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pherank

SFB 2020 Promotions and New Dancers

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3 minutes ago, pherank said:

My Firefox browser was displaying the FREE button on the Sylvia page but clicking that sent me into a continuous sign in loop never arrived at the video page. But since clearing cache I've found that the Sylvia page displays the BUY button now.
Safari just displays a BUY button for me on the Sylvia page.

I'm using Chrome if you want to give it another go.

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On 4/22/2020 at 5:30 PM, pherank said:

Anyone familiar with Nikisha Fogo?

She's a huge favorite at Theresa Ruth Howard's Mobballet Instagram site.  She's so beloved there that they have something going called "Fogo Fridays" where they post videos of her dancing almost every Friday. She's  has killer technique, superb musicality and is hella charismatic.   I'm betting that Manuel Legris hates losing her. 

Also, she becomes just the 2nd woman with black ancestry to make it to the rank of  principle in one of America's "big three" companies.   She should be a major draw for black audience members. 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Tapfan said:

I'm betting that Manuel Legris hates losing her. 

Legris is moving to La Scala. I doubt he is in a position to take many dancers with him.

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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

Legris is moving to La Scala. I doubt he is in a position to take many dancers with him.

Many good dancers at Vienna State Ballet are moving on . Madison Young (originally from Utah) moves to Bayerische Staatsballett, James Stevens to Royal Danish Ballet, Scott McKenzie to National Ballet of Canada and so on. (about a half of the company members are leaving)

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14 hours ago, pherank said:

My Firefox browser was displaying the FREE button on the Sylvia page but clicking that sent me into a continuous sign in loop never arrived at the video page. But since clearing cache I've found that the Sylvia page displays the BUY button now.
Safari just displays a BUY button for me on the Sylvia page.

I wish I knew what to tell you. :( It's true that I've had a Wiener Staatsoper Live account for years. So I opened the link in a browser I normally don't use (Microsoft Edge :lol:), clicked on the FREE button, created a new account on the next page (only an email address and password are required), and it sent me right back to the stream page, where I was able to play it. :dunno:

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7 hours ago, naomikage said:

Many good dancers at Vienna State Ballet are moving on . Madison Young (originally from Utah) moves to Bayerische Staatsballett, James Stevens to Royal Danish Ballet, Scott McKenzie to National Ballet of Canada and so on. (about a half of the company members are leaving)

It's fascinating how much movement regularly happens in the European companies.

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8 hours ago, naomikage said:

Many good dancers at Vienna State Ballet are moving on . Madison Young (originally from Utah) moves to Bayerische Staatsballett, James Stevens to Royal Danish Ballet, Scott McKenzie to National Ballet of Canada and so on. (about a half of the company members are leaving)

That seems extreme but I’m not very familiar with European companies generally. Does this usually happen with a turnover in leadership? 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

I wish I knew what to tell you. :( It's true that I've had a Wiener Staatsoper Live account for years. So I opened the link in a browser I normally don't use (Microsoft Edge :lol:), clicked on the FREE button, created a new account on the next page (only an email address and password are required), and it sent me right back to the stream page, where I was able to play it. :dunno:

The good news is - it's working in Safari today. But why not yesterday? I don't know. I'm not using VPN right now. My browsers are set to automatically empty the caches on close. And neither one is currently set to private mode so there shouldn't be any issues with cookies - I'm allowing them all (yick).

10 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

Legris is moving to La Scala. I doubt he is in a position to take many dancers with him.

Ironic that La Scalla lost Di Lanno and Greco to SFB previously. But now Di Lanno is moving on to Desden...
I really just think the dancers are reflecting larger societal habits and movements. These days people don't stay at particular companies for more than a handful of years. Just not like my grandfather's time when working for a single business for 20 years or more was common.

Edited by pherank

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12 hours ago, Leah said:

That seems extreme but I’m not very familiar with European companies generally. Does this usually happen with a turnover in leadership? 

Many (like one-third) of the company members at Bayerische Staatsballett left when Igor Zelensky came, and also one-third of the company left at English National Ballet after Tamara Rojo arrived. And for smaller companies such as Karlsruhe in Germany, almost all dancers left the company because the repertoire changed largely, from classical to modern works with the change in directorship from Birgit Kail to Bridget Breiner. 

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Wow..... that certainly is unexpected.  

I've only seen clips of him on YouTube, etc.  Seems to have really nice classical lines, long legs, good feet.  I have to say, I never ever in a million years expected him to return to the US though - I distinctly remember seeing an interview of him online where he lamented the quality of ballet and ballet teaching in the US.  I wonder what brought him back?  Especially given how different SFB's rep is from Mikhailovsky.  Fwiw, I did notice he also posted about a new modeling contract he signed too - perhaps SFB is able to offer more flexibility for him to explore other pursuits at the same time.

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52 minutes ago, PeggyTulle said:

I'm not quite sure where to put this (totally unexpected) news. SFB just announced on social media (Facebook and IG stories) that Julian MacKay is joining the company as a principal. 

Here's the press release

 

I remember some news reports that he and his brother had trouble returning to the US from Russia because of the pandemic, but were finally able to get flights to Montana, their home. I wonder if he had even less financial security in Russia than he might expect here. I have not seen any reports about unemployment or other benefits for the Russian dancers laid off with this disease. Anybody know how that works?

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From what I was reading on his social media, he (and his younger, also Bolshoi-trained, brother) had a choice to come back to the US to see his dying father, or to stay in Russia.  COVID-19 has complicated matters for anyone traveling. At some point, he may talk about his choice/options on social and/or mainstream media.

From the clips I've seen, he's a beautiful dancer, so, welcome home to him, and in San Francisco, he'll be in the same region as his family home.

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2 hours ago, California said:

I have not seen any reports about unemployment or other benefits for the Russian dancers laid off with this disease. Anybody know how that works?

They haven't been laid off. They received their summer vacation pay early on the assumption that they would begin rehearsing for the next season ahead of schedule. But they are not receiving performance fees, so their income is certainly reduced.

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On 6/22/2020 at 10:32 AM, PeggyTulle said:

I'm not quite sure where to put this (totally unexpected) news. SFB just announced on social media (Facebook and IG stories) that Julian MacKay is joining the company as a principal. 

Here's the press release.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to me to be particularly appropriate at this time.

Just how likely is it that SFB will hire any more 'dancers of color' in the next 1 to 2 years? And if not now, when? I think it's pretty obvious that the SFB school has done a decent job of developing talent that happen to be of an Asian background. But it hasn't been as effective in bringing in students of color. That means there's going to have to be more direct hires to the company to create visible change. And so is change totally dependent on some super wealthy donor stepping forward to create a special fund for the hiring of Black dancers?

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20 hours ago, pherank said:

And so is change totally dependent on some super wealthy donor stepping forward to create a special fund for the hiring of Black dancers?

I hope this isn't the only path forward for SFB to hire more Black dancers (and dancers of color generally)!  I'm in no financial position to donate to the level to make an impact on that scale, but I wonder if there's a way to create a donor mutual fund of some sort?

Clips I've seen of Julian MacKay do show that he's a lovely dancer with nice lines, and given his current family situation, I understand why he wants to be back in the USA.  However, the more I think about it, I'm a little frustrated SFB didn't hire a dancer of color.  MacKay was a first soloist at Mikhailovsky, not yet a principal, and he doesn't appear to have much experience with contemporary works, at least not on the scale SFB takes them on.  Quick searches on other American ballet company websites show several dancers of color (who are tall, possibly to fill in for Di Lanno) at the Soloist/Principal level who SFB probably could have snapped up who seem at least as qualified as MacKay!  (now, I don't pretend to know whether SFB had already tried this, but at least outwardly the optics don't seem quite appropriate)

All this to say, I wonder if there's a way for lower level donors and balletgoers to push SFB more to more diverse hiring practices.

Edited by Phrenchphry11

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2 hours ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

I hope this isn't the only path forward for SFB to hire more Black dancers (and dancers of color generally)!  I'm in no financial position to donate to the level to make an impact on that scale, but I wonder if there's a way to create a donor mutual fund of some sort?

Clips I've seen of Julian MacKay do show that he's a lovely dancer with nice lines, and given his current family situation, I understand why he wants to be back in the USA.  However, the more I think about it, I'm a little frustrated SFB didn't hire a dancer of color.  MacKay was a first soloist at Mikhailovsky, not yet a principal, and he doesn't appear to have much experience with contemporary works, at least not on the scale SFB takes them on.  Quick searches on other American ballet company websites show several dancers of color (who are tall, possibly to fill in for Di Lanno) at the Soloist/Principal level who SFB probably could have snapped up who seem at least as qualified as MacKay!  (now, I don't pretend to know whether SFB had already tried this, but at least outwardly the optics don't seem quite appropriate)

All this to say, I wonder if there's a way for lower level donors and balletgoers to push SFB more to more diverse hiring practices.

SFB always likes to have at least one dancer with actual Russian training (probably hoping that some of that training will rub off on the other dancers). So I'm not surprised by the choice, but that's kind of the problem here, and as you mentioned, MacKay hasn't proven himself with contemporary works. Dancers who are unconvincing in contemporary works don't survive at SFB. And they wouldn't normally be hired as principals who have to carry the heavy load of the repertoire. Tomasson is taking a "leap of faith" to use SFB's own marketing. I don't really feel excited about this yet. Perhaps, Tomasson is trying to make up for the loss of Vladislav Kozlov (and for the fact that Kozlov's time at SFB never really came to fruition).

I get that these hires are some weeks (or months) in the works, but the timing of this hire is going to strike many people as tone-deaf: business as usual.

But as to your comment, "I wonder if there's a way for lower level donors and balletgoers to push SFB more to more diverse hiring practices":

We just need to keep the pressure on wherever discussion or comments are allowed. SFB needs to be consistently reminded that a significant number of audience members want to see real change in their hiring practices for artists and staff:  not only national diversity, but racial diversity too.

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2 hours ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

Quick searches on other American ballet company websites show several dancers of color (who are tall, possibly to fill in for Di Lanno) at the Soloist/Principal level who SFB probably could have snapped up

Were they interested in the job? Did they apply? In the West it's generally considered unethical for ADs to poach gainfully employed dancers. The dancer has to come to the AD.

My parents used to live in San Francisco. Years ago I always enjoyed visiting the city. That's no longer the case. Only something really spectacular can lure me there to counterbalance the genuinely unpleasant aspects of San Francisco's current reality. I wouldn't consider living there today. I think of a cousin who decamped a few years ago. Others may feel the same way,

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2 hours ago, pherank said:

SFB always likes to have at least one dancer with actual Russian training (probably hoping that some of that training will rub off on the other dancers). So I'm not surprised by the choice, but that's kind of the problem here, and as you mentioned, MacKay hasn't proven himself with contemporary works. Dancers who are unconvincing in contemporary works don't survive at SFB. And they wouldn't normally be hired as principals who have to carry the heavy load of the repertoire. Tomasson is taking a "leap of faith" to use SFB's own marketing. I don't really feel excited about this yet. Perhaps, Tomasson is trying to make up for the loss of Vladislav Kozlov (and for the fact that Kozlov's time at SFB never really came to fruition).

Agree with you 100% Pherank!  And, I've always enjoyed that SFB has had a few Russian dancers on the roster.  Kochetkova was one of SFB's most versatile dancers, and with her Bolshoi foundation, I think she really did push SFB to a very high level.  Same to be said for many other Russian-trained dancers at SFB.  

 

2 hours ago, pherank said:

I get that these hires are some weeks (or months) in the works, but the timing of this hire is going to strike many people as tone-deaf: business as usual.

Yeah - probably there's a bit of unfortunate timing here, too.  I know this hiring didn't happen overnight.  Had this been announced a few months ago I'm not sure we'd be having this discussion.  I do feel heartened that SFB hired Fogo (and I know they didn't hire her purely for diversity reasons, she's an EXTREMELY capable dancer, with experience in the classics, Balanchine, and modern stuff).  

I do just worry that ballet as an artform will get left behind in the US, and especially in a more progressive/activist city like SF.  The longer we see stages and opera houses without black dancers, the more we'll alienate modern audiences, I fear.  Misty Copeland has done a lot to shift the conversation about race in ballet, but this happened years ago, not months or weeks ago.  Not to mention Kathryn Morgan's YouTube clips about body type and costumes in dance (but that's probably a separate discussion).

 

2 hours ago, pherank said:

We just need to keep the pressure on wherever discussion or comments are allowed. SFB needs to be consistently reminded that a significant number of audience members want to see real change in their hiring practices for artists and staff:  not only national diversity, but racial diversity too.

Perhaps you know better than I, pherank!  Where are these discussions/comments allowed?  I suppose there is nothing from stopping me reaching out to the company directly :)

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1 hour ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

Perhaps you know better than I, pherank!  Where are these discussions/comments allowed?  I suppose there is nothing from stopping me reaching out to the company directly :)

Absolutely nothing.  ;)   Go for it.

I was just thinking about public forums, such as Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or even at seminars and special events where there's some interface with SFB staff.

This being a capitalist culture, though, the people who supply the majority of the funds have a very large say in what gets done. And those people tend to be White or Asian in the SF Bay Area.

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7 hours ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

I do just worry that ballet as an artform will get left behind in the US, and especially in a more progressive/activist city like SF.  The longer we see stages and opera houses without black dancers, the more we'll alienate modern audiences, I fear. 

Maybe I'm a pessimist,  or a realist,  but I think the pool of potential audience members who are clamoring for more black ballet dancers is quite small.  That doesn't mean black dancers should have their opportunities curtailed.  I just don't think most people see it as a problem to be solved,  unlike a number of us who comment here.  Truth is,  more often than not,  black dancers hired are the skin color a friend of mine dubbed "blendo beige".   White audiences scarcely notice them anyway.  Kudos to NYCB for having not only the largest number of black dancers in its history (all American as far as I can tell),  but for hiring people who actually look black on stage,  and the world didn't end.  Some companies may be over-thinking the issue.  And some artistic directors and board members may just not want black dancers in their companies.

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Posted (edited)

Latinx populations are at 25% in certain age groups and the fastest growing demographic. 

Edited by balletforme

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Latino and Spanish dancers are well represented in American ballet,  possibly over-represented in some companies.  When Ballet Theatre (precursor to ABT) was founded,  it was even planned to have a Latin American wing.  Lincoln Kirstein had intended for Ballet Society,  later NYCB,  to have equal numbers of black and white dancers,  but that idea fell by the wayside.

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