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Ballet owners and their influence on casting


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On the Onegin thread a while ago there was a discussion about how casting for this particular ballet has to be ok'd by the Cranko Estate, and I understand from other posters on here that this happens a lot. I guess it's understandable that people who own ballets should do this, but I was wondering how widespread it is. For example, with the recent Mayerling production at the RB, does Kevin O'Hare have to run casting decisions by Deborah Macmillan, and would the Balanchine Trust have final say on who dances Symphony in C? I wonder if many casting decisions are made by the artistic director or by the personal preferences of the people/ estate that own the ballets.

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I suspect that Onegin is probably one of the more extreme cases, but Balanchine can be another, depending on the ballet.  Certainly, there was a case a decade or so ago where the RB's casting of Apollo was objected to very strongly.  Obviously living choreographers probably have quite a say in who's cast.  As for MacMillan, well, Deborah MacMillan has on occasion withdrawn a company's authorisation to dance certain of her husband's works, but I'm not sure how much say over individual casting she has: at the RB, certainly, I'd assume she leaves it pretty much up to the AD, and to whoever's setting the ballet on companies abroad.

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Is Symphony in C owned by POB?

 

There was an issue some years ago when Rambert wanted to revive Dark Elegies which had been created on them by Anthony Tudor in the 1930s.  The Rambert original did not match the version held by the Tudor trust (as Tudor had amended it for other companies) and when Rambert performed it there had to be a note in the programme stating that it was not being performed in accordance with the Trust (or words to that effect).

 

I suppose these days the contracts are much clearer when new work is created?

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How generous that Symphony in C should belong to SAB.  This is much akin to the rights to Shaw's plays (many still in copywright in the UK and certain other parts of the world - short of the US/Canada) having been bestowed and so greatly to have supported RADA in the past, now and for years to come.  (And just think:  Shaw died in 1950!)

Edited by Meunier
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There are many pages in the last chapter of Bernard Taper's book Balanchine about the terms of Balanchine's will, which named 14 beneficiaries of various ballets. About 70% of the rights were willed to Tanaquil Le Clercq, Karin von Aroldingen, and Barbara Horgan. In total there were 14 legatees. Symphony in C was willed to Betty Cage. She may have then given it to SAB, which apparently received nothing in the original will (and neither did NYCB). Horgan and Aroldingen  deposited the rights they had inherited to the Balanchine Trust and invited the others to join them, but not all did. Tanaquil Le Clercq was one who did not. There were thorny legal battles. The edition of the book I have is from 1996 and obviously things may have changed since then, but from the beginning, the trust itself did not "own" all the ballets.

"Dealing with requests for ballets is...the principal activity of the Balanchine Trust...Each request requires a consultation with teh ballet's legatee regarding consent, terms, who should be recommended to do the staging, and any other special conditions. Some of the legatees do their own negotiating as well as participating in the staging, but others prefer to have the trust represent them. A company may not always get the ballet it requests-- if in the view of the stager, it is not capable of doing the work  justice."

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