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 Post subject: Newspaper Critique of the Company and the School
PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3394
Location: Canada
Unfortunately, it appears that one of the Copenhagen free daily papers - the Nyhedsavisen - has published a series of articles quite critical of the company and the ballet school.

My Danish is not yet good enough to understand some of the finer points and to completely assess the tone of the articles, but my estimation of the whole kerfuffle is that is was a combination of a paper that needed a good story to fill some space, a writer with little to no experience with the dance world and a former student of the school, who may or may not have had an 'axe to grind'. [The paper, I believe, has not published reviews of the company before.]

The article seems to rehash old stories about ballet companies and ballet schools, in that ballet school students lives tend to be very focused on ballet and that there is a relatively high rate of injuries among dancers. In fact the article about dancer injuries recounts two stories from the Royal Ballet in London.

I can't speak as to the experiences of the former student interviewed, a young man who apparently was at the school for 8 years, but it sounds a bit like what we would call 'sour grapes'. He apparently left the school of his own volition at 18 (?), but it is not clear whether he was on track for an apprenticeship or not, nor whether there might have been circumstances as to family or academic problems or other issues that would have affected his education both balletic and scholastic. It is also not clear when the gentleman in question was at the school, which is important, because it is my understanding that especially since 1996 there have been great improvements in the academic part of the school.

Neither the company or the school have responded directly to the article, though Louise Midjord as the dancers' representative wrote a short letter to the newspaper expressing that the articles assertations seemed lucridous and far from the truth. The company has however posted in the news release section a series of responses to questions from the government session addressing the issues that the articles raised. The responses seem to refute an allegations.

Whilst I am by no means an expert on the issues, my impressions from over three months observation of the company in the past few years, is that there are no systematic problems. There are injuries and issues like with any other company, but it seems like a supportive atmosphere.

I've heard nothing but praise about the school from the dancers, and the students I've encountered have been very polite, full of energy and prone to the same highjinks as all other children. Frankly, I think the system of an special academic school is far superior to the piece-meal system that many US ballet students have to endure.

The RDBS students have their own school in the building, which is part of and administered by a well known school in Copenhagen, M. Zahles School. As there are only abotuu 70 students in the school, the children have very small classes and plenty of personal attention to help the catch up when they have rehearsal or performances. They also are exposed to the other art forms in the theatre, and must prepare for the exam to enter gymnasium (school before university) in case they are not accepted as apprentices. To me this seems a far better system than in most of the US where students must do independent study or commute to specialty schools, which do not have direct connections to the ballet school.

I think it is a shame that the paper had to drag out old news and create a story out of nothing. I feel for the former student who is quoted, but surely there are better ways to address his clear issues and those possibly of others than to air them in a poorly written newspaper story.

The articles and many responses (all in Danish) can be found here

Also in Danish, are the company's responses to the government committee's questions here

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