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Behind the Scene pics fracas


Dale

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Has anybody else been following the back-and-forth regarding Devin Alberda taking behind the scene photos at NYCB? He's posted the company letter he received and some dancers' response on Instagram.

 

https://www.instagram.com/dalberda/

 

We first brought this up back in April:

 

I think the most telling line of the NYCB letter is not that Alberda is a distraction by taking these photos (as the executive claims) but that by doing so he's "amassed an immense archive of photographs of NYCB." Very interesting.

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I have only followed this from afar.  Looking at the link, I wasn't able to read the whole of the Parsons letter ...but I confess the whole situation raises questions for me that extend beyond the particular case of Alberda and whether what he's doing happens to be good for the company or not. One could imagine dancers given free rein decidedly not being good ...

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Some of the photographs are very good and that they're in black and white is plus. But the continuous presence of a photographer, even an insider, might be a low level distraction from the work of the class and might affect the concentration of some dancers more strongly than others. I wonder what sort of time allotments Martha Swope was given when she photographed City Ballet.

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21 hours ago, Dale said:

 

I think the most telling line of the NYCB letter is not that Alberda is a distraction by taking these photos (as the executive claims) but that by doing so he's "amassed an immense archive of photographs of NYCB." Very interesting.

 

 

"Amassed an immense archive" does sound like someone in management been in consultation with their intellectual property rights attorneys. I'd be interested to know the financial and rights-related terms under which other photographers* are given access to the company and its dancers. For instance, does the company have final say over which images can and cannot be sold, exhibited, or otherwise made available to the public? Does it retain any financial interest in the images themselves? (Henry Leutwyler's work with the company had the air of a joint project, for instance.) The issue may not be the immensity of the archive so much as the fact that the company doesn't have much if any control over it.

 

The shame of it is, Alberda's photos are immensely flattering to both the company and its dancers. Maybe they should just hire him already.  (But he shouldn't stop dancing! He's a delight to watch, always.)

 

* By which I mean photographers who have not been hired to produce marketing and promotional materials or archival images.

 

 

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I think this is a turf war between NYCB's official photographers and Devin.Especially since Devin amassed an enormous number of followers on social media and also had a loyal group of dancers (from principals to corps) who constantly used his photos in their own social media. It's unfortunate how it's being handled though. Mr. B eventually made Steve Caras (a former dancer in the company) the company photographer. Doesn't seem like Martins is giving Alberda the support to pursue his interests.

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Like Quiggin, I can imagine that the presence of a photographer might be distracting. Especially during moments of creation, or trying to perfect a role, the space to work things out in private, without worrying about every misstep being documented, is bound to be helpful. I can also imagine that the dancers who are bothered by the photography might not feel so free to speak up about it. It seems like there's some peer pressure to support Alberda.

I hope this isn't putting a damper on Devin's prospects for being promoted. He is looking very polished and excellent.  

 

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