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Atlanta Ballet: half the company will be gone

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51 minutes ago, Birdsall said:

I am not sure putting all your eggs in one basket usually works, and that is why companies try to have a variety. I think specializing in one area but also doing other ballets is the "safe" thing to do.

It's a difficult balance to achieve, isn't it? What is the sweet spot that exists between being one-dimensional in terms of repertory and doing so much that the individual styles of the choreographers become blurred together??  

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No matter who the new AD was going to be --that person would have an artistic view and expertise.  PAB has Corella's ABT experience, but he also seems to like some neo-classical. 


Nedvigin has Bolshoi and SFB experience.  But he succeeded in other genres too (Balanchine's Coppelia, new works by Possekhov, etc).  I think he deserves a chance to succeed.  I'm interested to see what else he plans to do. 


At PNB Francia Russell and Kent Stowell had their own mid-1950s-mid-1960's Balanchine experiences and their productions reflected that.  But they let dancers go too and underused others.  At their start they brought in dancers from SFB and NYCB so that type of pipeline is not new.  



Edited by Jayne
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The issues being discussed in the abstract or as they apply to other companies are very interesting and even important, but I'm not sure the exact case of Atlanta Ballet fits them all that neatly. I'm pretty excited for the future. But we will see what happens...

Edited by Drew
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6 hours ago, pherank said:

Looks like Sarasota Ballet has similar personnel issues:



"Multiple sources — dancers who requested anonymity because, as one put it, “ballet is a small world” — said 20 to 23 of 51 company members would not be back; 16 to 18 have not been offered contracts, while four or five have chosen to leave."




In one sense it seems very similar--drearily so for dancers whose careers are both short and fragile--but in another, I find the Sarasota situation more puzzling--the artistic director isn't changing, nor has he announced a "new" vision for the company's future. Volpe (the executive director) says the downsizing has nothing to do with "financial distress" but is part of a long-planned restructuring.  I infer it still must have something to do with putting the company on sounder financial footing, though perhaps they intend to do other hiring down the line...very sad for the dancers and their fans. (And Sarasota is widely and, I think, rightly considered a huge success.)

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I suspect you might be right, Drew, about Sarasota, because no company wants to say there are financial issues. If someone is a donor he/she is less likely to open the wallet if there is a sense of a sinking ship, because it is like throwing money out of the window. So no company in its right mind would admit to financial issues. However, there was a major shake-up in Sarasota's administration earlier, and Joseph Volpe was simply part of the board back then and stepped up to be an interim director, until they found someone new, but recently he simply gained the title of "executive director." Suddenly, there is no more search for a permanent executive director. He is it. Supposedly, his wife loves ballet, and when they retired in Sarasota they started attending Sarasota Ballet, and that is how he got involved. Since he has a lot of expertise, he might be the one behind all the changes. Webb probably trusts his judgment, but, of course, that is a total guess. I know if I were running a regional company and Joseph Volpe were willing to take the executive director position despite having retired already, I think I would be willing to listen to him. I am sure there are pros and cons to Volpe's style. The infamous Kathleen Battle firing at the Met made news around the world, but even at the time it was pointed out that other male stars were given more leeway when it came to bad behavior. Of course, there are many stories of Battle's crazy behavior, so maybe it was warranted. We have never really gotten her side of the story. However, the firing seemed sudden, and I wonder if she received warning. If she received several warnings before her firing I would understand it a little better. On a positive point, she supposedly sang a recital at the Met (appearing there for the first time since her firing) last season. However, I have no idea how well she sang. I haven't heard her in years.


That is going off on a tangent. I do not necessarily think this spells doom and gloom for Sarasota Ballet. I think you have someone who knows how to run a much, much larger company than Sarasota Ballet at the helm, and you have an artistic team (Webb and Barbieri) who have put Sarasota on the map. So there is still promise for the audience and the company overall. But I do feel sad for the dancers who are losing their jobs especially since the arts are not well funded in general. I looked at the roster and I don't think it has been updated. I wonder if some of the principal dancers will be gone. It is always nice to attend a performance and you recognize most of them. So next season may feel different....like seeing a whole new company.

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