Fraildove

Michele Wiles

71 posts in this topic

In addition to Wiles  - Murphy, Part, Abrera, and Carmen Corella are all scheduled to dance Myrtha- all wonderfull, powerful dancers. There's a lot to look forward to from ABT this spring!

It's amazing to me that Meunier has not been cast as Myrtha. Unfortunately, TPTB will probably cast her at Bathilde, as they did several years ago when they did the ballet in Boston and Cleveland. A waste, frankly. Myrtha is the perfect role for Meunier

Re: Wiles -- I don't see her as Giselle. Maybe in some years she will change my mind, but not right now. More of a Raymonda...

Share this post


Link to post

I hate to sound cranky, but I find Michele a very promising but somewhat undeveloped dancer. For now, she has many obvious things going for her (good looks, figure, great turner) but IMO hasnt developed the panache and "perfume" that separates the great ballerinas from the "promising" ballerinas. For one her arm movements havent developed the natural, soft quality that I look for in ballerinas. I hope she doesnt become a Paloma Herrera -- that is, a ballerina who seems perpetually stuck in the "Wow! Great turns!" stage. That doesnt look like it's going to happen but I really hope it doesnt as she's certainly so promising. She reminds me of Darcey Bussell a bit.

Another potential problem for Michele is how TALL she is. When she danced T&V and she had to hook arms with the corps she towered over all the girls so much I thought she'd topple over them. It'll take a very particular danseur to partner someone as tall as Michele.

I could see her as a great Kitri, maybe Raymonda, Aurora. Giselle not so much. She doesnt have the inherent fragility I think the very best Giselles need.

Share this post


Link to post

I actually must dissagree with you, though I have not seen her perform a whole lot, when I saw her Swan Lake, yes her turns amazed me, but the thing I noticed most, was her softness, regealness and they way she presented her her feet and legs so well. Quite a few ballerina's, wont name any names, do not have that quality, they forget about the small things. *Example of what im talking about is when Michelle would go up to do a pique arabesque, her foot was so precise and elegant and then such a strong gorgeous, but soft, arabesque* :happy:

I will add, that I do thing she has alot of growing to do as an artisit and her being tall could be a problem, but if Hallberg stays around, all will be well.

Share this post


Link to post
her arm movements havent developed the natural, soft quality that I look for in ballerinas. I hope she doesnt become a Paloma Herrera -- that is, a ballerina who seems perpetually stuck in the "Wow! Great turns!" stage.

I'll have to respectfully disagree. Wiles was trained in Vaganova Technique at Kirov Academy (now UBA), where there is equal development of strong upper and lower body....unlike Herrera's schooling. One of Wiles' hallmarks is the very strong back & elegant Russian-style placement of arms and hands.

Share this post


Link to post

I was reading the Universal Ballet Website and there was just a new announcement. In the News section, it reports that as of end of June Michele Wiles has been promoted to principal dancer with ABT! I have not seen any report from ABT, and i know the rumor policy here, but does UBA qualify as a reliable source? And has this been announced anywhere else?

UBA News

Share this post


Link to post

It's official. The press release just came in.

MICHELE WILES PROMOTED TO PRINCIPAL DANCER

Michele Wiles has been promoted to Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, it was announced yesterday by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Wiles received her early training in Washington, D.C. At the age of ten, she received a full scholarship to the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. where she studied for six years. Wiles also participated in the summer programs at The Joffrey Ballet and The Royal Ballet before joining American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company in 1997.

Wiles joined American Ballet Theatre in 1998 and was promoted to Soloist in August 2000. Her roles with the Company include Gamzatti in La Bayadère, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Medora in Le Corsaire, Myrta in Giselle and the title roles in Raymonda and Sylvia. She has also danced leading roles in George Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Symphony in C and Theme and Variations, Twyla Tharp’s The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels, Jirí Kylián’s Petite Mort and Sinfonietta and William Forsythe’s workwithinwork

Share this post


Link to post

Yay for Michelle! Here is to her growth as an artist! :-D

Share this post


Link to post

How would you compare michelle wiles with ashley bouder and with gillian murphy?

I would like to know your opinions.

thank you

Share this post


Link to post

Interesting choice of dancers. All three are amazingly well-rounded and strong tehnicians, each is unusually musical in her own way, but then you run into differences.

I think of Gillian as remote and cerebral. I never feel anything spontaneous from her -- everything's been plotted to the tiniest, exact detail before she hits the stage.

I think of Ashley as an adorable, eager puppy (although she has shown signs maturing beyond that persona this season), dancing very much in the moment, trying something new as the idea comes to her. For this reason, I find her extremely exciting.

Michele falls somewhere between the two. She might be the prom queen next door -- glamorous yet accessible. She performs "in the moment" and responds naturally to the action on stage.

After a stretch with few young ballerinas on the horizon, aren't we lucky to have this trio representing a new generation!

Share this post


Link to post

The current Ballet Review has a great interview with Wiles. It's not available online, but she discusses big changes that she's been making in her approach, how she now views Vaganova training and the Kirov Academy style of training as perhaps not so great for her, her work with David Howard, and how easy it s to get "lost" inside the ranks of ABT.

I found her ideas to be quite mature, honest, and fascinating. I haven't seen her onstage in several years, unfortunately, so I can't compare the ideas in the interview with anything onstage. I'd love to read about the experiences of those who've been to see her recently.

Share this post


Link to post

The interview is, indeed, quite interesting. The criticism of Vaganova training is very emphatic, as is the praise of Howard's approach. She returns to this topic several times in the interview.

For example:

The Russian training, what can I say? It's like they put this technique on you. They paste it on you, this Vaganova technique. And it's not really natural or coordinated at all. It feels terrrible. I struggled a lot with it at school even though I could do it. It never felt right.

When I came to New York I worked with Kolpakova. She was trained by Vaganova. It's all very analyzed. Every eyelash and finger and arm has to be just a certain way. You're making pictures. There's no movement dynamic that's emphasized. It's hard.

[ ... ]

It's a construct that makes you feel inferior, or should I say it made me feel inferior. Was that the fault of the system, the Russians who administered it for the most part, or something unique to me? [ ... ] But for me, being in that system, I did feel inferior and the farther I've gotten away from it the better I feel about myself and my dancing.

There's a good deal of this, along with statements of her belief that her changes in training have allowed her to make enormous strides in her dancing.

Based on internal evidence, the interview took place about a year ago when ABT was in Miami for Sleeping Beauty (March 2008). I saw Wiles's Aurora during this run. It was the first time I saw her, so I had no basis of comparison. I would have called it (a) very technically proficient and (b) slightly hum-drum theatrically.

I have strong visual and emotional memories of Hallberg's Prince, Part's Lilac Fairy, and Van Hamel's Carabossse. But I find that I have retained nothing about Wiles's Aurora.

The interviewer, by the way, was Micheal Langlois.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, Bart, for identifying the interviewer and offering some excerpts, as well as placing the interview in a time context. I was wondering how old it was.

I remember her—clearly from Apollo a few years ago, in the corps of La Bayadere before that, and as a student (she was perfect in Diana and Acteon)—as a dancer who could, at her best, be so open. It seems so natural for her that she seemed to really have the ability to free herself from the technique. I believe I can see why the exactitude of the Russian style might hinder that. But I think that very few dancers really have that degree of talent—it's almost as if she were already born with ballet technique, so she was working on another level. (Of course, since I haven't seen her in a while I may not have any idea what I'm talking about!) Anyway, I truly hope this new way of working is serving her well.

Also, it may be interesting to note that she was in Sizova's class at the Kirov Academy. Sizova always seemed like the least hard and unforgiving of all the teachers, in my own experience, and the most nurturing of the artistic side, though she passed on her incredible technique as well. I think Langlois did a great job with the interview, but if there had been more space/time I wish he could have asked about Sizova as a teacher in particular.

Share this post


Link to post

I am surprised to read that she found the KAB training and style so uncomfortable given that she began her training there at age ten and remained there for seven years according to her bio on ABT's site. However, she does not have what that school would probably consider an ideal body for ballet, so maybe that was part of it, although they have successfully trained other dancers who do not have an ideal physique. I suppose it is just that not every method is appropriate for every dancer. They helped her dance well enough to get into ABT, anyway. :clapping:

Share this post


Link to post

I agree Hans but I think there is truth in what she says. But then all methods have their strengths and weaknesses and as a dancer matures they add more layers but if the foundation is not strong there is collapse. I think it is important for them to expand and take other input. I find her thoughts interesting though they will be controversial, and criticism of the Vaganova training always is.

Share this post


Link to post

Any dancer's journey within a particular method of training will have positive and negative effects upon the person. As has been stated many times before, a method is a method, the teachers have the responsibility to implement the method. Good and talented teachers can have varying responses from an entire group/class of students. Some will be be positive, some will be negative and some will be wishy washy. Remember people are people regardless of what method they are learning.

Speaking with a professional dancer looking backward about their training is always an interresting subject. Glory generally goes to those who have "discovered" the talented dancers after all the hard work and basics have been accomplished. Coaching a dancer who is already trained is a very different subject than building a student from the ground up. Dancers must always take class and few want to be confronted by the very difficult work they faced as students. Vaganova training is more difficult in school than it is as a dancer. Giving company class to a group of trained dancers is an artform in itself. There can be no comparison between the two very differing job descriptions.

Perhaps Ms Wiles may see things a bit differently if she ever chooses the responsibility of training children from the bottom up? :clapping: This is where the story really begins. :) Only time will tell.

Memo, this is not the forum I know, but it would be enlightening to be able to have the conversation about why...

her thoughts (are) interesting though they will be controversial, and criticism of the Vaganova training always is.

Why is Vaganova always so controvertial when discussing an obviously talented dancer? I mean take all names out. Why should there be controversy over an obviously qualified system of training on obviously talented bodies? :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Why is Vaganova always so controvertial when discussing an obviously talented dancer? I mean take all names out. Why should there be controversy over an obviously qualified system of training on obviously talented bodies? :clapping:

You just did exactly what I predicted. Any criticism of the method is almost considered sacrilegeous. It is obviously qualified for talented bodies but it is not for every body and those who teach it often expect the same of every body. :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post

sorry but i think vrs has it on the money on this subject.

Share this post


Link to post
I am surprised to read that she found the KAB training and style so uncomfortable given that she began her training there at age ten and remained there for seven years according to her bio on ABT's site.

I can think of many perfectly good reasons why a young student would remain at a reputable school despite feeling uncomfortable with aspects of her training.

It’s a very good interview, well worth hunting down if you are not a subscriber.

Share this post


Link to post

I'd like to address vrsfantatic's excellent questions but won't have the time until tomorrow or Saturday. But I just ran across something that was too good not to post, even though I'm sure I'll go to hell for it :ermm:

I'm grading papers, reviews. We took the KAB students to ABT's "Swan Lake" and, by coincidence, the leads were Wiles and Hallberg. The kids were extremely excited to see Wiles (they know she's from KAB, as were two of the other soloists that day). And so far, having graded 15 of their papers, there are a couple of comments that are appropriate to this thread. Nearly everyone has liked the other two dancers, but everyone has been disappointed in Wiles, several stating that "she doesn't look like a Vaganova dancer" (which might please her). Everyone I've read so far thought she was a good technician but didn't think much of her acting or, as several have put it, "artistry."

And then came this wonderfully apt comment (I paraphrase): "I didn't think it looked as though she'd had good coaching in this role. She should come back here and work with Mme. M-- [teacher of the senior girls] on this."

It's all how you look at it :)

Share this post


Link to post

I haven't seen Wiles for some years and and then the only major roles I saw her dance were Gamzatti (a debut or second performance) and an early Queen of the Wilis.

In those performances, I always thought she looked exactly the way she describes herself as feeling in this interview -- even the words are what I used to say to myself -- as if the technique or, rather, the style were somehow pasted on to her rather than emanating from within.

It never occurred to me to attribute this to her training or her relation to her training. I did sometimes attribute it to her height--thinking she had to "grow" into her long limbs. But generally, when I was feeling generous I thought I just did not "get" her as a dancer. When I was feeling grumpy I thought she was mysteriously overrated. If I had had the chance to see her recently, I wonder if I would have started to like her better or still felt the same dissatisfaction?

Hope I get the chance to see her dance sometime soon!

Share this post


Link to post

I enjoyed the comments of Alexandra's students and look forward to more!

I've been thinking about the coincidence of my having seen Wiles for the first time in the same week that she gave this interview -- an interview in which she herself seems to be describing huge changes, for the better, in her dancing. My strongest impression of this performance was how little she seemed to fit in with the others on stage. One might describe the total performance as "workmanlike." High level workmanlike, of course, but without emotional affect and -- unless, perhaps, you were interested in matters of technique per se and in isolation -- fundamentally uninteresting. And this, in a role often desribed as the richest and most complex in classical ballet!

The various schools of ballet training seem to have their fans and detractors. I'd love to read the responses to vrsfanatic's excellent question.

Share this post


Link to post
I am surprised to read that she found the KAB training and style so uncomfortable given that she began her training there at age ten and remained there for seven years according to her bio on ABT's site. However, she does not have what that school would probably consider an ideal body for ballet, so maybe that was part of it, although they have successfully trained other dancers who do not have an ideal physique.

To my untrained eye, it's difficult for me to see how Wiles' figure doesn't conform to ballet standards. What is the ideal physique for Vaganova training?

Just from the excerpt bart posted, I found her comments to be refreshingly honest. I would like to get my hands on a copy of the full interview. I don't think I've ever heard from detractors of Vaganova technique, and it's interesting that such a prominent dancer who received the majority of her training from KAB would come out and express her true feelings on it. It's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that someone schooled in a certain way would end up disliking what they were taught. I'm sure there might be SAB students, past and present, who don't really like Balanchine style. I don't find Wiles' comments to be very controversial; I think she's just speaking about her personal experience and it doesn't seem as if she means it as a warning to others to keep away from Vaganova training (at least I hope that's not her intention).

Share this post


Link to post

I too would love to see a current performance by Michelle Wiles. I have seen her several times on stage, and while I admire her technique, I've always wished she could give us, the audience, more of herself. Her performances were too cold for my taste, although I know others who have always raved about her. I wonder if, through David Howard and/or maturity, she has now found that place within herself that allows some expression to bubble out?

Perspectives are always fascinating. As mom to a dancer who spent all her formative years training in the Vaganova method, I have a great appreciation and love for Vaganova technique. Interestingly, I always thought that Wiles danced without upper body expression (in this perhaps unusual case not to be confused with technique) as did so many of the NYCB dancers I have seen in the past! While it's clear her training was Vaganova, her dancing had a woodenness that I'm not used to seeing in Vaganova-trained professional ballet dancers at the soloist and principal dancer level. To me, there was a lifelessness to it. It's so interesting that she feels that her Vaganova training is cause of this.

My quibble with NYCB dancers has always been their lack of a beautiful upper body. Only recently, with the new crop of youngsters at NYCB have I gotten excited again. I much prefer what I would've called the expressiveness of Vaganova trained dancers (with Wiles being the aberration). My ideal dancer has Vaganova expressiveness and Balanchine speed. :)

I now look forward to seeing Michelle Wiles perform, and am hoping that, in her, I can find some glimmerings of that perfect marriage.

vagansmom (as in "Vaganova" mom :ermm: )

Share this post


Link to post
I am surprised to read that she found the KAB training and style so uncomfortable given that she began her training there at age ten and remained there for seven years according to her bio on ABT's site. However, she does not have what that school would probably consider an ideal body for ballet, so maybe that was part of it, although they have successfully trained other dancers who do not have an ideal physique.

To my untrained eye, it's difficult for me to see how Wiles' figure doesn't conform to ballet standards. What is the ideal physique for Vaganova training?

Michele Wiles is a beautiful dancer with incredibly strong bravura technique. However, she does not have the long lines and sky-high extensions that are so popular these days. She has a more old-fashioned classical look that I find very appealing--in fact, I'd love to see her as Aurora. She definitely has the look and technique for that. EDIT: I really enjoyed her Odette/Odile, too, as I hope my review made clear. :ermm:

I don't know if one could say that an ideal physique for Vaganova training exists outside of the balletic ideal, but vrs would know more about that.

As vrs has said in the past, the true Vaganova method is only really taught at the Vaganova Academy. It includes much more than just ballet classes. Therefore, it is difficult to use the term 'Vaganova' when referring to other schools (note that in my quoted post above, I did not say 'Vaganova' at all) even if the teachers come from the Mariinsky Ballet.

That said, KAB is well known for having very high training standards as well as for achieving the 'Petersburg look' with its students. Unfortunately, unlike the Vaganova Academy, it does not have the ability to choose 'perfect' bodies from thousands of auditioning children. It must therefore balance high standards with less than ideal circumstances, and sometimes that can be difficult for both students and teachers.

Please note, I am not saying that anything in particular happened with Wiles; I did not arrive at KAB until after she had finished her training there. I was very happy with the training at KAB, but I know others who were not. If you have been trained elsewhere previously, the training can seem very rigid, and that works well for some, not so much for others. It is perfectly understandable that although it makes you a very strong dancer, its strict expectations and particular aesthetic might make one feel stifled or placed into a mold. If it's an aesthetic the student likes, great! If not, I could see how it would feel uncomfortable.

Share this post


Link to post

I can't resist posting an admiration of Wiles's arabesque. She was on the cover of Dance Magazine in arabesque at the beginning of her career, and it was so old-fashioned, so PURE, that I really thought, singlehandedly, she would bring it back and the era of KickaTheSideOfYourHeadova would be over.

Share this post


Link to post