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The ABT Ballerina


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#16 zerbinetta

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 03:40 PM

Murphy should be about 24 now & seems to improve by the moment. She is developing the gracious manner & has become a wonderful actress.

I wish I could share some posters' enthusiasm for Irina D but I find her totally lacking in harmony. musical depth & expressiveness.

Yes, her curtain calls were amusing in the Grand Pas but the whole performance smacked of burlesque by a ballerina who seems already a burlesque of ballerinas, so it became redundant. I much preferred the performance of Reyes/Cornejo. At least they seemed to be genuinely having fun.

It isn't as though I haven't tried with Irina & I will keep trying, I suppose, but I just don't get it. I have enjoyed vulgar ballerinas from time to time: Raissa Struchkova or Timofeyeva of the old Bolshoi, for instance, were quite a treat in the right roles. But all that remains in my memory after an Irina performance is the Cheshire cat grin that stays behind .. & is the only memory of the performance.

Feel free to argue with me.

#17 balletstar811

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 07:31 PM

While ABT has some promising corps and soloist girls, I can't see any of them becoming major ballerinas


Have you seen Kristi Boone? Or Sarah Lane? I can see those two as stars in a few years... but perhaps I am bias since they both trained where I do... but really, they are fabulous, and I think they have potential to be principals.

#18 Manhattnik

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 08:14 PM

Have you seen Kristi Boone? Or Sarah Lane?


Yes to both. I think Boone is a wonderful dancer. She's strong and fearless and commands attention whenever she's onstage. I see her as becoming more of a featured soloist than a ballerina -- she could use a bit more hauteur.

As for Sarah Lane, she could certainly dance up a storm with ABT II, but I'd prefer discussing her prospects at ABT after she's a bit more seasoned there, that is, after she's actually danced a step onstage as a member of the company.

I've heard a lot about Bystrova, but given her meager opportunities, I haven't had a chance to form an opinion one way or another. If she's even half all that, her lack of employment by McKenzie is puzzling, unless he was using her as a warm-up for his casting of Meunier and Part.

#19 carbro

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 09:35 PM

The difference between being outstanding in class -- even a very advanced class -- and having ballerina potential can enormous. Maria Bystrova, despite her height, tends to get lost among the other corps dancers, lovely as she is. Sarah Lane was certainly a sparkling personality in Studio Co., but I didn't notice her onstage this season (if indeed she was, during any of my performances). The higher up you go, the harder it is to distinguish yourself. Context is everything. And of course, the one who catches my eye and won't let go doesn't necessarily have the same effect on everyone else.

I think ballet masters would be well advised to climb up to nosebleed land every now and then and see their dancers from an unaccustomed perspective. The one who looks great from eight feet away may not look like much from half a city block away.

What is really exciting, though, is when a new corps dancer shines through, reasserting their early promise. Such was the case this past season with (and I know I'm bending the "Ballerina-ness" of this thread) Danny Tidwell, whose polish, musicality and joy made him a standout among the Theme men.

#20 Alexandra

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 09:47 PM

I didn't see Bystrova in class, but in performance, in the pas de trois from Fairy Doll -- she had the projection, the acting, as well as the technique. I haven't noticed her in the corps -- but that wouldn't worry me. It would be how she dances a solo. I believe she had one chance at a Shades solo, but I didn't know anyone who saw her. (She was one of our first Dancers of the Week, when she won the Princess Grace Award.) I also hasten to add that I'm not nominating her for Ballerina of the Future, just as a promising dancer who's disappeared in the corps.

#21 boydancer05

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 04:55 PM

Isn't Misty Copeland supposed to have a bright future there? I haven't seen her dance but from what I've heard from people who have she's supposed to be really good.

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 05:35 PM

She's a good, dependable dancer, and IMO certainly a solid soloist, but ballerina is a sort of special animal. "Principal Female Ballet Dancer" is not an exact definition for the sort.

#23 balletstar811

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 08:32 PM

Misty and Sarah are sharing the role of Sugar Plum fairy in this years production of my ballet school's/company's Nutcracker... I have heard much about Misty, but I've never seen her dance, so I am excited!

#24 Big Lee

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 11:13 PM

I could have sworn someone mentioned this in this thread but now I can't find it, but I think an interesting question to ask is if you were running ABT, and this were possible, would you trade (like a baseball trade) one of the "Big 4" male dancers (who I'm going to define as Carreno, Stiefel, Corella and Malakhov) for a top female ballerina like Cojacaru or Vishneva, to mention two who have recently danced w/ ABT.

It's a question that I find difficult to answer - both on an artistic and economic level. Lot's of people love those guys, so would the economic loss of losing one be made up by the ballerina?

I'll go out on a limb and say if I could get both Cojacaru and Vishneva for one of the men, I'd do it. One on one, I'd still probably do it.

Edited by Big Lee, 15 November 2003 - 11:15 PM.


#25 pj

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 08:52 PM

I would like to put my vote in for Carmen Corella. I know she's tall, but look at the Kirov dancers (their entire corps is about the same size as Carmen). She has wonderful stage presence and polished technique. Every time I see her dance, even in not such a large role, she IS the QUEEN of the stage; an essential part of a ballerina's presence. :yes:

#26 balletstar811

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 05:52 PM

Sarah Lane was certainly a sparkling personality in Studio Co., but I didn't notice her onstage this season (if indeed she was, during any of my performances


She moved up to apprentice this year, I don't know how much work she gets to do with the company.

#27 Drew

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 01:16 AM

I always find myself coming back to the fact that ABT's featured repertory cries out for ballerinas and, indeed, for experienced ballerinas. If you are going to organize the Met. season, in particular, around Raymonda, Swan Lake, La Bayadere et. al. you need an array of really commanding dancers to lead those performances -- male and female certainly, but especially female. No matter how many male solos you add or how many male roles you expand, these ballets are, in dance terms (though not always in narrative terms) ballerina-centric. Swan Lake can rise to greatness on the basis of a great Odette/Odile as long as the Siegfried knows what he is doing...It cannot rise to greatness on the basis of a great Siegfried...

I am genuinely baffled by the casting, or lack thereof, of Part and Meunier. I admit that, as far as Part is concerned, I am writing more on the basis of her reputation than anything else since my memories of her are few and vague (though lovely). But just a few years ago I saw Meunier dance a splendid Odette/Odile at NYCB. I also saw Part and Meunier dancing solo roles in Bayadere at ABT in the spring, and neither dancer looked out of shape or technically 'off'...They are both tall and expansive, and it may be difficult finding them partners, but surely not impossible...It's not as if ballerinas are thick on the ground at ABT -- that's the whole point of this thread; it's not as if there aren't principal parts to which they would be suited (Meunier in Ballet Imperial seems plausible...Part as Medora in Corsaire...either Meunier or Part in Swan Lake and/or possibly Raymonda); and, to approach things more cynically, it's also not as if one couldn't come up with a P.R. campaign about either of them -- I can imagine several stories that one could pitch to newspapers for features etc.

I am not, as it happens, writing as a particular fan of these two dancers -- I haven't seen them enough to be that sort of fan, though I have admired Meunier's Odette/Odile and I have also enjoyed her performances in several Balanchine roles and I vaguely remember Part as someone I wanted to see more of... The reason I have decided to join the chorus on these two dancers is that they are not two inexperienced, youngsters who have yet to prove themselves in the big time. On the contrary, both have quite a bit of experience with major roles in major companies, and, had their careers gone a little differently, both might be arriving at their 'peak' right now, rather than filling out smaller roles --

Obviously ABT's management knows things I don't. In any case, I understand that both dancers need time to adapt to their new artistic home. But it's my belief (and obviously, from what has been said above, not just my belief!) that they are artistically mature enough and talented enough that they should be doing some of that adapting in the context of genuine ballerina roles. Given the paucity of ballerinas at ABT it seems self-defeating of the company not to let them at least try.

#28 carbro

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 02:41 AM

How can they adapt if they're not given the opportunities in which they can develop? Huh? :shrug: Huh? :shrug:

I also wonder if ABT is more interested in developing home-growns than in assimilating into the fold artists who reached maturity elsewhere. Still, the question persists: Why hire and then not use?

Oh, I am becoming more cynical than I want to be. :)

#29 Alexandra

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 06:29 AM

I'd second, third, and fourth Drew's first paragraph above. And I think part of the reason for the situation at ABT now is that the management doesn't see the situation that way. McKenzie's formative years as a performer were spent in the Joffrey, and that was a very different company from ABT. It wasn't dependent upon the big ballets, it wasn't ballerina-centric, and it carved a niche for itself with its youth-oriented repertory that, in addition to a history of excellent revivals and acquisitions of classical works, commissioned a lot of pop ballets. Drew's right: if you're going to do the 19th century repertory, you have to have ballerinas who can carry them. It doesn't help, I think, that reviews and press coverage generally is so focused on the men -- gosh, what great guys! those wild men of ABT! wow, what gorgeous bare chests! etc etc etc (And it won't help to have these replaced by a slew of articles suddenly demanding, "Where is the ABT ballerina?" as though that problem just surfaced this morning.)

On Meunier and Part, there are so many possibilities and we don't know what's going on. There are excellent dancers who never quite assimilate into a company (think Bruhn at NYCB or Godunov at ABT, if I may mention those men in the same breath). And there are quite a few TBAs on ABT's spring season casting in the brochure, so let's wait and see what happens this spring.

And don't forget, Volochkova's a free agent now......... :grinning:

#30 Thalictum

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 10:12 AM

Drew, Alexandra, and Carbro, I couldn't agree with you more. And Carbro, a little cynicism is not a bad thing!

The Met casting has now been posted on balletalert.com, and it is an outrage that Part is not dancing Raymonda. I saw a Russian TV special on her in which she danced the scarf variation and she was of course divine in it.
Part's teacher Inna Zubkovskaya, was herself a great Raymonda and worked with Part on the role before Zubkovskaya's death in 2001.

The realpolitik behind Part and Meunier's shameful undercasting is the leadership role hijacked by some of ABT's senior performing personnel.

Edited by Thalictum, 22 November 2003 - 10:20 AM.



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