‘Movement never lies’ … Really?

It is upsetting that executives of the National Ballet of Canada (the “NBC”) insulting everyone’s intelligence by persistent promotion of evidently lacking choreographic opuses of Guillaume Côté. You cannot hide the obvious: if you continue to impose on Canadian audience slipshod choreography of Côté, the Canadian audience will finally explode in a loud resentment toward the NBC and ballet community in general.

Is the opinion of the knowledgeable audience not important to the NBC? Does the NBC think that government officials (federal, provincial and municipal) and the ever generous and dedicated donors, who are regularly allocate tens of millions of dollars as grants to the NBC, will never pay attention to the deteriorating quality of the ballet performances of the NBC?

It seems as the NBC keeps the performances staged by Côté because it believes that the government and donors do not see the difference between good ballet and second-hand repertoire of Côté, and will keep donating regardless of the performances quality. Is the NBC relaying onto the all-encompassing power of its PR agents to cover the distasteful and unprofessional performances?

Currently the NBC is actively promoting the next ballet of Côté emphasizing that it is his second full-length ballet. Let’s stop here for a second, and let me ask a few questions? Firstly, where is his first full-length ballet The Little Prince? As far as I know, it has been taken off the repertoire by the NBC because it carried immoral content and the choreography lacked professionalism that is expected of the NBC. Secondly, where is the latest one-act ballet by Côté—The Dark Angels—announced in the NBC repertoire for this season? The NBC has also taken it off the repertoire.

Yet again, the NBC is back at trying to fool the audience by forcing on them Côté’s choreography, however, this time disguised as the collaboration with Robert Lepage.

The NBC is referring to both Côté and Lepage as “outstanding,” being fully aware that only Lepage is worthy of such descriptive. The hope is that no matter how bad Côté’s choreography will be this time around, Lepage’s talents would be used to mask the deficiency in choreography. Côté is in no way an outstanding choreographer, not even one of the good ones, which is apparent to anyone with at least minimal understanding of ballet. As a general rule, Côté puts together bits of already existing choreography and presents a compilation as his own original work.

A homeless person in Toronto can produce choreography compilation using computer. At such a rate, the NBC could ask just about anybody to produce a ballet, preferably collaborating with a talent such as Lepage, to rule out a failure. Have no doubt of the success. Just get someone to put together the bits and pieces of the existing choreographies, and the ballet performance is ready for stage. The quality would not be an issue, it would not be inferior than that of Côté, and, as a bonus, it would be way cheaper than maintaining Côté.

All of it makes me, and the ballet community wonder, who is spreading the anonymous letters with unfounded rumours tormenting the dancers and choreographers posing a competition to Côté that have recently sparked publications in Canadian media? Although it is already known to the insiders who are the individuals behind this uproar, the general audience is still waiting to learn the trues.

It does not take much for anyone capable to analyze and put two things together, that these obnoxious anonymous letters, which are trying to discredit truly talented individuals, are targeting the direct competitors of Côté. In particular these letters have been targeting Evan McKie and Robert Binet.  If these were not enough, the outmost recent article even tried to tarnish the reputation of the dancer Hannah Fisher, who is direct competitor of Côté’s wife, Heather Ogden.

Another target of these anonymous letters is to distract the attention of the community from the evident problems of the dancers favored by the NBC administration, as well as, the problems with the current repertoire, and deficient rehearsal planning.

All of this creates even a stronger impression that there is a kind of racketeering at work in the NBC with staged roles assigned to the mafia members applying pointed moral pressure on those offering a direct competition to Côté and Côté’s wife, as well as on any other performer with a great artistic potential. It seems that such moral pressure may be used solely to achieve financial gains and power for the ones behind the letters.

It would be of interest to see who is behind this mafia in the NBC? Take all dancers of the NBC, and ask each of them separately form the others: “In your opinion, who are the members of this mafia, that extort pressure on the dancers?” Each will name at a minimum four names. The probability that all dancers will name exactly the same four individuals is close to 100 percent. Conduct such a questionnaire, and you will see for yourself that I was right about the whole issue.

To leave you with more food for thoughts, what is the salary of the heads of PR department of the NBC in comparison to that of the ballet dancers?

— John Woolf

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