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Osipova joins The Royal Ballet

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How interesting. I'm sure that there will be much discussion about how this ballerina will fit with the iconic Royal Ballet choreography and it's interesting that she is slated for MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet. But to get mired down by the stylistic concerns is to miss the larger point. This ballerina has principal dancer contracts (not guest artist contracts) in 3 different companies and 2 are national icons! My first response as a parent of a professional dancer is "good for her!" As a fan but not an expert I must wonder if this is to become a trend. If so, do these companies risk losing their uniqueness? Can you really plug in a top talent into any company and it's unique repertoire with the same results? If this becomes the rule then principal ballet dancers become more independent contractors, don't they? Hopefully it's good for their paychecks? I'm not so sure how I feel as a fan though, I like watching different styles of the ballet repertoire and can't help but wonder if this trend could be the start of a production line mentality that just plugs a star dancer into a role without thought to artistic sensibilities and stylistic considerations. On the other hand, this may have been the same discussion when Nureyev joined the RB and we know how successful that was!


Thank you for sharing mjl27!

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Top tier Principals performing under contract with several companies during the same season is not a new development. For example, Carlos Acosta was doing that while still in Houston in the 90's, shared between HB, ABT, and Royal Ballet. Many others have done this as well. 6-8 week contracts with 3 different companies would put them in 2-3 reps per year with 3 companies and the rest of their time spent touring with guest performances. Every contract is different but yes, that situation is it good for their paychecks. So good at times that the cost involved with a contract for an Artist of that caliber performing 2 different reps during the year could easily equate to 2 corps contracts for each of the companies involved. Now that guest may increase ticket sales through the buzz created with their presence, but I don't believe it increases enough to cover the expense. It isn't about the money involved but important to note. It is difficult to complain about incoming talent like that but it does create an uncomfortable situation for those year round company dancers who get bumped from casting when the 'guest' walks in the door for that particular rep.

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All I can say is, my cinema had better start showing more Royal Ballet shows. I'm hardly obsessed, but she's one of my favourite dancers!

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Guest Missmary

I share the same concerns expressed by gcwhitewater and swanchat. Osipova is certainly a "phenom", and yes, if she were performing here, it would likely motivate me to buy a ticket - but so would a lot of other principals. And I certainly hope that this doesn't become standard practice.

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Very interesting information gcwhitewater. I have seen many principals appear as "guest artists" over the years; I just never realized that they were actually company artists on short-term contracts. Does that mean that they have full company benefits? (rhetorical question as I'm sure it depends on the terms of the individual contract). Do these artists negotiate this themselves or are there ballet dancer agents? It seems like there should be! Note to retiring dancers: here is a promising career!


Watching my dd go through the process of training, she and her classmates equated success with working for a company as a full member; not as an independent contractor. Maybe this idea comes after being successful and internationally known for the very, very few who can garner that sort of "buzz." It looks to me (again not an expert) like the corps of these companies may be the company's stylistic dancers and many of the principals will be the ones who pop in to sell seats. And boy, if I were a principal of the company who is left out of casting for one of these short term dancers, I would not only be angry, I would be looking to join the ranks of the short-term guesting principals. I seem to remember that the young, former RB phenom Polunin complained because he felt the company restrained him from being able to guest and make more money. Maybe this is the industry's response to the "stars" demands?


As far as other guesting opportunities, I just attended a "ballet gala" that was promoted as the stars of the 21st century. The dancers were principals and a soloist from ABT, POB, Dutch National, Forsythe Ballet Company, Royal Ballet and English National Ballet, Berlin Ballet, among others. I'm sure this is the sort of guest performance touring that helps with paychecks. This particular performance was on an inferior stage for dancing, run by a staff who had problems with the pre-recorded music and it felt poorly put together. I was glad that the tickets were at a very reduced rate and won't attend another one of these "stars galas." It was a poor venue and poorly run. A better venue was just up the street (the national opera house)- guess it didn't fit in the budget as the opera house was dark that night. There was some compelling new choreography as well as some lackluster performances of well-loved classics and the largest applause came when Steven Mcrae of the RB tapped! He was truly amazing in both the excerpt from Chroma and his tap routine but the entire program left me empty. Maybe, I'm the exception but if I were a principal dancer looking for extra money, I would choose carefully and not participate in poorly run programs on substandard stages. I also can't imagine that these "galas" will have longevity if they are like this one!


ascballerina, I wouldn't worry about seeing Osipova with the RB. It looks like you can catch her with multiple companies in multiple countries. Just wait, she'll be in a theater near you! :unsure:

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Okay, I will respond to Swanchat's questions but if we continue much further off the current topic, we should begin a new topic as it doesn't necessarily relate to Miss Osipova's situation which is the topic at hand. (Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of Miss Osipova's contracts. These are examples of potential situations. :) )


Most likely there are not full benefits in the traditional sense. Labor's laws would come into play with "classes of employee". However, the fee would make up for that short coming. Artists with short term contracts would probably not be treated as an independent contractor. Those Artists guesting for a gala type performance who arrive with their own prepared piece, may be however. (Lots of difference of opinion on that but the IRS has very specific guidelines.) Most of the Artists of this caliber who are with multiple companies and guest frequently do have an agent. Agents are nothing new. When dancing, quite a few of us 'small fish' had an agent to help with guesting negotiations as well as locate additional guestings. As far as "looking to join the ranks of short term guesting Principals", it is a VERY short list!


I agree, it is not fun being bumped from a role when a short term Artist comes in but when it is of a caliber like Miss Osipova or Mr Acosta's, it is hard to argue. (First hand experience with that one unfortunately.)


In some guesting situations, especially Gala's, the Artist's company will send them as part of their existing contract. Which also means, no additional pay. It all depends on the company and the contract. Personally, I much prefer experiencing an entire production and not excerpts so Gala's are not my cup of tea. I also judge a company by the success of their corps de ballet not the 'stars'. If the corps is bad, the production fails regardless of how the 'stars' do. But that's just me.


Now, back to Miss Osipova joining Royal Ballet!



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It doesn't appear she will dance for three companies simultaneously - she left Bolshoi for Mikhailovsky and ABT (so yes, two companies at once) -- but it sounds like she is leaving both of her current companies (Mikhailovsky is happy for her, ABT less so) to dance at RB.


On topic: Ms. Osipova is beautiful. I would watch her wherever she chooses to dance.


Off topic: Speaking of young Polunin..,




Edited to add:


gcwhitewater, on 10 Apr 13 - 11:33 said:

"I also judge a company by the success of their corps de ballet not the 'stars'. "


Well said.

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Mousling, I was only giving the 3 company split as an example I have encountered. I needed to clarify that. :wink:

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Haha - I was actually responding to something Swanchat said upthread about 3 principal contracts, but that entire tangent was actually very fascinating...

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I was actually under the impression that she would be dancing with all three, but after rereading I am not sure one way or the other. Could someone please show me where in the article it said she was leaving ABT and Mikhailovsky? It all seems rather vague to me.

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Just this part from the original link: "Kommersant reports that ABT's director Kevin McKenzie has reacted with anger to the news of her Royal Ballet contract."


But sure, she could still continue to guest or stay on contract at both current companies. New York Times said: "Ms. Osipova, who has previously danced as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet, said she would go on performing with the Mikhailovsky Ballet, as a guest artist, and that she would continue to dance with Ballet Theater. “A.B.T. is a part of my life, but I am happy with the relationship that I have with them. I go there, dance at the Metropolitan and leave,” she said, according to a translation of the interview."


Not sure really what the "go there, dance, and leave" thing means besides guesting, but hopefully she and Mr. McKenzie both feel the same way on the subject at the end of the season.

Edited by gcwhitewater
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I would guess that "go there, dance, and leave" means she only participates in the season at the Met, no touring, no Nut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. And, from reading that interview, it sounds like she simply does not enjoy living in NYC.


It reads to me like she will be dancing with the Royal Ballet and will continue to honor her previously existing contracts,

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“A.B.T. is a part of my life, but I am happy with the relationship that I have with them. I go there, dance at the Metropolitan and leave,” she said, according to a translation of the interview."

I'm torn about how this makes me feel. First, it's clear that this is a business relationship and again, good for her. She's getting paid the big bucks and she is an amazing dancer so I'm glad she's being rewarded. But... as someone who appreciates and supports ABT, that statement helps me understand MacKenzie's anger. He's paid her well. She gets top billing and now she's happy to come, dance and go. Hopefully something about being grateful for the opportunity was in there and just didn't translate well. Also as a fan and supporter of the Royal Ballet: buyer beware! Enjoy her while you can. I'm not sure loyalty is her strong suit.

Edited by gcwhitewater
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I don't want to read too much into Ms. Osipova's statement about going to ABT, dancing at the Met, then leaving, (sorry for the poor paraphrasing) but when I read the statement, it rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it was the translation? Based on her interview in the Times article, she is interested in soaking up as much repertoire as she possibly can, so she is going to all these different companies. I'm happy that she is getting lucrative contracts and getting paid. I agree with swanchat-there was something missing (hmm, graciousness, humility?) in the statement and that loyalty is not her strong suit. Again perhaps I'm reading too much into it.


I read another article that discussed Kevin MacKenzie's anger, and the impression I got was that her new RB commitments potentially conflicted with her upcoming ABT obligations. So maybe he was a tad peeved about that. BTW, DD and I saw her in the Firebird (standing in for an injured Misty Copeland) and she was stunning!

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