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Should our ballet companies co-operate?


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Ian has posted a link to Judith Mackrell's short but very thought provoking article on why ballet companies should co-operate:

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/oct/21/judith-mackrell-critics-notebook?newsfeed=true

 

Well, it's got me thinking anyway! I'd love to hear your views on this one - I'll be thinking while I am walking Chunkydog!

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Interesting article. It's not what Ms Mackrell was after, but on a more local scale ENB and the Royal, at least, could perhaps collaborate on trying to avoid clashes with their non-performance programming. We've had several instances recently of masterclasses/interviews/rehearsals/insight evenings etc. clashing when we know people would have liked to have been able to attend both, and since ENB's are usually being done as fundraisers, the more people they can get the better. I realise that there is limited availability of the studios for fundraising activities, and limited time when the company are at home to do them, but I still think a better modus vivendi could be worked out.

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it would be great if they could avoid all doing Swan Lake or Cinderella or whatever at the same time (excepion being all doing Nutcracker at Christmas, which is a bit of a given really). Or one of the touring companies perhaps fitting in a run of shows in Sadler's Wells, when say the RB aren't doing anything, rather than when they have a full week on.

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It's not unprecedented that more than one company appears on the same programme. Apart from galas and the SB/ENB/NDCW initiative earlier this year, the British Dance Editions open performances consist of several (smaller) companies.

 

Perhaps to cross-fertilise the audiences there could be an exchange scheme across the companies. BRB operated one successfully some years ago when they had a guest from Australian Ballet and a BRB dancer went to AB. A chum recently made such a suggestion to me and had us both in raptures at the thought. She suggested Martha Leebolt to guest as Fortuna in BRB's Carmina Burana and Momoko Hirata to guest in NB's Madame Butterfly.

 

I like Dave's suggestion of "An evening with" type performances.

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I think a "co-production" usually means that the companies share set and costumes to cut down on the overall costs. I think it has become more common in America for this to happen as the USA is so large that the companies are further apart so it would not be perceived as "competition".

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I think a "co-production" usually means that the companies share set and costumes to cut down on the overall costs. I think it has become more common in America for this to happen as the USA is so large that the companies are further apart so it would not be perceived as "competition".

 

Yes, for example, the RB's Alice is a co-production with the National Ballet of Canada.

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I would like to see more co-commissions with ballet companies abroad. In an era of funding cuts companies need to be more imaginative with the limited funds that they do have, particularly if they want to stage new works. ENB (which does not have an AD who likes to choreograph) should definitely explore this possibility with a medium-sized US company, perhaps a company like Boston Ballet.

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Perhaps to cross-fertilise the audiences there could be an exchange scheme across the companies. BRB operated one successfully some years ago when they had a guest from Australian Ballet and a BRB dancer went to AB. A chum recently made such a suggestion to me and had us both in raptures at the thought. She suggested Martha Leebolt to guest as Fortuna in BRB's Carmina Burana and Momoko Hirata to guest in NB's Madame Butterfly.

 

Mmm, I bet it had you in raptures, but for the general ballet-going public? I suspect the names aren't "big" enough to have much effect. I must admit that I did wonder, a few years ago when ENB was touring Manon, whether they could have borrowed a few under-used RB dancers for some of the roles, but then that would probably have deprived some of the wide range of ENB dancers who actually got roles in that ballet, so you probably can't win. Plus there would have been guest fees, presumably. OTOH, Martin Harvey did guest with BRB from the RB a few years ago (and they borrowed Alexander Campbell back for Hobson's Choice earlier this year, of course).

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As an example of what we meant - Martha has a huge following amongst NB fans, some of whom may never have seen BRB and perhaps may be persuaded to by her exchanging with them. I was talking about cross-fertilisation. Who, these days, apart from Carlos Acosta and Natalie Portman has a "big name" effect on the general ballet-going public?

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co-pros are a good way of sharing costs but unforeseen complications can arise. For instance, with RB's Alice, they used a lot of projection equipment that the ROH had but the National Ballet of Canada had to buy at considerable expense because our theatre here didn't have it. Also the expense of shipping the sets and costumes back and forth across the ocean is not minor, and it makes scheduling even more complicated.

The National Ballet of Canada has a fantastic wardrobe department, unlike most North American companies, so they rent out a lot of productions. One spring season ABT's rep was almost entirely made up of NBOC productions: The Dream, Fille, Onegin, Merry Widow. Boston, Pacific Northwest, and Houston and San Francisco, as well as the smaller regional companies, also rent productions from NBOC (the new Santo Loquasto Onegin is going to ABT and SFB). San Francisco sometimes hires the NBOC wardrobe to build costumes for them; at the moment In the Night is being built for them in Toronto. A funny case happened last year. The year before, SFB had hired NBOC wardrobe to build Ratmansky's Russian Seasons for them. Then NBOC decided to perform the ballet , and they had to rent back from SFB the costumes they had made themselves.

There is added wear and tear on costumes when this is done, though. I asked NYCB if they rented out their costumes and they were shocked at the thought. "We're not a rental shop!" they said. But NBOC needs the money more than NYCB does.

It may be a luxury, but a nice one, that in England one can see three different Beauties: ENB, BRB (which is gorgeous!), and RB. It would be a shame if they all had the same one.

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