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Michele Wiles

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The dance magazine photo is just beautiful--thanks Hans--very Aurora.

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I agree about the loveliness of these still photographs.

It would be interesting to hear what people think about her ability to use this beauty of line, etc., in the areas that interest ballet audiences most --

(a) extended passaages of dance movement -- both solo or with partner or ensemble?

(b) use of dance to convey feelings, tell a story (where appropriate), and express the music?

Wiles's interview suggests that she feels she has made substantial progress in these areas since changing her training. Do you, especially those who are frequent members of the ABT audience, agree?

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Wiles's interview suggests that she feels she has made substantial progress in these areas since changing her training. Do you, especially those who are frequent members of the ABT audience, agree?

Alas, no. The huge change in training that I noticed is that within the time she was with what was then the ABT Studio company they de-Vaganovized her, in that the polish was removed. That happens at ABT generally, but it only affects the "style". Wiles was always a very businesslike dancer, to me. (As is Murphy.)

In the past few seasons, I've enjoy watching some of her performances as exquisite geometry, but have never considered her expressive. Her Hagar this season was arasbesque (tortured look) after arabesque. She's always impressed me as one of those dancers who simply cannot let go. The Myrtha has no anger, no history; the Odette, no mystery; the Aurora, beautiful, beautiful balances.

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I agree about the loveliness of these still photographs.

It would be interesting to hear what people think about her ability to use this beauty of line, etc., in the areas that interest ballet audiences most --

The photographs are lovely, and, taken in the abstract, the shapes Wiles makes while she dances are lovely too -- and sometimes flat-out awe-inspiring. However, often enough I've been left with the sense that I've just seen an excellent demonstration of the steps, but not the performance of a role. Ballet just doesn't seem to resonate with her as theater. But even a "plotless" ballet like Theme & Variations is theater, and its success as theater to some degree depends on the dancer's ability to create a coherent persona whose journey through the piece distills its emotional arc for us. How a dancer best creates that persona, of course, is the interesting question -- but surely there's more to it than deciding whether one should deploy one's "transported by joy" or "such sweet agony" face at the beginning of the phrase or at the end of it, which is what Wiles sometimes seems limited to.

And for reasons that elude me, she's one of those dancers for whom a tutu seems nothing more than the costume she is supposed to wear -- or, to put it another way, in terms of "perfume", she's a fragrance-free ballerina.

The Ballet Review article suggests that she wants her dancing to be more than perfect steps, but perfect steps is not a bad start -- as Vladimir Horowitz observed to Murray Perahia: "If you want to be more than a virtuoso, first you have to be a virtuoso"! I'm pulling for her.

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It is very interesting to read this thread from beginning to end. It appears that as a soloist, Wiles showed a lot of potential dramatically. So what happened?

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I saw Wiles in the summer of 2005 doing the Black Swan Pas de Deux. I don't remember who partnered her. It might have been her debut in the role as a sort of tryout for the full-length version. I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by both her upper body (mostly) and her legs (at times).

She didn't seem to be very strong in her upper body. While I understand that not necessarily every dancer has very defined arm and back muscles well, they're almost necessary in a role such as Odile, aren't they? Her arms, while in correct and pleasing positions, seemed practically lifeless.

The image I remember most distinctly from that performance was her wobbling in an attitude derrière pose, her back knee dipping down at times. Odile just can't look like that. Odile must be completely self-assured, razor-sharp and crystal-clear. Right?

Here are some considerations in addition to some that I mentioned above:

1. She was a soloist then and probably didn't have much experience dancing roles such as Odile.

2. She was probably very nervous to be performing Odile.

3. She hadn't performed the beginning of the ballet that night as a warm-up.

4. I shouldn't judge a dancer from one short performance from so long ago.

5. Maybe she was relatively inexperienced with that particular partner.

To sum it up, I was disappointed, and consequently, I avoid buying tickets for performances she's dancing in. It's horrible that I feel this way — and that I've admitted it publicly — but it's true!

Here are some of my questions:

1. Does anyone agree with any of my opinions? Have you seen what I've seen?

2. Has she gotten better since then?

3. Does anyone think that perhaps the bureaucracy at ABT has failed her?

4. Has she perhaps not gotten the support and coaching she's needed?

5. Am I being too harsh?

6. Could this simply be a case of miscasting? (If so, that's hardly her fault.)

7. Should I bother seeing her again? I think she's dancing "Sylvia" with Roberto Bolle this summer. While I'd love to see him, I'm not sure I want to take the chance at her disappointing me again.

Truth be told, I want to like her. Please help me understand her better.

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I'll take the bait, nijinsky1979 . . .

I've seen Wiles twice in Chicago: Swan Lake in 2004 (with David Hallberg) and Sleeping Beauty in 2008 (again with Hallberg.) At the 2004 performance, I thought she was quite assured technically but curiously flat in terms of projecting any kind of emotion to the audience. She was a technically sound automaton, basically. At the 2008 performance (by which time I'm assuming the "de-Vaganovification" process had already begun), she had captured the worst of both worlds -- she was still flat in terms of projecting anything to the audience but now her technique looked very unsteady (she was straining HARD to maintain the balances in the Rose Adagio.)

I've said before and I'll say again that I don't think Hallberg is the ideal partner for her -- I find that they cancel each other out in terms of looks. I would really like to see ABT push a Wiles/Alex Hammoudi partnership but that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

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I've said before and I'll say again that I don't think Hallberg is the ideal partner for her -- I find that they cancel each other out in terms of looks. I would really like to see ABT push a Wiles/Alex Hammoudi partnership but that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

Thank you for saying that. You've put into words what I've felt, but couldn't verbalize.

I've seen Wiles in both Sylvia and Tch ppd and would say I enjoyed them well enough, but wouldn't buy a ticket to see either again. On the other hand, if she was a last minute replacement I wouldn't tear my hair out in despair. She always has quality moments and can turn on the technique, but there is something not quite there. I found in Tch ppd she went for cute instead of finding herself in the piece. I guess that is the overall problem (this may be presumptuous). I feel she tries to fit an idea of what a piece should be instead of finding herself in a role. It's almost as though she doesn't try to make a role her own, but instead picks an interpretation to imitate and then does as much technique as she can - which can be a lot. That's my take anyway.

Oddly enough I enjoyed her in Etudes more than in anything else, she just looked like she was having fun.

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1. Does anyone agree with any of my opinions? Yes

Have you seen what I've seen? Yes, too often

2. Has she gotten better since then? Not really.... but then I think she is miscast for almost everything at ABT.

She'd be a wonderful ballerina in Stars and Stripes, Who Cares?, Rubies 2nd lead girl, Western Symphony.....

Balanchine's more American-ish ballets... and those are just off the top of my head. Oh, even the Siren in Prodigal, I hope Michelle will get cast for that this Spring at ABT.

Michelle is very strong, technically, but not a beautiful, classical ballerina type. I think she is needed at ABT because they must have those reliable, strong types, who can get through extremely demanding ballets, like Sylvia.... Gillian is better at it... but she's also tough for me to watch... Every company needs their strong, most reliable dancers, same way that The Mariinsky needs a Gonchar.

3. Does anyone think that perhaps the bureaucracy at ABT has failed her? No, I think the ballets ABT gives her have failed Michelle, as well as lack of coaching.

5. Am I being too harsh? NO

7. Should I bother seeing her again? I think she's dancing "Sylvia" with Roberto Bolle this summer. While I'd love to see him, I'm not sure I want to take the chance at her disappointing me again.

Michelle's going to give you a strong, technical, performance.... Gillian is better.... again SO strong..... but I have yet to see an ABT lead female give Sylvia an outstanding performance, all around. Then again, the choreography for the lead female is unnecessarily difficult... As a former dancer, I clench my teeth watching so much of this ballet. It's only the gorgeous music that saves the day (perf) for me.

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I just received the ABT spring Met season Brochure in the mail and on the cover is a very striking image of Michele Wiles in a not so classical ballet pose. Her fists are clenched and her head is thrown back with hair flying and she is blurred in between frames of the camera. Definitely my favorite image in the brochure as she seems so very passionate and openly defiant.

I've only seen her dance once as the Lilac fairy and I thought she was very technically assured and convincing in terms of dramatic characterization. I liked her and would like to see her more.

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The reviews of M. Wiles in Swan Lake in London this week echo a lot of what is being said on this board- she is technically accomplished but dramatically unimpressive. A friend of mine refers to the Wiles/Hallberg partnership as Ken and Barbie - the two perfect looking, tall, fair skin blondes.

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She'd be a wonderful ballerina in Stars and Stripes, Who Cares?, Rubies 2nd lead girl, Western Symphony.....

Balanchine's more American-ish ballets... and those are just off the top of my head. Oh, even the Siren in Prodigal, I hope Michelle will get cast for that this Spring at ABT.

I don't really see Michele as a Balanchine dancer. I believe that the Balanchine ballets you named require personality, individuality and a very musical attack. These are the qualities that Wiles most lacks. She is a very accomplished dancer who I can't name a perfect role for. Maybe she will be the all purpose principal who no one adores but few people avoid.

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When Michele was a corps dancer and soloist, her musicality and personality were the outstanding qualities that made me pay attention to her. She has them. Of course, I may be misreading her, but it seems to me that the major, Classical ballerina roles intimidate her. She's become so careful and afraid of living up to the legends that she sometimes sacrifices herself to correctness.

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I've only seen her dance once as the Lilac fairy and I thought she was very technically assured and convincing in terms of dramatic characterization. I liked her and would like to see her more.

It's good to hear you enjoyed her performance in such a role as the Lilac Fairy. So important to look regal and powerful ... yet benevolent and serene. I'm glad to hear you think she pulled it off.

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1. Does anyone agree with any of my opinions? Yes

Have you seen what I've seen? Yes, too often

2. Has she gotten better since then? Not really.... but then I think she is miscast for almost everything at ABT.

She'd be a wonderful ballerina in Stars and Stripes, Who Cares?, Rubies 2nd lead girl, Western Symphony.....

Balanchine's more American-ish ballets... and those are just off the top of my head. Oh, even the Siren in Prodigal, I hope Michelle will get cast for that this Spring at ABT.

Michelle is very strong, technically, but not a beautiful, classical ballerina type. I think she is needed at ABT because they must have those reliable, strong types, who can get through extremely demanding ballets, like Sylvia.... Gillian is better at it... but she's also tough for me to watch... Every company needs their strong, most reliable dancers, same way that The Mariinsky needs a Gonchar.

3. Does anyone think that perhaps the bureaucracy at ABT has failed her? No, I think the ballets ABT gives her

have failed Michelle, as well as lack of coaching.

5. Am I being too harsh? NO

7. Should I bother seeing her again? I think she's dancing "Sylvia" with Roberto Bolle this summer. While I'd love to see him, I'm not sure I want to take the chance at her disappointing me again.

Michelle's going to give you a strong, technical, performance.... Gillian is better.... again SO strong..... but I have yet to see an ABT lead female give Sylvia an outstanding performance, all around. Then again, the choreography for the lead female of Sylvia is unnecessarily difficult... As a former dancer, I clench my teeth watching so much of this ballet. It's only the gorgeous music that saves the day (perf) for me.

Thank you for your reply, sz.

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>I don't really see Michele as a Balanchine dancer. I believe that the Balanchine ballets you named

>require personality, individuality and a very musical attack. These are the qualities that Wiles most lacks.

>She is a very accomplished dancer who I can't name a perfect role for. Maybe she will be the all purpose

>principal who no one adores but few people avoid.

I don't think she's a Balanchine ballerina either... But I'd like to see her take on more of those types of roles, the more American, no dramatic acting required, "just dance" parts. She's not polished enough to be a fine, Classical ballerina, either in technique or acting abilities.

I recall seeing Michelle as one of the muses in Apollo awhile ago and she surprised me with her ease in "just dancing" her role while the other more Classical ballerinas looked uncomfortable. Michelle's Ballo was also the best of ABT's last City Center perfs of them. Michelle was quite good actually, not great, but improved from her first debut of Ballo.

What I'm saying is that I wish Michelle would take on more Balanchine training...by dancing his ballets and getting some of his training second-hand from those at NYCB who coach Mr. B's ballets. They would polish her where she needs most to be polished. I don't see much evidence of ABT coaching Michelle, ie, improving her performances from one to the next.

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One aspect of the Ballet Review interview w/ Wiles which hasn't been mentioned is the brief discussion of ABT's policy of performing works by American modern dance choreographers (and her subtle criticism of it.)

The interviewer asks Wiles if she would like to perform in works by Martha Graham, Mark Morris and Paul Taylor. She responds that she had performed in Graham's Diversion of Angels but that, "t takes time to get into the technique and figure out what Graham is all about. What I got was a dusted-over version and it was very rushed. I'm sure it's great, but I was just throwing it out there. It wasn't really what it was supposed to be."

This is exactly why Graham, during her lifetime, refused to allow other companies to perform her works!

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It's ironic that Wiles has been faulted on this thread and in the London reviews for lack of dance personality because in the Ballet Review interview she speaks of critics finally noticing for her "presence." At various points during the interview she says that

I think I have bided my time and learned as much as I could about technique. It's time to do something else . . . I'm more in tune with my feelings and it is my feelings that are out there now . . . [dancing is] about what's going on in your heart [and dancing gives her] a feeling of love.

Reading all this, you just want to root for her. She's still young. :)

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I saw her dance odette/odille. I think shes the kind of dancer more young people are, and will be fans of in the future. Just my opinion. . . & I'll allways be a fan!

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