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National Ballet of Canada - Autumn 2009
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Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:20 am ]
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The NBoC finally got that large boost of testosterone they were looking for from Deutschland in the form of Stuttgart Ballet’s Jiri Jelinek. Let’s hope he doesn’t get homesick for Strudel like what’s his name, Jason Reilly!

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Jiri's strong, dramatic stage presence will be a great addition to the company," artistic director Karen Kain said in a statement. "I am delighted that he will be joining the company in the new year."


We don’t have to worry about a headline dancer for Onegin, as Jelinek is well versed in the role as well as much of the Cranko repertoire. I’m sure he will have a big impact both on the stage and the box office. This also rejuvenates interest in the company when things were getting a tad stale.

Author:  Millie [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 9:02 am ]
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What's wrong with Canadians? I think there are some amazingly talented men who could be promoted from within the company to principal status.

Has anyone else noticed that KK has been on an international buying spree? She has been favoring dancers from Houston, San Francisco, Stuttgart. What is the point of having NBS as a training ground if she is not willing to nurture local talent, which is considerable.

Oh, I know, it is headline grabbing, and immediate ticket box gratification, to bring in dancers from abroad. But is she serving the best interest of the arts in Canada when she does this? Why are promising Canadians having to go abroad to dance?

I know that some will think it is exciting to have an "international" company on our doorsteps, but I would like to nurture a debate on whether this is really in the best interest for the arts here.

I have no problem with some talented dancers coming to NBC but am wondering at the recent trend at the expense of the company members who have workes so hard here. :(

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:45 am ]
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Hi Millie, I see your pointe and welcome
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“debate on whether this is really in the best interest for the arts here.”


Aleksandar Antonijevic is getting very close to retirement age, Piotr Stanczyk is a fine dancer but I enjoy him more in a supporting role, and Keiichi Hirano has not developed his character skills to make the move up to principal from my view of the stage. That leaves us with 2 real principals in Guillaume Côté and Zdenek Konvalina.

Can the National afford to charge $20 to $210 for a seat to watch a principal who is not ready to dance in the role? The answer to that question has to be “no.”

As for Jiri Jelinek being Czech dancing in Germany and now Canada, I’m all for it! If he can dance anywhere close to how Otto & Maria Jelinek could skate, Mrs. K pulled off some splendid immigration here! From my view of the stage this was a bold move that was needed.

I wonder if Jiri and Otto are related :?:

Author:  Keira99 [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:56 am ]
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I'm assuming Jelinek is a common name, but it did make me think of Maria and Otto as well. (I'm a huge skating fan.)

Millie, you do make a good point. I have to admit I'm excited to see a new principal, though. I'm not sure if anyone else currently in the company has the necessary firepower (for lack of a better word) right now to step up to that role.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:35 pm ]
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Thanks for chiming in Keira99! The free agent signing of Jiri Jelinek has already reaped dividends bringing Millie out of CD hibernation to reach 11 posts and creating a veritable flurry of activity on CD with more to come I’m sure very soon from Kate!!

If Mrs. K had the home grown talent to showcase, I’m sure she would. It’s not like you can go to your local grocery store to pick up a top talent like Jelinek. The fact is there are always going to be a disproportionate number of females to males in this part of the ballet world until more people support and appreciate the arts plus until, I suspect, the myth that all male dancers play for the other team (not that there is anything wrong with that) comes to an end.

Canada is hockey country where the Archie Bunker of the Airwaves, Don Cherry, rules. Most parents would rather have their son become a hockey player with the promise of making millions in salary. If you’re very lucky, you’ll pull in 100k per year as a male principal. Not many parents can afford to have their son attend the National Ballet School of Canada. I’m happy to see a new face and I’m sure he will be very welcome both by fans and the company. It’s always good to see new technique along with someone who has experienced a different culture. Jelinek may serve as a mentor to tap some of the talent that is not quite ready for principal status.

Author:  Millie [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 2:57 pm ]
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I have nothing against Mr. Jelinek. In truth, I have never heard of him until today. I am sure he is a fine dancer. I also agree that there is a need for more male principal dancers at NBC. Some will soon retire and I suspect that some may leave for greener pastures sooner than later.

I would like to see Keiichi Hirano, or Richard Landry or Etienne Lavigne given opportunities as I feel that they have worked hard and put in their time.

I am sure that there was more to the story of Jason Reilly electing to stay in Stuttgart than a longing for more strudel.

But to get back to my contention of KK favoring international imports. Has anyone else noticed that this year 60% of the apprentices are neither Canadians or Canadian trained? Most recent corps hires have also been from away. I think there is more to this than Canadian hockey. After all, other countires have soccer enthusiasm to deal with. Is it a national lack of talent? Is it lack of excellent local training? I doubt it. Is it a preference for a style not taught here?

It is next to impossible for a young Canadian ballet dancer to be hired in the US due to their immigration and green card protectionist policies. Many American companies will not even look at Canadian dancers in their auditions due to the cost and difficulty of employing them. Is it then fair that our national company imports from abroad?

I believe that there used to be a comment on the NBC audition page about preference being given to Canadians in hiring. I could not find it today and I can not clearly recall the wording that used to be there. Can anyone remember that, and if so has the policy changed? I admit I may not recall acurately.

Please be assured that I enjoy these new dancers and I am sure they are all very talented. Nothing personal intended in my observations. I just wonder if anyone else has noticed the trend, and what they think. :?:

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:13 pm ]
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Quote:
I would like to see Keiichi Hirano, or Richard Landry or Etienne Lavigne given opportunities as I feel that they have worked hard and put in their time.


From my view of the stage, Keiichi Hirano possesses the most talent to make the big move to principal.

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I am sure that there was more to the story of Jason Reilly electing to stay in Stuttgart than a longing for more strudel.


What could be more important in life than strudel? It's delicious, blonde, and makes your tummy happy!

Image

Quote:
I believe that there used to be a comment on the NBC audition page about preference being given to Canadians in hiring. I could not find it today and I can not clearly recall the wording that used to be there.


I don`t follow NBS and hence could not comment on their choice of apprentices. I haven`t noticed the preference for Canadian-Made on the website but can appreciate the sentiment given the amount of Canadian $ poured into NBS and the NBoC. Obviously, it must have been removed because of HR. I don`t believe it is politically correct to make public a preference towards a nationality. You can be sure that all things being equal, a Canadian would get the nod over a foreigner.

Author:  mom2 [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:13 pm ]
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I have been away from the computer today - wow, what a discussion!!

I have to agree that Millie has a point(e). There are a number of men in the corps who have been there for a while, have done fairly well (that is, enjoyed some solist casting) - but who have not been promoted. James Leja is a case in point - he danced a wonderful Puss N Boots last weekened, and was also one of the suitors in the First Act. Aarik Wells is a second case. Thankfully there have been other men (such as Robert Stephen and Noah Long) who have been promoted.

Recently we have seen Canadian and NBS-trained men leave the apprentice ranks to perform internationally (James Clark and Bryant Steenstra for example), or with other Canadian companies (Mark Dennis I believe is one; currently with Alberta Ballet). Of the current male apprentices, only one out of the 5 is Canadian; he is also the only one of the 5 who trained in Canada. Are the others talented? I'm sure they are! The issue for me here is that NBS consistently markets itself as world class and a step above...if this is case why do we not see a higher percentage of former NBS students in the ranks of NBOC???

Hmm.

Author:  Keira99 [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:20 pm ]
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Quote:
From my view of the stage, Keiichi Hirano possesses the most talent to make the big move to principal.


I agree. Richard Landry just doesn't have the stage presence to be a principal, in my opinion. It's not that he isn't a fine dancer, but he lacks that je ne sais quoi.

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James Leja is a case in point - he danced a wonderful Puss N Boots last weekened, and was also one of the suitors in the First Act.


James Leja has always stood out to me, and I do hope to see him promoted soon.

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The issue for me here is that NBS consistently markets itself as world class and a step above...if this is case why do we not see a higher percentage of former NBS students in the ranks of NBOC???


Great question! I'd love to know how Karen Kain would respond.

Author:  Millie [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:46 pm ]
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I don`t follow NBS and hence could not comment on their choice of apprentices.

The apprentices ARE National Ballet of Canada company apprentices. They dance with the company, and KK is responsible for choosing them. Some have trained at the school, but alas, too few of them this year.

(Sorry, I might not have been able to quote Michael correctly on the format.)

Also, in my comments I am talking about both male and female dancers.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:25 pm ]
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In regards to the apprentices, I realize they are with the National-Thing is my focus is certainly not on them when I watch ballet. To be honest with you, I hardly ever notice them. I assume they do dance here and there but assume not much. I’m not qualified to comment as to the quantity. I don’t follow NBS who dance in some galas throughout the year. Perhaps you could gleam some potential by watching them in class?

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:32 pm ]
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I guarantee you Michael Crabb and Paula Citron will sing the praises of this signing by Mrs. K. No doubt you will read an interview in the coming weeks. This is the biggest news we’ve had since O’Reilly signed, tasted Canada, and then returned for Deutschland.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:47 am ]
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Googling, I unearthed some interesting you tubes of the man who has inspired so much activity on CD: Jiri Jelinek! After viewing these you tubes, I’m sure Mille will see the light and sing the praises of Mrs. K and shout bravo at the top of her lungs for Mr. Jelinek’s 1st NBoC performance!! You will fall under his ballerino magnetism and welcome this Czech born Stuttgart dancer with open arms!!! All hail Jiri Jelinek!!!

He’s created so much CD buzz; Kate has yet to post a comment. I believe she has been overwhelmed from all the excitement or perhaps she fell into a deep Czech daydream?
Image

Author:  Keira99 [ Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:33 am ]
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Michael you do have a way with words! And links. ;) Thanks for those, I look forward to watching.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:16 pm ]
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Thanks for the kudos Keira. The National Ballet of Canada is dominating the press this week! Check out this news breaking story by Rita Zekas confirming what I’ve long suspected: (a) Dancers actually where their tutus out of the theatre and (b) Sonia Rodriguez is in fact, the Sugar Plum Fairy!

In other news, the Toronto Star talks to Aszure Barton about her new ballet, Watch Her.

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“Rather than construct a new work in her head and then recruit a group of dancers to embody that vision – the normal route to the stage for a new ballet – Barton has approached this particular project from the opposite direction.

"Day one, I made it clear to the dancers that it was about us," she says. "It's about everyone equally."

Instead of telling them what she wanted them to do, she began by asking the dancers – individually or in small groups – to move in ways they found most natural. Watch Her is the extension of that initial idea.”

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