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July 22, 2019

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ROTFL Hag. I called before stopping by here and told them that this was going to turn into a PR nightmare. Do they even have a development director or is this a consultant's idea?

Don't know whose lame brain idea it was but it will backfire.

Back in the day, friends and I went to over 35 performances every Met season. Now? Hah! I went to 5 this season and that was a stretch trying to find cast and ballet that was palatable. This adds another nail in the coffin. I had already looked at the line-up for fall and decided to spend my money on more Pennsylvania Ballet tickets. See you all in Philly!!

It’s all a smoke screen... the $2.50 is ACTUALLY To help pay for Fakarinas private coaching, airfare to and fro from her “ scheduling conflicts” that resulted in her pulling out of her performances as well as a Met Seasons supply of Tama-flu.

SherryD, that's my experience exactly. I went to 35-36 Met performances every year (pre-guest star strategy) but in the years since have continually reduced the number of performances I've attended to the point where this year it was down to six.

Costume surcharge this time; pointe shoe surcharge next time; dancers' health insurance surcharge after that; new choreography surcharge after that. The only surcharge I would gladly pay is a Fund a New Artistic Director Surcharge once they've named who that would be.

If people want to donate to ABT, they should and they should be able to say what they want their money used for. But to mandate a costume refurbishment surcharge on the ticketbuyer as opposed to letting the buyer consider donating and then opting out, is the kind of strong-armed, swindler scheme that is going to put the final nail in ABT's coffin.

See you in Philly, SherryD.

Kev, that brings up another point which is WHO covers the service fees, the facility fees, and other ticket fees when ABT papers the Celebrina's performances? Every ticket they give away is a lost service fee, a lost facility fee, a lost whatever fee, and of course lost revenue. Who ends up covering the actual cost of all those losses? You and I.

Ridiculous. Frankly, until they bring back DeMille, Tudor, and Ashton, I have no use for ABT.

On a sidenote: Copeland must be FUMING that Frankie Hayward got the part in the Cats film. Black ballerina?? That's HER schtick! (Only Ms. Hayward could dance circles around her).

I truly find it unbelievable as to the depth of disarray Ballet Theatre is in. The tail is clearing wagging the dog, and the nonsense that the committed dancers need to put with is absurd. The fish rots from the head.... time to get a new fisherman.

Do you think they would give us the $2.50 back if we don't like the costumes? I called ABT and they were very polite. but really, I think they don't are.

They don't even say what costumes the $2.50 is supposed to restore. 2586 seats in the Koch Theater x $2.50 x 13 performances = $84,045 potential non-deductible forced contribution to ABT for some vague costume restoration. Of course, they won't get anywhere near that amount with a customary house but even half represents a sizable amount to simply hand over to ABT without any explanation from them.

Obviously, people are not donating to the company to restore their costumes and this forcible grabbing at the patrons' wallets is their Plan B.

I really think that we are way past the point when the city or state's Controller or AG needs to look into these service fees, facility fees, you-name-it fees. If the theater or company is using them as they would use contributions, then the ticket patron should be able to deduct them. If the theater or company simply calls them service fees, facility fees, you-name-it fees, but doesn't clearly use the money for those specific purposes, they should be hammered on the head by the Controller or AG.

In addition to this, I cannot foresee buying a ticket for the fall season until casting is announced.

One can also wait until the tickets show up on TDF where there certainly won't be a Costume Restoration Fee.

While I don’t mind paying $2.50 for a good cause like restoration of costumes, I’m really against this forced donation in principle. It simply feels disingenuous — like they are hoping no one will notice (hence, no explanation of what this money is actually supporting). If I were ASKED to give this amount for a good cause, I probably would. This seems like a really misguided idea, and one that sets an unfortunate precedent for future forced philanthropy.

I tend to agree with you, FoF. I suspect their reasoning is something along the lines of the reasoning that you see with Verizon and Time Warner cable billing where fees are suddenly broken out of the overall price (which does not then reduce) and are then charged separately -- which adds substantially to the bill.

Like I said, it's long past time for the city/state Controllers and AG to take a good hard look at how non-profits and those managing properties that the city owns, like the Koch Theater, are amassing and using so-called fees to simply pad their bottom line rather than raising basic ticket prices and doing a better job at persuading patrons to voluntarily contribute to such things as costume restoration.

This is outrageous. Maybe they can pay to restage the grand old Tudor, Ashton, DeMille rep instead of getting in over their head with yet another Ratmansky esoteric vanity project? CALIRHOE, anyone? Now there's a real audience-friendly title and subject (not). ABT seems to be making rep deci$ion$ just to (a) indulge in Ratmansky's caprices and (b) score PC points ("Women's MOVEment" Fakerina, etc.)

You hit the nail on the head, Charlie.

Thank you Charlie! 🎯

Wow. Spot-on, Charlie. That was exactly my initial thought when I read about Callirhoe. Yet another unnecessary Ratmansky project that few of us care about. ABT must have a huge budget to program these esoterics

I like Tudor, Ashton and de Mille as much as anyone. But it's wishful thinking to believe that audiences will flock to the Met to see these works - they just don't anymore. It would be more prudent to discuss this rep as it would relate to the Koch season.. These days the company does best at the Met with full-length ballets of which there are just so many. One can argue whether or not the current state of classical ballet and evolving audiences warrants creating new full-length works, but I don't think ABT has a choice. Is the alternative to keep doing the warhorses every year, which is essentially how the Mariinsky and Bolshoi sustain their tours - but you only see those companies for a few weeks every few years if even that anymore. One can certainly debate the artistic content of new works and their creators - it's subjective and has been going on forever - but I think under the present constraints there need to be new full-length ballets.

ABT needs new full lengths, but what is to stop them from acquiring ones that have been proven elsewhere such as Pierre Lacotte's Marco Spada starring David Hallberg or MacMillan's Mayerling. They haven't presented Ashton's Cinderella for a few years. But they have several one-acts that would make for a very satisfying evening: Etudes, A Month in the Country, and Gaite Parisienne. Ballet Imperial, Billy the Kid, The Moor's Pavane. Bruch Violin Concerto, Petrushka, Rodeo. Sinfonietta, Le Spectre de la Rose, Bruch Violin Concerto again. What is the deal with the Bruch? Why can't McKenzie put it on the stage? Is it bad blood between him and the person who owns the rights? What's the problem?

Whatever ABT's problems are, the solution is not to force ticketbuyers to donate to some vague cause and give up the tax deduction. Forced donations will get them nothing but ill will. There is still time for ABT to correct its course, but no one thinks that they will. Ahoy, big rock ahead.

Apparently the company is afraid to do more than one week of one-acts during the Met season, based on past analysis of ticket buying. That's not to say that every full-length does better, of course. Maybe this philosophy should be reconsidered. I agree there is a wealth of one-act ballets that are underexposed - at least they could be doing more of these at the Koch. (I don't agree with your list in its entirety, by the way, but that's not relevant to the issue.) Mayerling and Marco Spada vs. new creations is a subjective topic, and that's up to the artistic powers-that-be. There are also obvious political considerations. But none of this is unusual. It's far more difficult for a company like ABT to maintain and grow a classical ballet legacy than most of the other major companies in the world, almost all of which have much deeper cultural and demographic roots, as well as physical homes and varying levels of government funding and cultural allegiance. In the grand scheme of things, this $2.50 charge is fairly meaningless. Someone buying 4 or 5 tickets is losing a tax benefit of what -maybe $5.00? Deduct it anyway - you don't need documentation for small amounts. I doubt most ticket buyers will care (except those of us who live for these insults). When's the last time someone complained about the (Broadway) theater restoration charges that are tacked onto ticket prices - and those are profit-making enterprises.

I disagree that the $2.50 is fairly meaningless. ABT has historically relied on special efforts to get donations to restore costumes for specific ballets. They obviously are no longer successful in their efforts to persuade people to donate; so they have to try to force people to donate. That's not a meaningless tactic. No one believes for a second that this money will be used for costume restoration and the company isn't obliged to dedicate it to such a use.

It just seems that ABT cannot stop shooting itself in the foot. Next fee: Foot Surgery Fee

Next charge will be the COPELAND CHARGE!!!

We're talking about principles when we should be talking about principals.

Ha! ABT is short on both.

Can I just say how happy I am that you brought up Bruch Violin Concerto?! I’ve wanted to see it live for over a DECADE.

There’s no reason for me to go back there anyway now that my ballet boyfriend Roberto Bolle left!

NS, it's a disservice to Clark Tippet's legacy that his most admired choreographic work is not being regularly performed. ABT is trying to substitute Some Assembly Required as being representative of Tippet's skill as a choreographer, but it doesn't even approach the level of his Bruch Violin Concerto. What ever the problem is, ABT needs to get it resolved. People are not going to forget Bruch Violin Concerto. In fact, every time ABT serves up their current menu of crap that serves their PC agenda, it's going to bring back strong memories of the great works that they are ignoring. An entire generation of ABT dancers has missed out on dancing Bruch Violin Concerto except for Murphy who was in its corps and Alexandra Basmagy who danced it while with Corella Ballet. When will this company ever find a full commitment to EXCELLENCE?

Had no idea there was a ballet to Bruch's concerto; that sounds magnificent! Someone should choreograph Sibelius's as well. And if a woman can do it, there'll be woke-appeal.

Hagland, among the shorter ballets you mentioned, you omitted La Sylphide, not seen for quite a few years. Given the weird, hallucinogenic production City Ballet mounted, I'd love to see it back at ABT in their more conventional setting. And, by the way, I wouldn't mind Marco Spada either.

As relates to ABT's overall budget: Can ABT afford Ratmansky? The company is begging for basics, such as repair of costumes. Isn't it fiscally irresponsible to maintain a full-time in-house choreographer, no matter how wonderful he is (and some of his creations have been wonderful)? Carrying an in-house choreographer also means paying for his team, such as favored designers. It's quite expensive for a company that's barely making ends meet. p.s. Don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of Ratmansky, especially his work with NYCB and a lot (not all) of what he's produced for ABT.

ABT won't do Bruch, so I've heard, because the person who sets it is persona non grata at ABT. I could be way off here, but there might be a morally legitimate reason . . .

FlowerGirl, I don't think that there is a morally legitimate reason that the stager isn't setting Bruch on ABT. First question, whose sense of morals? ABT's? The company that had Whiteside bouncing Copeland's tits up & down with his hands on stage in choreography that ABT's board member Susan Fales Hill termed "grown up"? One would have to laugh at ABT claiming high moral ground after putting that on stage.

There was a hostile work environment complaint and a sexual harassment complaint against McKenzie's team that included the stager, back in 2000-2001, the latter being filed by a dancer whose contract was not renewed by McKenzie and who claimed it was because he would not have sex with a member of McKenzie's team. The accused individuals both ended up leaving ABT but were never found guilty of any crime or immorality.

Even if there were a separation agreement that prevented the stager from returning to ABT, which I do not know even exists, these things can be negotiated and should be when it is in the best interests of the company and the art and the deceased artist's contribution to the art form.

Many original cast members still exist, and even later cast members, such as Ethan Stiefel, might do a bang-up job of setting the Bruch on the company which could then get a final review from the stager -- even via video -- if everyone was open to negotiating on behalf of Clark Tippet's legacy.

It is a shame if controversies that erupted under McKenzie's regime nearly 20 years ago are still harming the company and harming Clark Tippet's legacy.

We need to see his Bruch Violin Concerto, and we deserve to see it. ABT has produced so few choreographers of any note since the days of De Mille & Tudor, and none have risen to the level of Clark Tippet.

I would like to see Appalachian Spring, Fall River Legend, Cinderella, and La Fille Mal Gardee, etc etc. The Tempest was a bust, The Golden Cockerel was a bust and I think the only thing that save Whipped Cream was the wondrous creations of Mark Dryden. Had that been any old costumer, the choreography was not interesting or special enough to warrant bringing it to the stage. With the shortening of the Met season next year I worry about the state of this company. They need to figure out a viable game plan ASAP. Michelle Dorrance works aren’t going to cut it.

I agree about Michelle Dorrance's works. It's such a lame effort by ABT to try to be hip. Wow, look at the dancers slide on their pointes. Cool. But can they do Martha Graham knee-walks? Appalachian Spring is incredibly important to American dance and should be presented more than it is. Sarasota Ballet acquired it this year, but I imagine that if it were presented by ABT, the PC Police led by Gia Kourlas would be complaining about the ritualization and the whole concept behind the choreography.

I am not a fan of Ratmansky. Since I now live in Orange County CA we get stuck with the premiers of his extravaganzas. More money is wasted on the costumes, hats, wigs, etc to make them as showy as possible, (and news articles written) but the actual "dance" and choreography is lacking. Trying to revive long forgotten 2nd rate Petipa is pathetic. There's a reason Harlquinade was not performed for 100 years, it just wasn't that good the first time around. Whipped Cream? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory met Salvador Dali in Vegas, which is exactly where his Sleeping Beauty belonged. His productions are over the top spectacles. I have been consistently under whelmed. Calirhoe??..God only knows what that will bring.

The very first time I went to ABT 45ish years ago, the program was 3 Virgins and a Devil, 2 pas de deux of differing style and character, and Les Patineurs. Put that on the Fall schedule and I’d go every night. With what they are planning now, I’m not planning to go even once.

In agreement with Christina as Los Angeles and Orange County has been stuck with Ratmansky for a long time. It would be nice to see some Ashton like "Symphonic Variations", Bruch Violin Concerto 1, DeMille's Rodeo. Marco Spada is a great idea for ABT.

I like short pieces. If a a long work is an overblown costume drama like the Golden Cockerel is the complete program, I feel like I've been stiffed. Unfortunately I could only go to one Royal Danish Ballet program when I was last in Copenhagen and I kept waiting for the dancing to start in the Golden Cockerel. Ratmansky should stick to short pieces. Many work well.

Most of his short works for NYCB are far more enjoyable than the short pieces that he has made for ABT. I also enjoyed the Bolshoi's cinemacast of Lost Illusions a few years back.

Wife and I had to walk out of a Dorrance performance before the first intermission. It seemed so much like parody that I was looking around for hidden cameras. Is the MacArthur Foundation trolling at this point?

Fall Season issues aside, I just saw this and curious what the company is thinking about to put dancers on cruises? Are the stages stable enough to do classical moves on pointe no less? This post by Williams makes me wonder if this is a practice run for the big stage at the Met? As a fan of Forster I would prefer to see him on the stage vs on a cruise, when most would be outdoors, no? I do wonder also with the recent issues on cruises if this is a wise investment? https://www.instagram.com/p/B0hDjctAn12/

Well, it's obviously part stage preparation for the dancer and part audience building. However, if any of the money is going toward hiring Dvorovenko & Beloserkovsky to prep the dancers in classics (as she is prepping K. Williams in the I-G), then it's all worth it. Those two could be running ABT right now and turning it into a glorious and universally-respected company, if only ...

Ah the days of Irina and Max ... if only indeed! Audience building? Wonder if these audiences does carry through to ticket sales on land and if other companies will move towards this direction at sea for PR?

Just catching up reading the more recent comments. ABT used to dance Les Patineurs??? Oh, if only... (Guess one has to go to London to see that nowadays.)

Just saw this and I am not sure why on one hand the powers that be are asking for this "forced contribution" then they're offering 20% ticket discounts? Isn't that defeating the purpose? This information is on their Instagram post: Receive 20% off your total order when purchasing tix for two or more separate performances when you buy between August 5 - 14.
Available via phone, box office window, and web (no code needed - it is automatic when you choose two or more separate performances).

I don't know, HF. Let's check to see if they increased the ticket prices by 20% before offering the discount. If anyone thinks ABT is beyond that type of manipulative crap, think again...

Never thought of that, if so then this is bait and switch :(

For example, Orchestra D-25 for NYCB is $35. The same seat is $50 for ABT. Add on $2.50 fraudulent costume charge to ABT's charge and you get $52.50 for a ticket normally priced $35 at NYCB. A 20% discount off the basic ticket price brings the total down to $42.50 ($40+2.50)- still more than 20% over the NYCB price. Then add the service/facility fees some of which are not paid by NYCB subscribers for NYCB tickets.

Orchestra C-9 at NYCB is $153; ABT's charge for that seat is $155+$2.50 fraudulent costume charge or $157.50. A discount of 20% off the basic price brings the total ABT charge to $126.50 plus service/facility fees.

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