I picked up the winter edition of Dance International
and grinned from ear to ear as I read Michael Crabb’s story ‘Seeking Balance – Karen Kain takes on the most challenging role of her career.’
It appears Mr. Crabb is perhaps an ardent reader of my favorite writer, Michael Goldbarth.
Both Crabb and Goldbarth see eye-to-eye in the Princess Aurora/Carabosse split personality of Karen Kain. For your enjoyment I present a previous posting on June 26th
of this year by yours truly.
I winced when I heard NBoC chair David Banks introduce our new AD:“Please join me in welcoming the poster child for dance in Canada and our new artistic director, Karen Kain!”
Not just because I was hoping for someone else to assume the role but because of his choice of words: “Poster Child.” I know the term also has a more positive meaning but Karen Kain is a 54 year old WOMAN and far from a child. She’s about as soft as her name sounds! All this talk about “Canada’s Sweetheart” and “beloved” is a little much for anybody in the know to stomach. Her naïve little ballerina days have long been washed away by the sandcastles of time, battered feet, and a bad back. Karen Kain will be all business and no nonsense in her new role. Beware! Anybody who gets in her way will be paved over by her well greased political and PR machine! Speak against her and you might find yourself wearing cement pointe shoes at the bottom of Lake Ontario!
The below from Michael Crabb certainly confirms that Karen Kain is not made of sugar and spice and everything nice:
“…As for Kain, I’m not sure I’d use the word ‘ruthless,’ but anyone who mistakes her genial, good-humoured nature for softness had better watch out. Canada’s ballet sweetheart is no pushover. She may not be ruthless – although it won’t shock me if she turns out to be – but Kain can certainly be, by self-description, ferocious when the need arises.”
Later Mr. Crabb discussed Karen Kain’s revival of Sleeping Beauty...
“It was only later that I heard from a number of disgruntled dancers that during the revival process Kain had been ‘a perfect …’ You can guess the missing word. ‘She was never satisfied…’”
Michael Goldbarth provided a warning for James Kudelka:
…Note to Mr. K: Karen Kain has control of the purse strings. He knows this was coming from the time he assumed the role of AD. Now there will come a time when the words “no” will be stated empathically and he will have to accept it. There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s a SHE!
And so did Michael Crabb:
“Europe has never warmed to him and in New York, eyebrows head north if you drop the genius word. ‘Interesting,’ ‘imaginative’ and ‘provocative’ are perhaps more suitable adjectives…’”
I am reminded of the old saying, ‘Great Minds Think Alike!’
“Kudelka’s mixed bills had sold disastrously, and the decision to revive The Contract…also failed to draw the crowds.”
Karen Kain’s thoughts on James Kudelka:
“I have to make the relationship work. It’s part of the job.”
According to a Crabb insider, Karen Kain’s major function as Mr. K’s right hand woman was
A Crabb insider also said that Mr. K was not pleased with Mrs. K cutting 3 of his proposed ballets for 2005/2006.
Of course, Michael Crabb lacked that certain subtlety of Goldbarth’s prose:
Maybe Karen Kain is just what the National Ballet of Canada needs at this moment in its history. The last person you want in this job at this time is a “sweetheart.” If the National needs money or a favor I feel sorry for the politician who denies her. They will be publicly embarrassed. She’s done it before!
Of course, politics and the arts mix like oil and water. Rewind your memory back to November 25th of 1999 for The Political Nutcracker at Queen’s Park. Canada’s prima ballerina, Karen Kain, accompanied by Nutcrackers et Prince to do battle with the king of the rats! How fortunate for mike harris that his goon squad of dirty yellow tory bureaucRats were there to save him from the verbal beating he so richly deserved! I was rather surprised Karen, Prince Rex and her toy soldiers escaped a trip to the hoosegow for endangering the intellect of our premier.
And what an easy debating duck harris would be: “Each dollar The National Ballet of Canada receives from the Ontario Arts Council is matched by more than $9.00 in revenue from other sources. The Arts in Ontario generate over $10 billion in direct and indirect economic activity. Arts employment in Toronto exceeds that in manufacturing, transportation, business, and financial services combined.”
The above were “excerpts” from a letter distributed to ballet goers. Thousands signed, concerned that the $425,000 budget cut might stir Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty into the bottomless cesspool of harris’ Vision of Inhumanity. That’s what Karen et ballet guards wished to drop onto the anti-Santa’s (Unscramble Santa and you have harris’ real name) lap but alas me thinks it was busy with other national concerns: The only kind of dancing he understands. It shouldn’t come to a surprise that harris with his wonderful economy for vocabulary would be too afraid to duke it out verbally with an elegant, no nonsense debating pugilist the likes of a Karen Kain. A couple of snappy retorts by Kain and it would have been all over. Just think what would have happened had Karen à la Marie from The Nutcracker hurled her ballet slipper!
...Karen Kain will be as sweet as a triple sour apple martini! Anybody who believes different will be in for a nasty surprise!
…All of her dreams have come true. Some are naïve enough to believe Karen Kain to be a real sweetheart who only dreams sweet dreams. Reality is often more sour than sweet.
Mr. Crabb also touched upon the increased expense of moving to the Four Seasons.
“This will mean hiring additional dancers and enlarging the operating budget from $20 million to $23 million.”
Question: Why is it operating expenses are increasing by 15%, yet ticket prices are going up, up, up by 50%?
If the National Ballet of Canada is not careful, they could be put to sleep for 100 years! Who can afford to pay 50% more??