Ballerinamom2girls

"Poor" principal dancer?

32 posts in this topic

I also lend some credence to his declaration that he was treated like a child. I believe infantilization is rampant in the ballet world. Dancers are often called "boys" and "girls," instead of "men" and "women."  As I stated above, many are afraid to make waves, lest they be "punished."  Women are pressured to retain the body of a pre-pubescent. For certain vulnerable individuals, this may not provide the best atmosphere for developing emotional maturity. 

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I agree with VRS.  . .. His issues are mostly about a fractured family in addition to his quick fame. His family did not develop certain core values and he was susceptible.

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Moving from the Ukraine to London when he did must have been incredible culture shock and the ballet was completely different. Things that he felt confident in all of a sudden became, "no way. Not acceptable" The difference between Russian training and English training is like night and day. Absolutely nothing in his life made sense. Manners, customs, religion, language, how to achieve what he knew in ballet. Honestly, I have to applaud him for his achievements and his ability to circumvent the challenges in life.

Edited by vrsfanatic
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I am curious how much he was paid when he was a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet.  I read he recently had a show in London that he starred in along with Natalia Osipova, but it got quite poor reviews. 

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Considering the story is about a young man who had no previous experience in paying for his life, it all seems relative to me. His comparisons are almost nil. He never was an apprentice nor a corps member. I am sure there are statistics out there on what the "average" principal dancer with the RB makes . His salary is no one's business just as your salary is no one's business. I assure you, the most seasoned ballet teachers at the RBS and ABT make less than he did. The point is, he was a talented young man out of control, actually screaming for help. See the film and wish him well.

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This article was quite sensationalist and I think used mainly to generate publicity for the film Dancer.  (I haven't had the opportunity to see it yet).  The press seems to love alliteration, so Polunin will probably be stuck with the label "Bad Boy of Ballet" for a long time to come.

Certainly there was a big bust up, but I agree with both of VRS's posts.  He is an immensely talented young man who went through a difficult time but now has found people to help him and is re-establishing his reputation.  The Polunin Project at Sadlers Wells didn't succeed, but this was mainly because the works chosen/commissioned simply weren't that good.

Polunin has been appearing this month in Mayerling with the Stanislavsky ballet on tour in Munich and received excellent reviews.  Fences have been mended with the Royal Ballet, and it has just been announced that he will be dancing in Marguerite and Armand with Natalia Osipova in June at Covent Garden.

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When you bash a company and say they didn't pay you enough to be able to afford your own apartment, you're kind of asking for people to become curious about your salary, no?  I think it's a reasonable question.  

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22 hours ago, rosetwirl said:

On the other hand, if Polunin would have made the kind of money and had the kind of freedom he desired at the time, it could have been far worse, as demonstrated by many a Hollywood or rock star! 

Good point, Rosetwirl. :)  I wonder if anyone really knows what he was earning, and whether it was considerably less than other principal dancers, or, if perhaps just a lot less than he felt he should be earning?  

I agree with your points, vrs, and do wish him well!  

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I'm finding the speculation & judgement of a specific individual on this thread a bit uncomfortable. We none of us know other people's real circumstances, needs, and motivations. I've done a bit of searching - I can't find any documentation from Equity or the Arts Council about what RB salaries are, but here's an article from 3 years ago, about payment practices for freelancers at the ROH

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/11219593/Royal-Opera-House-in-dispute-with-dancers-over-pay.html

The Telegraph is a reputable (and quite Conservative-leaning) newspaper.

And here's a comment on that dispute from Article 19, which is an online industry magazine for professional dancers:

http://www.article19.co.uk/feature/how_much_is_a_dancer_worth.php

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Thank you Redbookish. I too have been uncomfortable with the level of speculation and judgement. The links you have provided are indeed interesting.

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Controversy serves him well, he's making money off the "bad boy of ballet" label.  Good for him.  I'm just not going to judge the RB (specifically the salary accusations), with no proof.  

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Thank you, Redbookish. Interesting article. I had no idea their base salaries were so low. :angry:

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Yes, thank you, Redbookish.  It's a disgrace that dancers are paid so little. :angry:

 

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This article isn't actually talking about the annual salaries paid to permanent dancers of the Royal Ballet, but to "freelance" dancers hired just to appear for a few Opera performances. So their contract would be for a few days or weeks at most.   Many years ago there was a small permanent group of dancers at Covent Garden who appeared in the Opera productions but it was disbanded long ago. 

In many major European Opera Houses the resident ballet company also provides dancers for the Opera performances.  However, in London this rarely happens.  I believe it was Ninette de Valois who insisted on the separation as she wanted the fledgling Royal Ballet to have its own identity.   The music for the ballet is often cut in Opera in Britain and so there are only a few divertissements left, which rarely involve dancers or choreographers from the main ballet company.  A notable exception was Frederick Ashton's choreography of Voices of Spring for a production of Die Fledermaus with Merle Park and Wayne Eagling dancing.  It was a send-up of the famous Bolshoi pas de deux Spring Waters, but has now entered the repertoire as a piece danced in many Galas.

 

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Yes, Doubleturn, you're absolutely right to point out that the articles I've linked to are about a specific dispute. I was trying to find the standard Equity rates for RB dancers, but that's all I could come up with. So I might be guilty of misdirecting the conversation.

That said, I'm still uncomfortable with some aspects of the discussion on this thread - I think it comes close to gossip/hearsay, rather than discussing what we know to be verified fact. 

On the UK Equity site, there are listings of standard rates & standard contracts for dancers, but one needs to be an Equity member to have access to that part of the site, and I'm not. I seem to remember (and again this could be hearsay!) that a dancer in the corps de ballet of the RB earns somewhere around £21,000 pa. That is a tiny salary for London. And the average UK salary is around £25,000 pa.

 

Ah, edited to add this website, which puts a Corp salary at around £23,000pa :

http://www.balletposition.com/countries/britain

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