The Buzz, 11-19: Failing
William, Failing Dancers
Dance Publicist Comes Up Short
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2002 The Dance Insider
Just after 7 this morning,
about 10 p.m. Monday California time, hearing on the BBC that the
actor James Coburn had passed away Monday in Los Angeles, I went
to Yahoo to search for the AP story. I found it right away. The
same day the actor had passed away, the AP had reported
the sad but important news, as befits the fate of a star that people
care about. Undoubtedly, the AP was able to report the important
news because a publicist or agent had done his or her job, and alerted
the media right away.
This does not seem to
have been adequately enough the case with the death of William
Marrie, the former National Ballet of Canada principal
who died Saturday morning after a traffic accident in Manhattan,
where he had been starring in Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel's "Movin' Out."
The show's dance publicist,
Ellen Jacobs, generally regarded as the best in New York, sent out
no press release -- at least none that I received here at the Dance
Insider. Relying on a tip from a colleague with connections to the
show, we reported the death late Saturday night New York time, by
which hour those associated with "Movin' Out" and with Mr. Marrie's
former company in Toronto were aware of it. And yet, it wasn't until
early Monday morning, New York time, that I found the news reported
anywhere else. Where Mr. Coburn's passing was reported the same
day, Mr. Marrie's was not reported by most media (based on a search
of the 'Net) until nearly two days after the fact.
What happened here was
a spectacular failure by a publicist to do her job. Not just the
dancer, but all dancers were not well-served. The death of a dancer
should be announced as major news. It should be announced immediately.
It should be announced to all dance media immediately, to send a
message that we value our artists and realize the urgency of such
news concerning them. If even one of our supposedly best publicists
cannot treat the death of a dancer as news that must be gotten out
right away to all dance media, how can we expect the public to treat
not just the deaths of dancers, but their LIVES as urgent?
The failure continued
even up to yesterday afternoon when, in response to our request
for a bio of Mr. Marrie, a representative of the publicist simply
referred us back to our own story. "We don't have any further information,"
said the assistant. Well....get it. It's your job.
Because this publicist
did not adequately do her job (in my opinion), a person whose job
it was not, but who cared enough, was left to inform us of the news.
Somehow, he had the presence of mind to send us the word. He transcended
his own sorrow for a moment in order to get the news out to us immediately.
The person whose job it should have been to do so did not. Dancers
Just a few hours after
they had spent the night at the hospital and seen him die, Mr. Marrie's
roommate and understudy, Laurence Rabson, and his girlfriend, Aliane
Baquerot, took the stage for the matinee performance of "Movin'
Out." They did so no doubt because they know it is a dancer's job,
no matter what the circumstances, to serve their art with strength
and beauty. It's too bad that the show's dance publicist, Ellen
Jacobs, could in this case not do her job with equal efficiency.