named "choreographic apprentice" or some such at the Royal Ballet where he was mentored by Wayne McGregor. 

Okay, I didn't want to make this personal about this kid, but this needs to be said: It says even on his own website that the "choreographic apprentice" position was created "Especially for Robert." 

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1 hour ago, Canadian said:

Okay, I didn't want to make this personal about this kid, but this needs to be said: It says even on his own website that the "choreographic apprentice" position was created "Especially for Robert." 

 

That position was created at tghe ROYAL BALLET.  David Binet has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ROYAL BALLET. 

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So after reading everyone's thoughts on this I decided to do some research on my lunch break.

 

Turns out Binet was in fact head of the Board of the Canadian ballet school while his son attended. When the son graduated the father became head of the company board and the son was given the Choreographic Associate thing.

 

The father then joined the Art Gallery Board and the Dreamers dance project was premiered.

 

This is all publicly available information found on their websites. (News, media, Annual report)

 

In terms of the apprentice position as a choreographer I have not personally encountered that position before but my experience is in North America only so it may be different in Europe. Come to think of it that's actually smart to have an apprentice like rank of a company for choreographers. They can develop and learn from those more experienced. 

 

It does seem looking at the Royal ballet media releases that it was more the relationship of Wayne M and Binet that brought about the position and regardless they no longer have that position at all. I think it was for one year but not sure.

 

Anyway back to the season who saw Swan Lake last night? I'm dying to see it

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Swan Lake 

June 16th, 2017

Fischer/Saye/Watts

 

Not sure how I can adequately describe how much I was looking forward to this performance.

 

Since being in Canada I have missed big

classical ballet so so much and I also had heard such good things about this production from people as well as loved this companies Cinderella and the Nutcracker.

 

All in all the news is good in now three out of three of Kudelka's ballet's I tottaly love.

The opening here is really majestic and visually impressive. And the screen or painting or whatever the background was for the first act (if anyone knows please share) was breathtaking. That sky and the clouds oh my! Beautiful design.

 

I had been warned about a scene of violence beforehand and as people discuss above with Streetcar Named Desire the issue of violence on stage especially when sexual in nature is very divisive and a tricky subject to talk about. However I found The Wench to be one of the most harrowing moments of the entire ballet and so so powerful. The music is so celebratory and gloriously Tchaikovsky at his best and it starts so free wheeling and fun and then it obviously turns. It turns but the music plays on. And we are helpless to stop it. Dark? Yes. Powerful. Yes. I think so.

 

Moving along into the act I found the "reveal" of Odette so refreshing. I've seen so many version where she just runs/jumps onstage and/or is "hidden" in the group dancers only to appear at some point in the choreography. I always found the first option kind of boring and the second option a risk because once you see it once you can't help but look for her each time lol. Here she emerges as natural as a human ballerina dressed as a swan in a tutu can be hahahah. Kidding aside somehow she emerges in such a natural way -  like a bird would - kind of out of nowhere. It feels so right with the builds in the music also.

 

So I want to say right off the bat that I feel very bad for Hannah Fischer. I think as discussed above that she is in an impossible position. Lose lose really. This is not her role. And I say that because I think she is talented and would love to see her in the right fit. But it was so clear from the get go that she wasn't comfortable. And her entire way of moving is not suited to this role. She is an absolutely gorgeous girl with an amazing instrument to work with. But everything is too sharp, athletic, lacking in refinement to work here. Her technical ability and in particular her musicality just was not up to the job at hand. I didn't see any softness or detail or the kind of lyricism a dancer should have for the role of Odette. Also her feet and or shoes are an issue. I don't know what it is and if someone does please chime in here but they don't look like they give her any support? They bend so much that she falls down off of the pointe and it's often sudden and clunky and clearly not meant to happen. When Siegfried helps pick her up from the floor when she is in her one leg extended in front pose in both white and black swan it was like her shoe was a spade in soil - just ram it down and hope it holds. I never noticed this transition before because I'm assuming it should appear smooth and seamless. I would love to see her where she feels comfortable. Balanchine? Sleeping Beauty? I have no doubt that in the right work she will be great. What upsets me is that watching it I knew there is no way that she doesn't know it's not a good fit. You don't get to that level of achievement from being oblivious or lacking in self awareness. It must feel awful to have to go out there when you know you're just not ready. It just sucks.

 

From the get go I found Brendan Saye competent. He is also a very good looking young dancer and his way of standing and walking was very princely which worked here. Other than that though I didn't feel or see much in terms of making a real impact. He simply did it and got through it.

 

For me the mvp of the night was Ethan Watts. From that amazing opening bit [who pulls off giant wings? Watts does] he was so present so articulate with every moment and gesture that I was really taken in. As the person beside me whisperyelled to their companion "Ohhh, he's good!"

 

The Benno and Fool character were also very solid danced by Trygve Cumpston and Kota Sato.

 

This particular Swan Lake version does more for the relationship dynamic between the three leads of Swan Rothbart and Siegfried then I have seen elsewhere. I really sensed characters and history and shifting power dynamics it makes me excited to see other interpretations.

 

The second act was also amazing in the design. I love the violet blue kind of color theme and the only thing I quibble with was that especially the big group dance at the beginning looked smushed in that space. So much on the stage and not enough room. Looking back I felt this about Nutcracker and was told it could be because it was built for the old ballet theatre so maybe that is what happened here. 

 

Very interesting princesses variations. Laughed out loud at the Italian one with the guy who kept trying to convince the prince his girl is best. Missed some of the traditional character style dance but meh it was still good.

 

Black swan pas de deux was not strong. They were uncomfortable we were uncomfortable. It was rough. Maybe it was her shoes? She near wiped out at the end of her solo and again fell off her pointe but saved it as best she could and bless her kept on going. Then she had to come back on for the fouettes. I think she might have got through 10? She then ran forward and did a swan wings kind of arm move and then started some other turns in a circle. 

 

Saye it seemed to me does have a good jump but something about the way he uses the plie before and after seemed like it could use work. Like he would have more jump if he got lower and used more plie for takeoff and landing. 

 

The transifion after he says that he'll choose her to marry was crazy good. You could hear how thrilled the audience was including myself as the big silk wave thing came about and the lights changed and everything starting to go down.

 

And then the section of black swans dancing together that followed is what sealed the deal for me. Wonderful. Haunting. Third descriptive term similar but different then haunting.

 

The end was very sad as is often the case with Swan Lake but it really was heartbreakingly beautiful. The way she is still standing by him after he is down and the way she tries to pick up his arm was so so moving and each moment matched the music perfectly. 

 

By the end I was just so happy to see classical ballet here and such great version of the choreography. Even if it wasn't the strongest night for the leads they went out there and did their best.

 

Swan Lake

June 17th, 2017

Hawes/Gerty/Rudisin

 

Two Swan Lakes in twenty four hours. Somebody's gotta do it! I was determined to see each cast so onto the next. I won't talk so much about the production because I already did and I can barely feel my hands. 

 

Emma. Hawes. Stole. The. Entire. Show.

 

Then it ended. 

 

I am not sure I have seen someone so young and relatively inexperienced in principal roles come out and do what she did. 

 

From the beginning it was clear she was a swan. She has a lyrical calmnesss to her dancing that works so well here. Was it perfect? Definitely not. Is it ever? But after how tough the previous show was I was just so taken by what it actually looks like to see someone take on a mountain and win. 

 

She was partnered by Chris Gerty who like Saye has the advantage of being very handsome and with a princely stature. He is a very attentive partner and has glorious leaps. His acting was thoughtful and he has an arabesque to die for. I look forward to seeing him in more.

 

Ben Rudison was good as Rothbart. I think I was just spoiled by how good Watts was and it didn't have the same level of excitement. They also are totally different. I'm not sure. Maybe he needs some more time to develop as it was also his first time in the role. One thing is that he is a very strong partner. So attentive and without breaking character which I really appreciate.

 

Jack Bertinshaw was really excellent in Benno. Very different feeling than Cumpston but just as good and I'm glad to see the dancers make things their own. There is an honesty and openness to him on stage that I was taken by. Very somehow unaffected.

 

Frola as the Fool was wonderful. What a crazy talent he has. His body can seemingly do things that defy gravity.

 

Pretty wiped from both shows in all. It packs an emotional wallop. Swan Lake is just so timeless from the music to the themes and I'm just so happy I get to experience it. 

 

Happy Weekend all.

 

 

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Emma Hawes, Hannah Fischer and Brendan Saye will be promoted to First Soloist next season.

Félix Paquet and Ben Rudisin will be promoted to Second Soloist.

Edited by kbarber

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1 hour ago, kbarber said:

Emma Hawes, Hannah Fischer and Brendan Saye will be promoted to First Soloist next season.

Félix Paquet and Ben Rudisin will be promoted to Second Soloist.

Um..Okay.

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