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NYCB cancels Fall 2020 and Nutcracker seasons


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NYCB's problem is that they don't have enough tall, whiz-bang male technicians to partner tall ballerinas like Mearns and Reichlen (and Phelan and Gerrity if they get promoted). It's telling that they hired Guillaume Coté from Canada to partner Mearns in the February 2020 run of Swan Lake after Tyler Angle got injured (and even Angle is past his Siegfried days, IMO). Janzen is a great partner and is well suited to classical "princely" roles but he seems to be injured around 50% of the time. Danchig-Waring is also frequently injured, and his rep is more modern/contemporary anyway. They've been testing out Peter Walker but I don't think he has the necessary classical chops. Aaron Sanz is a beautiful dancer with lovely long lines but I have yet to see evidence of "principal material." Strong corps dancers like Mejia and Hoxha should indeed be promoted but they don't solve the height problem. 

Among the male principals and soloists younger than 35, Gordon, Huxley, Stanley, Ball, Janzen, and -- as of recently -- Furlan are definitely the best they've got. Not enough height to go around.

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The company definitely has an age problem with its male principals. Not only are Ask la Cour and Gonzalo Garcia retiring but they have another cohort of dancers who will be at or near 40 by fall 2021:

Jared Angle -- apprentice (1998)/corps (1998)

Amar Ramasar -- apprentice (2000)/corps (2001)

Daniel Ulbricht -- apprentice (2000)/corps (2001)

Andrew Veyette -- apprentice (2000)/corps (2000)

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2 hours ago, miliosr said:

The company definitely has an age problem with its male principals. Not only are Ask la Cour and Gonzalo Garcia retiring but they have another cohort of dancers who will be at or near 40 by fall 2021:

Jared Angle -- apprentice (1998)/corps (1998)

Amar Ramasar -- apprentice (2000)/corps (2001)

Daniel Ulbricht -- apprentice (2000)/corps (2001)

Andrew Veyette -- apprentice (2000)/corps (2000)

Didn’t realize that Daniel Ulbricht started at that time.  He has such a young face and jubilant demeanor - especially compared to Veyette.  

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I am wondering if some of the soloists they thought would mature have stalled out a bit -- I'm thinking Sebastian Villarini-Velez and Harrison Ball in particular. Peter Walker actually has grown into his body more (less of a string bean) so I think there's still room for him to move up. Aaron Sanz -- so beautiful to look at, but I'm not sold on stage, yet. Other soloists -- Troy Schumacher, Sean Suozzi, Daniel Applebaum etc., are probably not going to be promoted.  So, going shopping for talent is understandable, though the timing is strange. I had the fleeting thought that they might try to poach Aran Bell from ABT . . .

Jovani was excellent and captivating last fall and winter, in my opinion. Just great to watch. He's 6 feet tall, so just a little taller than Joe Gordon -- and they are about the same age (under 30). He's the most obvious promotion from Soloist. 

Roman should be promoted (fast, like in the old days) but he is obviously in the mold of a DeLuz, not the tall guy. Alec Knight is the other corps guy whom I think could be promoted to soloist now.

There are some very young guys -- Abreu, Weber, Fahoury, Christopher Grant, Gilbert Bolden III, LaJeromeny Brown and Kennard Hanson whom I think are intriguing. I think male dancers just need time. That's why losing so much stage work is a huge detriment to them, as well as such a huge disappointment to us. 

And as for retirements -- I think the three listed were the ones already planned -- Ask was going to be this month and Maria in the spring. Gonzalo had danced his last "Dances at a Gathering" last fall so that seemed like a hint of things to come. But you have to think there will be more next year. Abby Stafford is in law school and mentioned in a response to another blog post that she was on leave from the company last winter (I have no information on her current status). Jared, Abby, Andy -- I'm sure they all want to hold out for a few more opportunities on stage before saying goodbye (and I will say that getting healthy has reset the clock for Veyette a bit). 

Of course they could just continue not promoting anyone, which is a little depressing, frankly. 

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Harrison Ball I think is definitely on track for promotion. He had some injuries but was dancing a principal workload before the pandemic. Harrison Coll is someone who seemed to have gotten sidetracked with injuries and then never really returned. 

I think Unity, Indiana, and Emilie are the soloists on track to be promoted to principal.

One thing about NYCB is that even though corps and apprentices do get fired from time to time soloists and principals are usually allowed to retire on their own terms. Some were dancing well up until retirement (Joaquin de Luz), others just danced less and less until they got the message (Janie Taylor). This was true in Mr. B's day as well -- he disliked directly firing veteran dancers. He just cast them less and less. 

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I think in terms of forced retirements, the new administration is much kinder and gentler than Martins.  I think there are people on the roster who would most certainly have been forced into retirement if Martins was still running the show.  People have correctly complained that promotions to principal have been few and far between.  However, until there are principal departures there is little possibility for upward movement of some of the soloists, in my opinion.

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The next season is almost a year from now. There may be dancers who decide not to come back, and even with an extended rehearsal period to allow time to get into shape and build stamina, some dancers will return more ready than others. We might see some shifts in casting and career trajectories.

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18 minutes ago, vipa said:

The next season is almost a year from now. There may be dancers who decide not to come back, and even with an extended rehearsal period to allow time to get into shape and build stamina, some dancers will return more ready than others. We might see some shifts in casting and career trajectories.

Yes, this is why I don’t fault NYCB at all for not promoting at this time. It was exciting (and a surprise) when ABT did, but it’s a risk that I don’t at all blame a company for not taking.

Edited by nanushka
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10 hours ago, Rock said:

It's a bit confusing to me that the company would announce the addition of Chun Wai Chan at a point when they're not going to perform for another year. Does he keep his job in Houston in the meantime? Seems a bit of limbo.

I assume these are just the sorts of personal employment details that the individuals involved are privy to but may not be relevant for the general public to be told. Future events may make the details more clear, but also maybe not.

Also, we don’t know there will be no performing opportunities for another year. We just know that the winter and spring seasons, as originally scheduled, have been canceled.
 

Edited by nanushka
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On 10/26/2020 at 10:59 AM, KikiRVA said:

Do we know if the dancers will be paid during the cancelled seasons?

They won't be paid regularly, unless something changes. From the interviews it sounds like the dancers were paid two weeks rehearsal to make the New Works Festival pieces this fall. NYCB might be able to do something similar in the spring or summer, but it won't be ANYTHING like months of steady rehearsal and performance pay. From the New Yorker article about the making of the New Works Festival.

"The couple had given up their New York apartments, and the next day they were flying to California, to stay with Woodward’s parents. “There was just no way we could pay our rent without a salary,” Coll said. While furloughed from the company, they would collect unemployment, or maybe teach remote dance lessons. “I’m from the city, and I’ve never lived anywhere else, so it’s weird for me,” Coll said. “When the company has stable employment for us, we’re going to be back in a flash.”

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/how-new-york-city-ballet-took-on-the-pandemic

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51 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

They won't be paid regularly, unless something changes. From the interviews it sounds like the dancers were paid two weeks rehearsal to make the New Works Festival pieces this fall. NYCB might be able to do something similar in the spring or summer, but it won't be ANYTHING like months of steady rehearsal and performance pay. From the New Yorker article about the making of the New Works Festival.

 

Doesn't sound like NYCB is able to raise enough money to pay dancer and musician salaries for any length of time. So furloughs all round. Sigh.

Hopefully NYCB will get most of these people back, but the longer the layoff, the more likely some artists will end up elsewhere out of necessity. Amazon is hiring, I hear - but it's not dancing skills that they're looking for.

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20 hours ago, pherank said:

Doesn't sound like NYCB is able to raise enough money to pay dancer and musician salaries for any length of time. So furloughs all round. Sigh.

Well, their most recent publicly available IRS Form 990 (dated May 2019) lists $304.5 million in net assets. But, in fairness, nearly two-thirds of that amount is restricted and, with little to no revenue coming in, they could blow through a fair share of the remainder in no time if they kept expenses like salaries on the books.

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22 hours ago, miliosr said:

Well, their most recent publicly available IRS Form 990 (dated May 2019) lists $304.5 million in net assets. But, in fairness, nearly two-thirds of that amount is restricted and, with little to no revenue coming in, they could blow through a fair share of the remainder in no time if they kept expenses like salaries on the books.

NYCB, as do most companies, needs a targeted donation drive (the NYCB Relief Fund) to try to pay for artistic staff. But it does seem to be falling short. A "Dancers of NYCB" organization was recently created to help out, but I think they have a ways to go to catch up to the situation.

"As Dancers of NYCB, we hope to create a system of financial support that will carry us through the pandemic and back to the stage. If you are able, please consider making a tax deductible donation to the AGMA Relief Fund, with donations earmarked for “Dancers of NYCB.” All donations will be given to NYCB’s AGMA artists, who include the dancers and stage managers, to supplement our income until rehearsals and performances can safely resume."

If the artists/musicians are losing their apartments though, that's going to make a mess of things given how hard it is to find decent affordable rentals in the NYC area.

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Thanks vipa for pointing out this video. Lauren's story is fascinating, and she comes across so well, beautiful, engaging, and thoughtful. So many people are taking the disruption of the pandemic as an opportunity to reassess life choices. I wonder what direction Lauren will go in. My only complaint about the interview is Megan Fairchild's interviewing style. I kept wishing she would shut up and sit back, and let Lauren expand on what she was saying, like her stepping back from ballet. Can we hear what Lauren is thinking about ballet and her future, please? I kept feeling like Megan was changing the topic, like when Lauren is discussing the painful break from her family, and rather than let the moment sit, Megan jumps in, saying something like "Totally!" and takes over. She misses what was really a very poignant moment. Megan kept wanting to throw in her own vignettes about Lauren, personal anecdotes only tangentially related to what Lauren was saying, and so on. I feel she missed the opportunity for a really powerful interview by letting the charismatic Lauren tell her own compelling story.

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9 hours ago, cobweb said:

Thanks vipa for pointing out this video. Lauren's story is fascinating, and she comes across so well, beautiful, engaging, and thoughtful. So many people are taking the disruption of the pandemic as an opportunity to reassess life choices. I wonder what direction Lauren will go in. My only complaint about the interview is Megan Fairchild's interviewing style. I kept wishing she would shut up and sit back, and let Lauren expand on what she was saying, like her stepping back from ballet. Can we hear what Lauren is thinking about ballet and her future, please? I kept feeling like Megan was changing the topic, like when Lauren is discussing the painful break from her family, and rather than let the moment sit, Megan jumps in, saying something like "Totally!" and takes over. She misses what was really a very poignant moment. Megan kept wanting to throw in her own vignettes about Lauren, personal anecdotes only tangentially related to what Lauren was saying, and so on. I feel she missed the opportunity for a really powerful interview by letting the charismatic Lauren tell her own compelling story.

I have to agree on your point. I've listened to a handful of these interviews and it's probably my only pet peeve. She has done that to every one I've listened to. She cuts them off and inserts herself in the conversation, or asks something else while the guest is clearly not finished with his/her story. So sure, it's "free rein" as she calls it and these are very informal interviews, which I appreciate, but it would be nice to let them finish. As a journalist, I know how hard it can be to let silence "be" in interviews. It's easy to want to fill the silence and to always talk or ask another question straight away, but usually leaving some silence or pauses always leads to the interviewee continuing on his/her thought process (because they too want to fill that silence!). And in my experience, that's when you get the best out of your interviewees, and it's always led to some fantastic quotes and content. 

Anyways, back on topic, I was actually listening to Lauren's interview last night as well. I am about halfway through, but found her comments and questioning very interesting. It does sound she is not sure she'll return to ballet quite yet. Whatever she does decide, it sounds like this break was what she needed to not tank.

Edited by sohalia
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Just judging from this one interview, a simple fix for Megan Fairchild might be to clarify in her own mind what kind of dialogue is this meant to be. Is it a conversation between old colleagues about how both of them have been doing during the pandemic? Or is it an interview of Lauren Lovette and her reflections on her past, present, and future? Megan seemed to be taking it as a convo to which they would both share experiences, while Lauren seemed to be taking it as an interview of herself. I would prefer the latter, but I could enjoy the former as well, if they are both on the same page. 

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12 hours ago, cobweb said:

Just judging from this one interview, a simple fix for Megan Fairchild might be to clarify in her own mind what kind of dialogue is this meant to be. Is it a conversation between old colleagues about how both of them have been doing during the pandemic? Or is it an interview of Lauren Lovette and her reflections on her past, present, and future? Megan seemed to be taking it as a convo to which they would both share experiences, while Lauren seemed to be taking it as an interview of herself. I would prefer the latter, but I could enjoy the former as well, if they are both on the same page. 

In all the interviews I've heard Fairchild give, this was the most frustrating in that I wanted to hear more from Lovette. In some other interviews it seemed more natural for Fairchild to interject her own experiences. IN any event, I'm glad Megan Fairchild is putting them out there, it must be quite a learning curve for her.

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