slhogan

Question about Sarasota Ballet

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I have been researching various ballet companies. (I realized I knew very little about the world of ballet companies other than my local company)

 

Looking at Sarasota Ballet, I see that they have 50 dancers, making them one of the largest of the 30 companies I've looked at. On the other hand, they have only 28 performances scheduled for this season, which is one of the least busy performance seasons of the 30 companies.

 

Large company + few performances = ?

 

Is anyone familiar with Sarasota Ballet who can explain this to me. The only thing I can think of is perhaps the dancers are employed only part-time.

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By 28 performances are you meaning 28 performance dates? If that is what you're asking, the amount of performance dates will be a budgetary decision on how to best present the company while still making sure to make a profit per show. DD's company is able to balance this because their performing arts center has more than one theatre within. But a smaller company with one theatre choice, may have to perform less dates in order to insure profit per run. Look to find the company budget versus a larger company that does more show dates and this question might be answered.

 

Or were you meaning it's a 28 week contract? The information I found shows a 34 week contract which is why I thought you were discussing actual performance dates. But here is an article that outlines some of the journey Webb has had in re-inventing Sarasota Ballet with information about dancer pay at that time. This article might explain some of the questions you are pondering. Seven productions over 34 weeks is pretty average for companies with a smaller budget.

 

Pointe Magazine article-Sarasota Ballet

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Sarasota Ballet is thriving. An excellent mid-range company. One for all to consider, although there are very few openings. They have just opened a 2nd company as well.

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Thanks for the article link. I will check it out. I have heard good things about Sarasota, and I did see their 2nd company.

By 28, I mean performances. That is, I looked at their website and counted the number of performances for which they were selling tickets.

 

I'm a number-cruncher sort of person, and I had made a spreadsheet with things like the number of dancers in the company, the number of weeks in their contract, the number of performances, etc. Sarasota was an outlier on my spreadsheet. The other companies with around 50 dancers on the roster had 70+ performances. The other companies that had 25-30 performances had less than 30 dancers on the roster. I was just wondering why Sarasota was an outlier. Performances generate revenue, so I was curious how a smallish number of performances was able to pay the salaries of one of the largest (in terms of number of dancers) companies in the US.

 

Sarasota isn't an AGMA company, so I haven't been able to find an employment contract online. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps some of the Sarasota dancers listed on the roster might be part-time dancers. If they are all fully-employed by the company, then Sarasota dancers must have very low salaries, their ticket prices must be very high, or they are well endowed. (perhaps I should add ticket prices to my research spreadsheet...)

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There is no 2nd company. There are paid apprentices and 4 trainees who get to perform with the company.

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I must have misunderstood. What is this new program headed by Patricia Strauss?

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We probably should start a newer thread to discuss researching in this manner. It is too good a current conversation to be lost in the Sarasota specific thread. I will add it here.

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There is no new program. A couple of new teachers were hired.

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Thank you. I must have misunderstood.

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Regarding 2nd Company-- I was just assuming their "Trainee" program was their equivalent of a 2nd company.

 

Regarding number of dancers vs. number of performances-- I checked out the financial statements as suggested. I compared Sarasota Ballet to a few companies that had similar numbers of dancers on the roster and similar number of performances. Here's a basic comparison:

 

  • Sarasota Ballet (50 dancers, 28 performances) Net Assets= approx. $6,000,000
  • Cincinatti Ballet (23 dancers, 26 performances) Net Assets= approx. $6,000,000
  • Houston Ballet (49 dancers, 76 performances) Net Assets= approx. $119,000,000

It doesn't really answer the question of how Sarasota can possibly support such a huge roster. With a budget about the same size as Cincinatti, I would expect a roster about that size too.

 

Oh well. It will remain a mystery. If anyone familiar with Sarasota can solve the mystery for me, I would love to learn the answer. In the meanwhile, I'll just let it go. I wasn't trying to obsess over such a small detail. I just tend to get curious when something jumps out at me as being different from the general pattern.

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Thanks for that info, learningdance :)

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Another really great resource for learning about the business side of ballet is the very thorough book Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear. It was eye-opening for me.

 

I guess I also think that we need our kids to lead the charge in examining all this stuff. They need to know about their industry. Mine is currently too young to get a whole lot of this but I will start to talk about it.

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With a budget about the same size as Cincinatti, I would expect a roster about that size too.

 

It may be that Cincinnatti has fewer dancers but spends more money on scholarships for their students, community outreach programs, marketing, shoes, etc. Also, the number of performances could be related to the theatre's capacity. A smaller theatre that seats 1200 people will necessitate more performances than a larger one that seats 2,000 but the net revenue could be the same.

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