The Top Ten Ballet Companies (2017 Edition)

Top 10 Ballet companies 2017

Ballet is progressing at such a fast rate that it seems impossible to keep up with all of the changes. This year, the idea of ballet has shifted even more. From spectacular premiers and wondrous PR Campaigns, ballet truly has a lot to honor this year. Every ballet company has something to offer the world, and nowadays, prestige or reputation isn’t enough. So, without further adieu, a Ballet Education’s TOP TEN BALLET COMPANIES 2017 EDITION.

1.The first company this year is English National Ballet for their premiere of Giselle. Sculpted by female artistic director Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet premiered their work of Akram Kahn’s Giselle. This has probably been the most innovative work the ballet world as seen in a long time. From primal movements to a new score, this new ballet captures the fundamentals of raw human emotions.


More info on Akram Khan’s Giselle: http://giselle.ballet.org.uk/

2 + 3 Royal Ballet & San Francisco Ballet // Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein
http://www.roh.org.uk/about/the-royal-ballet
http://sfballet.org

4. New York City Ballet // Justin Peck’s The Times are Racing

http://nycballet.com

5. Het National Ballet // Night Fall

6. Staatsballett (Berlin)

7. Bolshoi Ballet

8. American Ballet Theatre

9. Paris Opera Ballet

10+11. The Australian Ballet, National Ballet of Canada

You can read more about these companies in the magazine by clicking here.
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NEWS: Los Angeles Ballet Fails…again

After talking with a few anonymous sources, I can finally confirm a few things… Rumors and stories have been circulating the ballet world about Los Angeles Ballet’s shocking news. Los Angeles Ballet just laid off a handful of dancers, 5 to be exact… and a ballet mistress due to the lack of budgeting… or lack of funding… This news was delivered less than 48 hours before their season contracts were to begin… New Contracts that were part time or hourly were given to the remaining company members. Additionally, the fourth program was pulled from their season- making their season go from September to March. I am not 100% sure, but legally I think these dancers are entitled to more than a the $1,000 severance they were given (less than two weeks worth of corps pay)… but now these dancers are unemployed until next season- most dancers will not even be able to audition until January… They also had a contract for someone from Italy, but laid him off as well…. So good luck getting out of a Los Angeles lease, well if he can’t find another work visa ASAP… I guess being deported works…  right?

More Irony? Well, not irony, but straight out bull$h!t… they let go of promoted apprentices and corps members but hired 6 new dancers… one being their daughter…. *super side eye* Family Nepotism Plays Again* And I get that new hires are cheap labor… buuuuuuut still, this is a load of poop being dropped on you at the last possible minute. (Not the most professional visual, but as I sit here I am like dumbfounded. Honestly, I didn’t even want to believe it…)  But, everyone in management must have known what was coming because the Artistic Directors’ son went to Boston last minute. *side eye* well, some major serious side eye* How he got into Boston Ballet, that is another major question because I have seen the men in BB corps… and I have seen Erik dance…  I really do wonder how he got hired, truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised if a back deal was cut for Colleen to set Balanchine Ballets for cheap. But, that is just me speculating…

So, where did this come from? Los Angeles ballet was unavailable for a quote. They referred me to their PR company, whom which I spoke to someone but she was on vacation playing tennis…

Let’s review… Los Angeles Ballet is going now have to give back money to season ticket holders… So that is another expense from cutting the third program (Coppelia) and pushing the Balanchine Program up. Instead of pulling weekends from theaters, they pulled a show. Well, that may be super great but doesn’t matter  because it is a huge cost to cut. They could have easily restructured the company and re-arranged the priorities for their budgets. While most ballet companies gain debt over each season, it is usually also traded from loan to loan. SFB and ABT are pretty stellar at that. You can read their financial reviews, because all non-profits usually are required transparency. But, I do wonder how much the ADs of LAB make… Seriously- I’m dumfounded… Because when ABT was going through a financial struggle, the entire company, staff, etc took salary cuts to afford not laying off dancers… I couldn’t find their financial report on their website… which is funny because most major companies makes it readily available… If I were a donor… I would ask to see it ASAP/

So- how does an established company like Los Angeles ballet go from being a rising new company to a crumbling establishment? The simple answer: Money Management. It is extremely costly to run a ballet company, especially when it competes in the Los Angeles dance scene against other major established ballet schools… Ballet schools support the company… and well frankly, there is better training in Los Angeles then LAB School. So, not having a strong school structure is difficult…

They also took on a massive season last year with staging all new full-length ballets that cost. (ie: costume rentals, set rentals, extra hours of rehearsal etc) They should have stuck with the Balanchine Ballets they are good at… No costumes, no sets… They don’t perform with a live orchestra so they don’t have that major expense… but they do pay for a music director… maybe to speed up or slow down the CDs? Not sure… When a ballet company goes under there are a few people who are to blame… The easiest to blame is the board of directors… It is funny because most Boards are made up of non-ballet community members… They are either well connected within a community, or they can afford to be patrons of ballet… A good board also has extremely smart business savvy people.

The Artistic Staff usually tries to blame the regular staff… ie: development (aka fundraising), the box office (ticket sales), or other managers because they do create the budget in which the ballet company works… And though it might seem like their fault, it really boils down to the Artistic Director… (I know, I seem to beat up a lot on this position) but it is their job as the head to guide the entire company. While the Regular staff might be the legs of a company, and the dancers are the heart and blood of the company… The head leads the company and usually endorses new ballets, new innovative works, and pushes for their own personal choices… Ironically, most artistic directors don’t have a degree in business or know how to run a business… Their current executive director is Julie Whittaker- who has had the position since the inception of LAB.

So… a little bit about LA BALLET…. Founded in 2004 by Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary… the ballet company was primed to be a rising star… but like most ballet companies in Los Angeles, it seems Los Angeles has fallen to the Ballet Curse of LA. Every ballet company in Los Angeles results in folding…. While I don’t think LAB is going to be folding this season, their choices have cost them senior corps members. So, when you think loyalty matters… money matters more at LAB.

Here is something to think about… and I hope the board of LA Ballet reads this… 
While you all might think ballet is beautiful and wonderful… at the heart of it all, ballet is a business… And you have to be business savvy to be an Artistic Director… This was not like PA Ballet’s cleaning house because a new look was being developed… This was just pure stupidity and poor planning… Not to mention bad marketing… And while I have tried in the past to partner with Los Angeles Ballet… their lack of communication is awful… But just remember… most Artistic Directors are to blame when a company folds… I mean look at Silicon Valley… they raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep the company alive but they insisted on staging a brand new Giselle…. I hope you consult more… and consult with people who know ballet inside and out… as well as know business inside and out. Before you go out and let go of dancers… You should really ask yourselves… Who is really to blame? And from an outsider looking in… I think I can safely point the finger at the Artistic Directors of Los Angeles Ballet…

If you are one of the dancers from Los Angeles Ballet who was let go… contact me, and I will let you know of any job openings I hear of… I’m sorry that this BS happened to you, and once again #balletpolitics strike again…

All of my sources have asked to remain anonymous.

(Photo from Los Angeles Ballet’s Media Hub:  LAB in Giselle (2016 season); Photo: Reed Hutchinson http://losangelesballet.org)

And the envelope please… a Ballet Education’s Ballet Awards 2016

ballet awards

Each year as the season ends a history disappears. As a dancer, it means that the applause is over, that all of your hard work, hours of rehearsals, performances and stage time is gone… There is nothing left, there is no reliving the moment… Ballet is a performance art, so every performance is different, every moment is special. So, it is our job was ballet goers and ballet fans to celebrate a year of hard work. So before we go on about our favorites and all that jazz… Here is a huge round of applause to every dancer, artistic director, board member, stage hand, dresser, costume designer, lighting designer, usher, ticket person and more… everyone who was involved in making the ballet season around the world happen…. You are incredible and important in the giant cogwheel that moves ballet forward, innovates the art form, and allows dancers to share their art.

These blog awards were started as a result of having a very hard time ranking companies.I think it is easier to rank schools. But companies we are looking at artistry, and for that, we have to evaluate innovation, musicality, acting abilities and the ability to become something else… The ability to inspire and move audiences… performances to remember and so on…. Thus, I decided to create awards based on categories I think are relevant… I also just like the Oscars and the idea of pretty awards.

If you don’t know how it works… Each season I read tons of reviews and I see tons of ballet performances… Obviously, I am not flying around the world to see everything but I do read a lot and respect the opinions of other bloggers, publications, and reviewers. I also have the help of thousands of followers and ballet go-ers nominating and sending in reviews, comments, and nominations… From these, I kind of narrow it down and ask opinions of friends, colleagues and more… This allows me to decide who gets the award. Next year, it will be even better because if you subscribe to the magazine, you will actually get to vote on the top nominees in each category to select the winner alongside our editors.

This year has been another turning point for ballet… For race it has been a big deal, as Misty Copeland is truly becoming the face of Ballet in America making her rightfully the next American Ballerina, a long-standing position, usually by an ABT or NYCB darling. Other American Ballerinas in this history include Susan Jaffe, Darci Kistler, and Julie Kent and now we have Misty Copeland. This year was also a great year for choreography and innovation as premiers were happening left and right and almost impossible to keep up with. While the world of choreographers, artistic directors, and school directors are still dominated by men we look forward to a larger female presence in these jobs in this upcoming season. This year was spectacular and dancers around the world enhanced the art form, pushed the technique, and mastered the human body.

So, without further adieu, the envelope, please…


The first award of the night acknowledges our blog awards. It goes to any dancer, any company, any choreographer that our readers email about, have reviewed or have requested to see more of the blog. And this year there is a clean sweep. So I have combined categories into one award and this year’s a Ballet Education’s Blog Award goes to… BALLET WEST. With readers nominating Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell for their pas de deux in Romeo and Juliet back in February… For requests to feature/opinion the company and school at Ballet West, and our readers favorite for the most follow-ups, shares, and comments on a blog post: CORPS DE BALLET CONFESSIONAL: Elizabeth Weldon. With much pleasure, they will be featured soon on our blog! Click here for more information on Ballet West. I promise I will go visit Ballet West this season and answer all of your questions…

A BALLET EDUCATION AWARD


COSTUME, SET, or LIGHTING DESIGN… and the award goes to:
Ian Falconer for the scenic and costume Designer for PNB’s New Production of George Balanchine’s the Nutcracker.


OTHER NOMINEES:
Lighting Design for Mammatus, Joffrey Ballet by Alexander V Nichols
Lighting design by David Finn for PNB’s Signature- editor’s pick Colette Posse
Set Designer John Macfarlane for Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein.
Design team behind  A Hero of our Time, Elana Zaitseva, Krill Serebrennikov, Simon Donger
Design team behind Teatro La Scala’s Cinderella: Carlo Cerri, Maurizio Millenotti, Carlo Cerri, Alessandro Grisendi, Marco Noviello


Best Reprisal of a Classic Work
American Ballet Theatre for La Fille Mal Gardée
(choreography by Fredrick Ashton,music by Ferdinand Herold, design by Osbert Lancaster, lighting by Brad Fields)
Click here for Synopsis

Other Nominees worth noting: English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire and  PNB’ take on George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.


Student of the Year
Joohyuk Jun, Royal Ballet School* winner of YAGP

Robbie Downey, BalletFreak/ Ballet Babble, Ellison
Hang Yu, China *winner of prix de lausanne*
Madison Young, Houston Ballet
Vincenzo di Primo, Italy
BallerinaAnna, SAB, owner of BunFlowerz
Kim, Hee Sun, South Korea *winner of the Helsinki IBC*
Kennedy Kallas, Ballet West *winner of the Natalia Makarova Award for Excellence*


Best Pas De Deux Couple
Iana Selenko (guest) & Steven McRae (Royal Ballet)

Video not from this year, but you kind of get to see the amazingness of the them…

Other Nominees in this huge category:
Missa Kuranaga (Boston Ballet) and Gonzalo Garcia (guest), Swan Lake
Beckanne Sisk (Ballet West) and Chase O’Connell (Ballet West), Romeo and Juliet*
Alessandra Ferri (guest) and Herman Cornejo (ABT), Giselle
Gillian Murphy (ABT) and Marcello Gomes (ABT), Swan Lake
Isabella Boylston (ABT) and Jeffrey Cirio (ABT), La Fille Mal Gardee
Polina Semoinova (guest) and Roberto Bolle (La Scala) , Cinderella
*winner of our blog favorite, picked by the readers of a Ballet Education*


Dancer of the Year
Kimin Kim, Mariinsky *won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*

Honorable mentions from the huge list of dancers nominated
Anthony Huxley, NYCB
Hannah O’Niell, Paris Opera *also won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*
Sara Mearns, NYCB
Alicia Amatriain, Stuttgart *also won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*
Isabella Boylston, ABT
Iana Salenko, Berlin State Ballet
Olga Smirnova, Bolshoi Ballet
Misty Copeland, ABT
Steven McRae, Royal Ballet
Fredrico Bonelli, editor’s pick- David King


Company Contribution to the World
no nominations… sad face.



New or Returning Presence to the International Ballet Scene
Kathryn Morgan.
Presented by Ballet in the City and Bloch at the Kennedy Center
If you don’t follow her, she is a former soloist at NYCB, who was on the high rise to becoming a principal dancer when illness struck and took her away from ballet. Her blog and video blog exploded and now she is a ballet guru.
Click here for her massive empire

hon. mention: Alessandra Ferri returning to ABT’s Met Season in Romeo and Juliet. It is happening right now, and is coming in with killr reviews.


Choreographer of the Year
Yuri Possokhov, A Hero Of Our Time for Bolshoi *won the prix de benois de la danse*

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Mammatus for Joffrey
Justin Peck, multiple works
Travis Wall, multiple solo works
Alexi Ratmansky, Golden Cockerel, multiple works
Christopher Wheeldon, multiple works
Andrew Bartee
Myles Thatcher, Passengers
Mauro Bigonzetti, Cinderella for La Scala
Johan Inger, Carmen
Benjamin Millepied, Clear Loud Bright Forward for Paris Opera
Maxim Petrov, Divertissement of King for Mariinsky
Zhang Yunfeng, Emperor Yu Li
Garrett Smith
Guilherme Maciel


Most Innovative/Collaboration Company
New York City Ballet for their designer collaborations for their fall Gala, and for their collaboration with resident Dior Illustrator Jamie Lee Reardin.

Other Nominees:
Het/Dutch National Ballet
National Ballet of Canada for Le Petit Prince
Royal Sweedish Ballet
Stuttgart Ballet
Miami City Ballet
Australian Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet


Best Repertory for the 2015-2016 season
Het Nationale Ballet, Artistic Director Ted Brandsen

Thier next season looks pretty amazing as well…

For tickets…

Other Nominees:
Australian Ballet
Paris Opera Ballet
Royal Ballet
New York City Ballet
American Ballet Theatre
Stuttgart Ballet
Wiener Staatsoper
Semper Oper


Most Inspiring Company
Australian Ballet, editor’s pick Jacquelyn Bernard

Other Nominees:
Boston Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet
San Francisco Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet
Het National Ballet
New York City Ballet


And now for the final category, which I think is the strongest to represent a company as a reflection of the season. The Best Premiere of a New Work in the 2015-2016 season. To really produce a new work, these dancers are the first, they originate the roles, the emotions, the technique and the approach. It is a sign of innovation in a company, and the willingness to find new ways of moving, approaching the classics, and innovating the art form. It is also a huge collaboration between everyone involved in ballet, from the marketing and press to the dancers, choreographers, designers and audience… A new work is the true test of a company’s ability to innovate and be successful. It is always a risk to premiere a new work, as audiences might not be so keen on attending without a big name attached… But, this season we had amazing contributions to the ballet repertory and here are the nominees…

  • Royal Ballet in collaboration with San Francisco Ballet, Frankenstein, choreographed by Liam Scarlett, Music by Lowell Liebermann, Designer John Macfarlane, Lighting designer David Finn, and Projection designer Finn Ross. (May 17, 2016)

http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/frankenstein-by-liam-scarlett

  • National Ballet of Canada’s Le Petit Prince, based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, choreographed by Guillaume Côté, Composed by Kevin Lau, Sets and Costumes by Michael Levine, Lighting by David Finn, and Video design by Finn Ross. Creatively developed by Guillaume Cote and Michael Levine. (June 4, 2016)

http://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2015-2016-Season/Le-Petit-Prince

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Signature, choreographed by Price Suddarth, Lighting design by Randall G Chiarelli, Costumes by Mark Zappone. (November 6, 2015)
  • Joffrey Ballet’s Mammatus choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Music by Michael Gordon, design work by DieuwekeVanReu, lighting design by Alexander V. Nichols
  • American Ballet Theatre’s The Golden Cockerel, original choreo by Michel Fokine and new choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, sets and costumes by Richard Hudson. Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and arranged by Yannis Samprovalakis
  • Bolshoi Ballet’s a Hero Of Our Time choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, music by Ilya Demutsky, costume design by Elana Zaitseva and Kirill Serebrennikov, lighting and video design by Simon Donger.

http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/813

And the winner is…
TEATRO LA SCALA



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#BalletPolitics

#BALLETPOLITICS…

ballet politics copy.jpg
Between racism, sexism, and body types… The real politics of ballet boil down to one thing: favoritism. After the recent performance of Los Angeles Ballet’s DON Q, I realized that favoritism   may be the downfall of ballet… Favoritism in ballet isn’t just about talent, or body type… It has to do with the personal relationships within the company. I’m not saying that these people don’t deserve a chance, but if you look at NYCB’s roster… everyone has either married each other, dating each other or are related. Don’t get me wrong… genetics for ballet is extremely important… But, we have all been in the room when someone is given a role, and the whole room is thinking, “WTF?”

Casting is the one thing that is most affected by favoritism. And casting and the chance to learn a role, or even perform a role is what feeds a dancer’s soul. In a major company, like say…. American Ballet Theatre, the competition within the corps is so fierce that it might be impossible to get promoted…. I mean their corps is full of YAGP winners and Prix finalists… Then you have NYCB whose corps dances insane…. But principals really do shine…. Then you have regional companies who casting is extremely distinct by rank…. but then there are the exceptions of favorites… Dancers who are being fast-tracked by either talent, personality or personal relationship….

I’ve said it a million times… but Artistic Directors are the ones killing ballet….

The rebuttal is that Artistic Director’s give dancers a shot to prove themselves… and sometimes… they don’t live up to that moment… Then we have scenarios where the dancer is talented but stuck in the corps because of financial reasons… So it is hard to say… With talent coming out of the woodworks these days… Jobs are becoming scarce, and with principal dancers eating their own company’s repertory alive… Superstars and guesting at companies constantly… So, is there any room left for the “traditional” dance career route? Do you have be a superstar to make it now?

If you aren’t a favorite, a YAGP stars, a social media force, or reality star… is there room for the typical ballet dancer?

Sorry this post is so scatter brained, I am also having coffee with a friend of mine talking about our upcoming Vegas trip.

gaysian at molinos.jpg
So, here I am sitting, over iced tea (I gave up coffee for lent) wondering the fate of so many talented dancers. Is it good enough to have a perfect body, clean technique and a great work ethic? Or, are we at the point where you have to beyond perfect in every way, have superior tricks, and be well known through social media? Has ballet truly become for the people, and the people demand tricks and technical powerhouses?

As I see so many professional dancers transitioning to other companies, or freelancing…. I wonder if ballet will be like the commercial dance industry, and will be booked and cast by the show?

ballet politics copy.jpg

Company Profile: American Ballet Theatre

Arts Profile

ABT DOCU FUN
ABT DOCU FUN – click image to buy from Amazon.

ABT THE GOLDEN YEARS: ABT at the Met on DVD
ABT THE PROGRESSION OF BALLET: ABT’s Variety and Virtuosity

ABT’s Website.

Favorite Principals at ABT: Hee Seo (gorgeous), James Whiteside (daddy 1), Marcelo Gomes (big daddy)
Favorite Soloists at ABT: Alexandre Hammoudi (aka baby daddy) Jeffrey Cirio (fly as f*ck), Christine Shevchenko, Devon Teuscher, Luciana Paris, Skylar Brandt
Favorite Corps: Zhong-jing Fang, April Giangeruso, Sung Woo Han, Courtney Lavine, Hannah Marshall, Kaho Ogawa.

Other than that I don’t have anything else to say about them.

Redlands Dance Theatre

kelly 1 copy

Redlands Dance Theatre is a non profit organization dedicated to the arts in the Inland Empire. Your contribution, no matter the size, provides Redlands Dance Theatre the means to further the arts in our community.  Redlands Dance Theatre provides 8 full year round scholarships to Dancing Images Dance Center for under privileged children.  The company provides exceptional performances for our community, and gives Inland Empire dancers a chance to grow and further their art form.

Unfortunately, employing ballet dancers does not come as an easy task.  Redlands Dance Theatre goes through about 8 pairs of pointe shoes a week, running about $650. To finance our 2015-2016 season, Redlands Dance Theatre is looking to raise approximately $25,000 to support our dancers, students, performances, costuming, and other miscellaneous expenses.  

www.RedlandsDanceTheatre.org

Ballet Needs to Stop Making Me Mad Late at Night…

#BLOOP …

Carlos Renteria, Redlands Dance Theatre. Photographed by Alexandra Rose, SOCIAL CULTURE
Carlos Renteria, Redlands Dance Theatre. Photographed by Alexandra Rose, SOCIAL CULTURE

Tonight I was reminded why I started my blog…. (http://aballeteducation.com/2014/07/07/firstpost)
Then… as the 2015-2016 season is being announced, once again I am like flabbergasted and irritated with ballet. Here is what is irritating me tonight, at 5 AM. Preface: I am up all night because on October 3rd I will be partnering up with SF FASHION to showcase my new fashion brand MONDEAN.  And tonight all of the sketches had to be finalized (as in fabric choices, colors etc) to be prepped for technicals, and pattern drafting. BTW, if any of you are in Southern California and are a seamstress… contact me please… I am short seamstresses…  So anyways, I am about to go to bed, and I open up my computer and go through my press releases…

First, I would like to congratulate everyone who was promoted… Especially Lauren Lovette, who is now a principal at NYCB. Anthony Huxley was promoted to principal as well, which makes me raise an eyebrow, because of the male soloists at NYCB, I thought Stanley Huxley would be the next to be promoted Principal… I dunno. SFB hired 3 amazeball students, all who finished well at previous YAGPs. Boom. Allynne Noelle, a principal at LA Ballet will be joining Suzanne Farrell for the upcoming season. ABT said farewell to Xiomara Reyes, and Paloma Herrera. We say goodbye to Julie Kent June 20. With three female principals leaving, ABT is bound to announce promotions… and new hires *grin, I’m actually happy about* I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered Maria Kochetkova a full-time contract, because she is like ideal height for Cornejo and Simkin… I don’t know how SFB would feel, but since SFB is full of promising stars… It might be a good thing? Misty Copeland will premier in Romeo and Juliet on June 20 prior to Kent’s farewell, then make her NYC Swan Lake debut June 24…. So, I am thinking her and Stella Abbrera will get promoted. (Stella had a phenom run at Giselle) Natalia Osipova withdrew from her debut as Juliet for ABT which has a star studded juliet cast: Obraztsova, Vishneva, Copeland, Seo, and Kent (retiring). I swear if Sarah Lane is promoted I am boycotting ABT even if ABT is hiring more asians.

We also said farewell to beast Sylvie and one of my favorite ballerinas of all time: Carla Korbes. If you missed the live stream… you missed out on Diamonds Pas De Deux… Serenade was good but I have seen better. Diamonds was flawless…… The only people who should be doing the PDD are: Korbes, who is now retired… If you saw the performance though she slayed the F*ck out of it.  Smirnova who won the Benois for that performance, its magical. If you haven’t seen her do it, they go on tour with it this summer, or just watch via youtube. M. Nunez was pretty interesting at Royal Ballet. I don’t know if the company should be doing Balanchine ballets, but… what eva… Just like Paris Opera should not be doing Serenade… at ALL…. Like ever.

The ballet world was faced with Angel Corrella‘s (I should not even put his name in bold) new tenure at PA Ballet… barf. His statement was awful, his wording was not ideal… and when he means diversify culturally, he means he is going to hire a bunch of latino dancers, when there are plenty of dancers in the states who need work and don’t need visa fees #justsayin . Which was already proven with his new soloist and principal. I am sure everyone in the company is irritated… I’m irritated… Like seriously, go home.

Oh, NYCB just released their new choreography initiative and I am not saying I called it, but I kind of did… Myles Thatcher from SFB will be making his premier at NYCB… Royal Ballet will be staging a new Carmen by Carlos Acosta, and now has a new choreographer program. I should apply for next year. LOL.

Mmmmm people who should have been promoted weren’t. Ballet companies are irritating me, but thats not new.  Tuesday morning was the first company class for Redlands Dance Theatre, my ballet company. The studios were hot and the mood was fun, but everyone danced really hard, very musical, and gorgeous. It was super nice.  I totally forgot to take a picture, which upsets me, but oh well. #mybad

What else? I’m exhausted, and have photo shoots in a couple hours for SOCIAL CULTURE, so I am probably not going to sleep, this will be day 4 of being awake and only sleeping for an hour here and there. I could just be super moody because I have quit smoking. Mmmm that is all ballet world… So irritated.

BIG THINGS FOR A BALLET EDUCATION

ballet1

So, I have decided to launch a few big things for a Ballet Education, and I hope they are helpful… But, unfortunately it will take a little bit of capitol. If you have enjoyed reading my blog, minus the grammar mistakes, you can now donate so I can pay an editor to go back through and edit everything. I just don’t have the time. Even now, I am using SIRI to update this blog while driving to an event in Los Angeles.

Here is what I was thinking…

book cover mock up

yes, I would like to publish a book…

COMING SOON... available via iPhone, iPad, Android, Desktop, Digital Download
COMING SOON…
available via iPhone, iPad, Android, Desktop, Digital Download

and yes… I want to release digital books of things that are important…

And I would like to redesign the site.

And I would like to be able to start a youtube channel with how to do real ballet techniques…

Sooooo, if you are interested please donate or email me aballeteducation@gmail.com

Thanks.

The Return: A Ballet Education

… I thought I was going to be giving this up, and I thought I would leave my nightly rants to Facebook… BUT THEN a ballet company finally replied to my e-mail, and they did not have anything nice to say… So, with that being said, a Ballet Education is coming back full force… Don’t piss off a gaysian who works in PR. This is going to be fun. A lot of fun. And as it might black list me from ever going to see a performance, and I might lose a bunch of friends in the ballet world… I decided… It is worth it.

A lot of you wrote in why I was selling and stopping… Here is the truth:

I decided to stop a ballet education because despite all of my efforts in posting happy, feel good posts about classical ballets, dance companies and schools… Actual education posts… people really didn’t care to read them. The more honest I was, the more popular the posts became… And I felt that I was giving ballet kind of a bad reputation, despite the truth behind it—

Then, because of this blog major ballet companies wouldn’t consider hiring me for PR & Marketing, despite my proven success track in the world fashion and luxury. (Which I consider going to the ballet to be a luxury (ballet go-ers support the art, so I thought why not?) Even though they sent nice emails saying I wasn’t qualified, a friend had casually mentioned my blog had come up in an east coast conference room. I was like Mother F’rs did I just screw myself over?

Finally, I realized that i was spending way too much time talking about ballet and not enough time in the world of fashion, which pays my bills…

So here is why I am coming back… I’m cutting the BS out of ballet. It is time people starting talking truthfully and not politely… People keep wondering why ballet is dying? Because no one is afraid to say the truth, and well, since I am not going to be in the dance world any time soon… I have nothing to lose. GET READY… because it is coming!! 

8 Ballet Schools that most people don’t know about, but should… (international)

Víctor Ullate Centro de Danza, Madrid, Spain (click here)

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Academie Princesse Grace, Montecarlo, Monaco (click here)

Ellison Ballet, New York City, United States (click here)

The John Cranko School. Stuttgart, Germany (click here)

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Ballettschule der Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna, Austria (click here)

Opernball-Ballettakademie

Escola de Danca Do ConservatoriaNacional, Lisbon, Portugal (click here)

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Teatro Colón Ballet School, Buenos Aires, Argentina (click here)

Ballet Nacional do Brasil, Brasil (click here)

The Germans are coming… well leaping. (The German Companies)

Germany isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think ballet, or dance in general. But since the 60’s German companies have risen, and have produced some of the most amazing works, or choreography today. Particularly, there are two companies in Germany that have risen to the occasion establishing them among the best: the Hamburg Ballet, and Stuttgart Ballet. In edition a baby ballet company in their 8th season has risen and made quite the splash in the ballet world: the Dreseden Semperoper Ballet.

Stuttgart Ballet (Company): Housed at the Opera House in Stuttgart, and founded by John Cranko, and now headed by Reid Anderson, the Stuttgart Ballet employs 65 dancers. Why is this so relevant? John Cranko has made numerous contributions to the world of ballet by extending the classical ballet repertory and mentoring: Jiri Kylian and John Neumeier. His two biggest contributions to the “classical” repertory have been the Prince of Pagodas (Royal Ballet) and Eugene Onegin.

Hamburg Ballet (Company):Reinvented by John Neumeier in 1973, the Hamburg Ballet has flourished. Their website boasts that under his direction of 40 years, over a 180 new ballets have been presented, 421 dancers have been employed, and their list of accomplishments goes on. The Hamburg Ballet has made huge contemporary contributions to the world of dance, one of the most noted is John Neumeier’s Little Mermaid.

hamburg ballet dancers

Then there is the new comer to German Ballet, the Semperoper Ballet. Starting their ninth season, Semperoper Ballet is making their splash in the dance world. Most of their dancers are extremely flexible, and very technical, and have gathered dancers from numerous international schools. For a company in their 9th season, they have recruited some of the best talent out there. In addition their exposure on social media has been growing, especially from their men. With dancers from across the globe Semperoper is definitely starting to make a name for themselves, and their creation of Nutcracker video Via Youtube is pretty cool as well.

In addition another young company is slowly making it’s way into the limelight: The Forsythe Project.. After the close of Ballett Frankfurt, the Forsythe Project was created to lead a group of individuals with innovative choreography. The project has paid off well, and for those of you who are in America who would be dying to work with William Forsythe, he joins the faculty at USC for the 2015-2016 school year in their new dance department. (Good time to be going to college.) In addition, it seems that the Germans are all about premiers, pushing the boundaries of innovation, choreography, music and lighting. With a strong number of choreographers, it seems that we will now be looking to Germany for the next standard repertory. (This being that eventually we will replace the Balanchine Repertory with the German Repertory, which will either be replaced by Ramatsky, Wheeldon, Millpied, Justin Peck, Myles Thatcher.)

More German companies are making appearances in the US, as Hamburg Ballet and San Francisco have created a strong bond between Europe and the States. As Southern California this season is bringing in companies from all over, it will be nice to see how everyone compares. especially to our home companies.

The Best of the Best… Ballet Company Awards 2014 (2013-2014 Season)

If Ballet Companies had an awards ceremony to go to, it would be the Golden Globes. It wouldn’t be the Oscars, even if it is the most glamorous event. This is because the Oscars are voted on by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, we basically have that from the Princess Grace Awards and the Prixs for that.  If dancers were to vote on other dancers and companies, then it would be the SAGs.  The Golden Globes are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press, and I feel like that in itself says it all. The power of press and publicity goes a long way, not to mention that the opinions of editors dictate the content featured. But, that isn’t what makes the Golden Globes so special, it is the fact that the mission of the Hollywood Foreign Press is to make films accessible to the general public by unbiased information and reviews. So, as I compiled a list of companies worth noting this year, the list grew rather large, so I decided to make categories, just like any awards ceremony. Because ballet is constantly changing, I needed to create categories that would allow flexibility, change and innovation. So, here are the categories that I felt represented the art form as a whole, and as a reflection of a company:

So without further ado… The Envelopes Please…

Best Premiere of a new work

The New York City Ballet, in PAZ de LA JOLLA, by choreographer Justin Peck. 

(Nominees: Daphnis and Chloe, Paris Opera, Choreographed by Millpied. Lest We Forget Program from English National Ballet)

 

Best Repertory for the season.

Headed by Benjamin Millpied and Bridgette Lefevre, Paris Opera Ballet once again had a ridiculous season including: La Dame Aux Camelias/Neumeier, Dances at a Gathering/Robins, Psyche/Ramatsky, Le Park/Prelojac, Notre-Dame De Paris/Petit, the Sleeping Beauty/Nureyev, Doux Mensonges/ Kylian, Daphnis and Chloe/Millpied,Orpheus and Eurydice/ Bausch just to name a few. During the season during Onegin, Amandine Albisson received her place as an etoiles for her role in Tatiana.

(Nominees: San Francisco Ballet, the New York City Ballet, National Ballet of Canada)

 

Best reprisal of a classic work.

This award goes to the Bolshoi Ballet in their rendition of Balanchine’s Jewels. With sets designed by Alyona Pikalova, Costumes by Elena Zaitseva and lighting by Maxim Fomchenkov, this production hands down belongs to them. Their rendition of Jewels is probably the best I have ever seen. This also won Olga Smirnova Prix Benois de la danse.

(Nominees: Houston Ballet’s Modern Masters, Queensland Ballet’s MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Teatro La Scala for Serata Petit)

 

Technical Excellence from a company.

Amidst the craziness of the circus, Hamburg Ballet featuring Alina Cojocaru, the Hamburg Ballet’s strength shown through. Lilliom was performed in Orange County this February making their North American premiere, the world premiere was in 2011. John Neumeier’s choreography was not only innovating but showcased a ballet revolving around a man without having a million show off pirouettes. Not only was the work modern and innovative, but the entire companies’ classical background showed through and through, all seven scenes and a prologue.

(Nominees: National Ballet of Cuba, Vienna State Ballet, Dresdon Semproper Ballet)

 

Best Costuming for a performance 

This award goes to The Australian Ballet’s new production of Cinderella. The costumes and sets were designed by Jérôme Kaplan. The new production was choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky to the original Prokofiev Score.

 

Best Collaboration

Dutch National Ballet stole fashion week during the SS2014 Paris shows with their collaboration with Viktor & Rolf in Haute Couture. In addition, Dutch National Ballet has comprised numerous collaborations through out the 2013-2014 season like their premiere of the Tempest that included amazing collaborators, and their new moves program, and Dutch Doubles. Four choreographers were paired with four world-famous Dutch artists: fashion designers, photographers and musicians.

(Damian Woetzel, Artistic Director of the Vail International Dance Festival, Julia Adam’s for the Boathouse Project, )

 

Most Innovative Company.

San Francisco Ballet’s season took it home. While contemporary companies create new works constantly, innovation has to be supported with stability and diversity. San Francisco Ballet definitely hit it out of the park with Giselle, Wheeldon’s Cinderella, Ratmansky’s Trilogy, Borderlands by McGregor, Wheeldon’s Ghosts, and the premiere of a Liam Scarlett ballet, and a premiere from and Possokhov. Not to mention they threw in Balanchine, Robins for giggles. San Francisco Ballet also has continued their relationship Hamburg Ballet by hosting them as a part of their season.

(Tu Dance, Hamburg Ballet, Complexions, Eifman Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Prelojac)

 

Most Inspiring Company.

English National Ballet, headed by Tamara Rojo might just be the most inspiring ballet company in the world right now. With their previous innovations, despite their financial downfalls, the English National Ballet had an amazing season. Most noted I think was their performance at Glastonbury, which was breathtaking. It was a piece from their Lest We Forget program. You can actually watch the video online. Then they stunned audiences again at their Emerging Artists Competition with contemporary solos to die for. Raging reviews for not only the winners, but all of the competitors this past season.

(Miami City Ballet under Lourdes Lopez, Royal Ballet of Flanders )

 

Company Contribution to the World of Arts.

In the province of Dresdon it seems a lot is happening in dance, but this award goes to the Forsythe Company. Founded in 2005, after Ballett Frankfurt closed, this company has create new works that hope to survive for the next generation of artists. In addition, William Forsythe will be joining the faculty at University of Southern California in the fall of 2015. He is not the artistic director of the Forsythe Company. But, this international group of dancers has created and performed tremendously. As in the middle, somewhat elevated has survived hopefully this next crop of choreographers will be nurtured accordingly to contribute to ballet’s repertory.

(Ballet Black, the New York City Ballet because of Justin Peck)

 

New or Returning Presence to the International Ballet Community, 

The Korean National Ballet might just be joining the rest of the newer asian companies on the rise. Like National Ballet of China, Ballet Philippines and Hong Kong Ballet, Asian companies are on the rise. The Korean National Ballet is headed by former Stuttgart Principal Kang Sue Jin, and she is leading them artistic merits. With the way education is structured in Korea, it is surprising to find out that everyone in their company is a college graduate and didn’t join the company until their early 20’s, versus say other companies that hire 16-18 year olds. Their rosters are filled with tons of international dance winners, in fact 9-10 company members have medaled at an international dance competition.

Joburg Ballet (South Arica), Dance Theatre of Harlem, Pacific Northwest Ballet



 

Creating ten categories that reflect the nature of ballet companies, not individuals, was rather difficult.  The size of the company, the theatre residency, and location would not effect the final outcomes. Here is information on how I graded companies: I only looked at the 2013-2014 performance season, individual dancers within the company, and artistic achievement based on reviews and press releases. Social media did not influence the choices. It seriously has taken a month to compile information, read reviews, and watch as much as I could. So, without categories my list would be: The New York City Ballet, Paris Opera, Bolshoi, Hamburg, the Australian Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, English National Ballet, the Forsythe Company, Korean National Ballet.

I was not going to single out dancers, because there are other numerous prestigious dance awards out there that grade artistic merit. As European Ballerina’s pray for Prima Assoluta, Paris Opera dancers pray for Etoiles, people hope for the Princess Grace Awards or the Benois… The list goes on. But notably last season: Ogla Smirnova, James Whiteside, Evgenia Obrazsova, Hee Seo, Tiler Peck, and Sara Mearns all had pretty amazing seasons on the international stages. As Olga Smirnova isn’t even a principal yet, and Hee Seo just got her promotion last season they are two women to definitely watch. Evgenia Obraztsova makes her way next to other Russian powerhouses: Svetlana Zakharova, and Natalia Osipiva, Polina Semionova, and Diana Vishneva. Balanchine ballerinas Tiler Peck and Sara Mearns are both competing I think to be the star at NYCB. Both are crazy different in approach, body type and musicality, but watching them dance is addicting. Both have literally grown up on stage. James Whiteside definitely gets to be next to Roberto Bolle and Daniil Simkin at ABT, but rightfully so, he is stud on stage…  This year, I haven’t really seen any men that steal my heart… Well actually, the men of English National Ballet’s Emerging Artists were pretty amazing.

Also, as I just finished writing this I realized Royal Ballet didn’t really make anything… Truth me told I wasn’t impressed with their season, and because my anger at the Royal Ballet this blog was originally started… So…. Haha.

Company Profile: Ballet Austin

Ballet Austin,  http://www.balletaustin.org

Location: Downtown Austin Texas, The Butler Dance Education Center

501 West 3rd Street Austin, TX  78701

Artistic Director: Stephen Mills

Current Season: 5 playbills including the Fire Bird, The Nutcracker, Belle Redux/ A Tale of Beauty and the Beast, Director’s Choice, Swan Lake

Theatre Residence: None, but performs at the Long Center

Dancers Hired: 21, Ballet Austin also has a second company for apprentices. A lot of ballet companies use second companies as fillers for their main company’s season and, to test dancers as the transition from student to teacher. Ballet Austin employs 10 dancers.

Budget: Unknown. But Ballet Austin does boast a numerous amount of corporate sponsors and underwriters. Financially, Ballet Austin just might be one of the more fiscally responsible companies around.

Affiliated School: Ballet Austin Academy

Annual Tuition: $3,600

Summer Program: yes.

Ballet Austin has been charming audiences for 57 years. Most people don’t really know Ballet Austin as the classical type, as their strong suit comes in contemporary and new works. I think their biggest break through was their Light Project, in fact it was so inspiring, I auditioned for them. I auditioned in January at the company auditions and was offered a traineeship, and a full ride to the summer program.

Unfortunately, after arriving in Texas, within the first week of being there, I realized that Ballet Austin was not for me. It wasn’t because the program was bad, in fact that program had amazing faculty. I was actually quite fond of taking class with Michelle Martin, I was not fond of the guest faculty but that was my opinion. I think I was just not a fan of Texas. I actually think of the group of trainees that I was with, no one actually joined Ballet Austin. I know Ashley Jackson went to join LINES after the summer, and Scott went to Statestreet. I want to say that Brian went to Ballet Met, or some other midwest company. And so on… But that doesn’t mean Ballet Austin isn’t good.

In fact Ballet Austin is amazing. Especially for those dancers who prefer the look and feel of contemporary ballet. Anne Marie Melendez and Paul Michael Bloodgood definitely are Ballet Austin’s charming couple. They are married, but they both possess numerous talents and bring them all to their dancing and the dance community. Orland Julius Canova possess a Balanchine flare, and brings a genuine quality to the stage. The company has definitely aged together, most of the company seems to be around the same age, and actually balancing family and personal life. Like all ballet companies do,  I am excited to see the turnover at Ballet Austin and what the next crop of Ballet Austin dancers will bring. I think Stephen Mills definitely has a way of creating his dancers, which possess a very unique look. In comparison to the other Texas companies, I definitely prefer Ballet Austin the most.

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Aurora in the Sleeping Boring… I mean beauty.

Tchaikovsky has the big three: the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and the Sleeping Beauty. Three epic ballets that tell the tale of fantasy, tragedy and happily ever afters. Every little girl and some little boys, dream of dancing one, if not all of these roles: the Sugar Plum Fairy, Odette/Odile, and Aurora. The Sugar Plum fairy, isn’t a hard role, it is more the test of performance quality. Odette/Odile requires the mastery of emotions, having multiple personalities and the stamina of a horse. And then there is the princess role, the helpless, effervescent and charming Aurora.

In the prologue Aurora doesn’t dance, but skillful fairies do. Masterfully gliding through each variation with delicacy and poise. In the first act, Aurora is sixteen and full of life entering after the epic Sleeping Beauty waltz. It is probably why so many girls relate to this role. With charm and sass a sixteen year old, she then hesitantly gives her hand to four suitors in the leg tiring Rose Adagio. She then pricks her finger, and dies. JK. In the second act Aurora is faced with the challenge of being dreamy as the pas de deux and variations set the tone for the prince. Finally, when she awakens, she is still that sixteen year old girl who fell asleep at her birthday. So with an element of surprise, and awakening with a kiss…. Please hold as I rant:

Am I the only one who is quite disturbed that no one has bothered looking at the psyche. We are all trying to develop the character, but the reality is that she was asleep for 100 years, and so when she awakens, she is still sixteen. What sixteen year old would wake up gracefully from a stranger kissing them? So, as everyone who talks about how in the third act they are more womanly, mature, etc…. The reality is, that clashes with the story line.

In addition, may I point out… Why is every fairytale invited? Don’t they have anything better to do? If you look at the original score there is extra music for Cinderella and her Prince, etc. I am just sayin… Third act really has nothing to do with Aurora. It is basically like the third act of Paquita; a chance to show off the company. Enough ranting…
5 Things Aurora Didn’t Know…

  1. Aurora is secondary to the dancing. Prologue sets the story up and demonstrates the skill of the soloists in the company. In the first act, all she has is her variation, which most audience viewers don’t know the music to. So, they relate more to Garland Waltz… Yes, she has Rose Adagio, and that is probably one of the hardest things any ballerina will face. But, the reality is, it has nothing to do with Aurora but the actual skill of the ballerina. In the second act, it is really more about the prince, and setting up his quest to find the love of his life. In the Paris Opera Nureyev version this is an adagio variation for the male, which is ridiculously technical, dreamy but technical. Finally, in act three, you really only have a pas de deux to get through, which is basically the lesser version of Sugar Plum Pas De Duex. The music itself is kind of anticlimactic and the only thing exciting in the Pas is the en dedan turns into a one handed fish.
  2. Aurora didn’t know she was going to prick her finger… So, instead of telling the poor girl about the curse, her parents tried to hide the truth from her. This ignorance is her downfall. Ignorance and innocence should not be taken as the same thing.
  3. Aurora’s character is the anti feminist. As a helpless woman, who is set up or failure from the get go. The idea and concept of the fairytale is cute for the time being, but translated to modern day times, the story relates to young girls more than young adults. This I think causes the gap between the ballet and the audience goer.
  4. Aurora’s variations are boring. I feel like compared to the variations of Odette/Odile, and Sugar Plum, and while we are at it… Every other classical ballet, her variations are kind of lackluster. If you are dancing with a live orchestra, then I guess you can arrange the music in first act to do more pirouettes to make it exciting, but other than that… Your one moment to shine is basically dull. (Ironically, Aurora 3rd Act Wedding Variation performed by Precious Adams won the Prixde Lausanne.)
  5. Aurora didn’t know that this entire ballet really has nothing to do with her in the title role. Instead it is about the company’s strength. The amount of soloists you have to use is insane. Don’t get me wrong, it gives the company a chance to really dance, but no one really understands the entire ballet, unless you know ballet. I think when most people hear the Sleeping Beauty, they connect it to the Disney version and don’t realize they have signed up for a 3 hour ballet. I am not saying we should replicate Disney… But in a recent production, that I took a date to… He fell asleep. He fell asleep after Rose Adagio… So an hour into the ballet of drawn out miming and endless fairy variations, he was gone. But, when we went to see Serenade, and Les Sylphide he thoroughly enjoyed it…

Again… as ballet is dying and companies insist on doing the same ballets over and over again… They are killing their audiences. If you look at the Diaghilev and Ballets Russes era… even the Balanchine era, new ballets were being produced by the month. Again, just my opinion of why companies are dying…

Company Profile: Oregon Ballet Theatre

Company Profile: Oregon Ballet Theatre

Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) http://www.obt.org/

Location: Portland, Oregon

Artistic Director: Kevin Irving

Current Season: 4 bills

Theatre Residence: None, but performs at Keller Auditorium

Dancers Hired: 21

Budget: 5,203,151* based of the 2013 tax audit.

Affiliated School: School of OBT

Annual Tuition: $5,015, pre-professionals get half scholarships, apprentices get full scholarships.

Summer Program: Yes, not a lot of info on their site, check the summer program page: http://www.obt.org/school/summer_intensive.html

Celebrating their 25th season, OBT was originally founded by James Canfield. Who was actually known for his choreography, and was a former dancer with Joffrey. In 2003, it was handed to Christopher Stowell. (If you didn’t know who he was, he is the son of PNB’s founders: Kent Stowell and Francia Russell.) Then in the season 2013-2014 season it is taken over by Kevin Irving, who is now in is sophomore year there.

OBT has constantly gone through a lot of different phases. At it’s origins it was more on the contemporary side. The second phase under Christopher Stowell, was probably the peak of OBT. Staging of full length ballets, and acquiring numerous Balanchine rights, OBT flourished. Now, under their new director the question remains: What will happen to OBT? With the new director’s background in modern, will OBT now transition into a newer, more modern phase? OBT had a huge financial set back between 2012 and 2013, losing almost a million dollars in funding. Hoping to regain momentum, OBT’s building is quite new and quite gorgeous. (I have taken open class there numerous times, as my family spent part of their summer in Oregon. My brother, who now attends uni there, has caused me to think I will be seeing more of OBT.)

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So many ballet companies miss the mark when it comes to PR and marketing but OBT has some of the best PR campaigns I have ever seen for a ballet company. Also, their website is gorgeously put together, minus their header image with a pierced ear… of all the photos to use as the first image we see… it is of a dancer’s upper back glistening in sweat and pierced ear.

Truthfully, I have never seen OBT dance. Even when they performed 20 minutes away from my house, and having three friends in the company, I decided not go. Hopefully, this will change. And I hope more people consider them to be a formidable company, and not just the smaller version of PNB. 

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Company Profile: THe Joffrey Ballet

Company Profile: The Joffrey Ballet

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Joffrey Ballet (click here)

Location: Chicago, IL and to be exact, the Joffrey Tower
10 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

Artistic Director: Ashley C. Wheater

Style: Classical with a contemporary twist 

Affiliated School: The Joffrey Academy of Dance

Annual Tuition for a trainee: When e-mailed I didn’t get a response but I am guessing it is somewhere between $8-10,000 a year for the pre-professional division. The link is the PDF of requirements for the pre professional division for the 2014-2015 school year. (http://www.joffrey.org/sites/default/files/filefield/field_file/program/119/pre-professionaldivision2014-15schedule81914.pdf

Summer Program: They offer over six different programs across the US. (Money making programs, in my opinion.)

Theatre Residence: Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL

Current Season: 5 programs, and additional performances. Tour dates are unannounced.

Dancers Hired: 37

Founded in New York by masters Gerald Arpino and Robert Joffrey in 1965, the Joffrey Ballet was born. The company relocated to their now permanent home in Chicago in 1995. As Joffrey makes more appearances, and is referenced to in pop culture quite frequently, the ballet company has struggled tremendously. Despite the struggles of any ballet company the Joffrey ballet has made major contributions to the ballet world. The biggest is probably the 1995 reconstruction of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Another unique quality is that the company really doesn’t have assigned ranks which allows the Artistic Director to be free about casting. Yes, senior company members have built names for themselves, but the dancers at Joffrey are truly unique. 

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First Joffrey has the stunning Fabrice Calmels, if you don’t know him, he is a giant standing at 6’6”. Trained are Paris Opera, and a unique resume on top of his training, he definitely stood out when I saw him in Apollo. GORGEOUS. His height and body proportions are beyond gorgeous, and his movement quality lives up to his height. With a unique contemporary take on ballet, he is definitely a jewel of the Joffrey Ballet.

Joffrey also employs Australian Aaron Smyth who made his appearances on the competition circuit in 2012-2013. This landed him a spot at JKO, then ABT II, and then joined the Royal Ballet. Since he is a younger dancer, we have a lot to look forward too.

Kara Zimmerman, formerly with PNB and Cincinnati, Joffrey really does use her well, and has helped develop her to her full potential.

Finally, basically one of their Prima’s Victoria Jaiani, she graced the cover of Dance Magazine back in 2010. With an arabesque for days, and artistry that moves the audience time and time again. She has definitely matured with the company and has truly made herself a name in Chicago, and in the dance world.

2013-02-16-VictoriaJaiani_FabriceCalmels

Dancers I think that would do well at Joffrey? Auditioning for companies, or summer programs with the hopes to go year round and work your way up? I believe that dancers who would do well at the Joffrey must already have a strong background in technique. It isn’t like a school like Boston Ballet or San Francisco that gives you technique. Joffrey is more about strengthening your technique and emphasizing a certain approach to your dancing. Dancers that I think do well there are tall, athletic, and most of all flexible. With the diverse repertory Joffrey offers, potential future hires have to have versatile bodies. This allows more forgiveness in body type, meaning there isn’t a preconceived notion to the perfect ballet body type. Their company has a variety of heights, and a variety of body types. Because there really isn’t clear rankings it also allows for a more fair shot in casting. I’m not saying it is completely fair, it never is. 

And just because he is so attractive, and he is beyond talented… and is 6’6″ of muscle… 

Fabrice-Calmels-by-Guiliano-Bekor

On the Rise… 5 Ballet Companies to look out for… (US 2014-2015 season)

ballet companies on the rise

Ballet is super fickle, and so is the audience. Audiences nowadays get bored quicker, because we are offering exposure to ballet at an instantaneous rate. We now can watch full length ballets being broadcast in theaters across America, and can easily youtube performances. While ABT has revamped versions of their classics like Corsaire and Sleeping Beauty, NYCB has truly invested in new choreographers, specifically now Justin Peck. It isn’t just these huge names we look out for now, we are always looking for something new and fresh. Ten years ago we had the emergence of Ballet Austin taking it’s place as a major American ballet company, along with Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Los Angeles Ballet. I think for years the companies below have always been great regional companies, or in their territories of the US, but recently I feel like they have gained a lot of national exposures offering a great new look and contributing to the evolution of ballet.

ballet arizona

Ballet Arizona is headed by Ib Anderson, Ballet Arizona hires 31 dancers according to their new 2014-2015 edition of their site and operates on a budget of $6,690,217. The funding is the most important part of a ballet company, yes the dancers are super important, and the choreography has to be exciting, but without the funding there are no jobs. Two years ago I had the opportunity of seeing their Balanchine bill, and was quite impressed. Everything seemed to work, come natural and they had that attack Balanchine dancers have. This upcoming season they are doing seven programs and their school is doing quite well, especially since they have the David Hallberg scholarship. (http://balletaz.org)

atlanta ballet 2014

Atlanta Ballet. Artistic Director: John McFall employs 22 dancers, which is quite small, but makes sense with the economy. Ballet companies have to survive, and one of the ways of surviving is maintaining a small quality number of dancers, and saving up in bank accounts, so when there comes government cuts, or a slow sponsorship year, dancers still will be able to survive, get a small pay increase etc. Atlanta Ballet additionally offers a choreographer in residence. Atlanta ballet operates on a $9,118,753 yearly budget. (http://www.atlantaballet.com)

milwaukeeballet

Milwaukee Ballet. Michael Pink sits as Artistic Director for this midwest company and employs 22 dancers, but additionally has Milwaukee Ballet II. They also hold a very cool choreography competition and the prize runs $3,000 and a commission to set another work for the following season. Operating on a budget that runs around $6,294,842 their 5 program season (2014-2015) is dominated by the classics offering Don Q, Cinderella, Giselle, the Nutcracker, and the choreographic competition. (http://www.milwaukeeballet.org)

carolina ballet

Carolina Ballet. Offering seven programs this season, they too are closing the season off with Cinderella, like Milwaukee, Carolina Ballet is headed by Robert Weiss. With a budget of $5,676,255 they employ 34 dancers. (https://www.carolinaballet.com)

nevada ballet theatre

Nevada Ballet Theatre. With a budget of only $2,815,005, artistic director James Canfield should be given way more funding. How can you have all those casinos, and all of those shows, and not support the classical arts? Employing 19 dancers on a very tight budget, I hope Nevada Ballet Theatre keeps thriving and makes an appearance on the international stage soon. (http://nevadaballet.com)

New York City Ballet operates on a budget of $66,244,814 while Los Angeles Ballet operates on a budget of $2,210,304

Honorable mention: Colorado Ballet.

*earnings based on the 2011-2012 season 2012 fiscal year.  Non profit or not for profit companies must publish their fiscal year budgets. Information gathered from company websites, requesting fiscal earnings, and the Dance/USA initiative.

The Measure of a Ballet Company…

No one really knows how to measure one ballet company against another, and there really isn’t a science to it. I can tell you that if you are going to measure a ballet company by funding, well be prepared for a crazy awakening. If you are going to measure a company based on principals, then that is just biased. Measuring a ballet company based on performances, repertory and touring… Maybe that is a more legit claim, but even then how can you compare an international ballet company that is supported by the state, versus American companies that have to fundraise a lot of their budg? My list of international ballet schools has created quite the controversy, and my blog itself has turned into a whirlwind of expectations, rivalries, and debates. So, as many of you have written to me and for me to rank the top ballet companies… I am sadly going to have to inform you that I can’t, simply on the basis that every company is different and has an extremely different repertory.

Swan Lake used to be the measure of a ballet company, but with everyone re staging their own versions it is hard to compare, and Swan Lake allows insane tricks and music alterations to accommodate turns.

So how do I measure a ballet company the playing field has to be fair, so if we are ranking large ballet companies here is how I compare them: The Balanchine Trust. Yup. Balanchine wins again. Specifically, I use Jewels. If you aren’t familiar with the ballet, you will be. Jewels is popping up in company repertories all over, and here is why:

Paris Opera Ballet in Diamonds
Paris Opera Ballet in Diamonds
  • Jewels is a full-length ballet in 3 Acts demonstrating company stamina. The difference between a full-length ballet and a smaller 1 act ballet is the ability to fill an evening with one mood, one presentation, and once chance to be evaluated as whole. (Jewels runs 81 minutes without intermissions.) Unlike presenting numerous works in an evening, the mood changes from piece to piece, and the reviewer and audience will have separate opinions of each. Jewels allows for both. (Yes, Swan Lake is 4 acts, but no one really pays attention to Act 1, the only thing good in the first act is pas de trois and even that is hard to get through.)
  • There are no tricks. One of the nice things about the Balanchine Trust is that the choreography is preserved. While dancers take artistic freedom, the steps and music does not change. The music is never altered, and the choreography doesn’t allow tricks. For those who are daring to speed up the turns in Rubies, good luck. The music is already fast enough. (We all know that the black swan coda is the test of tricks, and we all know white swan pas de deux is how high can you get your leg these days.)
  • In order to dance the full-length Jewels, you will need 66 dancers. For most companies, that is basically the entire company, give or take. Not only is this going to show the grandiose size of a company, but the Balanchine ballets let the corps really dance. Like REALLY dance.  Now, there are numerous leads, pas de deuxs, demi-soloists, and so on in Jewels. Never have I seen a dancer double up in an act. (Swan Lake tests 1 dancer, Odette/Odile, Jewels tests an entire company.) In addition not only does each variation, pas and act portray something completely different, they all cohesively collect to make the full evening pristine, exciting and glamorous. (The ballet itself was inspired by the jewels at Van Cleef and Arpels.)
NYCB in Rubies
NYCB in Rubies
  • When a company presents Jewels, they don’t just present one ballet, but they present three very different styles of ballet. In one evening you will get your sylphide, giselle, romantic ballet fix in Emeralds (music by Gabriel Faure). You will get your sassy but avant garde, seductive yet charming ballet fix in Rubies (music by Igor Stravinsky). You will get your platter tutu- Swan Lake, and corps intensive La Bayadere fix in Diamonds (music by Tchaikovsky).
bolshoi ballet in emeralds
Bolshoi Ballet in Emeralds
  • You get to see the company. In Emeralds you will see a corps of 10 that rigorously dances, two pas de deuxs, and a pas de trois. In Rubies you will see a fun pas de deux, and a leggy sassy soloist and corps of 8 women and 4 men who deliver a scintillating performance woven between the leads. Finally in Diamonds you will see one of most breath taking pas de deuxs, 4 demi-soloist couples, and an additional 12 couples. If that doesn’t test a company, I don’t know what does.

With that all being said, when we used to compare swan lakes, we now are starting to compare Jewels. With Bolshoi constantly broadcasting their take on Jewels with a more modern backdrop, to Boston Ballet‘s 2014 staging with necklace-like back drops, to Paris Opera’s costume designs by the fabulous Christian Lacroix… it seems that companies are now using Jewels as the ballet to compare companies. It is hard to compare swan lakes, but easy to compare Odettes… It is easy to compare Jewels since it doesn’t change, but hard to judge the leads. Because there is no story, each lead develops their own artistic take to create the mood of the night. Jewels has become so prominent among international companies like Royal Ballet who in 2008 won two Laurence Olivier awards.