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32 out 55 dancers new -- any comments?


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37 replies to this topic

#16 vagansmom

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 03:49 PM

Karla Kovatch is moving to Festival Ballet in Rhode Island.

#17 Hans

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 07:05 PM

How about Kim Uphoff?

#18 jbtlse

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Posted 10 August 2003 - 07:26 PM

Kim Uphoff and Tiffany Hedman will return to BBII.
I read that article about Houston as well--I think it was in a Houston based paper.

#19 Alexandra

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 06:50 AM

I just wanted to pop in and say thank you to everyone -- these posts have been models of responsible information sharing. :) You all are wonderful :) :)

#20 Joseph

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 07:01 AM

Simon Ball, Frances Perez-Ball and Ilya Kuznakuv (completely wrong spelling of this last name, sorry!) are all at Houston Ballet.

#21 Paul Parish

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 09:10 AM

All I can add is that Lorna Feijoo and Roman Rykine are dancers I'd walk a mile to see--

When Helgi Tomasson took over San Francisco Ballet, there was a huge turnover -- and the "new kids" he brought in had a completely different way of dancing from Michael Smuin’s -- it went from being a gesture-based aesthetic to a --how to put it -- musically-based aesthetic.... The phrasing was different, the new dancers had dance-flair. They could really do the mazurka step, they really cared about their action -- how, say, they finished their glissades, as a matter of dance style. Over the years he got them to enrich their phrasing potential -- Elizabeth Loscavio, who must have been born with it, her musicality was so spontaneous, like Ella Fitzgerald's, was in that crew, and she danced virtually every night, in the corps as a soloist, as the ballerina. Christopher Stowell also -- Tomasson wasn't afraid of hiring short dancers, and Martins had passed him over since there weren't enough short girls at City Ballet to put him with -- and WHAT a career Stowell had here. Like Loscavio, he started out as a bright, light dancer with feet that talked to you -- and danced all the time, in small and in large roles, and learned over the years to soften and deepen his phrasing, to land like a Russian, with more weight, and not be always about the arrival -- he became a remarkable artist here, with many many possible ways of phrasing a dance. I just use him as an instance, but it certainly HAS paid off for us in San Francisco for a director to select a kind of dancer he wants to work with, and then take them from there and develop them.

And of course, Tomasson hired Nissinen, who was a great asset to SFB….

This could be a very exciting period for Boston Ballet....

#22 vagansmom

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 09:20 AM

I often wonder, though, if AD's don't give the current crop of dancers enough time, if any, to show that they too can respond artistically to the new director's vision. How does an AD know that any given dancer isn't really just dying to dance Balanchine, for instance, after years of more traditional classics? Is it only the rare dancer who can make such a transition? My gut tells me no, but I don't know enough to have an informed belief.

Or is it that AD's are afraid to give such dancers a chance, afraid they may have an allegiance to the former AD, so that cleaning house, so to speak, just seems like an easier alternative?

I don't know if these questions belong on this thread or if they should be moved, but the Boston changes may be a perfect example.

#23 carbro

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 10:38 AM

To pose a question: Is it fairer to dancers to keep them employed and never use them, or to just fire them from the start? I seriously don't know.

Edited by carbro, 11 August 2003 - 11:40 AM.


#24 citibob

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 10:45 AM

It's never good to hire someone for a job and then not ask that person to do the job. It's not good for the employer or employee.

#25 vagansmom

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 01:10 PM

Oh dear, Carbro, so now that's another layer to the discussion. But that again begs the question I have: why won't AD's give the current dancers a chance? Certainly letting them go is kinder than not using them, but why not try them out? They have the experience, they're often at the peak of their abilities yet they're let go in favor of someone new.

I guess my question is: Is an experienced dancer so unmoldable? I'd love to hear from the professionals on this one.

#26 doug

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 01:21 PM

Hasn't Nissinen been at Boston a year already?

#27 Alexandra

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 02:26 PM

Lots of interesting issues and questions raised; wish I had time to comment now more fully, but I just wanted to answer Doug. Yes, Nissinen completed his first year at Boston Ballet. So he did watch the dancers for a year before making changes.

Paul, thank you for that wonderful description of Stowell -- if ever there was an example of a director cleaning house because he knew exactly what he wanted, and then making it happen, I think it was Helgi Tomasson in San Francisco. I remember, too, some dancers -- like Reyes -- that he kept and that he did change (for the better, IMO). And he also kept dancers like Cisneros (and, I think, Berman was there before he came) and worked with them.

#28 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 03:24 PM

But Paul! Elizabeth Loscavio, for instance, was already there, I remember her in the corps at her very beginning there. I suspect you're not a Smuin fan so I won't go too far in defending him to you, but there are things Michael gets not enough credit for because people had this feeling that Helgi had somehow reinvented the proverbial wheel in San Francisco. He didn't hire Anita Paciotti, but she has been a ballet mistress there since she stopped dancing (with Fille Mal Gardee, a ballet that I have to assume that Michael programmed, given its timing). It's not because Helgi didn't care for her aesthetic that she was kept there to rehearse people. Yes, Alexandra, Joanna Berman was already there and already doing solo roles. And it is not true that Michael would not hire short men. He had them in the highest rank. Remember Julian Montaner and Andre Reyes? And others? Catherine Batcheller was already there, she went to Stuttgart and later to Birmingham Royal Ballet. I think Shannon Lilly went there as well, and she was there with Michael too. Ricardo Bustamante spent some time with ABT later (though I don't recall if it were immediately afterward), and he was there with Michael. It is with Michael that the company first did Balanchine's "Midsummer", and brought Diana Adams to oversee it, and rehearsed it with Michael and Bob Gladstein, and Mr. B's "Western Symphony", which was already in their repertoire when I first saw it, or Concerto Barocco, which was the second ballet I saw there, with Nancy Dickson and Jamie Zimmermann. They did old-fashioned ballets like "Con Amore" (which had been done by the New York City Ballet in the 1950s), which was done at the first performance of the company under Helgi's direction, which was the performance at Stern Grove that year. I could go on (in great detail) but I guess I'm disagreeing with you a fair amount here! :)

#29 Paul Parish

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 08:40 PM

Sorry, Mme. Hermine, you are right.There IS a lot to say for Smuin (though I'm often exasperated) -- his "Romeo and Juliet" is not only better than Tomasson's, it's better than Cranko's, and in some ways better than MacMillan's. maybe I made it sound like I don't think there's room for a great gesture-based company.

I got carried away, perhaps. I take every possible opportunity to lament the loss of Loscavio, and i have to say, i didn't realize she was at SFB already... She IS local, like Shannon Lilly -- both were trained by Danny Simmons at Contra Costa Ballet (I think). TOmasson featured her immediately -- she MADE his COntradanses. His first year, we were VERY aware of Loscavio. Certainly Berman was here (she's local, trained by Maria Vegh at Marin Ballet), Berman was a VERY vivid creature as the "other girl" in Smuin's "Hearts," his last great ballet for SFB (a retelling of Les Enfants du Paradis, which I thought was a fantastic ballet).

In fact there was a tremendous dancer with your last name, or something almost the same, whom Smuin built "Hearts" around -- whom Helgi did NOT keep -- which is as good an example as I could come up with of the differences between SFB before and after. Meja -- or was it Mejia? -- was a THRILLING dancer, danced with his heart in his throat, with weight, power, momentum, he was over his edge all the time, he made it but you could not believe he wasn't going off the rails, it was enormously exciting -- there was a manege of double sauts de basques -- or something like that -- at the climax of the ballet (which was set, very cleverly, and sensitively, to Piaf songs). The role he was playing was that of Baptiste, so all that white satin costume was floating and flashing like a flag in a hurricane), and I think the house went so on a roar, the noise was unbelievable. We were all out of our minds. But his dancing was romantic, not classical -- and under that costume...?

Helgi put Stowell in that role -- when it was done the next year -- perhaps to challenge Stowell, perhaps to kill the ballet. Stowell did try, but he wasn't ready to smolder, bank his fires, and then turn up the heat like Mejia did -- it was very early in his career. I think he DID respect the role, I konw he danced an excerpt from it at benefits.

Some other dancers Tomasson kept were Christine Peary (who was not very turned-out but was a demon on pointe, she was thrilling in Forsythe's corkscrewing pirouettes), Jamie Zimmerman, Grace Madduell, and of course Cisneros -- and he has kept Anita Paciotti (who had been with Oakland Ballet before she came to Oakland), who finished her career as ballerina blazingly in Smuin's Medea -- a tremendously theatrical ballet, which Dance Theater of Harlem has in its rep (but since it's set for them by Cisneros, who danced Creusa, not Medea, the title role when I saw it last was not filled out to its largest possibilities). he also let Attila Ficzere have a grand finale in Don Juan (which had been made on him).
And Val Caniparoli has had MANY opportunities....

Smuin is a very clever man, and he has a great way with STEPS that he's not given credit for.... my reservations have to do with a laisser faire way he has with his dancers, who get away with murder. He's probably too nice a guy..... in his latest, Zorro, which had a LOT of fine invention, the effect was ruined by Claudia Alfieri's clueless, generic bunhead "interpretation" of the ingenue. He should have taken her and pasted some convent-girl style on her, but....

Reyes would do gargouillades at hip height, but he wouldn't do a decent glissade. TOmasson DID keep Reyes, and made him tidy up his glissades -- he had to do 8 of them in a circle, Bournonville-style, in Tomasson's Poulenc Concerto..... He didn't stay long.

#30 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:24 AM

Paul, just because a director has gotten a thrilling and romantic performance out of a dancer, and used that one facet of a dancer's personality, it doesn't mean they are incapable of being classical. Remember that, most especially in the case of a dancer whose dancing and repertory you may not ever have seen again. And "Brahms-Haydn Variations", to name one, is a very nice classical piece, not "gesture-based" IMO at all (I have problems with your use of that phrase in reference to Michael's work in general). If you saw Brahms-Haydn, you saw "what was going on" under that costume. Michael did do beautiful classical work too. Michael put Christopher into Hearts, and he did two performances of Hearts the first year it was done, as the second cast; though I did not see him, I saw all the rest of the performances. In the case of Andre Reyes, what you've written makes it sound as though he left SFB because he couldn't bear having to dance cleanly!!. Also, Daniel Meja left Helgi, not the other way around, with a request for release early in his last contract, which was granted, to join Festival Ballet in London. I saw Medea and Anita was thrilling, by the way, and although I cannot say for sure, was it not Julian Montaner and Andre Reyes as the two brothers?

After all these years!

Edited by pmeja, 13 August 2003 - 08:23 AM.



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