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Michele Wiles


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#31 Alexandra

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 08:09 AM

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

#32 Dansuer85

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 11:16 AM

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

#33 allegromezzo18

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 06:04 PM

How would you compare michelle wiles with ashley bouder and with gillian murphy?
I would like to know your opinions.
thank you

#34 carbro

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 07:48 PM

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!

#35 jonellew

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 08:30 AM

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.

#36 bart

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 08:54 AM

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.

#37 jonellew

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:38 AM

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.

#38 Hans

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 03:45 PM

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:

#39 Memo

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 12:14 AM

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.

#40 vrsfanatic

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 05:49 AM

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:

#41 Memo

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 08:41 AM

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:

#42 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 10:08 AM

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

#43 dirac

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 10:52 AM

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.

#44 Alexandra

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 08:30 PM

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 :)

#45 Drew

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 09:23 PM

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!


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