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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Company Life: Cautionary Tales of Company Folding


ChloeAlice

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  • 3 months later...
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  • spazcyn

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  • dancemaven

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  • Lady Elle

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  • Momof3darlings

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Just a follow-up on Moxie Contemporary Ballet as I see it was mentioned as an option. This company does not exist any longer. The few company dancers who were offered company contracts arrived at the studio on the first day to find the place locked/shuttered and a sign saying they were permanently closed. Considering these dancers may have turned down other opportunities for this contract and that they probably ALL had signed apartment leases already, common decency should have dictated that they find this out in some more direct way, no?

 

Very little of what Moxie was supposedly about was true. This was definitely a learning experience of the hard knocks variety for anyone who attended their summer program and/or auditioned, our DD among them. The intentions seemed sincere as far as the desire to expand the limits of the "accepted ballet body" at least, but not much else was on the up and up.

 

The first section of their summer session was canceled maybe three days before it was to start, and the poor families who paid thousands of dollars in tuition/room & board costs (not to mention airfare) were told they could attend the 2nd section. Moxie did not respond to requests for refunds for those who could not rearrange their lives to do this and/or who had other plans for later in the summer, which led to a very nasty and public falling out between Moxie and their own director of development the week before the remaining session was to start. Canceling so late was supposedly due to the new facilities not being ready in time and/or legal occupancy permits not available (depending on what story was being handed out at what time). The second session did take place, but basically of the many illustrious faculty names listed on their publicized materials, only one actually taught (and for one week only of that four-week session). That said, DD said teaching was decent, and strength training was good. Upshot was that after a long period of silence and refusing to address the issue of the first session, Moxie finally announced that it would not refund a thin dime to anyone for any reason.

 

The publicized expansion to "16 company dancers at competitive salary, 20 apprentices for a 46-week 2015-16 season with a European tour" during the audition process ended up being NO apprenticeships at all, maybe 5 or so company positions, and then some "traineeships" for which dancers would need to pay tuition to Moxie.

 

The weekend before the summer session was to start, a TV crew pulled up to the studio to do an "expose" on behalf of two prior dance teachers who were never paid for their work and who could not get Moxie to respond to them.

 

I won't get into things to do with contractors and landlords not getting paid and/or how the housing/room & board for those dancers who DID partake of that for the 2nd session did not get what they paid for, as our DD didn't board via Moxie, and I believe BT4D has a policy about hearsay. Maybe someone else on BT4D has more first-hand info on this part of the whole debacle.

 

Doubly sad as this seemed to be a concept well worth serious consideration. Not sure if the issue was just complete lack of business sense or deliberate rip-off, but the resulting damage to many was the same.

 

(I can't EVEN make this stuff up...LOL. Google this company and/or check out its BBB comments if interested.)

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Oh, Spazcyn, I am so very sorry you and your dancer had to experience this! There are no circumstances that excuses the behavior exhibited by those in charge of this company and program, and you and everyone else have every reason to be outraged. I hope beyond hope this will not cause your dancer to give up. A very similar thing happened at Ballet International, but to a lesser degree as it didn't involve a summer program with students. It did involve some incredibly talented dancers to go to the studio one morning to find it shuttered, just as you described. I personally grew up with two of the dancers, one who is now in ABT, the other quit dancing completely. It was so sad to see the struggle to find meaning and balance after being betrayed by the very people who promised to support and believe in you. I hope that you and yours can move on to much happier waters, although I can't imagine the mess the logistics of this has been for you and everyone else. I'm sorry, not just personally but on behalf of all of us teachers and former dancers who love this profession, and know how easily it is to tarnish something that should be beautiful.

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OBT is moving into their space and is opening up a branch there in January. One of my daughter's teachers is one of the ones on the news report that didn't get paid for his work during the summer intensive and we've got a couple of their past students. It's a disastrous situation all the way around.

 

As a performer myself (who went into education) I've always been amazed by the level of delusion or ability to accept reality that people have in regards to their ability to find employment as a performer. The performance world is hard and not forgiving and the number of jobs out there that will allow you to actually support yourself are very small. Banking on being able to marry well just isn't a great plan.

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I moved these posts from the "do you have to be the best" thread here. Please remember we ask that you help us keep threads on topic and not take one topic and veer it off into a completely different one within.

 

With that stated, it would also help going forward to discuss the issue of a company that walked away hurting others in a more general manner so that it is not a thread about just one company closing. They are never pretty when it happens and the fallout to the new dancers is great.

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It might be helpful to discuss how one might avoid being in such a position. Sometimes, it totally comes out of the blue. Many times, however, there are hints in news stories, particularly any regarding fiancial backings, financial health, etc. It may be hard to suss out, but checking a company's fiancial health is worth doing.

 

It takes a lot to launch a new company. Many rely on grants, fundraisers, etc. I would always be inquisitive regarding where a new company plans to get its finances and how it plans to pay its dancers and staff. For instance, does it rely heavily on a single donor or beneficiary?

 

Like I said, though, it is not always very easy to find that information.

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It would be great if the topic of how to pursue financial reimbursement can be included in the discussion. Contract or not, this happens.

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Hi Momof3Darlings,

I am trying to find the thread, "do you have to be a he best?" I was enjoying reading back through it, but can't find it now by searching.

Thanks!

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Fraildove, DD has no intention of giving up. She had just finished her first professional gig, which was not a great fit, and a little down time now seems to be a "blessing in disguise" in many ways, allowing her to regroup for a bit, take some college coursework, and prepare to get herself back out there again. She has matured exponentially this past year between the two experiences and has a new authority in how she expresses her self personally and in her dancing that is very striking. Also she had not lived at home with us since she was about 13, so good ole Mom & Dad are enjoying having her around for a bit too as she does her regrouping.

 

Dancemaven, she (and we parents) tried our darndest to find out anything we could about this company in advance before DD accepted the full scholarship offered (summer program attendance required in order to audition for a company spot, which also seemed pretty common these days) and committed. We approached anyone we thought could give us some detail, and no one seemed to know much about them except that they had been a very small contemporary company in town, were not a brand new entity, but had recently changed their name and were moving into brand new facilities and planning a big expansion. DD got the names of a couple of the current dancers and even contacted them for some scoop. Nothing about them felt "off," and DD also talked to the AD on more than one occasion over the phone to try and get a feel for things. They all sure "talked the talk" well, and written/publicity materials and organization materials were extremely professional. DD said the classes/teaching during the second session was very credible, and she felt she got a lot out of the strength training and from a couple of the guest teachers. There were a lot of mixed signals by the time DD got there that were a bit confusing about what they REALLY seemed to want in dancers versus what they SAID they wanted, but I'm not sure that is very unusual either. I'd be lying if we didn't feel the "ice breaking beneath our feet" two days before it was to start, however, when all kinds of weirdness started happening. By that time though we had already committed to/paid for her housing, and being from the east coast and not even remotely close to her home base, the better part of valor seemed to be to cross our fingers and have her go ahead and participate and hope for the best.

 

DD takes a much more sanguine view of this all, by the way, and she was there, and we weren't, so I'd probably accept her take before mine, which is that the AD/business owners were not trying to deliberately rip anyone off but just "bit off more than they could chew" and just had no realistic business sense at all. We personally didn't take nearly the financial hit many of the other dancers (and their families) did because DD had been scholarshipped and because we had gotten her private housing. (Feel particularly bad for the dancer who came all the way from Australia for this, for example.) DD got to hang out in Portland for a full month without anything to do really when the first session folded 72 hours or so before it was to start, but she viewed it like a mini-vacation for her. She took drop-in classes elsewhere wherever she could find, found a gym to work out in, made some lifelong friends out of her housing situation, and she absolutely adored the city Portland. One thing about our dancers when they get to this level -- they are nothing if not resilient, and she made as a good a spot of lemonade out of the lemons involved as anyone could.

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Good for her! It's always scary when things like that happen, and I've seen it kill some dancers' spirits, but make others even more determined! Dancers tend to be resilient people anyway, you kind of have to be to survive long term in this profession. I will keep my fingers crossed that this time round she will audition and it will work out as a dream for her! Hugs to you for getting your daughter home for a little while. I hate that she had to go through this, but sounds like she will be stronger because of it!

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  • 1 month later...

Latest word on the Moxie Contemporary Ballet debacle......Kudos to the dancers stranded there who have gone on to try to get their own company up and running. Bless them!

 

http://www.wweek.com/2016/01/20/dancers-from-scandalized-ballet-company-are-starting-their-own/

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If I lived in Portland - I would be go to every one of their performances! Kudos. I'm going to post this link on my FB right now and encourage all my Pacific Northwest friends to go.....perhaps if all of us follow suit?

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