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Subject: "New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?" Archived thread - Read only
 
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janejimgibson

03-09-01, 01:59 PM (GMT)
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"New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
 
   I would be most interested to hear from avid ballet fans regarding the proposed new direction for Scottish Ballet as a contemporary company.
Personally, I believe that public opinion is not in favour of these changes and would prefer the company to remain as a classical company, first and foremost.
Historically this type of move does not bode well for financial success (Rambert, LCDT ) and I believe that this move will result in the death of classical ballet production in Scotland.
As a nation we want to hold onto our classical company and the classical ballets are what we want to see. There are already 3 contemporary companies in Scotland and on the whole,the audience is not wanting to see anymore contemporary productions.
I would be most interested to hear any comments on the above proposed move which I find most alarming.
Many thanks.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? eugene merrett 03-09-01 1
     RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? Jane S 03-09-01 2
         RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? carly gillies 05-09-01 3
             RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? carly gillies 05-09-01 4
                 RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? Brendan McCarthymoderator 05-09-01 5
                     RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? Bruce Madmin 05-09-01 6
             RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? J.Spencer 09-09-01 11
         RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? BOB 12-09-01 16
             RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? Marion 16-09-01 19
  RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? alison russ 07-09-01 7
     RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? carly gillies 07-09-01 8
         RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? Brendan 08-09-01 9
             RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? eugene merrett 08-09-01 10
                 RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? Robert 12-09-01 12
                     RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? S.B dancer 12-09-01 13
                         RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? J.Spencer 12-09-01 14
                     RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? W.Boot 12-09-01 15
         RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? Brian 12-09-01 17
  RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ? www.scottishballetdancers.com 14-09-01 18

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eugene merrett

03-09-01, 03:48 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #0
 
   I think they are doing it because they do not have the resources to put on big costume ballets. The company is too small and orchestras are too expensive.

But surely they need approval from the Arts Council (or whatever it is called now). If the Arts council are giving grants on the basis of the SB being a classical ballet company then it has the right to modify that grant Imagine if the Royal Opera decided to symphony concerts only.

As it stands the Scottish Ballet will be the best funded contemporary dance company in the UK.


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Jane S

03-09-01, 06:39 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #1
 
   Eugene, I think you'll find the Scottish Arts Council are extremely supportive of the change.

The most useful article I've seen on the subject is Christopher Bowen's, at

http://www.scotlandonsunday.com/searchresults.cfm?id=SS01033188&keyword=ballet

He has pushed the company's board to say exactly what they mean by 'contemporary' in this context, and it turns out to be not what most of us would think of as 'contemporary dance', but more the sort of 'modern' ballet choreographed by Kylian etc. So it's not such a major change as it sounds at first, though that's not much consolation for the audiences that want to see the classics.


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carly gillies

05-09-01, 01:19 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #2
 
  
I think that Scottish Ballet are in trouble.

Looking back over the last 4 years there really is no sign of a new strong direction of style or substance, and although the company retains (I think) a core of loyal and long serving dancers, there has been a slow hemorhage of its best dancers.

I'd like to say a word about Kenn Burke who was acting AD after Samsova left and who not only held the company together from 97 to 99, but managed some of SBs best productions.

Then SB still had one or 2 regular guest principals such as Yurie Shinohara, who helped make the xmas 97 'Fille mal Gardee' such a brilliant and successful production, although I think think BRB played a large part in this being possible by loaning the sets and costumes.

Kenn followed this up with Darrells 'Tales of Hoffman'- another great production, bringing in Adam Cooper as guest artist.

He also commisioned new work from Cooper and from Sheridan Nicol for summer 98s 'Cool Classics', and also from company members for a mixed bill later that year.

Darrell's lavish 'Cinderella' was successfully revived for xmas 98. ( Yi-Lei Cai had briefly joined the company.

April 99 saw a triple bill of works new to SB including MacMillans 'Diversions' and a first appearance at Sadlers for SB, with Sabine Chaland as guest artist.

His last production (I hope I'm correct) was a revival of 'La Sylphide' with Kobborg as guest. Sb had always done this very well and I can't really imagine a better James than Kobborg.

From an audience point of view it was actually a great 2 years and it's interesting (albeit pointless) to speculate that Kenn Burke might have made a good AD - sort of in the Anthony Dowell mold - ensuring a future for Peter Darrell's repertory .

SBs 1st production with Robert North at the helm was 'Giselle'.
No guest artists this time, company soloists took the main parts and the production was disappointing in that it showed up the company's weaknesses.

Then followed 3 of North's own works - 'Miniatures' and 'Offenbach in the Underworld' in a double bill and then 'Romeo and Juliet'. R and J saw guest artists Adam Cooper again and Mia Johansson as a wonderful Juliet.
I'll admit now to not really liking Robert Norths choreography, but I make an exception for his R and J. Not just me - it was very well received by audience and critics.

North should be congratulated for managing to finally pull together and premier 'Aladdin' in early '01. It had been planned and commisioned (from Robert Cohan and Carl Davis) some time before. - Not his fault then that the final result was a bit of a mish mash of ballet, pantomime and magic show.

North's own 'Carmen' completes the list thus far, and a mixed bill of works by North and Van Manen starts next month.

Of the above 'Aladdin' was the only completely new work, and as far as I know RN hasn't actually commisioned anything new except for a evening of works by company members when he was just in post.

So I am personally not sorry to see Robert North go, another 2 years of mainly his own work didn't appeal too much.

I think Scottish Ballet needs leadership from an individual with vision and skill, not from a committee with a budget (does that sound hopelessly nieve?)

It certainly needs to be able to attract and keep some top class dancers.

I think it has a better chance of a future at all as a classical company.

As a contemporary dance company Id give it 2 years ( unless Christopher Bruce has suddenly expressed a craving for rain and McEwans export !)


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carly gillies

05-09-01, 02:18 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #3
 
   I've only just read Ismene Brown's excellent article from 1st Sept abou the future of SB

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=005904088934067&rtmo=k7NYoCNp&atmo=rrrrrrrq&pg=/et/01/9/1/btib01.html

Interesting idea. If they got the right person and then gave him/her lots of support.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

05-09-01, 02:58 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #4
 
   The worry for the Scots must be a repetition of what happened in Ireland in the 1980s. Then the Irish Arts Council commissioned a report from the late Peter Brinson into the future of dance in Ireland. There was an Irish National Ballet, which was under-funded. But Brinson advocated that the Arts Council should channel funding instead into contemporary dance. The ballet company folded. There was no clear benefit for contemporary dance and audiences collapsed.

The problem for arts administrators is that audiences do like the classics. They are a threshold through which people may come eventually to appreciate contemporary dance.

If, as SB says, the strategy is deliver a company performing modern ballets that is "European in sensibility and distinctive within the UK", that's good news. As Ismene Brown suggests, a rising British creative talent should be asked to run the new company.

Scottish audiences still need to see the classics. Is touring the RB and BRB north of the border financially out of the question?


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Bruce Madmin

05-09-01, 03:38 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #5
 
   >Scottish audiences still need to see
>the classics. Is touring the
>RB and BRB north of
>the border financially out of
>the question?

Well they would want to see the colour of somebodies money since every performance needs subsidy. But presumably the current SB finances are all earmarked for the dance entity... This all looks horrid for ballet lovers in Scotland.

Small point re RB touring - they don't really in the UK anymore.

I think Kaiser was against it - other than going to the capital cities once in a while. I think his view was that RB was special and needed to be presented 'properly'. I think such views are wrong and the public, who pay for RB, ought to have an opportunity to see Darcey in Warrington for example.

Its also interesting to note that the last tours RB did - Dance Bites - had lots of new and experimental choreography and did not sell so very well when people cottoned on. Hardly good news for SB...

Ballet is a people business and so it costs will tend to race ahead of general costs where computers and other efficiencies can help hold or even reduce prices. But that's no reason to chuck the towel in as the powers that be seem to be doing with SB. It would be nice to know what public consultation or polling even there has been to justify such a big change in direction.



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J.Spencer

09-09-01, 12:11 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #3
 
   I would like to defend Roert North on his choice of repotoire,knowing some insiders at Scottish Ballet many things have been revealed since Robert's contract was not renewed.
Robert in his short time with the company was constantly tied financially to the previous deficit,he had many aspirastions to bring other choreographers to work with Scottish Ballet but his hands were tied.
The contacts Robert North must have he would be a very foolish man not to utilise them.The sad matter is both publically & internally(ie.dancers who are the last to know anything) it appeared Robert just wanted to do his work,not the case.It has been revieled that he had very little say because finacially S.B. were so tied to a budget he could only afford to do his own works.He donated "Prince Rama & the Demons" to the company as it was being demanded that S.B. do a childrens ballet.
The bill S.B. are about to do has 2 Hans van mannen pieces,the Ashton season that was supposed to happen after the "Snowman" has been rejected,Robert has suggested at least 3 proposals for their spring season & none of them have been accepted.
It could seem that somebody wanted Robert to fail & has done their damndess to make it as hard as possible for him.


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BOB

12-09-01, 11:01 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #2
 
   INTERESTING!!!!!!!!!! Doing my reserch on the arts coucil they have employed a Cindy Sagrue (Possily spelt wrong!) to support dance but her back groung is from Edinburgh,having worked under Morag Deyes who has set up Dance Base in Edinburgh.
Morag Deyes is now the most recent member on the Scottish Ballet board.Who is a great supporter of contemporary!!!She was invited to join the board, the meeting directly held after Robert North's contract was not renewed.
A coincidence?


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Marion

16-09-01, 10:02 AM (GMT)
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19. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #16
 
   It is my understanding that Board Members are supposed to be elected to the board and not invited. Seems to me that S.B. is being used as a Pawn in somebody's grand scheme, no one seems to know what is happening and there seems to be no clear direction.
Morag Deyes invitation to the Board seems to me to be a very significant move and not one in the best interests of the future of S.B.


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alison russ

07-09-01, 06:25 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #0
 
   I have just received a copy of the letter below, which I set down unabridged, which might interest a few persons....

'Robert Cohan C.B.E.

August 21 2001

An open letter to everyone concerned for Scottish Ballet.

It was with utter dismay that I learned of the new artistic policy planned for Scottish Ballet by the chief executive of Scottish Ballet and Opera, Chris Barron. As a member of the previous Board of Scottish Ballet, one of the assurances we were given before entering what now seems an ill fated merger with the Opera was that the new chief executive would not interfere with the artistic policy of the Ballet. Now he is changing it completely.

Furthermore, only 2 years ago the Director of the Scottish Arts Council personally assured the then Scottish Ballet Board that the S.A.C. definitely wanted Scottish Ballet to be a Contemporary Ballet Company, emphasis on the word Ballet.
It was with this policy in mind, and after over a year long world wide and intensive search, that Robert North was chosen as artistic director as he was uniquely qualified by having both disciplines strongly in his background.
I personally find it unacceptable that the S.A.C. can change the artisticpolicy of one of its major clients so simply and quickly. A policy change that plays with and drastically alters the professional lives of so many artists who have, in good faith, recommitted themselves to the future of Scottish Ballet such a short time ago.

The idea of Scottish Ballet becoming a large scale "Contemporary Dance" company, which is what is being proposed, has, of course, come up many times in the past and it was always dismissed as being unsuitable for a large scale Scottish touring dance company and in the end financially disastrous.

It has been suggested to me that one of the models for the change was Netherlands Dance Theater. To use Nederlands Dance Theater as a model is also a non starter. N.D.T. have been in existence for a long time and have taken years to become what they are now. They have their own purpose built theatre, one of the best dance theatres in the world. They have the best purpose built studio facilities in the dance world and they have adequate funding from the Dutch Government as well as an attractive salary and pension benefits for their dancers.
All of these material things underlie a dance company's stability and well being, as well as their ability to attract and keep talented artists. Scottish Ballet has none of them and is unlikely to have them in the future.

It seems that someone also has to remind those responsible for this questionable change of policy that the Edinburgh Festival's audience for Contemporary Dance has nothing remotely to do with the audieces a touring company meets in the rest of Scotland or even Edinburgh itself, the rest of the year. Everyone, like myself, who has actually been out on the road, touring, knows that.
I only hope the Board has taken adequate consultation on the touring implications, especially on the financial side of this momentous change which is sure to affect touring dates and box office revenue.

I have been creator, supporter and defender of Contemporary Dance all of my life and I wish I could support this so called repositioning of Scottish Ballet but I fear it spells the end of a National Scottish Dance Company and the moneys it now recieves will mostly be swallowed up by Scottish Opera.
Nothing new. Peter Darrell often told me years ago that he had to fight for Scottish Ballet's independence from the Opera all of the time.

Robert Cohan C.B.E.'


In the light of the letter above, it was interesting to read the article in the (Glasgow) Herald on Thursday, 6 September, that the managers of the theatres in Aberdeen and Inverness, where Scottish Ballet usually appear on their tours, are looking further south for productions for their audiences and, apparently, even the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh is making enquiries. "Scottish theatres are preparing to import ballet from south of the border in reaction to Scottish Ballet proposals to become a contemporary dance company." They seem to think that the majority of their dance audience prefer to see ballet and are planning accordingly.

The companies from 'down south' are not going to come to Scotland without subsidy for the tour. Where is the extra money going to come from?


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carly gillies

07-09-01, 11:29 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #7
 
  
Re the Herald article, it probably sounds treacherous, but I'm rather pleased to hear that the SAC may make funds available for more dance to tour to Scotland from the south, though it doesn't make me any less sad about what I'm becoming more certain will be the beginning of SBs demise.
Edinburghs Festival theatre already has plenty of mainly contemporary companies visiting, but nowhere else in Scotland does - including Glasgow.
Last time Rambert visited Glasgow - about 6 years ago now - they had no problems at all filling seats, but lets face it, Robert Cohan's right and there's no way that SB can become another Rambert or NDT.
In contrast the last time I saw Scottish Dance Theatre, about 2 years ago in a small theatre on the south side of Glasgow, there were barely 100 people in the audience, and I'm sure Inverness and Aberdeen are right to be widening their sights.


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Brendan

08-09-01, 05:07 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #8
 
   There's an interesting contribution from a SB dancer on the other thread about Scottish Ballet.
http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/news/955.html


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eugene merrett

08-09-01, 09:10 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #9
 
   Regarding my first posting - it was silly of me not recognized that the change in direction for the Scottish Ballet had have been done with support of the relevant funding board.

I sympathise with those who really wanted a classical ballet company in Scotland.

But perhaps a well funded contemporary dance company is better then an inadequately funded classical ballet company. In fact it could become the leading contemporary dance company in the UK giving the Rambert Dancers a run for their money!!!



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Robert

12-09-01, 03:55 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #10
 
   Downhill! Goodbye Scottish Ballet. Goodbye Western Theatre Ballet!


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S.B dancer

12-09-01, 08:03 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #12
 
  
You are right to be concerned about the changes that are being proposed,if only the board could give a clearer picture.
Knowledgeable people like Robert Cohan,Nicholas Dromgole, support Robert North and are disagreeing with what the Scottish Ballet have publically proposed as the "new contemporary" way forward.
Who exactly did the board consult for these opinions?
How much dance knowledge do these people have?(More than all the men above?Not to mention countless others who have shown their support?)
Why weren't the dancers consulted?
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY why was the paying public in Scotland not asked what they feel about S.B & R.N?
After all that's what it's all about surely?


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J.Spencer

12-09-01, 08:05 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #13
 
   Scottish Ballet vet their forum everyday, there is hardly anything left on it.
Scared?


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W.Boot

12-09-01, 08:10 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #12
 
   If what has been proposed (IE the company going contemporary) I fear you are right Robert.Write your oppinions,tell the S.B board if you think this is a bad idea.


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Brian

12-09-01, 11:06 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #8
 
   I wonder if Scottish Ballet have replied to Robert Cohans letter against Scottish Ballet's board?
Thank you Alison Russ for posting this up it is very strong.


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www.scottishballetdancers.com

14-09-01, 09:03 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: New Direction for Scottish Ballet ?"
In response to message #0
 
   get the SB's dancer's point of view at www.scottishballetdancers.com


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