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Birmingham Royal Ballet Advertises for Soloist and Principal Dancers


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It is not unprecedented for BRB to bring in the occasional dancer at the upper levels eg Cesar Morales, David Justin, Wolfgang Stollwitzer but I have never seen an advert like this before.

 

Very worrying...

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2 minutes ago, prs59 said:

Where do I apply? Oh, I can’t, it’s invitation only. So what’s the point of the job advert I wonder? 

 

Employment laws I would think...

 

When you look at the talent within the current company, which has a great record of nurturing from within...  I suppose we don't know how many vacancies he is looking to fill and we may be worrying over nothing.  At the moment there are only 3 lady principals but I would have thought that Yaoqian and Miki must surely be hammering at the principal door and Lachlan and Max at the senior soloist door...  Haoliang Feng, Alex Yap and others in the lower ranks are looking great for promotion too...

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iI don't think anyone has seen this before in the context of either of the Royal Ballet companies. Of course we don't know what Acosta said about his plans to the Board which appointed him but I seem to recall a statement issued soon after his appointment in which he referred to the need to improve technical standards and that he intended to stage Don Q for the company. Now while that ballet might seem like a refreshing change of repertory and an opportunity for the company to change its image it does not strike me as a natural fit with the company's aesthetics, its traditions or its performance style it might indicate the direction in which he wishes to take the company.

 

The last eighteen months will have made it more than a little difficult for Acosta to institute any major changes he may have had in mind when he took up the post of director  and perhaps he now feels a bit of pressure to get things done. While I don't know what the age profile of the company's leading dancers is at present and whether there are imminent departures in the offing I can't help wondering what sort of impact such an announcement will have on company morale ? It is hardly a ringing endorsement of the company's traditions or its tried and tested methods of recruitment and internal promotion nor I would suggest of those currently at the top of the company. In fact it seems to me like an approach to changing the company which is almost guaranteed to destabilise and demoralise it unless handled with consummate care. The occasional external recruit can bring fresh blood and new ideas into a company but this look like more an attempt at transformation in the shortest possible time. Internal promotions endorse the hard work which every dancer contributes to a company's success but a policy in which leading positions in a company consistently go to external recruits has the opposite effect. Perhaps Acosta sees the advertisement as the quickest way to create a company in his own image and likeness as far as its performance style is concerned. He may, for all we know, have his eye on specific dancers and see this advertisement as a way to avoid accusations of poaching when he recruits from other companies. The problem is that this method of recruitment may well be interpreted not simply as an attempt to change the company by bypassing  its usual system of recruitment and internal promotion but as a criticism of what he has inherited.

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I believe that ENB has invited ‘expressions of interest’ in the past and has certainly ‘gone fishing’.

But this overture from BRB feels on a different scale and must surely represent a wish to ‘refresh’ and expand the upper echelons of the Company in a way which makes it Carlos’s own.

The ‘invitation’ comes as a result of applications and videos being reviewed by Carlos as a first step.

Whatever the outcome, it will be interesting, of that there can be no doubt.

 

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1 hour ago, FLOSS said:

In fact it seems to me like an approach to changing the company which is almost guaranteed to destabilise and demoralise it unless handled with consummate care. The occasional external recruit can bring fresh blood and new ideas into a company but this look like more an attempt at transformation in the shortest possible time.

 

I agree with FLOSS. I was surprised and a bit dismayed by the advert. The advert is in "corporate speak", not arts language. It speaks of "work that is relevant, exciting and technically excellent". I'd rather see "poetic, dramatic, and a pleasure to see". The rest - big ambitions, vision etc - is all spirit language - mountain peaks, soaring to unknown levels of achievement, futurity, paths to greatness. I don't feel encouraged by it. It all tends to an Icarus moment. I'd much rather see evidence of soul - works of emotional depth, attachment to the company's roots, really good dance images, connecting with regional audiences.

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

I believe that ENB has invited ‘expressions of interest’ in the past and has certainly ‘gone fishing’.

But this overture from BRB feels on a different scale and must surely represent a wish to ‘refresh’ and expand the upper echelons of the Company in a way which makes it Carlos’s own.

 

ENB certainly advertised for male dancers in a big way a few years ago after quite a few had decamped.  And of course the Royal Ballet had to bring in some replacement male principals or close-to-principals at the end of last century to fill the gaps left by those who had departed to form K Ballet (but didn't advertise for them as such, as far as I'm aware.  Of course, in those virtually pre-Internet days it may simply have been more difficult to find out).  But this does seem to be on rather a larger scale.  Or could it just be a way of flagging that Acosta is open to approaches?

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During the heyday of Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet a great friend of mine used to say that the Royal Ballet recruited all the best dancers but SWRB did more with the students they took.  I know exactly what he meant.  

 

I am afraid that the spirit and ethos of that Company seems to be disappearing and very fast.

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There have also been a number of adverts for orchestra members, including some of the most important roles.  Thoughts that went through my (totally not-in-the-know) head:
1 - Acosta doesn't like what he has inherited so is determined to make drastic improvements
2 -Acosta has rubbed everyone up the wrong way and they are leaving in droves

3 - Acosta somehow has the means and vision to increase  and enhance the company without losing any talent, thereby making it irresistible.

Additional thoughts from totally my not-in-the-know head:
Perhaps Acosta is aware, as I am, of how badly BRB fares in ticket sales, reviews, government support and public awareness/respect - all vital.  For example, I recently saw R&J from both companies and I would defy anyone who said the RB dancers were superior, yet they received multiple accolades from reviewers whereas BRB only got one review (I think).  On this forum alone, they are largely ignored in spite of their quality.  And perhaps their new director is seized by an ambition to adjust this unfairness, and with a sense of healthy competition is throwing all resources into making them an undisputed 'premiere' company in every way.

From what I have observed of him over the decades, Acosta is a 'people person' and is unlikely to alienate those whom he values.  So maybe this is all part of a very well thought out plan.  Or maybe he's just not very good at his job.  I have no idea.  Time will tell.

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12 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

There have also been a number of adverts for orchestra members, including some of the most important roles.  Thoughts that went through my (totally not-in-the-know) head:
1 - Acosta doesn't like what he has inherited so is determined to make drastic improvements
2 -Acosta has rubbed everyone up the wrong way and they are leaving in droves

3 - Acosta somehow has the means and vision to increase  and enhance the company without losing any talent, thereby making it irresistible.

Additional thoughts from totally my not-in-the-know head:
Perhaps Acosta is aware, as I am, of how badly BRB fares in ticket sales, reviews, government support and public awareness/respect - all vital.  For example, I recently saw R&J from both companies and I would defy anyone who said the RB dancers were superior, yet they received multiple accolades from reviewers whereas BRB only got one review (I think).  On this forum alone, they are largely ignored in spite of their quality.  And perhaps their new director is seized by an ambition to adjust this unfairness, and with a sense of healthy competition is throwing all resources into making them an undisputed 'premiere' company in every way.

From what I have observed of him over the decades, Acosta is a 'people person' and is unlikely to alienate those whom he values.  So maybe this is all part of a very well thought out plan.  Or maybe he's just not very good at his job.  I have no idea.  Time will tell.

Hear, hear!  Especially the bit about a lack of press reviews.

 

I have had some, very limited, contact with the Company and it seems to me that the administration is so grateful to have the job taken by an indisputable ballet megastar that his word is law.

 

However, sometimes all powerful people may need someone who is prepared to rein them in and say 'no', or even 'do you think that's wise sir', from time to time.

Edited by Two Pigeons
Wrong word
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P.s.  I am not sure that there is exactly a rosy view for the orchestra members.  If they are leaving in droves I am not entirely surprised.  Wall to wall Nutcracker with only a bit of Minkus to provide some variety is hardly a very enticing prospect.

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12 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

There have also been a number of adverts for orchestra members, including some of the most important roles.  Thoughts that went through my (totally not-in-the-know) head:
1 - Acosta doesn't like what he has inherited so is determined to make drastic improvements

 

Surely drastic changes rather than improvements...

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From what I have gathered, Carlos Acosta has a very strong Executive Director supporting him.

Every incoming Artistic Director feels a need to make changes. Kevin O'Hare, for example, could see (and nurture) the very considerable talent already within the RB and has been able to respond to 'overtures' from individual dancers. Tamara Rojo wanted to shake things up more (although departures forced her hand in some respects).

I suppose that Carlos's motivation, after nearly two fractured years in post, is to build a company to deliver the kind of rep. he has in mind. Wanting more Principals and Soloists doesn't mean that he doesn't value the ones he's got. He also needs to 'succession plan'.

 

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15 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

2 -Acosta has rubbed everyone up the wrong way and they are leaving in droves

 

It did cross my mind, when reading the thread on BRB's alternative Romeo & Juliet pieces, whether Acosta's apparent preference for an increased number of modern works would cause any of the dancers who prefer performing primarily more classical works to look elsewhere for employment. Though I don't know the company well enough to know if they have any/many such dancers.

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On 20/10/2021 at 10:32, capybara said:

Wanting more Principals and Soloists doesn't mean that he doesn't value the ones he's got.

Not necessarily, but it could mean that in some cases; also it does rather suggest that he  doesn't see sufficient existing  talent lower down the Company ranks for promotion to Principals and Soloists....which would be dispiriting for BRB dancers that had been hoping to progress there. 

Unless this is just some sort of new  employment policy requirement, in terms of having to be seen to be open to external as well as internal candidates when appointing these posts? 

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I've been thinking about Don Q... there are a number of technically demanding roles, especially for the women.  Acosta's principals will have no problem but I can see there might be difficulties with some of the secondary roles which really expose the dancers' skills.  I hope he gets all the people he needs - including wigmakers of course!!

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12 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

I've been thinking about Don Q... there are a number of technically demanding roles, especially for the women.  Acosta's principals will have no problem but I can see there might be difficulties with some of the secondary roles which really expose the dancers' skills.  I hope he gets all the people he needs - including wigmakers of course!!


There is plenty of talent already within the company!

 

I, for one, would be pretty cheesed off if new dancers took roles that existing company dancers would excel at.

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It would seem a strange policy, anyway, to take over a company, deliberately choose to put on a work you didn't think suitable for them, and then replace a lot of the dancers in order to do it.

 

But this is  a very talented company of dancers who have had  all too little chance to show us all what they can do in the last 2 years- so I do hope for the best for them.

 

 

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