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pherank

SFB 2020 Promotions and New Dancers

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Thank you sf_herminator. I think it's a beautiful way to recognize the departing dancers

This video brought back to my mind som questions I’ve often wondered. We all have read in this forums about that: dancers leaving a company for a lot of different reasons. In some cases (particularly with some principals in ABT) I remember having read about dancers that were “shown the exit” rather than having made the decission by themselves. What I wonder is how that works in less notorious cases, like corps members. Are they told in advance that they won’t get a new contract? Are they told that their dancing abilities are not anymore at the level the company requires? Do different companies have different policies about that?

I am not aware about other companies, but in the case of NYCB I think every year there are some new apprentices, and also every year some of them get contracts to join the company, right? Is there a similar number of corps de ballet members who leave the company every year? Do those dancers leave by their own will or in some cases the company just don’t renew their contracts and that’s it?

I do realize that this is off topic here, but I'm not sure where this questions should be posted, so I apologize in advance for that.

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While this depends on the contract, typically dancers are given one-year contracts, at least in North American full-season companies, and every year, they are either offered a contract for the next year or not.  At least some contracts require at least a season's notice based on having attained a certain level of seniority, and the dancers have to be offered one more year's contract, but that applies to only a subset of dancers in any year.Peter Boal has described in Q&A's yearly performance evaluations in the winter, where Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers are offered contracts (or not) and have up to a month to decide whether to sign them (or not).  This period coincides with the standard company audition windows, so if they have to leave or want to leave, they can try to join another company if they want to keep dancing.   It's rare for dancers to be fired outright: they are simply not renewed, and the company has no legal obligation to do so, for the most part.

Typically NYCB hires SAB students each year as apprentices -- some of this is automatic if they've performed enough with the Company, contract terms they've described as shifting over time  -- and any number of them can be promoted to corps.  Or not.  And typically companies with schools try to hire at least one Professional Division student each season into their company -- or second company, if they have one -- because, unless they're SAB, they don't attract the best elite students unless they do.  But it's usually more complicated than simple one-to-one replacements, because there are fixed costs, like health insurance, as well as the salary make-up of returning dancers that need to be considered, and money for promotions comes out of the same pot.

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Only bits and pieces of this are made public.  If the company has an AGMA contract, sometimes older versions have been online publicly.  Sometimes dancers who are union reps will speak about terms and/or grievance processes.  When Peter Martins didn't renew a large number of contracts one season, reducing the size of the company, there was a NYT article about it.  In podcast interviews, social media, and Q&A's dancers have spoken about  not having their contract renewed at some point or having a yearly evaluation in which they were told directly how far the AD saw their career going and then left because they wanted more. 

If anyone else has, from official sources, info about other ways this works in other companies, I'd appreciate learning how.  Have SFB dancers talked about this?

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19 hours ago, eduardo said:

in the case of NYCB I think every year there are some new apprentices, and also every year some of them get contracts to join the company, right? Is there a similar number of corps de ballet members who leave the company every year? Do those dancers leave by their own will or in some cases the company just don’t renew their contracts and that’s it?

 

5 hours ago, Helene said:

When Peter Martins didn't renew a large number of contracts one season, reducing the size of the company, there was a NYT article about it.

The circumstances involving the New Rock City Ballet and the "non-renewed" corps members in 2008 involved two unique circumstances: (1) a roster that had grown much too large and wasn't experiencing the yearly churn it needed to make room for new dancers fresh out of the school, and (2) the Great Recession of that year. While I don't think it was literally untrue that the company was experiencing financial difficulties in 2008. I believed then (as I do now) that the Great Recession gave Peter Martins cover to do something he wanted to do anyway: get rid of a number of corps members who weren't fitting into his plans or weren't working out generally.

Edited by miliosr

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5 hours ago, Helene said:

If anyone else has, from official sources, info about other ways this works in other companies, I'd appreciate learning how.  Have SFB dancers talked about this?

The dancers don't talk about any specifics that I know of, which makes sense given the legal nature of it all. In the time that I've been paying attention to such things, I can only remember one dancer who seems to have an ongoing feud with SFB (at least in their mind), but I don't think that person is dancing anywhere these days - perhaps too toxic an attitude.

"Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers are offered contracts (or not) and have up to a month to decide whether to sign them (or not)"

I think it is similar at SFB. In the case of dancers such as Kochetkova, Strongin, Scheller, Zahorian, Karpateyan, Sylve and Di Lanno - they each had their own reasons for wanting to make a career change and it was necessary to notify Tomasson of their decision before the next contract was due to be signed. Anyone on good terms with the A.D. is going to let him or her know well in advance. Ana Sophia Scheller's interview with Megan Fairchild was about as explicit as anyone gets regarding reasons to move on (in her case, it was SFB's notoriously harsh schedule and her claim that SFB didn't allow her to do some outside performance(s)). But as usual, we didn't hear anything specific about her contract. [We talked about Scheller's case elsewhere in the forum.]

Of course many of us would like to be a fly on the wall at some of these office visits to the A.D.(!) but I don't know of anyone actually recounting what these talks are like.


An old article from when times were tough (like now):

SF Ballet rethinking dancer's contract / Money-strapped company may keep Boada
https://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/SF-Ballet-rethinking-dancer-s-contract-2658827.php


The Contract Behind the Curtain: A Glimpse into the San Francisco Ballet Dancer’s Contract [2008]
https://www.imaginelaw.com/the-contract-behind-the-curtain-a-glimpse-into-the-san-francisco.html


From Dance Magazine:

Why Negotiating Your Salary Matters—Even if You Don't Get a Raise
https://www.dancemagazine.com/dancer-salary-negotiation-2623059523.html

"Rarely, if ever, are contract renewals delivered in personal meetings. Across the country, dancers receive a piece of paper stating their rank—sometimes their pay rate is not even listed—and then they're essentially told to take it or leave it."

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1 hour ago, pherank said:

Of course many of us would like to be a fly on the wall at some of these office visits to the A.D.(!) but I don't know of anyone actually recounting what these talks are like.

 

We sometimes hear about them in post-performance Q&A's, although not in great detail, but exclusively when something encouraging is spoken about.  Not that dancers can always speak freely no matter whom the interviewer is, but Peter Boal almost always does them at PNB, so they're talking directly to the boss.

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