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kbarber

Where is Brooklyn Mack?

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I was just on Washington Ballet's website and Brooklyn Mack is no longer listed as a company dancer. Anyone know where he's gone?

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46 minutes ago, kbarber said:

I was just on Washington Ballet's website and Brooklyn Mack is no longer listed as a company dancer. Anyone know where he's gone?

Nothing turned up on Google, but I found this on his Instagram account. No mention of Washington Ballet:

Brooklyn Mack


Next Performance: 
Alice and Wonderland with Hong Kong Ballet August 16-19, 2018
Despertares August 25, 2018 in Mexico City

He is listed as a guest artist with Hong Kong Ballet. Septime Weber was the former director of WB and choreographer for Alice (in Wonderland): http://www.hkballet.com/en/About-Us/Guest-Artists/Current-Season/Brooklyn-Mack.html

Edited by California

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Didn’t his wife (Alicia Graf Mack) resettle in NYC? I’m assuming that they’re still together; one never knows nowadays! 😏

Whatever the reason, I’ll definitely miss him. I suppose that Gian Carlo Perez will now have to carry the heavy work load among the top guys. I didn’t see much of Ndlovu or Sarabia last season...Sarabia mostly out for the past two years.

Edited by CharlieH

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Interestingly, when looking to see if Brooklyn had joined Septime at Hong Kong Ballet (since he was performing Alice with them), I noticed that Venus Villa is now at Hong Kong Ballet, and no longer listed on Washington Ballet's site.

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57 minutes ago, its the mom said:

Interestingly, when looking to see if Brooklyn had joined Septime at Hong Kong Ballet (since he was performing Alice with them), I noticed that Venus Villa is now at Hong Kong Ballet, and no longer listed on Washington Ballet's site.

Good observation. After getting egg on my face about “the Macks,” I don’t dare say a thing about Mr. and Mrs. Sarabia!

adding: In reading the Hong  Kong roster, I see that long-time WB dancer and coach/teacher Luis Torres has also moved there.

2 hours ago, its the mom said:

Brooklyn has never been married to Alicia.  

Thanks, @its the momand @Imspear! Sorry about that.

I still have a secret wish that Brooklyn Mack might make his way to a certain big NYC-based company. A company with a current need for tall male principals with a WOW factor?

Edited by CharlieH

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Perhaps Brooklyn is going the way of freelancing/guest artist.  There are several of those listed as guest artists at HK Ballet.  It can be quite lucrative and dancers are able to pick and choose what they would like to do.  Certainly not for everyone, but it appears there are a few who have been quite successful at it.

http://www.hkballet.com/en/About-Us/Guest-Artists.html

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Brooklyn Mack is substituting for the embroiled Amar Ramasar in  upcoming Fall For Dance performances at NY City Center. 

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Sarah Kaufman, in her review of TWB Welcomes for the Washington Post, reported that the WB stated that they "were unable to reach an agreement with him". I guess that, unlike the National Symphony Orchestra, the WB doesn't have unlimited financial resources.

 

Edited by YouOverThere

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An article in the Oct. 22 Washington Post implies that Mack left primarily because Julie Kent wouldn't give him as much time off to do guest performances as Septime Webre did. Mack apparently also felt that he was pressed into substituting for injured dancers too often.

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That article, linked below, was very disheartening to read. Although I'm no longer in Washington, I was a bit disappointed to see the direction of the Washington Ballet. There's little marketing to the broader public and tickets are expensive. Their mixed bills largely overlap with those that the major companies bring to the Kennedy Center. I'm not shocked that the house continues to be rather empty (I saw one Friday evening show where maybe the theater was a third full). Septime Weber's programs were funky, different, and fun. When I left DC, I couldn't distinguish the WB from any other company, and I'm sorry that it doesn't seem that the situation has improved.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_danc/washington-ballet-is-struggling-with-empty-seats-and-a-3-million-debt-what-will-turn-it-around/2018/10/22/9f05bba0-d0b2-11e8-8c22-fa2ef74bd6d6_story.html

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I get the impression that the board of directors should have done a thorough study of the history of ballet in Washington.  Their goal seems to be to recreate the National Ballet of Washington, that was directed by Frederick Franklin and Ben Stevenson.  It lasted from 1963-1974 doing the classics and standard repetory.

I'm only aware of this company because as a child I was taken to a performance of Cinderella with Margot Fonteyn when they performed at Brooklyn College.  I kept the souvenir book for years.  

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Ballet_of_Washington,_D.C.

If the current version of the company rejects it's own heritage for the standard model they may end up succeeding into oblivion.

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Very interesting article. It will be fascinating to follow this company's successes and failures. Julie Kent seems to want to follow the ABT model, but that company is having a hard time, IMHO, figuring out what to do to sell tickets. It's interesting that the mentors she mentions, Baryshnikov, Tudor, Nureyev - were not men who built successful companies. Lastly, saying it's not about entertainment is a mistake.

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28 minutes ago, vipa said:

Very interesting article. It will be fascinating to follow this company's successes and failures. Julie Kent seems to want to follow the ABT model, but that company is having a hard time, IMHO, figuring out what to do to sell tickets. It's interesting that the mentors she mentions, Baryshnikov, Tudor, Nureyev - were not men who built successful companies. Lastly, saying it's not about entertainment is a mistake.

Agree. Also, I distinctly remember her saying in the podcast Conversations on Dance, that she was NOT trying to make TWB another/smaller ABT. Very different vibe in this article. I’m saddened that they’re having such a hard time; not what I thought was going on. Letting Mack go was a huge mistake. Near empty houses? Yikes!

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5 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

Agree. Also, I distinctly remember her saying in the podcast Conversations on Dance, that she was NOT trying to make TWB another/smaller ABT. Very different vibe in this article. I’m saddened that they’re having such a hard time; not what I thought was going on. Letting Mack go was a huge mistake. Near empty houses? Yikes!

Well from this article it's not clear that he was let go. Sounds more like a mutual agreement that WB was no longer a good fit for him. What's more concerning is Julie's high salary when budgeting is so tight and the fact that she lives rent free off Washington Ballet's expense. Yikes. The optics for that are not good especially if she's letting dancers go because she can't pay them what they want.

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I assume "Letting Mack go" meant allowing him to leave and not coming up with an offer good enough to keep him.

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38 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Well from this article it's not clear that he was let go. Sounds more like a mutual agreement that WB was no longer a good fit for him. What's more concerning is Julie's high salary when budgeting is so tight and the fact that she lives rent free off Washington Ballet's expense. Yikes. The optics for that are not good especially if she's letting dancers go because she can't pay them what they want.

 

30 minutes ago, Helene said:

I assume "Letting Mack go" meant allowing him to leave and not coming up with an offer good enough to keep him.

I meant exactly what Helene said.

And, yes Kent’s high salary and living rent-free (!) is quite troublesome.

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10 hours ago, lmspear said:

I get the impression that the board of directors should have done a thorough study of the history of ballet in Washington.  Their goal seems to be to recreate the National Ballet of Washington, that was directed by Frederick Franklin and Ben Stevenson.  It lasted from 1963-1974 doing the classics and standard repetory.

I'm only aware of this company because as a child I was taken to a performance of Cinderella with Margot Fonteyn when they performed at Brooklyn College.  I kept the souvenir book for years.  

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Ballet_of_Washington,_D.C.

If the current version of the company rejects it's own heritage for the standard model they may end up succeeding into oblivion.

This was the company I attended regularly as a child. I still remember Franklin's wonderful performances as Madge in Sylphide (in which Fonteyn also appeared as a guest artist with Desmond Kelly) and Coppelius in Coppelia. The Franklin Coppelia production for ABT seemed to me close to what I remembered of the National Ballet production, though he staged it many years later.

Prior to the opening of Kennedy Center in 1971 D.C. didn't get big ballet companies doing substantial visits --though sometimes companies came and made do with problematic venues.  I just looked up when Wolftrap opened--the theater that is--and that was also 1971. Just some examples: I remember a group of Bolshoi dancers performing a highlights program at Constitution Hall in the 1960's--NOT a dance venue; New York City Ballet coming to Carter Barron (an outdoor theater) is another very distant memory.  But it's hard to exaggerate how transformative Kennedy Center was for Ballet in D.C. especially as it opened at a very exciting time for ballet fans--the era of Fonteyn/Nureyev; Sibley/Dowell; Fracci/Bruhn; Makarova's defection; Balanchine's Stravinsky festival right around the corner; Stuttgart's early U.S. appearances; Bolshoi "golden age;" and a few years later Baryshnikov's defection and early (still happy) partnership with Kirkland and Farrell's return to NYCB etc. etc.

So the National Ballet, which had made do with Lisner auditorium on the George Washington Campus prior to Kennedy Center's opening, was really filling a need on the arts landscape for some years--and then suddenly faced extraordinary competition. Stevenson actually became co-director at about the same time and he raised the level of the dancing overall.  (Regarding that last point, I am going on childhood impressions mixed with memories of things family members said.)

When the company folded Stevenson spoke in an interview about the challenges the company faced performing at Kennedy Center even as top companies from around the world were performing there in multi-week seasons, and I remember it as rather angry about the role Kennedy Center played in the company's demise. (I did a google search and couldn't find the interview, but I'm confident that I'm not imagining that I read it.)

I don't remember exactly what Stevenson said but he probably felt the Center should have supported the company more, giving them more resources, and I know he defended the company's unique strengths; I specifically remember him pointing out in the same interview that two of the company's leading men, Kevin Mckenzie and Kirk Peterson, were as talented as top leading men at ABT etc. He wasn't wrong about that and, of course, they went on to careers at ABT.

I have always thought Mckenzie was partly shaped by his time at the National Ballet so the flow of influence between the Washington ballet "scene" and ABT perhaps has gone in both directions. Many here must remember McKenzie had ABT stage Stevenson's Snow Maiden (which had been created for Houston) in addition to having Franklin stage his Coppelia. As far as earlier National Ballet/ABT history goes: according to his NYTimes Obit, Ivan Nagy was invited to dance in D.C. by Frederic Franklin, and it was those appearances that led to his defection and career in the West, including at American Ballet Theatre.

The National Ballet performed some old stalwarts that have largely fallen out of repertory including Lichine's Graduation Ball as well as the eclectic mix referred to in the Wikipedia article. They also had Stevenson's own stagings/choreography including his Nutcracker and the Cinderella Imspear mentions.  

We once were discussing the company on this site and someone commented they were in a lineage with the Ballet Russe touring companies--not just via Franklin, but also both Andrea Vodhenal and Eugene Collins had danced with the Ballet Russe.  (Very probably others whose backgrounds I don't know.) And that lineage also was reflected in some of their repertory.

In memory of a childhood crush I have to add to all of this that one of their leading dancers was Dennis Poole, who later went on to dance with the Joffrey and several other companies--though his name seems missing from the Wikipedia article.

Edited to add: Another google search turned up quite a bit of information on the company and, so to speak, the role of Kennedy Center in its demise in Leslie Norton's biography of Frederic Franklin (which I haven't read and hadn't known about--though now it is most certainly on my list).

Edited by Drew

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The article (as I interpret it) depicts Mack's reasons for leaving as career growth rather than salary. Of course, if it really was about money it wouldn't be surprising if he wouldn't have come out and said that. I could be wrong, but I doubt if the 2 dancers who left for BalletMet are getting paid more. While the free rent surprised me, Julie Kent's salary didn't. Salaries in DC tend to be high (except for mine :( ). The National Symphony Orchestra is the 6th highest paying orchestra in the US, paying more than the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras despite being well below those orchestras in terms of quality. The NSO concertmaster pulls in $378k. I don't know what the current music director is making, but his predecessor was pulling in $2.7 MILLION despite his lack of conducting fundamentals.

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18 hours ago, vipa said:

Very interesting article. It will be fascinating to follow this company's successes and failures. Julie Kent seems to want to follow the ABT model, but that company is having a hard time, IMHO, figuring out what to do to sell tickets. It's interesting that the mentors she mentions, Baryshnikov, Tudor, Nureyev - were not men who built successful companies. Lastly, saying it's not about entertainment is a mistake.

"Lastly, saying it's not about entertainment is a mistake."

Yes. I was also struck by this quote from Kent: “If you look at all the great companies in the world, the repertoire is very similar among all of them. Everybody’s doing classical ballet, contemporary ballet and Ratmansky and [Christopher] Wheeldon,” Kent said in a recent interview in her office on Wisconsin Avenue NW. “That’s what we want, and that’s what the audience wants, and that’s what the dancers want.”

 “Our goal is to imitate the big guys,” isn’t much of a rallying cry. Not to mention that there is much debate over whether the global sameness of the repertory is a Good Thing. 

That said, it’s understandable that Kent would want to make the company look like what she knows best. And it’s early days. The money hole is looking scary, though.

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3 hours ago, dirac said:

“That’s what we want, and that’s what the audience wants, and that’s what the dancers want.”

If ticket sales are down substantially, maybe it isn't what the audience wants. It's what I want, but I represent about 0.02 percent of the ticket purchases. My impression during the Webre years was that the WB audience had only a limited overlap with the audiences for ABT, NYCB, etc., so whether they took surveys to find out whether there was a demand for different programming I don't know. That Webre received a year's salary as severance pay is interesting.

Edited by YouOverThere

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3 hours ago, dirac said:

I was also struck by this quote from Kent: “If you look at all the great companies in the world, the repertoire is very similar among all of them. Everybody’s doing classical ballet, contemporary ballet and Ratmansky and [Christopher] Wheeldon,” Kent said in a recent interview in her office on Wisconsin Avenue NW. “That’s what we want, and that’s what the audience wants, and that’s what the dancers want.”

 “Our goal is to imitate the big guys,” isn’t much of a rallying cry. Not to mention that there is much debate over whether the global sameness of the repertory is a Good Thing.

I had the same reaction when I read that quote, especially the part about, "what the audience wants." The audience wants even more Peck/Ratmansky/Wheeldon -- really?

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