Fonds PR3742 - Alberta Ballet fonds

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Alberta Ballet fonds

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    • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the records.

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    • 1925-2018 (Creation)

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    33.59 m of textual records and other material.

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    Administrative history

    Alberta Ballet has its origins in a small, amateur dance troupe called Dance Interlude. This troupe was founded in 1958 by Edmonton-based dance instructor Ruth Carse, a former dancer in the National Ballet of Canada and the director of the ballet program at the Muriel Taylor School of Dancing. Dance Interlude officially changed its name first to Edmonton Ballet in 1960 and then, at the behest of the provincial government, the Alberta Ballet Company in 1966, with Carse still as its artistic director. The company would eventually shorten its name to the current Alberta Ballet.

    In 1975, Carse retired from her position as artistic director and was replaced by Jeremy Leslie-Spinks. Leslie-Spinks served in that position for only one year due to disagreement over his more contemporary focus and a financial crisis. Leslie-Spinks was replaced by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens assistant artistic director and choreographer Brydon Paige, who served as artistic director until 1988.

    During Paige's tenure, Alberta Ballet became more classically-focused as Paige personally choreographed versions of well-established ballet scores such as Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Stravinsky's The Firebird and Prokofiev's Cinderella. Paige also featured works by outside choreographers and attempted to blend a classical approach with contemporary works. Under Paige, the profile of Alberta Ballet was significantly raised and the company became fully professional but did not yet have a strong national or international reputation.

    In 1988, Ali Pourfarrokh was selected as the next artistic director. A native of Iran, Pourfarrokh was a dancer in several leading companies through the 1950s and 1960s, including the American Ballet Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and the Frankfurt Ballet, and was the artistic director of the Iranian National Ballet from 1976 to 1979. Pourfarrokh took Alberta Ballet in a new direction, focusing more on contemporary dance with several short works programmed into one evening performance, and developed a more coherent vision for the company that helped raise its profile nationally and internationally.

    The most prominent development of Pourfarrokh's tenure was the amalgamation of Alberta Ballet and Calgary City Ballet in 1990, a move that resulted in Alberta Ballet moving its base of operations from Edmonton to Calgary with secondary offices in Edmonton. The company was then able to establish itself in the Nat Christie Centre, a newly-renovated heritage building that had been the rehearsal space and head office for Calgary City Ballet.

    Upon Pourfarrokh's retirement in 1998, Finnish-born dancer and choreographer Mikko Nissinen took over as artistic director. Nissinen brought a very specific vision to Alberta Ballet that emphasized classical technique and the performance of works that challenged the company's dancers and led to an improvement in overall standards. However, dancer turnover was very high in this period and after three years of Nissinen's leadership, the dance troupe had seen almost complete replacement.

    Nissinen placed great emphasis on raising the national and international profile of the company. Early in his directorship, Nissinen led the company on a tour of China and in his final year he took the company to his native Finland as well as Egypt. Nissinen also forged an alliance with Ballet British Columbia that enabled the two companies to combine efforts for an annual touring production of The Nutcracker.

    Nissinen resigned in 2001, a year in which the company posted large deficits due to inadequate funding and budget overrun. The current artistic director, Canadian-born Jean Grand-Maître, took over at a time of fiscal constraint but was able to erase the company's deficit by 2004.

    Grand-Maître found box office and critical success by creating ballets to popular music, including the 2007 production of Joni Mitchell's The Fiddle and the Drum and the 2010 production of a Broadway-style ballet based on the life of singer/songwriter Elton John, Love Lies Bleeding.

    Grand-Maître also expanded Alberta Ballet to 30 dancers (making it Canada's third-largest ballet company), led the company on several tours of China as well as extensive domestic touring, and choreographed the company's performance for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

    As part of a plan to transition to a new artistic director, Grand-Maître shared co-artistic director duties with Christopher Anderson, who had been a rehearsal director with the company since 2015, in 2021 before stepping aside and allowing Anderson to become the sole artistic director for the 2022-2023 season. However, Anderson would only serve one season as artistic director before leaving. In late 2023, Francesco Ventriglia was named the new artistic director. Ventriglia is a graduate of La Scala Ballet School and former dancer with La Scala Ballet and previously served as artistic director of Royal New Zealand Ballet.

    Custodial history

    The records were in the custody of Alberta Ballet, its predecessors, or subsidiaries until the records were donated to the Provincial Archives of Alberta in 2012 with subsequent accruals in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

    Scope and content

    The fonds consists of board of directors records such as minutes, handbooks, and correspondence; executive director records such as correspondence, grant applications, and annual reports; artistic production records such as programs, rehearsal and performance schedules, tour files, set designs, lighting plots, stage plans, and recorded audiovisual elements of performances and rehearsals; marketing records such as press clippings, media releases, posters, pamphlets, handbills, photographs, and commercials; development records including planning documents for fundraisers, subscription campaigns, and special events; outreach documents such as school study guides; administrative records such as personnel files, financial statements, internal correspondence, and office administration; and records related to the management of the Alberta Ballet School of Dance.

    Accession PR2018.0509 includes the records of Ruth Carse and the Alberta Ballet School. The Ruth Carse records are arranged as such and include her personal photo albums depicting performances, events, school events, and dancers; programs from dance troupe performances that pre-date the founding of Alberta Ballet (including the Muriel Taylor School of Dance); programs from piano recitals that Ruth Carse performed in dating to the 1920s and 1930s; correspondence; administrative records related to Alberta Ballet and the Alberta Ballet School; and grant files.

    The fonds includes the Calgary City Ballet (CCB) sous-fonds, which includes similar records as listed above, with the addition of records related to the restoration and administration of the Nat Christie Centre.

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    Arrangement note: The fonds is arranged into the following series, sub-series, and sous-fonds:

    • Series 1: Board of Directors

    • Series 2: Artistic Department

    • Sub-Series 1: Productions

    • Sub-sub-series for each production

    • Sub-Series 2: Touring

    • Sub-Series 3: Artistic Staff

    • Series 3: The School of Alberta Ballet

    • Series 4: Administration

    • Sub-Series 1: Office Administration

    • Sub-Series 2: Human Resources

    • Sub-Series 3: Alberta Ballet Foundation

    • Sub-Series 4: Development

    • Sub-Series 5: Marketing and Publicity

    • Sub-Series 6: Outreach

    • Sub-Series 7: Finance

    • Sub-Series 8: Executive Director

    • Sub-Series 9: Nat Christie Centre

    Calgary City Ballet (CCB) sous-fonds

    • Series 1: Board of Directors

    • Series 2: Artistic Department

    • Sub-Series 1: Productions

    • Sub-Series 2: Touring

    • Sub-Series 3: Artistic Staff

    • Series 3: Calgary City Ballet School

    • Series 4: Administration

    • Sub-Series 1: Office Administration

    • Sub-Series 2: Human Resources

    • Sub-Series 3: Calgary City Ballet Society

    • Sub-Series 4: Development

    • Sub-Series 5: Marketing and Publicity

    • Sub-Series 6: Outreach

    • Sub-Series 7: Finance

    • Sub-Series 8: Executive Director

    • Sub-Series 9: Nat Christie Centre

    Language of material

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        Language and script note

        The material is in English.

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        Restrictions on access

        Access Conditions: Some records are restricted.

        Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

        Use Conditions: Permission for use required. Subject to the Copyright Act.

        Finding aids

        File list is available for some accessions. Contact reference archivist for more information.

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        Further accruals are expected.

        General note

        There are some personnel files that contain private information related to job searches for potential staff and current/former staff and are subject to the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). These records are closed for the full length of protection allowed by PIPA, one hundred years from the date of creation.

        There are similar files that were created before the implementation of PIPA but will also remain closed for one hundred years from the date of creation. However, the donor has agreed to allow access to personnel records created before 2001 on the condition that researchers must sign a confidentiality agreement that includes the following stipulations as expressed in the PIPA Regulations 12(3):

        (3) If personal information is to be disclosed under a research agreement, the person to whom the information is to be disclosed must agree to do all of the following:

        (a) to use the information only for the research purpose;

        (b) to make reasonable security arrangements to protect the information;

        (c) to maintain the confidentiality of the information;

        (d) to not contact any individual to whom the information relates;

        (e) to remove or destroy, at the earliest reasonable time, individual identifiers;

        (f) to not disclose the information in individually identifiable form;

        (g) to notify the archival institution immediately of a breach of the agreement.

        There are also personnel files related to the employment of Barbara Moore, a dancer who filed a wrongful dismissal case against Alberta Ballet in 2001. The suit was settled but the parties were held to a non-disclosure agreement. Therefore, the donor has requested that these records be closed for one hundred years from the date of creation.

        General note

        Includes accessions PR2012.0781, PR2016.0328, PR2018.0011, PR2016.1453, PR2017.0644, PR2018.0509, PR2018.1017, PR2019.0738, PR2020.1083, PR2022.1238, PR2020.1405

        General note

        Not all accessions have been processed and are in the state in which they were donated.

        Physical description

        Includes ca. 4512 photographs. – ca. 630 negatives. – ca, 3986 slides. – 212 videocassettes. – 52 audiocassettes. – 410 audio reels. - 4 film reels. – 28 optical discs. – ca. 750 prints. – 40 technical drawings. -- 3 architectural drawings. - 2 USB drives. - 1 hard drive.

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