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Subject: "Ballett Frankfurt" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2767
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Brendan McCarthymoderator

29-05-02, 08:25 PM (GMT)
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"Ballett Frankfurt"
 
   LAST EDITED ON 29-05-02 AT 11:32 PM (GMT)

The city council in Frankfurt intends to close Ballett Frankfurt and replace it with a straightforwardly classical ensemble. The first reports came in a widely circulated email from a senior source at the company. We are trying to establish some clear facts - and will report more when we have them.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 29-05-02 1
     RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-05-02 2
         RE: Ballett Frankfurt alison 30-05-02 13
  RE: Ballett Frankfurt Bruceadmin 30-05-02 3
     RE: Ballett Frankfurt Jonathan S 30-05-02 4
         RE: Ballett Frankfurt katharine kanter 30-05-02 5
             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Bruceadmin 30-05-02 6
                 RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-05-02 7
                     RE: Ballett Frankfurt katharine kanter 30-05-02 8
                     RE: Ballett Frankfurt Bruceadmin 30-05-02 9
                         RE: Ballett Frankfurt MAB 30-05-02 10
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-05-02 11
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt katharine kanter 30-05-02 12
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt AnnWilliams 30-05-02 14
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt eugdog 30-05-02 15
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-05-02 16
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Angela 30-05-02 17
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-05-02 18
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Angela 30-05-02 19
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-05-02 20
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-05-02 21
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Isobel Houghton 30-05-02 23
                             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Bruceadmin 30-05-02 24
             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Jane S 30-05-02 22
                 RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-05-02 25
                     RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 31-05-02 26
  More from the papers... Bruceadmin 31-05-02 27
     RE: Ballett Frankfurt. Brendan McCarthymoderator 31-05-02 29
         RE: Ballett Frankfurt. Brendan McCarthymoderator 31-05-02 30
             RE: Ballett Frankfurt. Brendan McCarthymoderator 31-05-02 31
                 RE: Ballett Frankfurt - Saturday 1st June Brendan McCarthymoderator 01-06-02 32
                     RE: Ballett Frankfurt - Saturday 1st June Brendan McCarthymoderator 02-06-02 34
  RE: Ballett Frankfurt Bruceadmin 02-06-02 33
     RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 02-06-02 35
         RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 02-06-02 36
             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Angela 02-06-02 37
                 RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 02-06-02 38
                     RE: Ballett Frankfurt - Monday's papers Brendan McCarthymoderator 02-06-02 39
                     RE: Ballett Frankfurt Renee Renouf Hall 03-06-02 40
                         RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 03-06-02 41
  RE: Ballett Frankfurt Bruceadmin 03-06-02 42
     RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 03-06-02 43
         RE: Ballett Frankfurt Bruceadmin 03-06-02 44
             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Angela 03-06-02 45
                 RE: Ballett Frankfurt katharine kanter 03-06-02 46
     RE: Ballett Frankfurt CATHYMARSTON 03-06-02 47
         RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 03-06-02 48
         RE: Ballett Frankfurt AnnWilliams 03-06-02 49
             RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 03-06-02 50
                 RE: Ballett Frankfurt Brendan McCarthymoderator 03-06-02 51

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Brendan McCarthymoderator

29-05-02, 10:38 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 29-05-02 AT 11:40 PM (GMT)

William Forsythe's future, according to the local television station, Hessischer Rundfunk, is now in serious doubt. The ruling alliance on Frankfurt's city council is considering whether to replace him when his present contract expires in 2004. The background to this is the city's growing financial crisis. There are deep cuts in the culture budget and Ballett Frankfurt is the latest victim.

Forsythe's political support seems to be slender, and to come, in the main, from the Green Party, which says that any decision to replace him would amount to a "declaration of cultural bankruptcy". If this happens, the Greens argue, Frankfurt's aspiration to be European City of Culture in 2010 would no longer have a shred of credibility.

The issue of Forsythe's future has not been triggered by the budgetary crisis alone. Senior members of the city council are increasingly resistant to Forsythe's aesthetics. They want a Frankfurt Ballet, which will present a more classically based repertoire.

Forsythe, who is very distressed at developments, is fighting back. He argues that he runs an efficient company - and that his budgets are better managed than those of Frankfurt's other cultural institutions. Ballett Frankfurt has appealed for international support; already a support website has been set up. The URL is http://www.sign.de/forsythe/aktion.html



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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-05-02, 06:17 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 30-05-02 AT 08:04 AM (GMT)

On a reading of this morning's Frankfurter Rundschau, it all seems to be over for Forsythe. The Christian Democrat and Social Democrat factions on the city council seem determined to enforce change. Technically, nothing has been resolved, and the formal position is that discussions with Forsythe about his contract are continuing. The Christian Democrat culture spokesman even suggests the rather fantastic possibility that Forsythe could remain director of a more classically based company. Forsythe's only political friends seem to be the Green Alliance.

Formally Forsythe has been told nothing. He points out that Ballett Frankfurt is more financially efficient than the city's other financial institutions. He himself wants to extend his contract. But, should this not happen, he says, " Frankfurt will have to live with its politics. "

Forsythe has also been talking to Ismene Brown of the Telegraph. Here is a flavour:

"I'm trying to feel calm, but I don't feel I should have to endure such hostility. I haven't deserved it. There's a ruling class here that seems to believe art is either eigentlich or uneigentlich, which translates as 'our own' or 'not our own'.We are now considered uneigentlich. But TAT is intended to be one of Germany's leading avant-garde theatres. And Ballett Frankfurt has the highest income rate in relation to public subsidy of any cultural institution in Germany. We have a 96 per cent attendance rate at our performances, and I have earned this city 40 million marks with my touring. What single other person has contributed that kind of money to the city?"

Forsythe's use of the word 'uneigentlich' is significant. Similar considerations lie behind the replacement of Wayne Eagling at Dutch National Ballet by a Dutch artistic director. For more, see http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/news/1301.html


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alison

30-05-02, 01:30 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #2
 
   I find it very surprising in Ismene's report that the councillors should be looking to replace Ballett Frankfurt with a classical "story-book" ballet company. For all the years I've been taking an interest in dance, everything I've ever read has always indicated that story-book ballets are in fact extremely unpopular with German audiences, and that they prefer deeper, less "classical" and more psychological works, as witnessed by the whole history of dance in the 20th century in Germany. Isn't that why people such as Neumeier have been so popular over there? The only companies I can think of who might be even vaguely "story-book" would be Munich and Stuttgart. I must have a look at their websites ... I've never been totally "converted" by Forsythe myself, but I think that to destroy what he's built up would be a retrograde step.


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Bruceadmin

30-05-02, 08:12 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 30-05-02 AT 08:17 AM (GMT)

Thanks Brendan - these are interesting times

Frankfurt under Forsythe has contributed much to the dance world but I've always felt rather sorry for ballet lovers in and around Frankfurt I have to say. I've certainly mentioned it to some but not sure if I ever recorded it here... It's that prior to Forsythe Frankfurt were a provincial company presumably doing a mixed repertoire that would have given enjoyment to more people. It might be nice to have a company that puts you on the international dance map, but for your subsidy all you get is a very one dimensional vision of dance. That's hard I think.

I'm in too minds about the Frankfurt position. It's possible to over-egg it and claim them as the best bunch of dancers and director to ever grace the modern ballet earth, but there is a body of work here that should exist. On the other hand those who provide the majority of the funding have a right to choose who they trust to spend it and after years without a Nut at Christmas (or whatever) they have a right to say that Frankfurt as a city has done its bit for modern dance and now they want something more traditional. Forsythe for his part seems to have done little to foster a wider vision for Frankfurt and indeed his announcement that his work dies with him I think would give any funder of art pause for great thought. I certainly wouldn't vote to give further public money in such circumstances.

I don't know how artistic subsidies are handled in Germany but there is a strong case for central funding for companies that follow one choreographer. Not many cities have the resources to cover two companies - one modern and one traditional. And in any event most companies these days seek a mixed-rep of course.

This, and the DNB changes, certainly start to shatter a myth that modern dance in continental Europe is much loved and adored by the ordinary people. Pendulums are interesting things and it looks like just when the funders of the new in Europe are rethinking and questioning, SB and to a lesser extent RB are out chasing the modern for all they are worth. It would be a sad irony if Europe were to rebalance towards more tradition at the same time as Britain decides traditional work is old hat and we need to rebalance much more towards the new.

The Frankfurt question of world resource vs local funding and accountability is interesting I think and I'd love to hear other views on it...


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Jonathan S

30-05-02, 08:58 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #3
 
   With my cynical hat on, I wonder whether Forsythe's popularity and financial success is partly the reason for all this. There are some (and German arts sponsors may be among them) who consider that art is only art if it's expensive, unpopular and needs constant financial nursing to keep the poor thing from certain death; conversely, the same people often view popular culture as being part of a capitalist conspiracy, to which the only answer is to fund some lone voice who'll throw ideological spanners in the works.

With an even more cynical hat on, I wonder if this is the beginning of a European purge, the Sangatte debate of the balletgentsia.



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katharine kanter

30-05-02, 09:07 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #4
 
   With ballet.co's permission, may I post up here the message I sent this morning to the Office of the Mayor at Frankfurt. It may not be what Forsythe's people were expecting, but that's the way the crumble cookies...so to speak.

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

"William Forsythe may once have been a talented youth, more talented indeed than his mentor Georges Balanchine, but in adulthood, his choreography has become, as I see it, the equivalent of violent videogames like "Counterstrike". It is a wrecking game. As a person who has been active in the dance world for almost four decades, allow me to say that I also consider it harmful in the extreme to dancers' bodies.

"All of this post-modern rubbish is long past its sell-by date. I have no time for William Forsythe, and rejoice in the fact that the City of Frankfurt has finally decided that it has no time for him either.

"That being said, FORGET BUDGET CUTS. A city like Frankfurt cannot afford to be a fourth-rate, cultural backwater. You should have a major classical company like the Paris Opera Ballet. Classical dancers are highly-trained professionals, and must be treated with the same consideration and respect, as musicians. DO NOT MAKE ANY MORE of these people unemployed !

"Thus, and although you will indeed be doing a favour to the world of art by sweeping out the Forsythe crowd, BEWARE nevertheless of throwing the baby out with the bathwater."


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Bruceadmin

30-05-02, 09:39 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #5
 
  
Not many marks for political correctness I think Katharine! But I suspect you echo a silent majority. I do believe in putting risk money into the arts for new things, but beware those who take it and don't think about the population that give that risk money.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-05-02, 09:46 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #6
 
   LAST EDITED ON 30-05-02 AT 10:34 AM (GMT)

The German press coverage this morning is fascinating. One paper dismisses Frankfurt as a "sclerotic city", which is now trying to undermine its "single world star"

Another paper mourns what it sees as the crumbling of the arts under the weight of "bourgeois mentality". Where once the aristocracy could be relied on to protect the arts, Princess Alexandra von Hannover, the Christian Democrats' culture spokesman in Frankfurt, is leading the calls for change (it is she who offered the surreal suggestion that Forsythe could stay and lead a company producing a classical repertory). Even more surprisingly, it is the left of centre SDP, which speaks of the removal of Forsythe as a "blow for liberation".

This crisis has, apparently, been brewing for some time. The city of Frankfurt has deep rooted financial problems and it has imposed swinging cuts on its culture budget. The Opera, Theatre and Ballet have been told to save one million euros this year; next year, two million; in 2004, 3 million and, by 2005 four millions.

But it is not a question of money alone. Frankfurt's political establishment has tired in any case of Forsythe. There has been a clamour for more varied work from the outside, in preference to what a local journalist called 'own label records'. There is considerable feeling that interesting companies from outside simply bypass Frankfurt altogether.

The fact that Forsythe's work is so distinctive, and that it has put the city's ballet company on the world stage, no longer cuts any ice with the politicians. They criticise Ballet Frankfurt for travelling too much, and not spending enough time in Frankfurt.

Forsythe was to have announced a new artistic plan on June 6th. It is unlikely he will be doing so now.



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katharine kanter

30-05-02, 10:15 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #7
 
   Don't see any contradiction whatsoever between "classical", and "new". The notion of "classical" as I see it, simply means "based upon principles that will evolve, but that are, in essence, of eternal validity". It does not necessarily mean Petipa and a fluffy tutu, at least, not to me. It does, however, mean Beauty and Dignity.

Incidentally, as a tiny contribution to this debate, I've just flicked through this week's dance offerings at Paris, as reported in the Figaro-scope. Apart from two Bharat Natyam recitals, I counted - you count-em too - TWENTY-NINE separate dance performances. Not one was classical dance. Each and every one was a so-called "modern" troupe, many appearing at major venues, in other words, with huge subsidies.

One might object that the POB's budget is probably higher than all those troupes put together. Perhaps it is. But that does not justify slashing the country's other classical troupes. How many classical companies in France have bitten the dust over the last fifteen years, only to be taken over by some brainless but well-connected Nut Case, whose sole talent is shameless exhibitionism ?


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Bruceadmin

30-05-02, 10:15 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #7
 
   >This crisis has, apparently, been brewing
>for some time. The city
>of Frankfurt has deep rooted
>financial problems and it has
>imposed swinging cuts on its
>culture budget. The Opera, Theatre
>and Ballet have been told
>to save one million euros
>this year; next year, two
>million; in 2004, 3 million
>and, by 2005 four millions.

I don't see a mixed rep as costing less than the existing company I have to say.

Interesting numbers on the savings they want but what is Frankfurt's subsidy at present I wonder?


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MAB

30-05-02, 10:33 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #9
 
   With classical ballet being in real danger of extinction, I'm overjoyed that Forsythe is getting the boot. That audiences have accepted his pretentious rubbish for so long is something that has always mystified me, his only redeeming feature was his statement that his work dies with him - I'm glad future generations won't be forced to suffer the way this one has.

As for the political and financial reasons being put forward, they seem to be tempered by the fact that classical dance will be preferred in the city in future, surely that is a reason for all ballet lovers to rejoice, especially German ones.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-05-02, 10:37 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #10
 
   I disagree with MAB. Forsythe has stretched the form and, to my mind, given it a new relevance. However I deplore the fact that he is laying it down in his will that his works should die with him. The taxpayers of Frankfurt have paid handsomely to give him artistic space: I don't believe that his work is his alone.


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katharine kanter

30-05-02, 11:10 AM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #11
 
   There are, of course, other aspects, some of which cannot be discussed on a Website.

Whether certain sorts of statistics from the Frankfurt Ballett might perhaps be available to the general public, is another point.

For example:

- how many members of Forsythe's company have remained with it for more than three years ? how does that work out, in percentage terms ?

- how many members of the company each year have suffered injury or illness leading to sick leave of over a fortnight ? How does that work out, in percentage terms ? And how does that compare to similar statistics from, shall we say, the POB or RB ?

- how many members of the company over the last decade have suffered an injury so severe in the course of their work, that they had to leave the profession ?

- what is the breakdown of injury, by type ?

- how many members of the company have, over the past decade, suffered clinical depression or similar clinical illness ? how does that compare to the rate in the general population ?

- any reported neurological disorders ?


Just a few questions amongst the many that spring to mind.


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AnnWilliams

30-05-02, 02:06 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #12
 
   Personally, I am amazed at this news. Whatever one thinks of Forsythe's work, it seems to me there is no arguing his cultural significance to Frankfurt. Apart from the Frankfurt Bookfair, what else springs to mind culturally about the city? The Goethe Museum? The Museum of Modern Art? I don't think it's opera company is particularly significant (admittedly, I'm speaking as a dance fan here and may have missed something of huge importance).

A point: Did Forsythe actually originate the Frankfurt Ballet, or did it exist before he came along? If the latter, what was it like before his arrival?


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eugdog

30-05-02, 02:36 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #14
 
   I have always like Forsyte work (although we probably see the best of it).

Nevertheless I get the feeling that Ballet Frankfurt only do modern stuff (I could be wrong)!

I would like to see some compromise - more classical works in addtion to Forsythe works. I would not like to see him go esp on acrimonious terms


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-05-02, 02:43 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #14
 
   I don't know how Ann could have overlooked the European Central Bank.


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Angela

30-05-02, 03:13 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #16
 
   William Forsythe is ballet director in Frankfurt since 1984 - before him it was Egon Madsen from 1981 till 1984, a former Stuttgart principal who is now with NDT III. Before Forsythe, Frankfurt was a classical company with mixed repertory (story ballets, Balanchine etc.); even under Forsythe they still did ballets like Swan Lake (the Cranko version) in the first years. Later they had a system where they invited classical companies like the Royal Ballet to show the Frankfurt audience the big story ballets like Sleeping Beauty etc. And for some years now, it's only Forsythe. He even moved away from the Opera House and shows most of his performances in the TAT, a smaller playhouse.
I fear that in recent years Forsythe's ballets are not such a huge success with the Frankfurt audience any more.

Katherine: yes, there are quite a few dancers who stayed with Forsythe for a long time or their whole career - at least there were in former years. And don't even think of a big classical company - if they can't afford a modern company of thirty dancers, how should they finance something like POB?!? First of all, this is a question of money, not of artistic values.

German papers say that the city council wants some sort of guesting system with foreign companies visiting instead of an own ballet. That's what they already did in Cologne, where the ballet of the opera house was closed down and where they invite NDT or other companies now and then. On one hand, it's cheaper, but this is also a question of public demand: if you have a full house in every ballet evening you don't think of closing down the ballet.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-05-02, 03:41 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #17
 
   LAST EDITED ON 30-05-02 AT 03:49 PM (GMT)

Ballett Frankfurt was one of the companies that the anthropologist Helena Wulff observed when she was researching her study, "Ballet Across Frontiers" (Berg 1998). One of the dancers she interviewed told her that when the classics were first replaced by contemporary experimental work, after Forsythe arrived, "'we danced for five people, who were booing', in the audience." Later, of course, Forsythe began to find a constituency for his work, and he made Frankfurt an important centre on the cultural map.

What struck me about Wulff's observations was something else, and it may be relevant to Forsythe's present difficulties. Almost half the company was American; a large group had come from Mediterranean countries (France, Spain and Italy). But only four dancers had grown up in Germany. The working language of the company was English, German being used, in the main, in communication with the technical staff in the Opera House.

It is good politics, I think, and, for that matter, good ballet politics, to make some cultural concessions to your surroundings. Perhaps Forsythe did so. But others might draw useful lessons from his present predicament.


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Angela

30-05-02, 03:56 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #18
 
   Brendan, I guess that English is the working language in most German ballet companies, as they all have dancers from different nations. This is not a problem, why should it be?


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-05-02, 04:17 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #19
 
   Angela, I may not have made my point very tidily and I was thinking out loud. What I was trying to suggest is that the company may not be very rooted in Frankfurt. It has no German identity to speak of, other than its name. It has few German dancers and German is not its lingua-franca, even in its home theatre. Crucially, the company tours a great deal and politicians have criticised it for being away from Frankfurt too much of the time.

If anything is to save Ballett Frankfurt in its present incarnation, I expect it has to be the home audience in Frankfurt. The point I was trying to make is that the work of an artistic director subsists not only in creative direction, but also a great deal of politicing, and a great deal of flattery of quite unworthy people, who nonetheless can make a great difference to your future.

I wondered if Forsythe was sufficiently flattering to the provincial sensibilities of the burghers of Frankfurt, and I was using the issue of language and identity as a 'short-hand' for posing that question.

Nonetheless Angela's point is fair and I wouldn't want to be pinned to the wall for my logic.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-05-02, 04:34 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #20
 
   LAST EDITED ON 30-05-02 AT 04:40 PM (GMT)

Valerie Lawson reports the latest developments in tomorrow's Sydney Morning Herald. She quotes the email from Bill Forsythe, to which I referred elliptically in the first post in this thread. "This week, Forsythe sent an email around the world to say the politicians of the city of Frankfurt were about to close the Ballet Frankfurt. "They want to have classical story ballets. I'm so dumbfounded I don't know what to think or feel. Spread the word please and have people send letters if possible. It's very important."


{The picture comes from this piece and is directly hot-linked to
it}

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/05/30/1022569813919.html


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Isobel Houghton

30-05-02, 09:24 PM (GMT)
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23. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #12
 
  

>
>
>
>Just a few questions amongst the
>many that spring to mind.
>
>
Here's one that springs to mind will Katharine Kanter any have anything vaguely useful to say, besidee the pseudo intellectual drivel, name-calling and scare mongering she favours, all justified by this reactionary, out-dated (albeit highly amusing) notion of classicism she favours.



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Bruceadmin

30-05-02, 09:56 PM (GMT)
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24. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #23
 
   >Here's one that springs to mind
>will Katharine Kanter any have
>anything vaguely useful to say,
>besidee the pseudo intellectual drivel,
>name-calling and scare mongering she
>favours, all justified by this
>reactionary, out-dated (albeit highly amusing)
>notion of classicism she favours.
>

Isobel/Simon - if you don't want to contribute or be civil please don't bother. You have enlightened and entertained us much with some of your earlier thoughts and I hope you will again. There is room for all shades of opinion here and please feel free to debate around what is happening to Ballett Frankfurt rather than making personal attacks on others. As part of this I think you should move to use your proper name - as those you criticise do. Thank You.


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Jane S

30-05-02, 05:21 PM (GMT)
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22. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #5
 
   Katharine, you should be careful what you wish for - you may not like what you get. They are talking of firing Forsythe, not shooting him: he's not going to just disappear. From your point of view, wouldn't you rather have Forsythe happily working in Frankfurt than roaming from company to company round the world? Or perhaps taking a job as resident choreographer with one of his next-favourite companies? POB, for instance?


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-05-02, 10:22 PM (GMT)
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25. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #22
 
   In a commentary in its German language edition, the Frankfurter Allgemeine reflects on William Forsythe's feelings on today, his 52nd birthday.

He has been ballet director in the city since 1984. The Allgemeine points out that, until recently, ten years had been considered the appropriate term for the ballet director. By this standard, Forsythe has been too long in post already. In general, there are good reasons, the paper argues, for a change every ten years. Artistic directors run out of ideas and audiences get restless. It is only because Frankfurt's cultural politicians have been inert, the paper argues, that Forsythe has survived unchallenged for so long.

However the Allgemeine deprecates the mindlessness of the politicians' present behaviour. Forsythe's reputation, the paper says,needs no exaggeration. He is a world class choreographer, who has brought an entirely new aesthetic to dance. Technically his dancers are of the highest quality. His company has brought great credit to Frankfurt.

This cuts no ice with the power brokers, who say that Forsythe has exhausted the possibilities of his aesthetic and that he has begun to repeat himself. They say that his company does not present sufficiently diverse programmes, that it tours too much, and that are insufficient guest artists. With the city's financial crisis in mind, they suggest that Forsythe's company might be contracted to appear in the city, say, thirty times annually. The savings, Forsythe's critics say, could be used to organise an annual dance festival, which would feature visiting international companies.

The Allgemeine dismisses this argument as crass consumerism ("Dance art from the drugstore shelf"). Frankfurt, it warns, cannot afford the damage to its image that would result from a decision to dispense with Forsythe's services. Without Ballett Frankfurt, its claims to be an artistic centre of excellence would be threadbare. While the paper accepts that the city needs to find savings, it dismisses the councils' present tactics as mindlessly bureaucratic.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

31-05-02, 07:06 AM (GMT)
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26. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #25
 
   LAST EDITED ON 31-05-02 AT 07:38 AM (GMT)

International Dance Companies might boycott Frankfurt

There is now a real prospect that the city of Frankfurt could be boycotted by major dance companies, if the authorities decide to proceed with their plans to remove William Forsythe as director of Ballett Frankfurt, and then wind up the company.

Overnight there has been no conclusive news about Forsythe's future. The city treasurer, a member of the Christian Democrat alliance, has argued that abolishing the company, replacing it with a programme of appearances by guest companies, would save five million Euros annually.

Forsythe's political enemies argue that a change would have clear benefits. Frankfurt's citizens, they argue, would see " more ballet " from a " wider artistic spectrum ". However, one politician, speaking off the record, says that much now depends on the vehemence of the protests at his removal. The leader of the small Free Democrat group on the council has suggested that the city should try and retain a relationship with Forsythe, but as a regular guest, rather than as the head of Frankfurt's resident ballet company.

However the politicians have begun to realise that winding up the ballet is not altogether cost free. When Martin Steinhoff, the head of the opera, was let go recently, he was made a severance payment of two million Euros. Forsythe, whose contractual terms are similar, would probably be paid the same amount. There are further costs. Maintaining a flourishing programme of guest ensembles would be expensive. There are fears that major companies might boycott the city in protest at Forsythe's treatment.

In the meantime the international protest has been growing, with many messages of solidarity arriving at Ballett Frankfurt's offices. The Greens warn that Frankfurt's 'brand' as a city is being seriously damaged by the controversy. Although the small Free Democrat party supports a change in the city's relationship with Forsythe, it is clear that it is also having some second thoughts. But this alone will not be enough to ensure Ballett Frankfurt's survival.

Today's New York Times also covers the crisis at Ballett Frankfurt. Forsythe told the paper:
"Frankfurt has taken a turn for the worse. A few people with a lot of money inside and outside politics are trying to impose their personal taste on the entire cultural landscape. There has also been a smear campaign against me carried out insidiously by anonymous politicians saying I was burned out. The idea of a renowned classical company playing in Frankfurt after my dismissal is illusory. I have already received letters from companies worldwide saying they will boycott Frankfurt. I hadn't thought of a boycott, but the reaction has been astounding."
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/31/arts/dance/31FORS.html


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Bruceadmin

31-05-02, 07:15 AM (GMT)
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27. "More from the papers..."
In response to message #0
 
  
The following were collected as part of our world wide daily scanning for dance and ballet links. Our Todays Links page is at:
http://www.ballet.co.uk/todayslinks

Ballett Frankfurt
Frankfurt Ballet fights closure amid claims of dirty tricks and smears
London
By Nadine Meisner
"He believes that over recent weeks he has been subject to a smear campaign orchestrated by the city's politicians. Comments in the press have claimed that he was burnt out and that audiences had lost interest. He has also had private warnings that he and his company, which has been receiving a subsidy of 13m marks (£4m) a year from Frankfurt, were to be removed in favour of more traditional classical ballet.
   "....Forsythe sees the campaign as stemming from a political agenda designed to eject "incorrect art" and please the conservative tastes of influential sponsors and patrons. "They want ballet as part of the fine-dining experience, something like Swan Lake that won't disturb their dinner conversation or give them indigestion."
http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/theatre/news/story.jsp?story=300721

Ballett Frankfurt
Leader of Frankfurt Ballet Losing His Post
New York
By ALAN RIDING
"The Frankfurt Ballet's $5.7 million annual subsidy from the city government supplies 87 percent of its budget, although Mr. Forsythe said that this was a lower percentage than at other local cultural institutions, like the opera house and museums. He argued that cost-cutting could not be a factor in the reported decision not to renew his contract since it would cost "two or three times as much" to replace his company with a classical company.
   "He said he had also heard about an alternative plan to replace his company with touring classical companies. "The idea of a renowned classical company playing in Frankfurt after my dismissal is illusory," he added. "I have already received letters from companies worldwide saying they will boycott Frankfurt. I hadn't thought of a boycott, but the reaction has been astounding."
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/31/arts/dance/31FORS.html


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

31-05-02, 03:57 PM (GMT)
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29. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt. "
In response to message #27
 
   LAST EDITED ON 31-05-02 AT 08:40 PM (GMT)

Thanks to Estelle on Balletalert for a link to Le Monde's coverage of events in Frankfurt, by the paper's correspondent Dominique Fretard.

William Forsythe told Le Monde that he had heard nothing from the City's culture department. "The only contact I have had is with the Greens, who support me in any case. I suppose it is still possible that I will complete my contract, which expires in 2004. All I know, is that the authorities seem to want a traditional classical ballet. They just want easily digestible dance - dance that doesn't make them think too hard. The Mayor has hardly ever come to see us perform."

According to Le Monde, this row has been incubating since 1998, when the Ballet abandoned Frankfurt's Opera House in favour of the smaller experimental space of the Theater am Turm (a former tram depot). At the same time, Forsythe dispensed with the services of his administrator Martin Steinhoff , having decided that the financial and artistic management of the company should be integrated. ( Ballett Frankfurt's budget, according to Le Monde, is six million Euro or £3.8 million).

Le Monde's correspondent finds it difficult to credit that a choreographer, whose work is so prized in France, and which has brought such prestige to the city of Frankfurt, should now find his future in doubt.

The paper also suggests that Pina Bausch at Wuppertal could fall prey to her city's economic difficulties, which, in common with Frankfurt and other German cities, is heavily in debt. As for Forsythe, he tells Le Monde, " I don't worry about my own future. But I fear for this company, for this theatre and for the aspirations of young choreographers."

Le Monde also tried to speak with representatives of the city's governing coalition. Because yesterday was a public holiday in parts of Germany (the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi), it was unable to contact them.


****************************

Meanwhile the New York website www.danceinsider.com has also interviewed Forsythe. He denies any suggestions that his company is acclaimed around the world, but has little appeal in Frankfurt itself."The home town gets it. It's a group of four or five people in the more conservative arenas of local politics who do not want to have anything other than a sort of decorative reactionary art.... We're sold out! You can't get a damned ticket for the Frankfurt Ballet in Frankfurt."
Link to article


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

31-05-02, 08:30 PM (GMT)
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30. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt. "
In response to message #29
 
   LAST EDITED ON 31-05-02 AT 08:57 PM (GMT)

Latest German Media Reports

Thousands of messages of support for William Forsythe and his company have been arriving in the offices of the Mayor of Frankfurt. One of them was signed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Pina Bausch of Wuppertal Dance Theatre (whose own company may soon be under threat), the conductor Valery Gergiev, the opera director Sir Peter Jonas and the director Peter Sellars.

Forsythe has also received support from his opposite number in Berlin, Jochen Sandig, the director at the Schaubühne. He described Frankfurt's expected decision to dismiss Forsythe as a disgrace and a "declaration of cultural and political bankruptcy." If Forsythe were compelled to leave Frankfurt, Sandig said, the city would lose its most significant artistic figure. He appealed to the Mayor to discuss the situation properly with Forsythe before making any final decision. As things stand, the Mayor, Petra Roth of the CDU, is expected to inform Forsythe that his contract will not be renewed, when they meet on Monday.

Meanwhile, the city treasurer has repeated his view that the ballet can no longer go on as it is, because of the critical shortfall in Frankfurt's municipal budget. He says Frankfurt can save five million Euros annually by dispensing with a permanent ballet ensemble and replacing it with a programme of performances by visiting companies.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

31-05-02, 09:23 PM (GMT)
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31. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt. "
In response to message #30
 
   LAST EDITED ON 31-05-02 AT 09:28 PM (GMT)

Deborah Bull

Deborah Bull has written the following letter to the Mayor of Frankfurt,Petra Roth. Her choice of language is fascinating - and not without resonance here in London.

Dear Madam,

I'm writing in response to the report in the London Daily Telegraph that the city of Frankfurt intends to replace William Forsythe and the world renowned Ballett Frankfurt with a 'classical story-ballet' company when Mr. Forsythe's contract expires in 2004.

As a member of the international ballet community, I am horrified and appalled at this news. Since Mr. Forsythe took over as director of Ballett Frankfurt in 1984, he has revolutionized the ballet world with his innovative approach to the classical technique, his rigorously intellectual approach to dance and the sheer theatrical physicality of his work. Throughout the world, without exception, he is revered as a choreographer and as a director. His works are in the repertoire of every major ballet company and roles in those works are prized by ballerinas like Sylvie Guillem and Darcey Bussell.

Having got hold of him, most cities would give their collective right arms to hold on to him. Yet it seems that the city of Frankfurt is to pass him over and install, in his place, yet another tradition-bound, creatively moribund troupe of dancers to give yet more performances of ballets by choreographers dead for over a century.

It is a little known secret that ballet and ballet dancers are, in fact, very much alive. In the hands of a master like Mr. Forsythe, ballet, like other art forms, is capable of evolving with the passing years. Ballet can, if it is allowed, speak for this century as it spoke for the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the city of Frankfurt wants a 'classical story-ballet' company. Yet Ballett Frankfurt, by my definition, is probably the greatest classical company working today. It is certainly the only company routinely exploring the classical language and pushing it to new levels as Marius Petipa, Georges Balanchine and Frederick Ashton did during the 19th and 20th centuries. And as for stories: William Forsythe's work may not deal with princes and princesses, swans and sugar plum fairies, but it tells stories with every gesture, every step - stories of our time, stories for our age.

Lord Melbourne, who died in 1848, famously remarked 'God help the Minister that meddles with art'. If the city of Frankfurt must hang on to something from the 19th century, I would recommend it hang on to Lord Melbourne's advice.

Yours truly,

Deborah Bull

There are more letters like it on Ballett Frankfurt's website.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

01-06-02, 06:19 AM (GMT)
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32. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt - Saturday 1st June"
In response to message #31
 
   LAST EDITED ON 01-06-02 AT 09:14 AM (GMT)

According to the Frankfurter Rundschau, the former Social Democrat chairman of Frankfurt's cultural department, who originally brought Forsythe to the city, has pleaded for his future. Hilmar Hoffmann says that Frankfurt's cultural reputation is on the line, and must be protected at all costs.

Meanwhile more protests have been arriving in the Mayor's office. However there is little support in the major political parties for Forsythe. They have evidently made an irrevocable decision; one politician told the Rundschau that they were "determined to withstand the pressures of the coming days".

There are two crunch days next week. On Monday Forsythe meets the Mayor to learn his fate, while on Friday, the present chairman of the culture department will present his plans for the ballet's future. Already his allies are marshalling their arguments, saying that only 43% of the ballet's audience is from the locality; that it offers a mere six productions per season; that it offers far too many complimentary tickets. They point to the example of Cologne, where there is no longer a resident company, but, instead, an organised programme of appearances by guest companies. If Forsythe is dismissed, they suggest, the citizens of Frankfurt will have more ballet - and at less cost.

Manwhile the Greens are organising a demonstration to back Forsythe, when Ballett Frankfurt performs in the city on Wednesday. Its spokesman has accused the CDU/SDP alliance of treating the company disgracefully and of exposing the city to ridicule. "Frankfurt needs Forsythe", she argued, "Forsythe does not need Frankfurt." The city's recently departed opera director, Martin Steinhoff, has also pleaded for Forsythe, saying that every effort must be made to keep him in Frankfurt.

Meanwhile the city is becoming aware of the unwelcome degree of international media attention, and at the widespread bewilderment at the moves to dismiss Forsythe. Ballet culture, the Rundschau points out, while small, is perhaps more international than is the case in the other arts. Many companies have Forsythe's work in their repertories. News travels fast.

When Forsythe first began to direct the Frankfurt ensemble, the paper reports, he had a turbulent reception. The audience for classical ballet rapidly deserted, many cancelling their subscriptions. It now looks as if Forsythe's departure could be equally turbulent.

http://www.frankfurter-rundschau.de/fr/181/t181015.htm
http://www.frankfurter-rundschau.de/fr/181/t181016.htm

Meanwhile, other media in Frankfurt have been sceptical about the proposed programme of performances by visiting companies. One correspondent said it would probably consist of washed out productions of Swan Lake by mediocre Russian companies. There's scorn too for the city's culture chairman, Hans-Bernhard Nordhoff. Perhaps, one writer witheringly suggests, he should be director of the ballet, or even perform in it himself. This would be the real declaration of Frankfurt's bankruptcy.



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Brendan McCarthymoderator

02-06-02, 10:09 AM (GMT)
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34. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt - Saturday 1st June"
In response to message #32
 
   From today's FT:

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Save Ballett Frankfurt
By Reid Anderson
Financial Times; Jun 01, 2002


From Reid Anderson and others.

Sir, We are writing to express our profound concern about the threatened closure of Ballett Frankfurt.

Ballett Frankfurt has won an international reputation as the most exciting and innovative contemporary dance company working anywhere in the world. We assure you that it is Ballett Frankfurt, and in particular the inspired leadership of William Forsythe, that has changed international perception of Frankfurt so that it is now seen as a city of culture as well as a city of commerce.

We admire the commitment of the city to its history, its museums and its culture. We urge the mayor of Frankfurt to reconsider the proposed changes so that Frankfurt will have a strong future as well as a past.

Reid Anderson, Stuttgart Ballet Mikhail Baryshnikov Pina Bausch, Wuppertal Tanztheater Tricia Brown, Tricia Brown Dance Company Valery Gergiev, Kirov Opera and Ballet Antony Gormley Sylvie Guillem, Royal Ballet Nicholas Hytner, National Theatre Sir Peter Jonas, Munich Opera Anish Kapoor Jirý Kyliýn, Netherlands Dance Theatre Brigitte Lefývre, Paris Opera Ballet Daniel Libeskind Peter Martins, New York City Ballet Mark Morris, Mark Morris Dance Company Gerard Mortier, Salzburg Festival Norman Rosenthal, Royal Academy Peter Sellars Sir Nicholas Serota, Tate Gallery Ross Stretton, Royal Ballet Makhar Vaziev, Kirov Ballet Rachel Whiteread


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Bruceadmin

02-06-02, 07:56 AM (GMT)
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33. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #0
 
  
Another link from the todays links page - its not a major one but again illustrates how the news is spreading

Ballett Fankfurt
Forsythe embattled in Frankfurt
datelined Paris
"Forsythe, 52, has turned the Frankfurt Ballet into one of Europe's leading dance companies. The company tours the world, and Forsythe's choreography is frequently performed by major dance companies, including the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal Ballet.
   "The Frankfurt Ballet's $5.7 million annual subsidy from the city government supplies 87 percent of its budget."
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/06/01/DD21897.DTL&type=performance


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

02-06-02, 10:11 AM (GMT)
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35. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
In response to message #33
 
   LAST EDITED ON 02-06-02 AT 10:57 AM (GMT)

German media do not have a 24 hour news cycle on the British model and there is little new coverage this morning. Here are the main developments so far.

  • The Mayor of Frankfurt is expected to tell Bill Forsythe tomorrow that his contract will not be renewed in 2004.
  • Ballett Frankfurt faces disbandment. The city council does not intend to fund a replacement company.
  • Frankfurt, which has a mounting municipal debt, hopes to save £3.5 million by closing the Ballet.
  • Instead the city proposes a programme of performances by visiting ensembles.
  • Critics say this means the end of ballet in Frankfurt, except for inferior performances of the classics by touring Russian companies.
  • Forsythe's political enemies describe him as a spent creative force, who has been director of the ballet for too long.
  • The move to dismiss Forsythe comes from the largest parties on the council, the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats.
  • Only two small parties, the Greens and the Free Democrats, back Forsythe
  • Ross Stretton, Sylvie Guillem, Jirý Kylian, and Mark Morris have signed a letter pleading with the Mayor for Ballett Frankfurt's future.
  • Thousands of people have signed an on-line protest at the council's proposals
  • Messages of support have been appearing on Ballett Frankfurt's website

  • Deborah Bull has warned the Mayor of Frankfurt that politicians interfere in the arts at their peril

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    Brendan McCarthymoderator

    02-06-02, 02:42 PM (GMT)
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    36. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #35
     
       LAST EDITED ON 02-06-02 AT 06:43 PM (GMT)

    Make no mistake about it, this is philistinism on the march. There is no question of replacing Forsythe's ensemble with a classical ballet company. Rather, this is a disreputable stunt to rid Frankfurt of a man whom his critics regard as as 'uneigentlich'. In language more familiar to us here in Britain, this translates as 'not one of us'. There is a very clear issue here, and, in my view, Forsythe deserves the fervent support of the wider arts community around the world.

    I have edited the remainder of this posting, which referred to Mel Brook's Broadway musical version of The Producers, after seeing Angela's note below.


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    Angela

    02-06-02, 05:41 PM (GMT)
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    37. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #36
     
       Thank you, Brendan. I am German, I love ballet, and I feel like a jerk now. How wonderful that the free world is coming to save Forsythe from the bad, bad Teutons.


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    Brendan McCarthymoderator

    02-06-02, 06:26 PM (GMT)
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    38. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #37
     
       LAST EDITED ON 02-06-02 AT 06:46 PM (GMT)

    I have removed the section of my last posting, of which Angela complained. However, it is right to say that the welfare of the art in any shape or form, classical or contemporary, does not seem to carry any weight with the councillors in Frankfurt.


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    Brendan McCarthymoderator

    02-06-02, 10:39 PM (GMT)
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    39. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt - Monday's papers"
    In response to message #38
     
       The Frankfurter Allgemeine's correspondent, Gerhard Rohde, writing in Monday's edition, portrays William Forsythe's meeting with Petra Roth, the Mayor, as the final chance to save Ballett Frankfurt. There is a sense of relief in the city that the two are finally talking to each other face to face. But, despite the wave of global protest, there is real uncertainty about the outcome.

    The corporation's culture chairman, the Allgemeine argues, has not distinguished himself with his handling of the affair. Perhaps little more was to be expected of him. There are admittedly budget difficulties. But the ballet has been treated with great cynicism, perhaps because it lacked the bargaining power of Frankfurt Opera, and because it lacked the capacity to defend itself.

    But Fosythe is a figure of unusual distinction. He has transformed the art of ballet and Frankfurt has backed him for twenty years. It is not possible to behave as if none of this had ever happened. The only good reason to dispense with Forsythe's services would be a decision to bring to the city a choreographer of equal distinction.

    The sorry truth is, however, that much of the criticism now directed at Forsythe is specious and small-minded. This must stop. When the Mayor meets Fosythe, there must be an open minded discussion of all available options. There are ways of keeping the Ballett in existence, which will help the city make some of the savings it seeks. Crucially, Forsythe is an exceptional artist and one deserving of respect. He deserves better from Frankfurt's city cultural policy makers.


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    Renee Renouf Hall

    03-06-02, 04:06 AM (GMT)
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    40. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #38
     
      
    Immersed as I have been in editing a book on Filipino immigration to the United States, the controversy surfaced to my attention, thanks to an E-mail forwarded me by Paul Parish who writes for Ballet News and, locally, for San Francisco Magazine.

    Apropos of immigration, Frankfurt may well be reacting to some of the population and assimilation problems of refugees and foreign workers, which Germany and the Netherlands share with the United States and other industrialized countries to varying degree. It's not hard to see that something iconic like a ballet company easily represents to a city qualities felt intrinsic to a certain view of culture. Native Germans may well wish for a strong slice of representation of the baroque and the romantic traditions which enjoyed strong musical, and also balletic, profiles in the 19th century. I personally would be unhappy if only, repeat, only small modern groups represented all repeat all dance life in San Francisco. And certainly San Francisco has exported a fair share of both representing what the city has fostered creatively.

    San Francisco has strong, if indirect, ties to William Forsythe,
    for he met Tracy Kai-Maier, his late wife, when he came to San Francisco to mount New Sleep. I don't know whether she left the company at that time or after he mounted In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, earlier created for the Paris Opera Ballet. His Vertigenous Thrill of Exactitude has won kudos for its performers, a quintet from San Francisco Ballet winning an Isadora Duncan Dance Award citation this past April.

    The comment from Mr. Forsythe that his ballets will die with him is one which echoes Marc Wilde, a local and talented choreographer, who died in September. The late Bharata Natyam exponent, Balasaraswati, also expressed the opinion. Vertigenous
    Thrill and a pas de deux from In The Middle are well liked in San Francisco and are likely to be resurrected for some time. With some talented exponents having performed them around, they are not likely to disappear soon, abetted by company videotapes.

    This may not help Mr. Forsythe, but the logger heads certainly has echoes of the Smuin controversy with San Francisco Ballet in the early '80s, which resulted in his being replaced by Helgi Tomasson. The difference here, of course, is that government subsidy in San Francisco is doubtless indirect, though our city is small and has its share of provincial flavor.

    At the time Forsythe went to Frankfurt Ballet, there were still two Germanies. I think it might be prudent to point out that with the Paluccashule in Dresden and the two Vaganova-oriented academies in Berlin and Leipzig, the then East Germany was producing some remarkable dancers. After reunification in 1990,
    these dancers began to be seen more frequently. Gregor Seyffert was one who received the Prix d'Or at Lausanne and entered the
    Komische Oper with soloist status. In 1999 he was named Dancer
    Laureate in Berlin and danced cross casting as Carabosse in
    Sleeping Beauty and Alain in La Fille Mal Gardee. Dietmar Seyffert, his father, teaches a three-year choreography course in Berlin and is active in CID/UNESCO, and some of his former dancers from Leipzig are now choreographic directors for Opera House Ensembles. A number of Western dance magazines are amazingly silent about the work from the former East Germany.

    With this digression, I simply want to point out that good dancers are being produced in German ballet academies now, and with their presence there are some reminders that German dancers
    are indeed competent.Whether Mr. Forsythe has considered this, I have no idea. Some choreographers are more aware of this factor than others. I keep remembering that Germany has such an incredible history of the Opera House as a cultural center to a
    degree most Americans have no clue, and that lengthy association is bound to make people as proprietary about cultural reflection as I am about what goes on in San Francisco.

    It's cheeky to suggest it, but with Frankfurt such a transit hub, it's a pity that passengers with layovers or several spare hours couldn't avail themselves of the company's performances with some degree of ease.



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    Brendan McCarthymoderator

    03-06-02, 07:54 AM (GMT)
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    41. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #40
     
       LAST EDITED ON 03-06-02 AT 08:18 AM (GMT)

    As the Mayor of Frankfurt prepares to meet William Forsythe this morning, a city official has told the Frankfurter Rundschau that the extent of the council's financial crisis means that change in the status of the ballet is inevitable. There can be no guarantees for Forsythe's future, he said, or for that of Ballett Frankfurt. The council wants to wrap up its negotiations with Forsythe before the end of June.

    There may be, sources say, some basis for Forsythe to continue to work in Frankfurt, with, perhaps, Ballett Frankfurt having the status of a regular guest company. However, a number of leading Christian Democrat and Social Democrat politicians are intent on replacing the company with guest appearances by visiting ensembles.

    The detailed negotiations with Forsythe will be conducted, not by the Mayor, but by Felix Semmelroth, the chairman of the council's cultural committee. One Wednesday night the Green Party is organising a demonstration in solidarity with Forsythe and his company. However a spokesman for one of the major parties dismissed the protest as "irrational hysteria ", which would only strain the alliance between the four groups represented on the leadership of the council.

    The tenor of this report, and of that from today's Frankfurter Allgemeine, is that today's meeting between William Forsythe and Mayor Roth may not be the end of the matter. There are suggestions of possible compromise (admittedly slight) that have been absent from previous coverage. Much of the pressure to close the company is coming from the City's Treasurer, Horst Hemzal of the Christian Democrats. He has complained at the size of Frankfurt's arts budget (£40 million) and is demanding cuts. He appears to see Ballett Frankfurt as an especially tempting target.


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    Bruceadmin

    03-06-02, 08:16 AM (GMT)
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    42. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #0
     
      
    I think its very easy to be hard on Frankfurt in all this.

    As a city they have backed Forsythe for 18 years with hard cash. In doing this they have given the world new choices in ballet and dance although their own choice has been highly restricted - no mixed-repertoire for them to enjoy and savour.

    I don't notice cities who who have done little or nothing for decades being beaten up and told they are small minded philistines. Frankfurt have moved things forward and carried a load for some time and they might well look around and ask who will share the load and move things forward for the next 18 years.

    Criticise Frankfurt for their handling of this but not for doing more then most cities for dance. That they can't keep it up is sad, but they have done their bit and for that I congratulate them.


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    Brendan McCarthymoderator

    03-06-02, 08:33 AM (GMT)
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    43. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #42
     
       LAST EDITED ON 03-06-02 AT 08:58 AM (GMT)

    While I see Bruce's point, I would be a little more understanding of Frankfurt's behaviour, if they were intending to replace Forsythe with a ballet director of equal status, in, perhaps the way that the Theatre Monnaie in Brussels replaced Maurice Bejart with Mark Morris.

    This is not what is on offer. Frankfurt wants to save money and sees Ballett Frankfurt as the softest option. There will be no new resident company.

    What is also astonishing is that the saving is a mere £3.5 million from an arts budget of more than £40 million. Yet they see the Ballett, the city's most prestigious ensemble, as the softest option.

    There is something very murky about this, especially as Frankfurt Opera (not, as far as I know, one of the world's most distinguished opera venues), has survived relatively unscathed. Earlier this year, a very influential figure in the arts in Britain told me that the world of ballet was ineffective in fighting its corner, as compared to the opera. The Royal Opera, he went on, took great care to build links to a wide constituency of support, whether this be to the world of politics, the media, or the recording industry. Influential people from the outside, who could affect the opera's fortunes, were regularly wined and dined. The Royal Ballet, I was told, did none of this. It was a world unto itself, my source told me, which was naive in the extreme about making friends outside. ( I stress that I do not know enough to confirm on my own account that this is the case ).

    If what has been said here about the Royal Ballet is true, it may be equally true of Frankfurt. Frankfurt Opera may have had political friends when it counted; Ballett Frankfurt seems to lack them.


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    Bruceadmin

    03-06-02, 09:45 AM (GMT)
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    44. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #43
     
      
    Er.. Perhaps my point has not been made well enough!

    My point is that other cities do nothing and don't get brick bats for it. Frankfurt has done something for dance and now gets beaten up. There is nothing that says Forsythe has to be replaced by somebody of equal stature or somebody at all. That's what we all want of course but money is tight (I'll set aside issues of where savings across all the arts might best be made - that a separate argument). Frankfurt has spent and now can't. Rather then high indignation we should perhaps thank Frankfurt for spending all it has and save our indignation and heavy criticism for those who have done absolutely nothing for the world of dance.

    Further, criticism and dumping on Frankfurt I don't think does much to encourage other cities to do good works even for a few years. A situation where good works that come to an end result in castigation for the giver is no way forward.

    I realise these thoughts are not overly politically correct particularly at a time when professionals involved in dance are seeking to put maximum pressure on Frankfurt. But I do see a lot of double standards here and the unfairness of it irks me. Frankfurt have pumped £10M's into Forsythe's vision - but it all seems forgot. I wish half the effort going into criticising Frankfurt was going into finding new ways of funding such as national and international collaborations etc. Or Forsythe and his management team had the nouse to realise that they needed to find new sources of money before hitting a brick wall.

    Finally I think that while critics, directors and others very involved in ballet and dance are deeply concerned about Ballett Frankfurt, I don't generally observe a massive ground swell of concern from fans. Happy to be proved wrong but that's not what I see and hear. That in itself should give pause for thought to some. Fans and tax payers pay the majority of companies bills and only the daft ignore them. Queue stories of Bruce being a popularist and Luddite who just wanst to see the same old stuff... I don't and I'm not and I demonstrably back new work and new choreographers!


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    Angela

    03-06-02, 10:16 AM (GMT)
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    45. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #44
     
       Just some more words to the thoughts on this thread about Germans wanting to see German dancers or German culture: of course German critics and audiences are proud to see a German dancer - like English audiences are proud to see a British dancer! And of course they cheer for any dancer from Russia, France, Spain, America or wherever if he is good - like English audiences do (or even louder - ask Robert Tewsley). This is not a question of German culture or German art.

    Cranko, Neumeier, Forsythe: they all went to Germany AND STAYED THERE, because of the great possibilities they were offered by the generous German system of financing the arts - not only the money but also the freedom to do what they want. And they found audiences that accepted and love what they did. But as soon as some small-minded misers in Frankfurt do something wrong, this whole thing is becoming a question of German culture versus the rest of the world - it's unbelievable how fast the old resentments still come to the surface, even with people whom you would have considered open-minded because they love the arts.

    Please don't try to explain this Forsythe case with arguments from fifty years ago - this is the problem of dumb politicians who just don't want or understand ballet as an art form (and it definetely won't help to insult them as Nazis). Of course the idea alone to close Ballett Frankfurt is a kind of artistic suicide for the town - it's like Berlin closing down the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, as one German newspaper wrote. Of course you can forget about the Frankfurt opera if you compare it on an international level (even on a German level), and the cuts should be made there, not on the ballet. But to understand why politicians in Frankfurt came so far, you might consider the fact that the quality of Forsythe's works has really changed in the last two or three years - many people I know who went to Frankfurt for every premiere don't do it any more because they've lost interest, because they just can't follow him anymore (yes, you are so right about the fans, Bruce). Forsythe is not so sold out like he was before, I fear. And you might consider the fact that Forsythe himself is paid very, VERY much money. So there actually might be reasons in Frankfurt to develop such an idea.


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    katharine kanter

    03-06-02, 11:07 AM (GMT)
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    46. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #45
     
       in response to Angela:

    As a Jew myself, who lived in Germany for over a decade, allow me to say that apart from Italy, I do not believe that there is a country in the Western world, where the general population has a greater love and respect for art, than Germany. And a greater willingness to finance art handsomely, because in Germany, the consensus is, overall, throughout all classes of society, that art is essential to existence.

    My own experience over the last thirty years has been that whenever one hears someone going on about how awful the Germans are, this will either be malevolence, or proof of arrant ignorance. The number of people in France, for example, who have NEVER HEARD of the German Resistance, of von Trott, of von Kleist-Schmenzin, of Stauffenberg, would astonish you.

    Before rubbishing an entire nation because of a dictatorship that lasted twenty years, perhaps a little more study might profitably be devoted to people like that, or Beethoven and Schiller, to name a name.

    Incidentally, I've been told by French dancers who have appeared in German theatres, that when they come out to the orchestra rehearsal, and hear HOW that orchestra plays, it has given them a whole other idea of the dance. One person said: "I have danced that ballet so many times, but then I thought I had never heard the score before. It was so beautiful, I became distracted and almost fell into the orchestra pit."

    So let the Forsythe issue be the Forsythe issue, and Other Issues, remain Other Issues.


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    CATHYMARSTON

    03-06-02, 12:07 PM (GMT)
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    47. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #42
     
       When I first heard about the Frankfurt situation last week, I have to admit I could hardly believe it; my reaction has been very slow, mainly because I thought it would all come to nothing. Apparently though, this is really happening, so I wanted to just note down a few thoughts.

    Something Brendon just mentioned about the ballet world not being able/accomplished in fighting its corner. This rang true to me – as the Frankfurt situation sounded familiar: as a dancer in the Luzern Ballet, Switzerland, I protested against the closure of the Luzern Ballet after Richard Wherlock left to direct in Berlin. This was of course a different situation – the decision was not one from the government but from the lady who was taking the new job as intendant (theatre director). Her vision was that Luzern would be more of a production centre where visiting companies could make work, rather than home to a permanent troupe. Her name was Barbara Mundel – I have a feeling she was German, not sure – but am sure that the man she employed to run this centre was from Germany. I have not visited Luzern since I left, but I whenever I’ve asked anyone how it’s going there’s a watery response – ‘yeah, I think its ok.’ We, as dancers, were very indignant about our redundancies, for with Richard, we had worked hard to make accumulate a large and avid ballet audience in the city. In a company of fourteen only one of us was Swiss, yet we felt welcome – or perhaps ‘hosted in the best possible way’ is more accurate. But then, that’s what the Swiss do.

    Living in Zurich, I researched the Dada movement for a while; this was a kind of multi-media, very ‘modern’ art that existed mostly in Zurich and Berlin in the first half of the last century (sorry – exact dates are not my specialty.) My point is, that it was not a ‘Swiss art movement’ but they gave it space, watched it happen, and now celebrate it very regularly in all their national art galleries etc. They’re proud of it – or at least as far as I could tell.

    I guess I’m letting these thoughts roll down onto paper because it seems to have some relevance to the discussion about Frankfurt and the present ballet company’s place there. I use ‘Ballet Company’ rather than ‘Forsythe’ deliberately because I feel that it is the company as a whole, almost more than the choreographer himself who is really in jeopardy. Forsythe, will never be unemployed; of course, his ballet’s will continue to be performed all over the world, and I would think it very probable that some other institution/country will seize the opportunity to invite him to reside/work with them sooner or later. What does concern me, is the company of dancers and other collaborators that have come to work around him in Frankfurt. While the Germans may feel upset that there are not more German dancers employed in the company, they forget to think from the perspective of the dancers; most of them have given up their lives elsewhere, solely to dedicate themselves to their art (and furthering it with Forsythe). I mean it’s not as if Frankfurt is somewhere you’d make it your life’s ambition to reside otherwise is it?!! I would hazard a guess that Frankfurt has the best choice of dancers around the world – and I’m talking really good, experienced, versatile dancers – the sort we witnessed at the Sadler’s last year. I mean, whatever you think of the work, those dancers kick arse! And most of them have been in the top ballet companies – and chosen to go to Frankfurt. I don’t think it is just Forsythe himself that has done so much for art form of ballet, but also those he gathers around him – and I’m sure he’d agree. My point is, that this is something that Frankfurt should fight is everyway to keep; it is the best possible flag they could wave as the world goes further and further down the road of the European Community and general globalization. I can see Bruce’s point – we should thank them for paying for the company so far – but only insofar as it’s polite – and then they should say ‘oh it’s quite alright, do let us carry on’! I mean what are we apologizing for – that the art’s not worth it? Frankfurt have got one of the best examples of political correctness in the palm of their hand and they’re about to throw it to the wind. I just can’t believe it.

    This is turning out to be a long ‘note’ but there you go….

    I wanted to talk a little about the seeds that have been sown in Frankfurt. I think they’re also key – and something to be proud of. We are all aware that to keep ballet a living art form and not just a historic relic we need to find ways of bringing into the 21st century…I’m not going to go into that – we’ve heard it all before, but nevertheless it’s true and is another function the Ballet Frankfurt fulfill. There are not many choreographers being truly nurtured these days. In the contemporary world there is the catch phrase ‘mentoring’ but in ballet we don’t really know what that means. Most of us are just hopping from one commission to another – hoping it’ll turn out ok and will lead to more work. The best we can hope for from a commissioning director is a dinner after the show and a few suggestions about where they’d like you to go next. I’m not knocking that – if you get it you’re lucky and I appreciate the interest very much. Having said that – imagine being nurtured by a truly great choreographer. I mean, that’s how people in traditional arts and crafts learnt things isn’t it? It’s logical. Sadly, I can’t apply to be mentored by Macmillan, or Ashton, or Tudor, or Balanchine, or Robbins…. In fact, as a developing ballet choreographer, where could I go to have a chat, ask some questions – stay a while and learn? I’m being a bit dry because we know the answer – the question gets boring, but to say it again – there’s really only Forsythe, Kylian, and Ek…..sorry if I’m missing someone out but I know there aren’t many.

    Of course, there’s nothing that says a choreographer has to nurture others… it just happens that Forsythe does. We may not know about it so much over here – but you remember Jacopo Godani; he made a piece for the RB a few years back for the Linbury. Well he was a Frankfurt export – and jolly well he’s doing too, with commissions coming out of his ears. And there are others. I’m not saying that we want/need lots of wannabe Forsythes creating all over the world, but the point is that he’s helping them. I don’t consider my style to be particularly Forsythian, but I’m extremely interested in how he works, have eagerly studied his CD Rom and would leap at the chance to hang out with him for a while!


    Just wanted to point out the irony – we get so bogged down over here with being politically correct and sharing almost everything we get money to do through education events, talks, feedback sessions etc. Forsythe must be the most PC person in dance – I’m amazed by how generous he is with his work, letting everyone in on his various formula, but look where it’s got him!

    Anyway, I think I’ve written enough for now. To summarize, I wanted to say – think of those wonderful dancers who have come from all over the world to actually push this art form. Think of the other collaborators. Think of the future shape of the world. The arts don’t always have to be what people want – they should bring pleasure but also lead, teach, question and define the way we live. I won’t end negatively and criticize the proposed ‘answer to dance’ in Frankfurt – I really don’t think it’s necessary – but I would say that Frankfurt should be very proud of what they have done and fight to the end to be able to continue doing it


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    Brendan McCarthymoderator

    03-06-02, 02:10 PM (GMT)
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    48. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #47
     
       LAST EDITED ON 03-06-02 AT 04:09 PM (GMT)

    I've seen Richard Wherlock work with dancers from Ballett Basel, where he is now. Cathy's indignation at the disbandment of the company in Luzern is all too easy to understand.

    Cathy also gives us a useful insight into opera house politics, and one which may be a key to events in Frankfurt. We're trying to glimpse events there througn an enormous fog, but as I understand it, Ballett Frankfurt is no longer part of the Opera, and no longer enjoys, as once it did, the protection of a powerful Intendant.

    While it did work to an Intendant, presumably that person navigated the shoals of Frankfurt's city politics, leaving Forsythe to get on with his creativity. Once he moved his company into the smaller space of the TAT, as I understand it, Forsythe was on his own. Someone correct me on this, if I am wrong.

    Presumably the City Treasurer is indifferent as to where he finds savings from the arts budget, as long as the figures add up in the end. I am guessing that the Opera (as Angela pointed out, not a notably distinguished company) played a rather deft hand, protecting itself from cuts, and, that Ballett Frankfurt seemed a soft target by contrast.


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    AnnWilliams

    03-06-02, 02:17 PM (GMT)
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    49. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #47
     
       Cathy, that was a wonderful posting and has given us all a lot to think about.

    Bruce, I agree wholeheartedly with all the points made in your last two postings. I was as indignant as anyone else when the news of the proposed closure of Ballett Frankfurt first broke last week, but have become increasingly uneasy at the way the Frankfurt city council has been demonised for its supposed cultural philistinism, because, the more I sift through the various newspaper reports and postings here and elsewhere, the more convinced I become that this whole issue is primarily one of finance and has little to do with either cultural conservatism or hostility towards Forsythe. The following brief extract, taken from a posting made by Brendan today, probably says it all: 'Much of the pressure to close the company is coming from the City's Treasurer, Horst Hemzal of the Christian Democrats'.

    Quite. Perhaps I've missed something, but I have seen no hard evidence that this issue has anything to do with anything other than finance.


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    Brendan McCarthymoderator

    03-06-02, 04:52 PM (GMT)
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    50. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #49
     
       LAST EDITED ON 03-06-02 AT 04:57 PM (GMT)

    The German Press Agency, DPA has reported that there was a "good and constructive atmosphere" at this morning's talks between William Forsythe and the Mayor of Frankfurt, Petra Roth. The two sides are now discussing a basis on which Forsythe and Ballett Frankfurt can remain in the city. The city treasurer, Horst Hemzal, attended the talks, as did the culture chairman Hans-Bernhard Nordhoff.


    This commentary from the Frankfurter Neue Presse appeared before the formal announcement of progress at the talks. The writer anticpiated that the Mayor would be forced to backtrack.

    Frankfurt city council has done it again. Its management of its finances is rudderless and inept. The debate over Forsythe is a case in point. Not only has the city's good name been dragged through the mud internationally, but it now has a reputation for insensitivity towards highly regarded creative artists, who deserve better. And it is beginning to appear as if the proposals were not discussed widely within the ruling group in the first place, still less thought through properly.

    Instead of denying immediately that there was any truth in the rumour that Forsythe's contract would be ended, the idea was, in effect, talked up and misinformation to feed on itself. There was complete chaos and no co-ordination. Now it's all a matter of damage limitation, and undoing the harm to the city's name abroad. Now for the next big gaffe.....


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    Brendan McCarthymoderator

    03-06-02, 05:03 PM (GMT)
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    51. "RE: Ballett Frankfurt"
    In response to message #50
     
       As this thread is now very long, and we have reached a natural break-point with the news of Ballett Frankfurt's apparent reprieve, new contributions should be posted on the following thread


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