We've had various discussions on this subject before. When someone has time, perhaps he or she can link to those topics.
However, let me say that I agree with Ari that this is not only a very difficult exercise but also a very dangerous one.
First, here are some reasons why it's difficult:
- Tastes vary. You may like full-length story ballets and hence companies that perform only those types of ballets. Well, I think companies that limit themselves to classical ballets and not push the envelope are hurting the artform.
- Styles vary. Vaganova, Balanchine, Tudor. Need I say more?
- Production values matter. One may like flamboyant productions with megastars. I think any company that has to depend on theatricality and superstars tend to be limited in true talent.
- Size matters, maybe. Big companies enjoy attention. However, some small companies pack a lot of talent into every single production.
- Geography could be a factor. A company in a region with a strong ballet-oriented community will eventually be inspired to shape up, no matter how low the resources.
- What about schools? Famous dancer = great teacher? Nope. History has proven otherwise. Lots of students graduated into professional corps dancers = good school? Nope, not necessarily. That could just mean a factory for mediocre dancers.
- Why do you want to do it? Do you care if your breakfast cereal is ranked? Or type of paper you write on? Would it make sense for me to rank heavyweight glossy cardstock as the No. 1 type of paper? Well, no, because that type of paper is not only not practical for most people's needs but may actually be useless.
Now, why is it dangerous? Here's why:
- A single group's taste can dictate what everyone else sees. Would you be happy if because of my ranking system, companies then perform only the most avant-garde works by unknown choreographers?
- A ranking system can impede growth because it will make it even more difficult for newer companies to take root in your hometown, with "ballet power" consolidated within only a handful of artistic directors in a few select cities.
- A ranking system can also impede innovation because it has a habit of rewarding those already at the top -- as long as they keep doing what they're doing and don't try new things, they'll stay at the top.
Now, however, ranking by size, revenue, audience figures, number of productions, number of new works, or other tangible figures, is a different story and may actually be helpful in some cases if used in the right way.
For example, I've always wanted to start a funding group that gives incentives to small companies to not compromise: companies under 20 dancers, with revenues under $1M, with 15% new works each year half of which by choreographers with fewer than two prior ballets, and at least one post-performance talk with the choreographer for each new work.
That funding organization would also have a system penalizing companies that have a few megastars and a mediocre corps: companies with 5% of dancers performing all principal roles, a corps with an average full professional experience of under 5 years, more than 25% of artist salary concentrated in under 10% of dancers, and more than 33% of principals hired from outside the company. You will be surprised at how many so-called major companies qualify for this penalty...
<small>[ 23 October 2004, 11:06 PM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>