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SFB 2020 Miscellaneous


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I do remember one dancer leaving San Francisco Ballet for the Dutch National Ballet about seven or eight years ago with her partner, one of the reasons being that she wasn't permitted to dance in galas and events outside the company. One of her parents was ill and she wanted to help raise money for his medical bills working elsewhere else off season. I was told that that was a strict rule most of the time. Other dancers such as Ulrick Birkkjaer, who was already organizing events outside the company, may have signed onto SFB under a special contract that allowed some flexibility as far as dancing at the Joyce, etc. The logic for SFB not allowing performing in galas might be in what Ana Sophia Scheller says – that's where you meet other dancers, see how you work with them, and mull over the possibility of working with them on a permanent basis. I tend to believe that she was telling it as it was and acting in good faith.

Edited by Quiggin
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16 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

I do remember one dancer leaving San Francisco Ballet for the Dutch National Ballet about seven or eight years ago with her partner, one of the reasons being that she wasn't permitted to dance in galas and events outside the company. One of her parents was ill and she wanted to help raise money for his medical bills working elsewhere else off season. I was told that that was a strict rule most of the time. Other dancers such as Ulrick Birkkjaer, who was already organizing events outside the company, may have signed onto SFB under a special contract that allowed some flexibility as far as dancing at the Joyce, etc. The logic for SFB not allowing performing in galas might be in what Ana Sophia Scheller says – that's where you meet other dancers, see how you work with them, and mull over the possibility of working with them on a permanent basis. I tend to believe that she was telling it as it was and acting in good faith.

And yet SFB dancers do go off and dance at outside events - there's plenty of Instagram evidence of that going back years. Other companies galas? That I can't say for sure. The 'exceptions' are definitely there. So it's hard to figure exactly what this policy states (if it even still exists).

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Given the number of artistic directors who have commented directly and obliquely, if it isn't in the contract specifically, it's at the AD's discretion.  For example, Ib Andersen said that he couldn't let Natalia Magnicaballi perform with Suzanne Farrell Ballet one year, because he needed her for Ballet Arizona at the time.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Helene said:

Given the number of artistic directors who have commented directly and obliquely, if it isn't in the contract specifically, it's at the AD's discretion.  For example, Ib Andersen said that he couldn't let Natalia Magnicaballi perform with Suzanne Farrell Ballet one year, because he needed her for Ballet Arizona at the time.

And so some dancers will complain of favoritism (presumably), because they don't get to do their special event, but someone else does. In the case of Scheller, she was new to the company, so in that case Tomasson would likely expect her to prove herself in the first couple of years and not be asking for special things. But in any case, if this kind of policy exists in writing, it would likely cause trouble if it stipulates how people spend their off time (which most of us feel is our own). The corporate world does have these kinds of policies and agreements that workers do not get involved in business conflicts of interest, and behave as good representatives of their companies.

Edited by pherank
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Didn't have time to jot down all my thoughts earlier (grocery trips always take longer than I anticipate these days!) -

Aside from some of the concerns about guest performing brought up above, her comments about SFB rep did make me raise my eyebrows.  SFB has always had strong Balanchine leanings, and though I've enjoyed seeing SFB in classics, I've never really thought of the full length classical pieces as SFB's wheelhouse. Not to say they aren't capable of the classics, but I truly think their biggest differentiators as a company are their modern rep pieces - especially stuff that has come out of the Unbound Festival - and their ties to Balanchine (through Helgi). 

Scheller got opening night casting for Sleeping Beauty her first year here, I wonder if that was negotiated by her?  Otherwise, I'm surprised she would be brought in with the hopes she wouldn't be thought of as a Balanchine ballerina.

After hearing the type of dream company Scheller described - heavy emphasis on full-length classics, long performing season, opportunities to guest and to travel - I'm not really sure if any American company at all could provide that for her.  Many American ballet companies have Balanchine roots in some form, and very few regularly perform all the full length classics that I assume Scheller imagined.  Perhaps ABT is more her aesthetic?  They tend to perform a few more full lengths than SFB (plus they have things like Bayadere and Corsaire in their rep).  I've not seen ABT perform live a ton in recent years, but from what I've seen their rep has less Balanchine and many of their ballets seems to have a brighter, more virtuosic aesthetic (mostly I'm thinking of how Cathy Marston's work wasn't super well received by ABT audiences but seems really well liked in SF).  Nevertheless, I'm surprised Scheller joined SFB not expecting to be seen as a primarily Balanchine dancer.

I do feel for her when it comes to SFB's condensed performing season though.  It's probably really demoralizing to get injured in the beginning of the season and have most of the performances fly by before ever getting an opportunity to recover.

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59 minutes ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

Didn't have time to jot down all my thoughts earlier (grocery trips always take longer than I anticipate these days!) -

Aside from some of the concerns about guest performing brought up above, her comments about SFB rep did make me raise my eyebrows.  SFB has always had strong Balanchine leanings, and though I've enjoyed seeing SFB in classics, I've never really thought of the full length classical pieces as SFB's wheelhouse. Not to say they aren't capable of the classics, but I truly think their biggest differentiators as a company are their modern rep pieces - especially stuff that has come out of the Unbound Festival - and their ties to Balanchine (through Helgi). 

Scheller got opening night casting for Sleeping Beauty her first year here, I wonder if that was negotiated by her?  Otherwise, I'm surprised she would be brought in with the hopes she wouldn't be thought of as a Balanchine ballerina.

After hearing the type of dream company Scheller described - heavy emphasis on full-length classics, long performing season, opportunities to guest and to travel - I'm not really sure if any American company at all could provide that for her.  Many American ballet companies have Balanchine roots in some form, and very few regularly perform all the full length classics that I assume Scheller imagined.  Perhaps ABT is more her aesthetic?  They tend to perform a few more full lengths than SFB (plus they have things like Bayadere and Corsaire in their rep).  I've not seen ABT perform live a ton in recent years, but from what I've seen their rep has less Balanchine and many of their ballets seems to have a brighter, more virtuosic aesthetic (mostly I'm thinking of how Cathy Marston's work wasn't super well received by ABT audiences but seems really well liked in SF).  Nevertheless, I'm surprised Scheller joined SFB not expecting to be seen as a primarily Balanchine dancer.

I do feel for her when it comes to SFB's condensed performing season though.  It's probably really demoralizing to get injured in the beginning of the season and have most of the performances fly by before ever getting an opportunity to recover.

I agree that ABT would probably be a better fit for Scheller, but no North American company really presents the kind of repertoire she is interested in at this stage in her life. I'm not sure anyone understood that she was moving away from the Balanchine and Robbins neo-classical approach, and just doesn't seem interested in contemporary works. In contrast, Maria Kochetkova wanted to leave the company lifestyle behind, but she wants to work with the latest and greatest contemporary choreographers as much as possible. Scheller mentioned Sofiane Sylve briefly in the interview, and again, Sylve's experience was a different one in that she was able to create a mutually beneficial arrangement with Tomasson from the very beginning.

One thing that isn't often mentioned: A.D.'s don't necessarily go into these relationships blind - they have contacts at other companies and various places throughout the ballet world who can provide feedback about particular dancers of interest (which should be taken with a grain of salt of course). There's always risk in hiring someone new, who doesn't already know the culture of the company. Older dancers especially are going to have a clearer idea about what works for them and what doesn't, and where they want to be in the next few years. The younger dancers are likely to be less demanding - they just want to dance for reputable companies.

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The Worldwide Ballet Class led by Yuan Yuan Tan (David Morse on piano) on June 20, 2020 set the latest class record of 382 Zoom participants. The archived class can be watched online on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBAEZ04HJUg

These Zarely-sponsored classes have been a big success and the class sizes continue to grow. Sasha De Sola also gave a class (with David Morse on piano) on June 17:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTVzTzNhzJI

Edited by pherank
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From the latest SFB e-mail:

Three New Faculty Join SF Ballet School This Fall
SF Ballet School Director Patrick Armand recently appointed Larissa Ponomarenko, Jason Ambrose, and Viktor Plotnikov to join the SF Ballet School Faculty. All three will be teaching virtual (Zoom) classes to SF Ballet School summer course participants in June/July, and start teaching at the School at the beginning of the new school year.

Edited by pherank
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Interview with Mathilde Froustey at Riff Magazine:

https://riffmagazine.com/features/san-francisco-ballet-mathilde-froustey/

'Before the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders, Froustey would dance most days and Lahlou would work late most nights. He’s yet to miss one of her performances, often leaving his restaurant, changing [in] his SUV for the show, and then going back to work afterward.

That remained true even after the pandemic, when the SF Ballet began doing videoconference rehearsals and classes, and Lahlou worked to keep his restaurants alive. Froustey began helping out at Aziza, on Geary Boulevard, where she dances in her spare time.

She describes their supportive partnership as being each other’s No. 2. Her No. 1 is ballet, while his is his restaurants. At the time of this interview, he was away in Hawaii, trying to open a new restaurant there—plans have changed for the time being. She was rehearsing for what she didn’t yet know would be the one and only performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”'

Edited by pherank
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This obviously comes at a good time:

San Francisco Ballet Welcomes New Great Benefactors
Meet Shelby and Frederick Gans, David and Vicki Cox, and the Flora Family Foundation

https://www.sfballet.org/san-francisco-ballet-welcomes-new-great-benefactors/

 

SF Ballet Gives Back with the SF-Marin Food Bank
Giving Back to Our Community, One Bag of Groceries At a Time

https://www.sfballet.org/sf-ballet-gives-back-with-the-sf-marin-food-bank/

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1 hour ago, PeggyTulle said:

From the comments, it looks like Angelo Greco is no longer with SFB...?

I saw this post yesterday - I'm not sure this is anything final. He's getting out of the Bay Area and going back to Italy for the time being. Given that there are no scheduled rehearsals and performances for the Fall, or for a Nutcracker series, he may well be able to leave for a couple months. The air is seriously unhealthy around SF right now, so anyone who can skip town for a while should. But I seriously doubt Greco is ending his partnership with Kuranaga. Their dance relationship seems to be quite strong.

Edited by pherank
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Apparently, the War Memorial Opera House is going to get its seating update after all:

"This is the third and final phase of the seat upgrade project, which began in the summer of 2013, when the Box seats were first replaced. The Balcony and Balcony Circle seats were subsequently upgraded in 2015. This final phase of the project has been fast-tracked to take advantage of the COVID-19 venue closure. This phase will begin in September and end in January 2021, and will include all remaining seats in the Orchestra, Grand Tier, and Dress Circle seating sections of the War Memorial Opera House."

Here's the FAQ page:

https://www.sfballet.org/seatupgradeproject/

And here's the new seating chart - the sight lines for the Orchestra seating seem to change a bit:

https://www.sfballet.org/tickets/season-tickets/repertory-seating-chart/

Edited by pherank
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22 hours ago, pherank said:

Apparently, the War Memorial Opera House is going to get its seating update after all:

"This is the third and final phase of the seat upgrade project, which began in the summer of 2013, when the Box seats were first replaced. The Balcony and Balcony Circle seats were subsequently upgraded in 2015. This final phase of the project has been fast-tracked to take advantage of the COVID-19 venue closure. This phase will begin in September and end in January 2021, and will include all remaining seats in the Orchestra, Grand Tier, and Dress Circle seating sections of the War Memorial Opera House."

Here's the FAQ page:

https://www.sfballet.org/seatupgradeproject/

And here's the new seating chart - the sight lines for the Orchestra seating seem to change a bit:

https://www.sfballet.org/tickets/season-tickets/repertory-seating-chart/

This is great news!!  Fingers crossed we will be attending ballet (and opera) performances sometime in 2021!!

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