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 Post subject: We Don't Hate Stern Grove
PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:23 pm 
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Although it may not be my favorite performance of the year; the reason SFB is not dancing in Stern Grove this summer is due to our large work load in preparation for the America tour.

We didn't rebel! :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:03 pm 
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Location: Petaluma, California
Regarding the dancers "hating that gig", I actually enjoyed performing at the Grove. The conditions weren't the greatest (better now than when I was dancing), but the setting is just so beautiful to dance in that it was worth some inconvience. And the audience was always so appreciative...


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:50 pm 
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Depends on who you talked to and when.

I actually figured it was a scheduling/ touring thing. It usually is. Most explanations in the arts are much more mundane than the general public thinks.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:17 pm 
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I would hate to think SFB dancers "hate" Stern Grove. I agree the stage is not of the quality of the Opera House, and yes the rude idiots who parade back and forth in front of the rest of the audience during performances always make me wish I did not believe in interpersonal violence. BUT they always packed the place and got a great reception. And they always seemed to dance great there. For me, for many years, it was the ONLY place I could see SFB dance, until I met someone in the ticket office who could and would make arrangements for me with my special needs to see them at the Opera House. This was where I first saw Muriel Maffre, Yuan Yuan Tan, Pierre Francois Vilanoba, Gonzalo Garcia, Frances Chung, Vanessa Zahorian, Julie Diana and other past and present SFB dancers with whom I fell in love (dance-wise, of course). It was where I discovered I actually liked Four Temperaments, which I hated on video. Where Swan Lake looked so magnificent with dazzling white costumes in the sunlight.

It was always the first thing on my calendar ever summer, even if I had a conflict I went to Stern Grove instead of to whatever the other event was.

I was very disappointed to see SFB not performing at Stern Grove this year but figured there were scheduling conflicts. I truly hope that the story of them "hating" Stern Grove is just rumor or maybe just a few dancers. Because it will be hard for me to enjoy a performance if I think the dancers are miserable.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:03 am 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
It's the weather that could be a problem. When it dropped below 70 the had to cancel, because it wasn't safe for the dancers to perform in such cold. That's what they hated. Not necessarily the event itself.

When I worked at the opera and we did Stern Grove, we all knew that week would be a tough one. Lots of dirt and unpredictable weather. It's like camping.


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 Post subject: SFB gets a bad rap
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:52 pm 
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So what does everyone this of the article in SF Weekly?

http://www.sfweekly.com/2008-07-23/news ... and-tutus/

Although much of what is said is true, I think it was incredibly bias. In my humble opinion this man did more harm that help.
I wonder what his motivation was???


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:37 pm 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Kudos to the writer, Joe Eskenazi, for a brilliant, thought provoking piece of well-written journalism! Bias, I don’t think so. The theme of the article was safety at the workplace and a behind the scenes look at the reality of the ballet world.

I don’t believe he did more harm than good. Anybody reading this article will certainly appreciate the fleeting moments of beauty, grace, and truth dancers create on stage even more.

As for the writer’s motivation, I believe it was to paint a picture of the real world of ballet in the mind’s eye of the reader. In a word: TRUTH.

Below are the parts that stuck in my mind’s eye.

Quote:
"I knew one dancer who fractured his tibia on stage and it sounded like a rifle shot."

"I had one friend who for three years took two aspirin right before he went on stage. In the end he had an ulcer burst in a performance. He was losing blood while performing a very difficult 25-minute pas de deux."

…One male corps dancer told SF Weekly that when he partially tore the rotator cuff in his shoulder, he had the problem diagnosed and then rehabilitated himself at outside facilities, on his own dime, rather than let management know he was hurting.

...Spotlighting a three-year period in the 1990s, an analysis he co-wrote for the same journal documented 104 San Francisco Ballet dancers sustaining 309 significant injuries, six of which ended the dancers' careers. Garrick's definition of the word "injury" was limited to those requiring expenditures for outside medical care; he estimates that including the injuries treated by in-house doctors would have doubled the total.


* If dancers are indeed being pressured to perform and risk serious injury, those that fund the ballet, their union, along with government need to investigate these claims.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:43 am 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Wow! I can’t believe no one else has replied to the latest post for the exception of Michael Goldbarth all the way from Canada! :shock:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:05 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
I think I'm just in shock from the article... None of this is surprising to me, except that it's in print.

On a side note, I've been going to Active Care for the past few months for pre-op rehab and now post-op, and the staff really know their stuff. I'm rooting for Julianne (and every other rehabbing dancer out there).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:39 pm 
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Location: Petaluma, California
The way in which the information is presented is somewhat "sensational", but basically this is what professional dancers have to deal with. Although I danced at a different time (actually, the author of the article called to interview me but realized after speaking with me that I hadn't worked under Mr. Tomasson...he was looking for dancers from 1986 on...), I always felt slightly pressured to come back from an injury sooner that I should. I think that dancers feel pressured in their own minds about being off with injuries because they don't want to appear injury prone as this could affect their careers and casting. So, they might tend to come back a bit too soon even without any direct feedback from management. My husband, who also danced with SFB, was told he would be let go if he didn't come back to work after a certain date after major knee surgery. My husband learned to do double tours pushing off from one leg for a while! So, even though today there seems to be more concern for dancer health, I wonder if things have really changed all that much...


Last edited by Gina Ness on Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:48 pm 
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I didn’t think this topic would generate a lot of responses because of the sensitive nature of the issues. Many thanks to RaHir and Gina for sharing their experiences. I think it important to realize that many professional athletes also compete while injured and risk suffering long term injuries that will have serious repercussions later in life. Of course, professional athletes make a lot more do-re-mi than dancers!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 1:16 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
OK, I totally missed this topic. Maybe because I've been in the midst of tech week.

I agree that none of this information comes as a surprise to anyone whose worked proessionally in the dance world or trained at a high level. Injuries are a fact of life when you use your body the way dancer do. I think a lot of the pressure comes from dancers themselves, but there are of course many stories like the one Gina told about her husband. Having been on both sides of the issue, I think there needs to be an understanding reached between a dancer and his employer that involves doctor's examinations and PT evaluations. So often the "plans" do not. The non-medical entities will always make assumptions based on no medical fact and that, I think, is what leads to many problems. This is all opinion based on observation only. Do not think I speak in any expert capacity.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:28 am 
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A non-dancer, I found the article interesting, informative, and a little sad. Because, you know, strip away the glitch and ballet is a business like any other and dancers are workers like any other. Really, why should I have expected differently?

Everything they say, I or those whom I know have also done. Hide injuries for fear of retaliation. Pay for our own treatment rather than navigate the workers comp system (which the Governor and compliant legislature decided a few years back was not screwing workers enough, so they made it even more impossible to get treatment and benefits). Don't speak about dangerous conditions, because you'll be branded a trouble maker and "not a team player". So Julianne Kepley felt she could not make a fuss about a skirt too long for her safety. And when you are no longer useful, you get discarded like a used kleenex. Like Jason Davis, fired by form letter after ten years. There is no nice way to take away someone's livelihood, but there are exceptionally nasty ones. And a form letter is pretty nasty.

I found it interesting that ballet is listed as more dangerous than pro football (and bullfighting). I am a sports fan and I have observed in the last 10-15 years a huge advance in sports medicine, both treatment and even more so prevention. A lot of research has gone into making pro sports less physically damaging to athletes. In the 1970s a pro athlete past 30 was rare, now it's common and you even see some past 35, even an occasional 40-year-old. I think a lot has to do with economics. An elite pro athlete in major (male) sports represents an investment of millions of dollars. Contracts, often guaranteed, of $10, $20, even $50 or $100 million. No owner wants to shell out that kind of money to see the star sit out. So it's worth their while to invest in preventing or at least mitigating injuries.

But when Davis was thrown out on his ear, I'm certain there were a half dozen, at least, talented, capable, qualified, eager young male ballet students ready to do anything for a position in the corps. Ballet dancers don't represent such a huge investment, there are a lot more dancers than available positions, and that may make them more expendable. I also can't help thinking that, at least for women, the additional stress placed on their bodies by staying very thin, below their "natural" weight, make them more likely to suffer injuries. I don't know, I'm no doctor, but the more stress placed on one's body the harder it is to avoid or recover from inuries.

There is no simple solution. Athletes were also considered expendable until the huge popularity and TV revenues allowed at least the most elite of the elite to draw huge salaries, resulting in better conditions for all of them. I doubt ballet dancers would ever receive even the Major League minimum ($390,000 in 2008), but at least by supporting them, pushing for dance on TV and in communities, and defending their right to work as safely as possible, maybe, just maybe, we who support dance can do something to help?

Perhaps this belongs more as an issue thread than in SFB season thread?

Just my thoughts on the matter.


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 Post subject: Eskenazi has done us all a favour
PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:09 am 
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Location: Paris
Eskenazi has done us all a favour.

The situation is no different in any major company.

In an ideal world, one would say that classical dancing being a physical activity, one cannot entirely exclude the risk of injury due to fatigue, particularly to the ankle and knee that are intrinsically unstable joints.

But the ideal world appears ever-more distant. The real issue today is whether what is called "classical" dancing today, be in fact "classical"?

I think not.

Something that is unscientific, is ipso facto, unclassical.

And what we teach, at the moment, as "classical" dancing, is most unscientific.

We start,

1/ by selecting the hyper-lax (and therefore injury-prone) for the major academies, at age nine

2/ by seeking excessive degree of turn-out, taught from age nine - we have racked up the turnout by at least fifteen degrees since the 1950s.

But was the human body built for a 180 degree turnout? I think not.

3/ Balanchine technique, now almost universally taught -

This calls for displacing the centre of gravity forward over the ball of the foot, distorting alignment in the spine.

This calls for battement tendu (a fundamental movement), that does not go through the foot. Result: catastrophic crash-landings.

This calls for curling (hard-pointing) the foot both for men, and for women on pointe, which over-stretches the foot ligaments and hardens the calf muscle.

4/ Goleizosvski-style partnering that is now the norm, whether in Soviet-era choreography, Cranko, MacMillan, Neumeier or "the mods".

5/ Hyper-extension of the hip joint (the "six o'clock"), a movement that bespeaks FOLLY.

6/ Hyper-extension of the knee-joint - the over-taut, over-stretched, pushed-back knee in both men and women.

7/ Going over the shoe on pointe to get the "big arch" look, rather than remaining ramrod straight through the line of aplomb and lifting onto point gently against the heel.

8/ Insane, brutal, over-energised, so-called "sexy" choreography that SFB - and they are not alone - have made a speciality of.

I could go on, but is this enough?

And is a public whose taste and habits are now entirely dictated by Hollywood films and video games, willing to make the effort to use their little noggin, and enter the theatre to see an art form, rather than a hyped-up sex show?



Are we prepared to change what we teach? And take a scientific approach?

Or is man, as some in Eskenazi's article say, just MEAT?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:59 am 
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Well, Kanter, I don't go to movies (about once every 10 years) and don't watch video games so I am sure open to dance that does not kill the dancers.


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