Money Managers

Dance on the Trading Floor

Economic crises ricochet around the world, making evident-for better or for worse-the interconnected marketplace. Dance is similarly global: American presenters import artists from many nations. Ballet dancers manage their own overseas tours. Companies from the United States balance their checkbooks by touring abroad. Europe's top choreographers-Pina Bausch, William Forsythe, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker-trained in New York before settling in state-supported opera houses. America has an entrepreneurial history-in finance and modern dance-that Europe lacks, and funding from our private sector tries to compensate for negligible federal support. Nevertheless, our highest-paid ballerinas-who command $10,000 for one performance-are miles from Michael Jordan, who got upwards of $300,000 per game.

Age: 23
Education: Through age 16 in Buenos Aires's public school system; began dancing at seven
Status: Single
Future: To keep working and dancing as long as it makes me happy. That's the only reason why I'm doing it.
Motto: Always have your feet on the ground.
Fee:$2000 to $10,000 per performance
Role Models:Misha [Baryshnikov] and my family

In the cutthroat environment of ballet, Herrera is an anomaly. She's as self-effacing as she is talented, starring in five of American Ballet Theatre's full-length works this season. Her wunderkind talents have taken her around the world: Japan, Canada, Greece, and her native Argentina. "I don't have a manager because I'm with ABT full-time and I'm very happy. Everything that comes, comes because people ask me. I don't ask because I know it will come."

For some ABT members, guesting finances 16 weeks of layoff. "But I'm not doing it for the money," says Herrera, invited to perform at the Kremlin this spring. "They weren't offering me that much, but I really wanted to go. You think dance and you think Russia." ABT's schedule conflicted and the company couldn't release her. Japan, however, pays well: "The Japanese have a lot of money. [ABT principal] Vladimir Malakhov has big fans and his own group of dancers there."

Herrera handles contracts herself, with help from her father, a lawyer. "The artistic decisions are mine." He doesn't take too big a cut? "Oh, no!" she says, laughing.

ENGLISH IMPORT: Viviana Durante
Age: 31
Education: Through age 16 at the Royal's upper school
Status: With partner
Future: July: England; September: Italy; October/November: Chile, possibly Buenos Aires; then Japan
Motto: Have Faith I'm very religious. I'm Catholic....If you stop believing, you are pretty well lost.
Fee: I can't say that.
Role Models: Misha [Baryshnikov] and my family

Half of Durante's collateral is world-class dancing. The other half is firsthand experience with Sir Kenneth MacMillan, the English ballet maker whose products attract worldwide attention. Seven years ago, while she was performing his Mayerling at Covent Garden, MacMillan died of a heart attack in the theater. Her American Ballet Theatre debut this season piques emotions. Born in Rome, trained in London, she's "quite nervous about coming to New York. I love the American audience...very spontaneous. They want you to know how they feel." Why guest? "Mentally and spiritually, you meet so many more people and get a sense of different cultures."

Durante started dancing at seven. At 17 she joined the Royal, taking a sabbatical after a decade with the company: "It's very enjoyable to portray a role and sometimes frightening to face up to yourself." People approach her for performances; manager David Watson negotiates: "He's a great help. Someone I can ring up and get advice."

On May 29 she performs Giselle with ABT's José Manuel Carreño. "I love dancing with him," she recalls from guesting in Japan. Why is Japan attractive to guest artists? "Everybody loves ballet there. The atmosphere is wonderful-you feel very concentrated. Tokyo is a fun place to be. All the karaoke nights..."

SALZBURG'S MUSE: Estella Zutic
Age: 24
Education: Through "Gymnasium" in classical studies
Status: Divides time between Slovenia and Austria
Future: "Booked until the end of the year." Projects in Slovenia and Salzburg with Helene Weinzierl, Susan Quinn, Hubert Lepka, and ToiHaus
Quote: "The stage is my home"

Hubert Lepka's show for Audi attracted 6000 onlookers in Vienna last fall. Harnessed to a 70-meter rope, Zutic swung back and forth, propelling herself from a raised mound-the "stage"-as cars swerved past her. She was paid $1500 a week, but, she says, ë're putting your life at risk." Lepka combines daredevil stunts, lighting, film, costumes, and music in spectacles that have won him the favor of Austrian impresario Michael Stolhofer. When Porsche needed to create an event last spring, the company asked Stolhofer's advice. Lepka got the nod and a $400,000 budget. His entertainment-fantasy productions employ Salzburg's modern dancers. "He has a gift, definitely," says Zutic. "Plus he has gifted people working for him. We have to do all the choreography. He tells you a little bit of what he wants."

"I earn money project-to-project in Salzburg, but once you make the connections it becomes like a steady job," says Zutic. "Sometimes there is so much to do you have to choose," because Austria's dancer market isn't as saturated as New York's. Born in Slovenia, Zutic "started training really hard at 18," subsidized by the Slovenian government. "I had to have recommendation letters, the best notes in school," in order to get $6500 each year plus school fees with the stipulation that she "return to Slovenia for the same number of years I received scholarship, four years." She graduated from Salzburg's Experimental Academy of Dance, run by former Cunningham dancer Susan Quinn. What about her commitment? "I wrote to Slovenia saying there was no work for me as a modern dancer, and the government understood." Why visit New York? "The atmosphere is more competitive. You have to work much harder. You really go for it."

HER OWN BOSS: Susan Jaffe
Age: 36
Education: Maryland's Walter Johnson High School through 10th grade, "finished through the mail"
Status: Single
Career: ABT since 1980
Future: Starring in six of ABT's full-lengths this season
Motto:"When things are not going as well as I'd like, I say, 'Susan, it's all in the process.'"
Fee:$2000 to $10,000 per performance
Role Models:"I've seen performances that are so unbelievably honest it tears my heart out. Uta Hagen. I've never written a fan letter, but when I saw her performance I started one. Jiri Kylian." 1
Next Page »