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Subject: "MG's" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2865
Reading Topic #2865

06-07-02, 07:54 AM (GMT)
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   No, not sports cars but “Mature Groups”.

A number of dance groups exist ( and more are proposed ) in which the majority of performers are past the age when normal convention suggests they should be aiming to do something else. Perhaps it might be helpful to consider the broad issues involved.

Such a group can be a separately managed and independently financed entity, or it can have some kind of departmental existence within a larger company. Umpteen different variants of the latter are possible, but a clear understanding is required on all those practical issues like managerial accountability, apportionment of costs, utilisation of artists, etc. ( a veritable minefield. )

So why set up such a group in the first place? Assuming that the provision of work for unemployed artists is not the aim, then it must be that these more mature artists have something special to offer.

Most certainly they do. It is precisely their maturity of artistry that we seek to utilise, but what kind of work is likely to make best use of that? This screams “Narrative Ballet” to me. The sort of smaller scale work that I earlier suggested ( in the “Narrative or No” thread ) might be less than ideal for a large classical company. While some less technically challenging work from the neo-classical genre may also be possible, that can be done elsewhere anyway. The fact that most existing groups of this kind are of the neo-classical variety beggars belief.

The implications for the participating artists ( and responsible managers ) are considerable. An artist that was previously considering starting a new career at 40 may find fewer options later in life. Other boring issues like pension provision, long term health, and accident cover come to mind. While artists may be free to make their own decisions, managers have responsibilities to ensure that the options are viable, and that all the implications are fully understood. I worry that some may be persuaded to put off an important change of career, and live to regret it later.

If you are going to promote such a group, it would be well to have a reasonable repertory available at the start, and a good idea who is going to create new work. It would be pretty stupid to create such a group, and then try and work out what to do with it afterwards.

Finally, and crucially, will there be enough demand for the group’s work, or is the group going to be attempting to force a niche in an already overloaded market?

Any director of a major company must be satisfied the the “core business” is totally satisfactory before considering any digressions that might draw essential managerial, creative and other resources away from the achievement of the main objective. Few are likely to be in that enviable position.

I want to remember dancers at the height of their physical and artistic glory. Surely they would prefer that too.

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