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Helene

Blog Post by ED Samantha Turner

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I got a Google alert to this link to a blog post by Ballet Arizona Executive Director Samantha Turner:

https://blog.balletaz.org/continuing-to-thrive-a-letter-from-executive-director-samantha-turner/

I think there's very much of which Ballet Arizona has reason to be proud, but I found the following claims troubling:

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Do some googling and you’ll see that there is no other professional ballet company in the country that offers a free performance like Ballet Under the Stars, let alone a series of evenings, year after year. 

My first thought was San Francisco Ballet's annual performances at Stern Grove, the last of which was at the end of July 2018.

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While you are googling, look to see how many ballet companies partner with a professional symphony orchestra to provide live music at performances. Our partnership with the Phoenix Symphony is one of the few instances in the country that brings together both the professional ballet and orchestra. Ballet performed to live music,...

New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, not only perform to live music (when applicable), but they also have their own orchestras.  Houston Ballet had one until last season; I'm guessing that being forced into alternate venues is the reason I see none for this season. Closer in size, Washington Ballet touts the return of its orchestra, and Oregon Ballet Theatre lists their own.   Kansas City Ballet performs to the the Kansas City Symphony,   It took a grant for Miami City Ballet to get its orchestra back for three seasons, which shows how tenuous having live music can be, even for the best of companies. 

This isn't a lot of companies, but it is at least ten.  Ballet Arizona aspires to be among the best: among its achievements is how high the standards are, and that includes performing to live music, and, for the most part, the companies that do perform to live music are much larger institutions and have far more resources.   I think there are enough bragging rights in that without exaggerating.

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2 hours ago, Helene said:

New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, not only perform to live music (when applicable), but they also have their own orchestras.  Houston Ballet had one until last season; I'm guessing that being forced into alternate venues is the reason I see none for this season. Closer in size, Washington Ballet touts the return of its orchestra, and Oregon Ballet Theatre lists their own.   Kansas City Ballet performs to the the Kansas City Symphony,   It took a grant for Miami City Ballet to get its orchestra back for three seasons, which shows how tenuous having live music can be, even for the best of companies. 

Colorado Ballet also performs exclusively to live music and has its own orchestra. I suspect there are other regional companies who can claim this achievement. I'm glad Ballet Arizona can claim this about their own company, but I agree that there's no need to misrepresent the condition of other companies.

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And to be honest, the have the orchrstra for three runs per year.  A week in october, nutcracker(which they didnt once in the last 5 years and got it back), and a week in february.

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Ballet West also has an orchestra, they are probably the closest in proximity to Ballet Arizona.  Perhaps the ED could have phrased her blogpost more precisely and still made the same point - that Arizona is lucky to have an orchestra for it's premier company, and should donate to support it! 

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I really can't believe I left out Ballet West, having recently posted their presser about their new Music Director, who worked his way up from rehearsal pianist :wallbash:  :wub:.

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And BAZ itself doesn't always have an orchestra.  This Chicagoan prefers their Balanchine weekend, in May, performed in Phoenix Symphony Hall, when their music has been played from recordings for several years.  Yes, no reason to exaggerate; but Turner's little bio in the BAZ program presents her as a marketer, so true to that role, she may feel exaggeration to promote her company comes naturally. 

Actually, my long experience watching MCB in Florida taught me that recorded sound can be quite satisfactory: Part way through my career in the audience there, there was such a dramatic improvement in the quality of the sound I heard over the previous season (in the Au-Rene Theater in Ft. Lauderdale) that I had to look in the pit at intermission to see whether there were any players in it, but there was no sign of any.  (I had already noticed different loud-speakers set up at the sides of the stage, and inquiry brought out that they were responsible. Indeed, if I remember correctly, I was told that the rest of the equipment was the same as before.)  

So, with all due respect to hard-working musicians looking for long contracts, "live" vs. "recorded" is a little irrelevant to me.  Agreed, though, BAZ, a company of 30 or so, has a lot to brag about, without exaggeration.      

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