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Amy Reusch

What happened back in 1980 at ABT?

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I was scanning Nancy Reynold's & Malcolm McCormick's "No Fixed Points" when on page 286 I came across the line

Early in 1945 Lucia Chase and the dsigner Oliver Smith became co-directors of the company positions they would hold until 1980, when they were forced out in favor of Mikhail Baryshnikov.

I didn't realize she was forced out... I thought she had decided to retire. I didn't realize it was a hostile transfer of power. Was a particular board member pushing for it or was it Baryshnikov's own personal ambition?

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Hmm. I see no one is touching THIS one with a ten-foot pole :D

I think it's true that Chase was pushed out. I don't know who or what was the force behind it. I don't think Baryshnikov was the impetus. From what I remember hearing at the time, the board went to him.

I think there was a sense that They (the board?) wanted the company to be bigger, to compete on international level, to have a uniform corps, to emphasize technique, to modernize. Chase was getting on, and was ill. There are always personality issues involved in something like this, but I can't help there.

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Hmm... I didn't know about that either. Given that she must have been about 83 in 1980, I always thought she'd just retired! Very interesting!

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Wasn't this supposed to be one of the retroactive ironies of the movie The Turning Point, where Adelaide -- supposedly the Lucia Chase character -- asks Anne Bancroft's character to coach Lesley Browne's character in one of the major ballets (Sleeping Beauty maybe?), and then comments something about everyone getting old and having to move on?

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I love the notion of retroactive irony -- thank you for that, Helene!

I didn't know her age, and so looked it up. According to Horst Koegler's Oxford Dictionary of Ballet she was born in 1907, so she was a mere slip of a girl, 73, in 1980. She was still performing, too. Queen Mother in Swan Lake. I swear I saw her as the Older Sister in Pillar and the Mother in the House of Bernardo Alba.

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Alexandra, I don't know about the House of Bernardo Alba, but she was still doing the step mother in Fall River Legend possibly up to the time you were seeing ABT. But Pillar, I don't think so! That work had not been done since Nora Kaye, until '64 or '65, not sure exactly, when Tudor staged it for Sallie Wilson, and Lucia was no longer the Elder Sister at that time......it was me :wink:

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Alas, I came to ABT after you had left it. When I first saw Pillar, it was in the late 1970s, the Sallie Wilson-Marcos Paredes-Gayle Young era.

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I just had from a horse's mouth (he was there at the time), that Chase was forced out because the Board wanted Baryshnikov's big name. He apparently was only paid for performing while he was AD and pulled down a salary of $1 a year for his duties as AD.

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I've heard what LMCTech posted above as well -- and from good sources. But I just got an email from someone who's also a good source with a different story. And since I don't believe the company history on this has yet been written (meaning, nothing's in print), I think we'd better stick to the gossip rule here as well for current events, even though it's a 20-year-old story.

Therefore, I'm going to close the thread.

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