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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

Why thousands of miles west of Toronto? Do you believe that Indigenous Canadians live only on reservations in the northern prairies? That would betray a fundamental misunderstanding about life in Canada and its urban centers in particular. Not unlike the way that Hollywood used to put totem poles in movies set in Quebec.

i am well aware that many indigenous Canadians live in the big cities.  There are hundreds of thousands of Native Americans living in the NYC area,  and they have their challenges,  but I doubt that the management of the NYCB is traumatized by their plight.  The subject was Nicholas Rose,  a black man,  and the National Ballet of Canada.  Citing the struggles of indigenous Canadians is "whataboutery",  a diversion.

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Citing the struggles of indigenous Canadians is "whataboutery",  a diversion.

No, it isn't, because police violence against Blacks was cited in this thread, and so was the assertion that Canada is "just as racist" toward Blacks as the United States, when the reality is that Indigenous peoples make up 5% of Canada's population, but they account for 38% of police shooting fatalities according to a recent press analysis. My point is that the situation is different, and that therefore the National Ballet's management will be sensitized differently.

I don't understand your point about NYCB management. If NYCB is not traumatized by the plight of Native Americans because police shootings of Blacks is a graver problem in the area, does this exempt the NBoC from worrying about Blacks because police violence against Indigenous peoples is more prevalent in Canada?

Edited by volcanohunter

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

No, it isn't, because police violence against Blacks was cited in this thread, and so was the assertion that Canada is "just as racist" toward Blacks as the United States, when the reality is that Indigenous peoples make up 5% of Canada's population, but they account for 38% of police shooting fatalities according to a recent press analysis. My point is that the situation is different, and that therefore the National Ballet's management will be sensitized differently.

Racism manifests in many ways.  As far as I know,  the police were not shooting at Nicholas Rose.  The subject is Rose and the NB of C.  

 

Edited by On Pointe

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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

If NYCB is not traumatized by the plight of Native Americans because police shootings of Blacks is a graver problem in the area, does this exempt the NBoC from worrying about Blacks because police violence against Indigenous peoples is more prevalent in Canada?

That is what you seem to be implying,  that Rose should chill because First Nations people are being shot.  The common denominator is racism,  but the situations are not analagous.

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35 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

I argued no such thing. I'm still confused by your reference to New York City Ballet.

You seem to be arguing that Canada can't be as racist toward black people because indigenous Canadians appear to catch even more hell.  But it's possible and quite evident that societies can harbor more than one prejudice at a time.  Canada,  like the US,  Mexico and the Latin American countries,  is racist against indigenous people and black people.  (Black Mexicans weren't even recognized in the Mexican census until this year.)   Both groups have to deal with racism,  but it's expressed in different ways,  in different circumstances.

It is not logical to bring up police shootings of indigenous Canadians in a discussion of Nicholas Rose's situation,  just as it makes no sense to bring up the prejudice faced by Native Americans in NYC in a discussion of racial politics regarding black dancers at NYCB  (although they don't seem to be complaining). Canadians have been paying lip service,  and little else,  to "First Nations People" for years.  There is no evidence that they are more sensitized to indigenous concerns than black concerns.  It's performative,  not actual.  And it's got nothing to do with Mr. Rose.

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Sorry if I misunderstood your point.  I really don't understand why you bring up the treatment of indigenous Canadians in this discussion.  Apparently you don't believe that Canada is as racist toward black people as the US.  I do. But what we think has no bearing on Mr. Rose's lived experience.  You seem to be discounting it when you say "he may not understand that the reality of his bosses is different", .  And you suggest that his discomfort is his fault for daring to dance with a big classical company,  with white male choreographers,  in the first place.  Please correct me if I am wrong,  but that's the message I got.

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I am thrilled for Siphe November. He was absolutely going places and if you have ever seen him dance in person you know you're in the presence of greatness. I am truly surprise about Hannah Fischer (and especially) Elena Lobsanova leaving. Elena was criminally underused. 

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On 6/29/2020 at 3:13 AM, volcanohunter said:

I certainly don't deny the existence of racism in Canada, but this statement is not supported by the statistical data.

I agree. I am NOT saying there isn't an issue but the scale is a different thing.

 

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Incidentally, the claims that the company  strongly favors graduates of its school isn't exactly what I see. Yes, they do try to hire at least some students from the school as apprentices (but many arrive in later years) in recent years it has sometimes been less than 50%. I see just about as many who aren't from the school joining the company as who are. And maybe they should keep an eye on their own graduates - NYCB does. As do other companies.

 

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FYI National Ballet School and National Ballet of Canada are not formerly linked in the same way that other schools are.  NBS is not the "Company" school of NBoC. Yes, NBS feeds NBoC but the relationship is different. 

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There was a time when the overwhelming majority of company dancers were graduates of the school, and the company's style was more cohesive when the school adhered to Cecchetti training. There was even a golden moment in the late 1980s when all the male principals were school graduates, a common enough occurrence among the women, but it had never been the case among the men. Sadly, standards at the school have fallen since then.

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Volcano hunter

I do think that most of the dancers in NBoC are NBS graduates.  And, well, I puzzle over the suggestion that there has been a decline in quality>  Do they use RAD or Vaganova syllabus instead.  I do know that they are staunchly classical in their training. Cecchetti is so dry. I actually learned that way. It is slow and there is little movement.  It's like a mathematician's approach to ballet. I wonder why they changed? 

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The school now has its own syllabus.  That said, the teacher training program does prepare candidates to teach Cecchetti and/or RAD.

As a subscriber for many years I would have to say that my observation has been that in recent years more Apprentices/First year corps are taken from schools other than NBS.  I've no idea why, other than the company is truly searching for the best talent and fit for the company.

Just doing a quick look - of the current corps of 26, 10 identified has having had some training at NBS.  Of the 13 principals, 6 were associated with NBS.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, balletforme said:

I puzzle over the suggestion that there has been a decline in quality

The technical shortcomings among the younger dancers are plain to see. A new production of Swan Lake has been delayed by a year because of the pandemic, but the last time the company performed the ballet, none of the debutante Odiles came anywhere close to doing 32 fouettés, and none of the men making debuts in the most recent runs of Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty could do a respectable manège of grand allegro. It was embarassing to watch, actually. Technical standards did rise during the first decade of Kain's tenure, but more recently there has been noticeable decline in that area.

Mavis Staines was Betty Oliphant's hand-picked successor at the school, but later Oliphant regretted the choice very vocally, and she probably had a point. I'm also at a loss to understand why there are only two former company principals on staff.

Edited by volcanohunter

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According to their own website the majority of their dancers trained elsewhere. You mention a “culture” that “strongly favors” dancers from this particular school and I find this puzzling. As has already been mentioned in this thread, this school is not the “official” school of this company. The relationship is entirely different, and at the end of the day the numbers clearly show the majority of their dancers are not from there anyway. 
Are there any of these “casting patterns” you are comfortable to share with us?

Principal 

National School Graduates: 4

Cote

Ebe

Saye 

Vanstone 

 

Graduated Elsewhere: 9

Campbell

Dronina

Lunkina

McKie

Frola

James

Ogden

Rodriguez

Stancyzk

 

First Soloist

National School Graduates: 6 

Daumec

Hack

Hawes

November

Pereira

Savella

 

Graduated Elsewhere: 7

Bertinshaw

Ishihara 

Macdonald 

Meiss 

Rudisin 

Thom

Howard

 

Second Soloist

National School Graduates: 6

Galway

Haller

Hosier

Koyasu 

Sato 

Skalnik 

 

Graduated Elsewhere: 2 

Chapman

Gerty

 

Corps De Ballet

National School Graduates: 8 

Guerrero-Trujillo

Martinelli

Nabity 

Peterson

Pugh

Skinner 

Wright

Zolty

 

Graduated Elsewhere: 18

Cumpston 

Estrada

Ferro 

Flaherty

Galli 

Haczkiewicz

Haneishi 

Jiang 

Law

Lazarus 

Miller

Oakley

Parets

Richman-Taylor

Rose

Wang 

Ward

Watembach

 

Apprentice

National School Graduates: 4

Gentes 

Lee

Miralles 

Waters

 

Graduated Elsewhere: 1

Albjon 

 

Edited by Dégagé
Repeat and layout

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I think that the technical flaws (32 fouettes, menage) are hard to characterize as a downfall of the NBS training.  IMO those are strength and stamina issues.  No school could be faulted for failing to deliver a neophyte dancer who struggles with the stamina demands of one of ballet's most challenging roles?  Most advanced dancers can do 32 fouettes in studio.  It's doing that after dancing full out for an hour on stage. 

 

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Posted (edited)

If dancers lack strength and stamina to do a role, it seems to me they shouldn't be doing it and need a few years more practice in solo parts. I've seen plenty of debuts at other companies, and these sorts of shortcomings were not on display. The last time I saw a dancer make her debut as Odette-Odile, she certainly got through her fouettés and every other technical requirement of the ballet. (I believe she was 22 at the time.) Likewise, I didn't see young princes flop and fail in their grand allegro. The partnering may have been less than smooth, but they weren't put on stage if they couldn't get through their solo dancing. National Ballet of Canada tickets are among the most expensive in North America, and it shows disrespect to the audience to put inadequately prepared dancers on stage for that money.

If there are comparitively few granduates of the National Ballet School joining the company, surely this is an indicator that the level of training there is too weak. In past decades this was not the case. For the sake of comparison, here is the company breakdown for 1980 and 1989. (Unfortunately, I don't have a program from 1990, and the programs didn't include bios for corps dancers.)

1980
principal dancers
graduates of the National Ballet School - 6
Augustyn
Harwood
Kain
Potts
Smith
Tennant

graduated elsewhere - 6
Jago
Kirby
Rothwell
Schaufuss
Schramek
Surmeyan

first soloists
graduates of the National Ballet School - 10
Bertram
Cool
Kudelka 
Luoma
Maybarduk
Murillo
Ottmann
Pugh*
Tessmer
Witkowsky*

graduated elsewhere - 4
Gorrisen
Lucas
Patsalas
Roxander

second soloists
graduates of the National Ballet School - 4
Allan
Boutilier
Gornik
Nixon*

graduated elsewhere - 2
Garcia
McCarthy

1989
principal dancers
graduates of the National Ballet School - 11
Glasco
Harrington
Kain
Lavoie
Lightheart
Montague
Nixon
Pugh
Smith
Tennant
Witkowsky

graduated elsewhere - 1
Ichino

(By this point the principal character dancer category had been introduced: Bertram, Gorrisen, Kirby, Schramek, Surmeyan.)

first soloists
graduates of the National Ballet School - 5
Alleyne
Lamy*
Ottmann
Ransom*
Tessmer

graduated elsewhere - 1
Peden

second soloists
graduates of the National Ballet School - 3
Dromisky
Macedo
Quinn*

graduated elsewhere - 1
Green

* - subsequently a principal

But even today the company is very insular. I have personally witnessed (white) outsiders getting the cold shoulder from company members. However, since I have to cite public information, I can refer you to an interview with Jiří Jélinek, in which he described the same thing.

Quote

"In Toronto the long-standing members of the ensemble built something of a family but I wasn’t part of that core group. Actually I neither wished to nor was interested in. In fact during the three and a half years I was there quite a few people never even said ‘hello’ to me. Some even kept avoiding eye-contact! And that not only happened to me but also to several others, dancers from abroad. It was ridiculous."

He also outlined the casting issue and the fact that Kain practices not exactly favoritism, but a determination to showcase dancers who came up from the corps, which sometimes includes having a green dancer muddle through a leading role while an experienced principal is left on the sidelines.

Quote

But, after an injury in his second season, he felt he was being gradually put in the second line. Main roles were mostly given to others, except when guest choreographers like, for example, John Neumeier worked with the company. Then Jelínek was cast for the leading roles. He talked about it with Karen Kain, National Ballet of Canada’s artistic director, but she preferred “her dancers and wanted to realize her plans with the company. So I wasn’t needed any more.”

It often leaves me wondering why she bothered to hire certain dancers, but I suppose the sidelining is a manifestation of distinclty Canadian passive aggression. She doesn't outright dismiss dancers, but leaves them with little or nothing to do until they become demoralized and leave.

Edited by volcanohunter

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Thank you for such a thorough account of the fact that there were more school graduates in the company in the 1980’s.

The correlation you make of there being far fewer graduates today (because the training standard is allegedly sub-par) is not causation.

There are many possible reasons why students from that school may not be joining the NBOC.

With the aforementioned numbers now settled, and getting back to the subject at hand, I must admit that I am in complete agreement with On Pointe on the following:

On 6/30/2020 at 2:26 AM, On Pointe said:

Sorry if I misunderstood your point.  I really don't understand why you bring up the treatment of indigenous Canadians in this discussion.  Apparently you don't believe that Canada is as racist toward black people as the US.  I do. But what we think has no bearing on Mr. Rose's lived experience.  You seem to be discounting it when you say "he may not understand that the reality of his bosses is different",  which is patronizing to say the least.  And you suggest that his discomfort is his fault for daring to dance with a big classical company,  with white male choreographers,  in the first place.  Please correct me if I am wrong,  but that's the message I got.

 

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Perhaps one reason that National Ballet School graduates are not joining the company is that they are being offered jobs with excellent companies in Europe.  Many dancers prefer to dance in Europe.  I know that the Royal Danish Ballet, for example, has many graduates of NBS, both male and female.   German companies have also hired quite  a few.

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2 hours ago, Millie said:

Perhaps one reason that National Ballet School graduates are not joining the company is that they are being offered jobs with excellent companies in Europe.  Many dancers prefer to dance in Europe.  I know that the Royal Danish Ballet, for example, has many graduates of NBS, both male and female.   German companies have also hired quite  a few.

also Dutch National Ballet has many NBS grads. It seems that I find Canadians in just about every ballet company I visit.

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According to the current company website, 43% of their total dancers are from the national school.
Of the principal dancers, the percentage drops to 31%.

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