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SFB 2020 Miscellaneous


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2 hours ago, pherank said:

"Madison Keesler posted on IG about the vague-still-in-effect social media ban."

But will we ever really know what this is all about?

Maybe. Misa Kuranaga re-posted Madison's message in her stories and added that, "we want our freedom back".

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12 minutes ago, PeggyTulle said:

Maybe. Misa Kuranaga re-posted Madison's message in her stories and added that, "we want our freedom back".

If there's an actual legal issue involved, we might hear some more about this. But if both the union and SFB management are in agreement about what the dancers can report online (under the current contracts), then nothing is likely to change.
I get the feeling that some sort of non-disclosure agreement must be controlling this situation because no one connected with SFB offers any real details.

It doesn't exactly do good things for the SFB image, and, it looks like the dancer's freedom of speech is being interfered with. That's about all I can say though (which I'm sure is exactly what management wants).

Edited by pherank
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I'm curious too if it's a legal workplace issue. But does one have complete freedom of speech at her/his job? Say could you do a videocast from your cubicle on your breaks about what you do at your job? 

And maybe some dancers don't want to appear in the backgrounds of other dancers' IGs. Or maybe they aren't as Instagram presentable and feel a little left a little out of the loop. Maybe Instagram cheeriness is a bit depressing to the cyberspace have nots.

And of course from my age perspective the question would be: if you're so geared to Instagram, what's left over for your art.

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1 hour ago, Quiggin said:

And of course from my age perspective the question would be: if you're so geared to Instagram, what's left over for your art.

Large numbers of people (artists/writers/musicians included) use social media as a p.r. tool, and as a way of sharing their portfolios - many dancers use it to help fulfill 'brand ambassador' duties. I'm not sure how one could prove that time spent on social media is reducing artistic productivity, or reducing their effectiveness as artists.

I guess the question is: what is the difference between a life that includes social media time, and the way in which artists previously spent their time (at cafes, readings, protests, love affairs, working service jobs, whatever - depending on the era)? In the case of someone like Madison Keesler, I definitely don't get the sense that she's trapped on social media, unable to have a 'real' life. Instead, she uses it to report on the many projects she has going, and as a tool to get still more work.

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1 hour ago, pherank said:

I guess the question is: what is the difference between a life that includes social media time, and the way in which artists previously spent their time (at cafes, readings, protests, love affairs, working service jobs, whatever - depending on the era)? 

You make good points about how artists have spent their time in the past. But also in the past artists have left New York City because of publicity and those kinds of distractions. Agnes Martin and Donald Judd retreated to New Mexico and Texas to concentrate on making artworks. Judd also said that at some point he could feel the resentment of his peers in New York at his moderate success while they were felt they were stuck in place and that was another reason for leaving. Interesting what Holland Carter says in today's Times about Judd, referencing the social media present:

Quote

He still isn’t on any center stage. As a model for young artists now — in an art world that acknowledges multiple histories and has zero interest in “isms” — he seems locked in another time, as do many of his contemporaries who came of age more than a half-century ago. Simply put, they lived on a smaller art planet, one small enough to have faith in a Next Big Step. In the market-managed present, it’s hard to imagine ever thinking that way.

Writers too have said that the pull of social media, especially Twitter, breaks their concentration and causes them to stray from that magical place where writing originates. 

Again I was wondering if limiting photography in class and rehearsal was about the disruption it would pose and if it makes other dancers feel uncomfortable. What are the policies of other companies? City Ballet posts a variety of documentary photos which are well done, catch the flavor of the studio, and seem more than adequate for promotional purposes.

Edited by Quiggin
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12 hours ago, Quiggin said:

Again I was wondering if limiting photography in class and rehearsal was about the disruption it would pose and if it makes other dancers feel uncomfortable. What are the policies of other companies? City Ballet posts a variety of documentary photos which are well done, catch the flavor of the studio, and seem more than adequate for promotional purposes.

I think SFB would like to have the money to do such things. The problem is, there would still be no allowance for dancers to simply record their day and share with the outside world. It would remain very cloistered and all about company control of "the messaging".

NYCB isn't imposing the same sort of rules that I can see. For example, SFB dancers are not supposed to post this type of image (and someone else can clarify if I'm wrong):

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7xOFHGp47Y/

As I understand it, the dancers are not supposed to photograph their costumes or the studio and backstage surroundings. What they can do is post an Erik Tomasson copyrighted photo from the SFB archive (presumably the dancers have to ask for permission each time to 'borrow' a photo), or post shots from their days with other companies, etc.

Maybe it's all a coincidence, but I wonder if Maria Kochetkova got wind of the new social media policy and felt it was one more reason to leave SFB. Her Instagram page is an important part of her self marketing, and is, as she has stated, a digital record of her dance life.

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1 hour ago, sf_herminator said:

Another dancer posting a pic from rehearsal....

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9KFxoygniHBzCL2l9Dip4BR4yzAJyn0sCdOgg0/
 

Wona's account is private. If you were already signed up to follow her when the account was changed to "private" then you still get to see her postings (you have to be signed in to Instagram for this to work). The rest of the world can't view any of her postings.

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SFB is having a tour of the War Memorial Opera House - I bet they talk about the upcoming seating redesign. The tour is pricey, but It would be fun to see how the backstage area magic happens.

https://www.sfballet.org/productions/opera-house-tour/
 

Backstage like you’ve never seen it before.

"Join Dennis Hudson, former SF Ballet master electrician, on a tour of the War Memorial Opera House – a 1932 Beaux-Arts building designed by Arthur Brown. Go behind the scenes to learn about the unique technical and structural elements of the building and see all the secret ins-and-outs as part of this special once-a-year event."

Date: March 9
Time: 3:30–5:30 PM (SOLD OUT) and 6:30–8:30 PM
Location: Meet/Check In: 455 Franklin Street, San Francisco
Cost: $75

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As it happens, Natasha just posted these comments about the SFB social media 'blackout':

"hi all👋🏻, as some may have noticed, I have not been sharing much ballet content lately due to social media constrictions under my contract with San Francisco Ballet.
Although I miss being able to share my daily work life and behind the scenes at the War Memorial Opera House (it’s hard to be a professional dancer and not be able to share my love of the art form🥺); most of us dancers at San Francisco Ballet are hoping you will continue to come to the shows and support ballet. Fingers crossed that changes will come soon🤞🏻
In the meantime, I truly appreciate every one of you who continue to follow me through this time"

Why are there restrictions if I may ask?

"all I can say for now is it has to do a lot with copyright ©"

 

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Posted (edited)

There's lots of good comments on Natasha's Instagram posting. She makes an important point regarding the options the dancers have:

"yes the dancers are doing what we can, but it’s difficult when we spend majority of our days at the studios/theater. 😕 and sadly we can’t post any pictures in the wings (right now) due to copyright. thank you for the support!"

On the one hand, the dancers have the ability to create their own videos and snapshots at, say, LINES Ballet studio, BUT, they're contracted to spend 6 days a week at SFB and the WMOH during the season. They're tired, and they're essentially caged at work until the season ends - so not much is going to happen regarding self-promotion or personal projects such as video diaries.

Edited by pherank
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Coming up at the Spring 2020 Dance Programs at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

An Evening with Alexei Ratmansky and Myles Thatcher
THURS, APRIL 30 | 6 PM
Classical ballet is not frozen in the past but is a living, evolving art – this conviction provided a shared faith for mentor Alexei Ratmansky and protégé Myles Thatcher. After working together through Rolex’s Mentor and Protege program, Ratmansky and Thatcher come to the Library to talk about the living art of dance.
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55 minutes ago, sandik said:

Damn -- I hadn't thought about visa and work permit issues, but this could really bollux up a lot of artists. 

Normally SFB keeps its dancers busy much of the year, so I would think that even with the performance cancellations there would still be things to work on (such as new ballets and any tour plans). Helgi Tomasson has said that he's always the last one to get time with the dancers to work on new choreography. Well now he's got his chance.  ;)

Any new ballets planned for next season are usually scheduled for summer creation, but choreographers close to the company, like Yuri Possokhov, Myles Thatcher, Val Caniparoli, Danielle Rowe, and Tomasson could conceivably make time to create new work. It's a terrible time to travel, so best for anyone in the Bay Area to stay put and create.

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Misa Kuranaga ordered dinner to go from Aziza - one of two restaurants owned by Mourad Lahlou, Mathilde Froustey's husband. Support your local restaurants!
 

 

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Megan Fairchild interviewed Ana Sophia Scheller. 

warning it's a long interview - but Scheller talks about her decision to leave SFB right at the beginning of the interview.  She cites the schedule as a big factor in her decision to leave - it makes sense, I've heard other dancers describe similar issues with the schedule.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

Megan Fairchild interviewed Ana Sophia Scheller. 

warning it's a long interview - but Scheller talks about her decision to leave SFB right at the beginning of the interview.  She cites the schedule as a big factor in her decision to leave - it makes sense, I've heard other dancers describe similar issues with the schedule.

I have some comments of my own to make.  😉  But first, off to the grocery store...

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Fairchild does a great job with these interviews - she has the ability to draw out all manner of information from her guests. It's not just a mutual admiration society kind of thing. So I'm glad she's sticking with this project.

I wondered about this statement from Scheller:
"I also just wanted to dance outside - not just in the company - it's something I've always wanted. During the time in San Francisco they didn't really let me do very important things I wanted to do."

Ironically, Ulrik Birkkjaer missed the first part of this last season while looking to other commitments, and Greco and Kuranaga were dancing constantly around the world last year. No one was disallowing their outside activities. SFB dancers do make guest appearances at galas and festivals, but does that work easily with the SFB schedule? Possibly not. I question the "they didn't let me do..." part, because I doubt there is any real policy in place around guest appearances. If she was wanting to leave mid-season to appear in, say, Europe, Tomasson would likely have not wanted to change his casting plans just for her. I get the feeling that Scheller simply wanted more flexibility with her schedule than most big companies are going to allow. With National Ballet of Ukraine, she gets to be the 'foreign star', and it sounds like she's able to pick and choose her participation much more than would happen in the North American companies.

Scheller mentioned that the last 3 years at NYCB she knew she wanted to change repertoire, and for some reason she was thinking that SFB would provide a more traditional classical repertoire. But where was she getting that from? Five minutes of research, or just asking knowledgeable dancers should have dispelled that notion. So she comes to SFB and finds that the ballets are primarily neo-classical ballets that first year, or so she seemed to imply. 2018 was a year with multiple ballets by Jerome Robbins, Scarlett, Millepied, and a festival with Justin Peck, Dason, Marsden, Pita, and Wheeldon. So, naturally she was disappointed. But if Tomasson understood from the beginning her real interests, I seriously doubt he would have hired her, but rather suggested some companies for her to contact. As it happened, the SF audience only got the one season to see her as I recall. Wasn't she only in the 2019 gala and then out with injury? Or did she reappear midway through the 2019 season? My impression from the peanut gallery was that Scheller got instant top billing in Sleeping Beauty (no doubt because she told Tomasson that was the kind of thing she really wanted to do), but there were a number of SFB veterans who would have given their eye teeth for the Aurora role, and they were essentially held back with Scheller's arrival.

So one thing is now totally clear - Scheller wanted to dance a traditional classical repertoire, while SFB staff was likely thinking, "here comes a principal from the House of Balanchine! She could be a good influence on our dancers". And that didn't happen. It's a shame it didn't work out, but someone was misrepresenting reality. The brief Scheller period didn't really live up to its promise - I'm really hoping history doesn't repeat itself with Sasha Mukhamedov. I'd like to see  her get through this long pandemic quarantine period, and reemerge to perform regularly on the SF opera stage.

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