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SFB 2020 Miscellaneous

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Posted (edited)

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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Madison Keesler (and maybe Ben Freemantle too) interviews Sasha De Sola at 3pm PST today, Wednesday April 29th.
Click the bio pic at the top of her Instagram page when the animated "live" border appears around the image:

https://www.instagram.com/madisonkeesler/

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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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The Sasha De Sola interview is happening now on YouTube:
 

 

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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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Ludmila Bizalion is now a Mother. Congratulations Ludmila!
 

 

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Posted (edited)

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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Posted (edited)

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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Misa Kuranaga often said in her interviews that she owed a lot to Ponomarenko in her Boston Ballet days.

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