Addio to MaggioDanza, the ballet company formed in 1967 under the auspices of the Florence's Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
A financial crisis has resulted in the decision to axe the ballet company, and cut the number of technical and administrative staff, taking the number of wage packets from 346 to 273. Chorus and orchestra are saved however, with the chorus losing two members who are retiring, and the orchestra gaining three members taking its number to 96. The creative workshops will be closed and future productions will be made off site or hired in. The running costs of 18 million euros each year to pay the staff cannot be sustained.
The ballet company had already been streamlined to 16 elements over the last few years, and after Vladimir Derevianko left the direction of the company in 2010 it has been on shaky ground. Although Twitter is alive with the hashtag #giulemanidalladanza (#leavedancealone), many are counteracting with comments about the wasteful administration, appointments based on friendship or politics and not merit, and remembering some negative press over the last years by critics. The company is now directed by the young choreographer Francesco Ventriglia, ex-ballerino from the La Scala company.
Francesco Bianchi, who heads the special commission brought in to sort out the mess, stated,
For me it is with great regret that we must deal this blow to an artistic body that has an important history and tradition for dance and for Florence. The decision to close the company is motivated purely by economic motives and not artistic ones; Ventriglia has worked hard to give the company a strong profile, nationally and internationally.
Unions are obviously up in arms, and are meeting with the commission this afternoon. Bianchi added,
Perhaps few people realise the seriousness of the situation, even the unions. We are 35 million in debt; this debt needs to be repaid. 20 million are debts with the banks who have blocked any further credit, and we have no money. If nothing is done immediately then the whole of the Maggio Musicale has no future.
The great Italian ballerina Carla Fracci, who is Head of Culture for the Province of Florence, said,
I have danced many times in prestigious productions for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and the news of the closure of MaggioDanza pains me greatly, because neither the workers in the theatre – especially the dancers – nor the city of Florence merit such punishment.
I would have liked to have seen greater solidarity on the part of the chorus, orchestra and other sectors of the theatre in support of the dancers, but unfortunately this seems to have not occurred. It is ironic that this cut has hit dance harder than other areas when dance is the most popular art form with the Italian public at this time.
Photo: Fancesco Ventriglia
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.
Sorry to hear this! Even the great Metropolitan Opera House of New York no longer has a “house” corps de ballet for its opera productions. Lyric Opera of Chicago also does not have one. They use “pick-up” dancers hired for specific productions. I don’t know how those dancers survive financially.