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And yet, McK had no problem getting rid of Reyes, Kent, and Herrera in one swell swoop. I know there are different financial considerations at NYCB and ABT, but NYCB manages to keep a larger roster of principals. it all comes down to money for the contracts.

And Part too.

Edited by angelica
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3 hours ago, angelica said:

Plus, I don't think there is any comparison between Bell and Shayer. Bell promises to become a principal dancer and to dance the entire repertoire of leading male roles; whereas Shayer, as someone said above, is likely to remain a demi-charactere dancer. I doubt he will ever become a principal. And lord knows, the company desperately needs principal men. 

Highly agree. While Shayer may be one to watch to some people, I don’t think he has been in the same essence that Bell has been. I just can’t see him carrying a full length (Shayer, that is). I think he could be a strong soloist in time, and I hear that he’s a strong actor, which is always a good characteristic to have. 

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14 minutes ago, angelica said:

And yet, McK had no problem getting rid of Reyes, Kent, and Herrera in one swell swoop. I know there are different financial considerations at NYCB and ABT, but NYCB manages to keep a larger roster of principals. it all comes down to money for the contracts.

And Part too.

I think part of NYCB’s ability to keep a larger Principal roster comes with NYCB’s rep. It’s mixed bills of short, 20-ish minute ballets on rotation for so many weeks. The occasional full length, like “Jewels”, or recently, Midsummer, which gets quite a few goes, and of course “Nutcracker”. I think simply due to the amount they dance and all of the ballet’s that go during a single season allows them to have such large Principal and Soloist ranks, whereas comparatively, ABT dances less. 

 

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9 hours ago, annaewgn said:

I think part of NYCB’s ability to keep a larger Principal roster comes with NYCB’s rep. It’s mixed bills of short, 20-ish minute ballets on rotation for so many weeks. The occasional full length, like “Jewels”, or recently, Midsummer, which gets quite a few goes, and of course “Nutcracker”. I think simply due to the amount they dance and all of the ballet’s that go during a single season allows them to have such large Principal and Soloist ranks, whereas comparatively, ABT dances less. 

Yes, this means that there are constant opportunities for principals to dance in featured roles. On a given night, as many as 4-6 female principals alone may perform. ABT is lucky to find roles for 2. If ABT had more female principals, as @ABT Fan noted above, they would likely not get as many roles as they would seem to deserve — and as they would need, to stay in top shape.

Edited by nanushka
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2 hours ago, canbelto said:

But ABT's principal dancers' salaries are subsidized by private sponsors whose names appear under their billing in the playbills. It's a very different budgeting system than NYCB.

What particular impact(s) do you see that as having on the ABT principal roster? I can imagine a few possibilities.

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11 minutes ago, nanushka said:

What particular impact(s) do you see that as having on the ABT principal roster? I can imagine a few possibilities.

Yeah, I don’t see that being a massive issues. I’ve always thought the dancers had set salaries, but the sponsors merely help support needs for the performances such as shoes, costumes, sets, etc. I could be wrong, however, I haven’t read too much into the salaries of Principals. And, I doubt that a lack of sponsor for a principal dancer isn’t an issue. I think (and hope) there are plenty of people who’d want to sponsor an ABT Principal. 

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3 minutes ago, Leah said:

IIRC the Veronika Part drama concerned ABT taking away her sponsorship and giving it to a newly promoted dancer. So scarcity is an issue it would seem.

IIRC, and I may not, I thought the issue was that ABT took away Veronika's "contract," i.e., there are only a certain number of "contracts" available for each level of the hierarchy. My understanding is that when someone sponsors a dancer, the money doesn't go toward that dancer's salary, but into a large general pool that supports the company in various ways. The bonus for the sponsor is the fiction that they are supporting a specific dancer; but they do get to know that dancer personally.

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5 minutes ago, angelica said:

IIRC, and I may not, I thought the issue was that ABT took away Veronika's "contract," ...

Yeah I don’t recall it being about her sponsorship in particular — at least not according to the information that was publicly available at the time.

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15 minutes ago, Leah said:

My mistake! I think Part said something about her sponsor renewing their contribution and ABT refusing it, so I was confused.

I guess that's possible if ABT decided not to renew her contract.

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19 minutes ago, Leah said:

My mistake! I think Part said something about her sponsor renewing their contribution and ABT refusing it, so I was confused.

Oh yes, I do recall that. Sorry, I thought you meant something different. I think her sponsor was still willing to sponsor her but ABT didn’t renew her contract regardless. The part that didn’t ring a bell was about her sponsorship being taken away and given to someone else.

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25 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Oh yes, I do recall that. Sorry, I thought you meant something different. I think her sponsor was still willing to sponsor her but ABT didn’t renew her contract regardless. The part that didn’t ring a bell was about her sponsorship being taken away and given to someone else.

She said they gave the contract to a "new principal." Since Sarah Lane, Christine Shevchenko, and Devon Teuscher were all promited that year it's pretty easy to figure out where that sponsor contract went to.

2 hours ago, nanushka said:

What particular impact(s) do you see that as having on the ABT principal roster? I can imagine a few possibilities.

Well I think if a dancer catches a sponsor's eye and there's deep enough pockets that dancer can be promoted. 

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I’ve always assumed that those donors aren’t actually funding a particular dancer’s salary, but rather, giving at a certain level allows one to attach one’s name to a corps, soloist or principal dancer, depending on how much you give. The alternative scenario would seem to give the donor too much agency in determining a dancer’s fate, but who knows...

I kind of figured it’s like when donors give a lot of money to name a space after themselves, except in this instance the name is being attached to a dancer rather than to a section of the theater.

I think the problem is that ABT’s operating budget is a fraction of NYCB’s, isn’t it? Yes, there aren’t as many principal role opportunities at ABT, but ABT could also expand the notion of what a principal role is (to include peasant pas, etc.). Certainly NYCB principals take on roles that would be considered soloist-level at ABT. NYCB even had principal men doing the Rose Adagio. Not a bad idea, really, when you think of the support the ballerina requires...

Edited by fondoffouettes
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23 minutes ago, canbelto said:

She said they gave the contract to a "new principal." Since Sarah Lane, Christine Shevchenko, and Devon Teuscher were all promited that year it's pretty easy to figure out where that sponsor contract went to.

Well I think if a dancer catches a sponsor's eye and there's deep enough pockets that dancer can be promoted.

On the first point, giving the contract to a new principal is not the same as giving the sponsorship to a new principal.

On the second point, I’m not sure we can assume that’s how it works. Is there a basis for that idea in the available info?

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I'm sorry Part said she gave the sponsorship to a new principal. Part's sponsor was Theresa Khawly -- Khawly now sponsors Shevchenko. 

As for the sponsorship information, it;s on the ABT website:

https://www.abt.org/support/individual-giving/major-gifts/

Sponsors are recognized in Playbill and on ABT’s website.
Eight levels of sponsorship are available, and each dancer may be sponsored by up to three sponsors:

Professional Dancer Sponsorships
Principal Sponsor – $35,000 annually
Soloist Sponsor – $25,000 annually
Corps de Ballet Sponsor – $15,000 annually

Pre-Professional Dancer Sponsorships
ABT Apprentice Sponsor – $12,500 annually
ABT Studio Company Dancer – $10,000 annually
ABT JKO Upper 2 Level Student – $8,000 annually
ABT JKO Upper 1 Level Student – $6,500 annually
Project Plié Bridge Class Student – $5,000 annually

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19 hours ago, canbelto said:

I'm sorry Part said she gave the sponsorship to a new principal. Part's sponsor was Theresa Khawly -- Khawly now sponsors Shevchenko. 

As for the sponsorship information, it;s on the ABT website:

https://www.abt.org/support/individual-giving/major-gifts/

Sponsors are recognized in Playbill and on ABT’s website.
Eight levels of sponsorship are available, and each dancer may be sponsored by up to three sponsors:

Professional Dancer Sponsorships
Principal Sponsor – $35,000 annually
Soloist Sponsor – $25,000 annually
Corps de Ballet Sponsor – $15,000 annually

Pre-Professional Dancer Sponsorships
ABT Apprentice Sponsor – $12,500 annually
ABT Studio Company Dancer – $10,000 annually
ABT JKO Upper 2 Level Student – $8,000 annually
ABT JKO Upper 1 Level Student – $6,500 annually
Project Plié Bridge Class Student – $5,000 annually

No need to be sorry, I just don’t recall those being quite Part’s words. Is there a source? The fact that her former sponsor now sponsors someone else does not indicate that “the sponsorship” was given away.

(ETA: Khawly was already Shevchenko's sponsor while Part was still on the roster, according to old playbills I have.)

I also don’t see how the cited info from their website necessarily means that a sponsor can successfully go to ABT management saying “I want you to make X a principal and here’s a bunch of money if you do.”

Basically, I don’t think the limited info we have (at least that I’ve seen) supports some of the assumptions being made. Which isn’t to say those ideas are false — just that they’re not yet substantiated.

Edited by nanushka
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The amounts listed above would only supplement the cost of a dancer’s salary, not fully cover it. 

What I remember Part saying was that a donor had stepped up to pay her salary and ABT still said no to renewing her contract. She said it in the comments section of something. I’ll try to go back and find it.

I still read these “sponsorships” as simply donor perks for large gifts. I don’t think an unsponsored dancer would have a worse chance of being renewed or promoted, unless ABT is truly unethical.

 

Edited by fondoffouettes
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The reason some might remember Part's sponsorship story a bit different is that her sponsor was (and still is, IIRC) Shevchenko's sponsor. Remember we had a lot of translated FB posts so things might have gotten a bit mistranslated at some point. That was the story, and as mentioned before, that the sponsor was willing to continue paying.

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10 minutes ago, canbelto said:

I'm sorry Part said she gave the sponsorship to a new principal. Part's sponsor was Theresa Khawly -- Khawly now sponsors Shevchenko. 

As for the sponsorship information, it;s on the ABT website:

https://www.abt.org/support/individual-giving/major-gifts/

Sponsors are recognized in Playbill and on ABT’s website.
Eight levels of sponsorship are available, and each dancer may be sponsored by up to three sponsors:

Professional Dancer Sponsorships
Principal Sponsor – $35,000 annually
Soloist Sponsor – $25,000 annually
Corps de Ballet Sponsor – $15,000 annually

Pre-Professional Dancer Sponsorships
ABT Apprentice Sponsor – $12,500 annually
ABT Studio Company Dancer – $10,000 annually
ABT JKO Upper 2 Level Student – $8,000 annually
ABT JKO Upper 1 Level Student – $6,500 annually
Project Plié Bridge Class Student – $5,000 annually

I haven't checked every single name against the roster, but judging from the Dancer Sponsorship page in ABT's annual report, it would appear that every dancer—down to the apprentice level—has at least one sponsor. I don't know how ABT decides which donor gets to sponsor which dancer, but clearly the company has decided that every dancer gets one. Note that some donors are listed as sponsoring more than one dancer. It could be that donors who have a long history of major donations get some say in who they are listed as sponsoring; it could be that there's some kind of lottery; it could be  combination of both. I would be shocked if a dancer's contract were dependent on them somehow attracting a named sponsorship. (I'd be even more shocked if AGMA tolerated such a policy.)

There are two kinds of donations: restricted and unrestricted. Unrestricted donations are what they sound like: the company can use them however they see fit. Restricted donations come with strings attached. They can be restricted as to time. For example, a donor might say "I'm pledging $30,000. You can use $10,000 this year, $10,000 next year, and $10,000 the year after that." They can also be restricted as to purpose: "I'm pledging $30,000 so you can refurbish the costumes some repertory ballets." And of course, they can also be restricted as to both time and purpose: "I'm pledging $30,000 so you can refurbish the costumes for some repertory ballets. You can have $10,000 for that purpose this year, $10,000 next year, and $10,000 the year after that."

I checked ABT's 2017 Financial Statments (which you can find on the NYS Charities Bureau website) to see if there was any detail regarding donor contributions specifically earmarked for dancer sponsorships, but the details regarding donor restrictions aren't that granular. That being said, out of $20.4 million in contributions, $8.8 million came with time or purpose restrictions, and it could be that some of that amount has been earmarked for dancers' salaries overall. (Again, I'd be surprised if donors were allowed to direct their giving to specific dancers. I suspect that these donations go into a general pool that's used to for dancer pay generally. There are also funds for things like production support and training.) 

 Personally, I find the concept of dancer sponsorships a bit creepy, but then again, I'm not trying to entice donors to pull out their checkbooks. Alas, it's apparently not enough to put some portion of one's wealth to good use by supporting a worthy cause; one must be able to slap one's name on something—a building, an elevator bank, a person—in the process.

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Kathleen, thank you for this analysis and research. I have no knowledge of arts administration, and the information you provide, on this occasion as you have often done, is illuminating. 

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On 6/15/2019 at 1:19 PM, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 Personally, I find the concept of dancer sponsorships a bit creepy, but then again, I'm not trying to entice donors to pull out their checkbooks.

Great analysis, Kathleen. Some donors don't really want their names advertised, but Arts companies offer this as an enticement.

Edited by pherank
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On 6/14/2019 at 11:14 PM, annaewgn said:

I think part of NYCB’s ability to keep a larger Principal roster comes with NYCB’s rep. It’s mixed bills of short, 20-ish minute ballets on rotation for so many weeks. The occasional full length, like “Jewels”, or recently, Midsummer, which gets quite a few goes, and of course “Nutcracker”. I think simply due to the amount they dance and all of the ballet’s that go during a single season allows them to have such large Principal and Soloist ranks, whereas comparatively, ABT dances less. 

 

I don’t think there is much point in comparing any one aspect of City with ABT. It’s apples and oranges. The problems with ABT run much deeper than any of these points, valid as they may be individually. 

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On 6/14/2019 at 10:41 PM, ABT Fan said:

As for the women, I think it’s complicated. I don’t think there’s room at the top right now. How would Brandt and Trenary feel (and her fans) to be promoted but then NOT be given a Kitri, Giselle, O/O, etc. I don’t see how their current repertoire could be increased with the number of current female principals, especially once Murphy returns. They may be dancing a number of principal roles now but they are still carrying a soloist load as well. How many of us complained when Lane and Cirio were still doing peasant pas de trois as principals? (Though they were being underutilized for different reasons.)  Would we want to see the same happen to Brandt and Trenary? Also, there aren’t enough leading men to partner the current roster let alone more. I may feel differently tomorrow after I’ve see them both in leading roles, as so far this season I’ve only seen them in secondary or soloist parts, but I think they need another year at least before they’re promoted. Brandt needs to develop her artistic side (as with Shayer, it’s can’t be all about the tricks) and drop her self-conscious demeanor. Trenary needs more self confidence and both of them, esp Trenary, must learn to command the stage. However, I would hate for them to sit in soloist purgatory for several more years waiting for Murphy and Abrera to retire. Those ladies may be 40+ but as others have mentioned they could stick around for another 4 or 5 years. 

Agreed. There isn't room for Trenary/Brandt yet and there are principal women now that aren't getting enough roles. We'll have to see but I don't expect Murphy or Abrera to retire in the next couple of years. It seems like Abrera just made principal. As long as she is still able to do some of the easier roles, she likely will hang on as long as possible. And I expect Gillian will want to do a post-baby comeback like Maria K. 

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On 6/18/2019 at 6:24 AM, Olga said:

I don’t think there is much point in comparing any one aspect of City with ABT. It’s apples and oranges. The problems with ABT run much deeper than any of these points, valid as they may be individually. 

They're more alike than they seem. And while it's not the only reason why the ABT Principal roster, it's a general ballet fact. Lots of different ballets over a long period of time means more dancers are required to perform them. For example, funding and financial reasons aside, it's why Mariinsky has 200+ dancers. They dance a different ballet practically every single day, or every three-four days, six days a week. You can't have the same seventy dancers doing all that dancing. It's a simple matter of supply and demand.

 NYCB has 18 ballets going in the upcoming Fall Season, over a time span of about a month. ABT would struggle to do that with their 15 Principals (including Bolle, Hallberg, Simkin, and Murphy) and 13 Soloists, compared to NYCB's 21 Principals and 20 Soloists. 

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