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Dancers leaving San Francisco Ballet


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Surprisingly (to me), despite SFB's enviable location, secure funding, appreciative audiences and exciting repertoire two dancers are leaving the company. Principal Vito Mazzeo is heading for Dutch National Ballet and prolific twitterer and corps member Madison Keesler is joining ENB next season.

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I had the privilege of living just an hour's drive up Interstate 80 from 'The City' for a couple of years in the early 70s, and I'd say that it's quite unlike all the other US cities I've known.  I'd also say that  it's very artistically aware, as is the Bay Area generally with Berkeley, for example, just a bridge crossing away.  I'd doubt that many of the area's citizens feel culturally deprived.  As to SFB, its Musical Director, Martin West, went there from a similar position at ENB in London some years back.  But he was also our Conductor at the Cambridge Philharmonic, and at a leaving do that summer told me he'd been made an offer he couldn't refuse!

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Maybe is it just that "enviable location, secure funding, appreciative audiences and exciting repertoire" as important and appreciated as they are, become, after a while, a little less relevant than "family, friends, home"?

 

Dutch National Ballet is a great company and ENB is making great things. Amsterdam and London are fantastic cities.

 

I don't see anything of surprising in a moving. :-)

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Having lived there for 24 glorious years,I can vouch that San Francisco is not an easy city to leave. That said,it is quite understandable for a dancer like Vito Mazzeo,having attained the rank of principal in that city, to want to stretch himself in a different arena and one that gives him more opportunities to dance than the fairly restricted San Francisco Ballet season which (apart from Christmas Nutcrackers) only operates between January and May. It also,and perhaps more importantly, places him in a much better position to be seen by the directors of other companies who may have a little poaching in mind. Is it entirely beyond the realms of possibility that he might be lured,as was Fererico Bonellli,back to London, where his handsome presence was noted, if only briefly and significantly underused once before? The Royal Ballet currently employs quite a number of lavishly talented young male dancers,but most of them are on the vertically challenged side,and it would be beneficial I feel to have at least one principal who tops six foot. Wishful thinking?

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The "Arts" feed off each other, in a good way.  In London we have so many live performances and exhibitions near at hand, those of NW Europe in easy reach and we're not much further from New York than San Francisco is.   In that respect, I'd say it must be good for career development.

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I must agree, there are so many opportunities in Europe it would seem a good career move.  Mijosh says the season is short, only January to May apart from Nutcracker - so do the dancers even have full year contracts?  It amazes me how few of the US companies, even famous names, have full year employment, often the contract is for 35 - 40 weeks of the year (with some more and some less).

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I'd forgotten about SFB's short season, but I think that that's just at its home theatre. The opera company uses the theatre/opera house the other half of the year. Doesn't SFB tour quite a bit in the Autumn? And I believe that I read somewhere that there is an intensive period of rehearsals then as the programmes come thick and fast once the season at the home theatre begins. Taking all this into account, I feel that the dancers must be paid for at least nine months of the year (perhaps from August to May). Certainly the company seems to fit a lot into its short season season at home, with many mixed bills as well as the full-length classics.

 

I believe that Vito Mazzeo is Italian and so he may want to be closer to home. Madison Keesler is an American but may just want to spread her wings and experience life in another country and city. London has its downsides, but it has an enormous amount to offer culturally as well, and, as others have said, it's a quick hop across the channel to the rest of Europe.

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