I'm not a babe in the woods regarding entertainment careers, believe me. It's a world of nepotism out there or incredible against-all-odds luck. The lucky horses? Maybe 1 to 2 percent of entertainment performers. The rest knew someone who knew someone or was the son/daughter of someone. But usually favoritism is not shown to be so blatant.
Usually except for American Ballet Theater. ABT sees no reason to hide what looks to be blatant favoritism.
1 - Out of 17 Principals, 10 of them are sponsored by current sitting members of the ABT Board.
2 - Out of 10 Soloists, 3 are sponsored by current sitting members of the ABT Board. Incidentally, 1 of these 3 dancers receives more opportunity and notice than the rest of the soloists.
3 - Out of 57 Corps de Ballets members, 6 of them are sponsored by either the Board or the ABT Junior Council.
Please contrast this to New York City Ballet. None of the NYCB Principal dancer biographies list sponsors. What they do list are any awards or scholarships that the dancer has received. Could there be some Board sponsors? Perhaps, but the company has taken away the incentive of listing their names so that Richie Richs can't pat themselves on the back by piggybacking on dancer achievements.
Also note that NYCB promotions are easy to track and the reasons why are clear as well. Take for example Indiana Woodward. The year I returned to see NYCB performances, Woodward made a splash in Bournonville Divertisements. She made such an impression that the company followed up on this success by casting her as the Slyph in this year's production of La Slyphide. This is marketing and promotion of a dancer that is unbiased, clear and deserved. This is exactly how a ballet company builds momentum and excitement for in-house talent. Unlike ABT where new hires and promotions make me go WTF! year after year. I have yet to see ABT follow up on any good performances of members in their ranks. The good notice that Gorak and Lane received for their partnership...deliberately strangled. The notice Courtney Lavine garners? Sent straight to the back of the Corps. Any number of the same Corps members are lauded year after year yet they sit in the Corps. Instead ABT pushes the same faces, the ones audiences dread and vociferously AVOID watching. Most of whom are sponsored by the ABT board. Things that make me go HMMMMMM.
Is it any wonder that NYCB has more support, more attendance and more good will? It is also the biggest company in the United States! While ABT flounders around trying to find a niche. Well it certainly isn't in California.
There is absolutely NO reason why ABT can't be as big as NYCB. No Reason. Except for the fact that their board has lost sight of their real purpose to guide the company financially. Their jobs are NOT to promote their favorite hobby horse dancer. THIS is why ABT is declining. And if they don't clean house soon, will meet up with the same fate as New York City Opera before it.
Labels: american ballet theater, art, ballet, commentary