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The ABT Ballerina


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 06:46 PM

ABT is about to undergo a major generational shift in ballerinas. Kent's on maternity leave, McKerrow may be retiring. (Both are senior ballerinas, so even if they have one or two more seasons, it's time to realize they're not going to be there 5 years from now).

Who are the next ABT ballerinas? Who do you see leading the company 5 years from now? Or, to look at the question in another way, are we squarely in the age of the Ballerino, with the ballerina taking second place? Will that be the situation 5 years from now? I realize that one dancer of any gender could turn the whole thing upside down, but just playing the cards we're dealt now, what do you think?

#2 Thalictum

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 08:10 PM

They're not up through the ranks ABT, but Part and Meunier are world-class ballerinas -- they could outclass most of the other principals on the roster --- in my humble opinion. They have star quality in spades.

#3 Lovebird

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 08:32 PM

I see Gillian Murphy as the next big starballerina, she will certainly be one of the leaders, female side. Also, Irina Dvorovenko, she is the only big female personality onstage at ABT right now. Paloma Herrera, of all people, seems to be designated to be the ABT's mature ballerina, the upholder of the older generations "values". Michelle Wiles, even if we will have to wait a bit, is also a prospective leader of the pack and is coming into her own.

#4 Dale

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 11:52 PM

Of course, I've got to agree complately with Thalictum about Meunier and Part, who got a combined performance total of, I think, 4 or 5 this fall season (and in small or bit roles too). I do think Murphy has grown a lot and in the right roles Dvorovenko, Wiles, and most of the other woman on the roster can be wonderful. One of the problems is (and not just at ABT), and Aloff brought this up in her recent ABT review on danceviewtimes.com, female dancers here don't show enough mystery, allure, perfume (what-have-you). They are almost anti-romantic. They don't know how (or haven't been coached, or the rep won't allow) them to create a special world. As Farrell said in a recent interview, "You can't create magic without thinking magically." But how can you think magically if you are put in a ballet like Clear or Hereafter? ABT put on some really good ballets this season and we started to see some magic from the women in Symphonic Variations, Theme, Pillar. The Fosythe piece less so, even though it was a very interesting piece and good for the company. Although the snippet shown didn't make a good impression, Raymonda is a ballerina's ballet and hopefully it will inspire ballerina performances. I only hope it won't be padded with additional choreography for men and turned into a Smackdown of male variations.

Let's not forget Nina Ananiashvili, who should be back with the company for the Met season.

But I do worry about the absence of senior ballerinas for the younger dancers to look up to.

#5 zerbinetta

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 12:11 AM

Indeed. let's not forget Nina but she, too, is a senior ballerina although showing no signs of wear & tear as yet. One can only hope her strong technique & relatively few injuries will allow us the pleasure of her dancing for some time to come.

#6 Jane Simpson

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 05:37 AM

Things can change faster than you think, too - reading about Zhong-Jing Fang reminds me that it's less than 4 years since Wendy Ellis pulled another unknown out of the corps, at the Royal Ballet, to dance in Symphonic Variatons - a girl called Alina Cojocaru. So just maybe...

#7 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 06:26 AM

Jane, the one thing I hope doesn't happen to Fang is that they try to make a STAR out of her. I wish that you (and Lynette and the other Londoners who know Ashton a bit better) could see her now while her gifts stay innocent. She's not all that strong; she bobbled a few piques, but that simply made her seem more real at the moment. And her ports de bras and her coordination. . .

If only ABT had a repertory for her that won't coarsen her. But what to give her next? I'd love to see her do more Ashton - and what comes to mind is the Spring variation in Cinderella. Of course, we don't have that version.

#8 carbro

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 10:26 AM

And yet for one who longs to see a good La Sylphide but has seen a void in terms of potential Sylphs among ABT's current roster, Fang gives one hope. She has the lightness and a suggestion of other-worldliness.

Ditto to Thalictum and Dale's remarks bemoaning the few token appearances of Part and Meunier. Causes one to wonder why ABT hired them and then proceeded not to use them. (I did not see Part at all this past season).

#9 Manhattnik

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 10:56 AM

Of the established ABT women, Dvorovenko is currently the most interesting. Second is Wiles, although she needs some serious coaching if she wants to mature past her current spunky athleticism.

It should go without saying that both Part and Meunier have already had liberal applications of Ballerina Polish. I can't fathom their current lack of employment by ABT.

ABT must look to their future, and immediately. McKerrow is retiring, Kent is out, and may not dance long after her return. Regular guests Ferri and Ananiashvili are both getting up there, too. Herrera seems content to phone in most of her performances, and Tuttle is, at best, a good utility infielder.

While ABT has some promising corps and soloist girls, I can't see any of them becoming major ballerinas. As for Fang, it's far too early to tell.

I imagine McKenzie will follow ABT's time-honored tradition of grabbing established stars from elsewhere. I would not at all be surprised should he offer someone like Lorna Feijoo a juicy contract, or Alina Cojucaru.

#10 Marga

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 11:48 AM

I would love to see Maria Bystrova move up. It's time she was given the chance to show us what she can do. She was so promising as a student. And what lines! Perhaps Malakhov will take her to Berlin if ABT doesn't use her. Michelle Wiles should be taking her place in the upper echelon before too long. She's on track to be a principal dancer. How long are they going to make her wait?

#11 Hans

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 11:52 AM

Marga, I definitely agree with you about Bystrova. She was one of the Kirov Academy's most promising students, so it's hard to believe that she's really fit for nothing but corps work.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 11:56 AM

I'm glad somebody mentioned Maria Bystrova. She's been in the corps for what, five years? And the only soloist roles I'm aware of her doing are Older Sister in Pillar and Rosaline in Romeo and Juliet. This, for a very classical dancer. (I saw her school performance at 14 and was bowled over. To me, she was a ballerina then. Beautiful schooling, beautiful technique, a very fresh, gentle, but authoritative stage presence.)

#13 nysusan

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 01:21 PM

I am pinning my hopes on Murphy. I had very mixed feelings about her when I first saw her during the 2002 Met season (all technique, no artistry) but she seems to improve each time I see her - literally. I thought McKerrowís Hagar was the best by far, but Murphyís was also quite moving, and a giant step in her development as a dramatic ballerina. Isnít she only around 21-22? When I think back to the truly great ballerinaís Iíve seen like Fonteyn & Makarova I realize that neither of them were ingenues when I first saw them perform. Each had years to hone their craft and develop their unique stage personas. Iím not saying that Murphy will ever be in their league, but her stage presence and understanding of a role seems to grow so enormously with each performance that with coaching, the right partners and the right roles made on her I think sheís our best hope.

I also think that Dvorovenko is the most complete ballerina of the current crop (not counting Nina & Ferri). I know that she has her problems, and Iím sure that there will be people reading this who disagree vehemently, but to me, despite her shortcomings, she is the only one of the current crop of female principals with any mystery, any perfume. IMO, Dvorovenkoís biggest problem is that she has too much perfume, but Iíd rather too much than too little. I agree completely with Aloff and with Daleís assessment of the current situation with the ABT women. And I love Daleís quote from Farrell - I think she puts it perfectly.

Wiles is certainly promising and Fang was beautiful in Symphonic Variations, but I think itís way too soon to tell whether either of them will fulfill their promise. Not being familiar with Meunier and Part before they joined ABT I Ďm not prepared to anoint them as the next ones - Iíve been very impressed with what little Iíve seen from them but they havenít been given nearly enough to do at ABT. Unfortunately it seems clear that management isnít ready to give them the opportunities they need at this time...

#14 Watermill

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 02:21 PM

A quick ABT site check shows her joining the corps in 2000. What amazing depth ABT has!
But how slowly they move up the ladder...

#15 carbro

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 02:31 PM

How slowly, yes, and excruciatingly frustrating for us. :wink: But I sincerely believe that, long run, too slow is better for the dancers (and those who love them :D) than too fast. Finding the perfect rate of progression for each young dancer is probably part science, part art.

This does not apply to mature dancers, though. (You know who I mean. :P )


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