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The Star System - Rockwell in the Times


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 10:10 AM

pmeja posted the following in today's links thread and I thought it might spark an interesting discussion:

John Rockwell in the New York Times on the exploitation of star power:

http://www.nytimes.c...nce/26star.html

Now I’m thinking about to what extent a company should market its stars. How much should the company leadership single out individual performers, cast them in leading roles and plaster their pictures all over advertising? Is this just common sense, the audience having always been lured by stars, or is it unfair to other fine performers and destructive to company morale?


The article ends with the following question:

Tough questions. Not only are all performers not equal, but they’re also not equally good, nor do they compel the public’s attention in equal measure. Mr. Gelb has made his choice, however much he may have to stroke the egos of aggrieved prima donnas. Will dance follow his lead?



#2 Helene

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 10:59 AM

The smart thing about what Gelb is doing with Netrebko is not all that groundbreaking: if you have a work that won't bring them into the house in droves, you pair that opera with a star. It just so happens that this star is young and gorgeous and appeals to both the "Voice is everything" and "Looks are everything" crowds. (Like, in the past, Ezio Pinza.) It's pretty traditional to build productions of little-known or medium-draw operas around stars: there was not a lot of Handel when Treigle/Sills co-starred in Giulio Cesare and who really knew these operas when the Donizetti Queen Trilogy (Roberto Devereux, Maria Stuarda, Anna Bolena) was staged for Sills, and that was 30-35 years ago.

One of the things that is missing now that older stars in the past had were the opportunities to perform in movie musicals, which are rare now, and on the now-defunct Bell Telephone Hour, Ed Sullivan Show, and Firestone Theater in both classical and popular genres, and to appear on talk shows that weren't about one-liners: Mike Douglas, Dick Cavett, David Frost, Johnny Carson, etc. This created name recognition in the popular media that fed the opera house.

You don't need Anna Netrebko, who did sing Mimi, to sell La Boheme, though. Likewise, Tosca sells itself, so that the Met can cast the wonderful Cynthia Lawrence, whose name won't fill a major house anywhere, but whose singing and fidelity to the text, should, in my opinion. The same with Carmen, La Traviata, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto. Get to the recent Don Carlos, and the cast had three huge stars: Hvorostovsky, Pape, and Borodina, because not that many people are willing to risk attending performances of a four+ hour lesser-known late Verdi opera if there aren't a few compelling voices.

Ballet shouldn't need Diana Vishneva to sell Swan Lake. But it may need Diana Vishneva to sell an ABT Apollo or Symphonie Concertante or some other ballet that is in a triple bill. I'm not suggesting that this is appropriate casting, but following the principle in opera, the draw is either the work or the performer. Likewise, as dancers get to the end of their careers, audiences take the chance to see the last Bocca Romeo and Juliet and the last Ferri Manon, and I suspect many NYCB audience members will go to see Weese's last performances of the Winter Season, regardless of what she is dancing.

Given the dearth of original choreography at ABT, there aren't many productions that are built around any dancer, the way that Balanchine as an original choreographer created ballets around Suzanne Farrell, like Don Quixote or Chaconne. (There have been many comments by dancers who've said that Balanchine did not like to cast understudies in his new ballets, with descriptions of the mini-crises and program changes this caused.) Push Comes to Shove is one of the last I remember, a Tharp tour-de-force for Baryshnikov.

I'm hoping that when Patricia Barker retires at the end of this PNB season with a special performance, she'll have the equivalent of "I made it for Melissa." But she could stand center stage with a paper bag on her head, and people would come to pay homage to her and her career.

#3 SanderO

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 11:14 AM

This was a very interesting article in this AM paper and is as much about art as it is about marketing the arts... ballet and opera.

World class companies can attract and do have the top talent and will use that as a commercial draw. It underscores the fact that these are businesses and lots of people are employed in a large company.

But how DO you get away from the attraction of a great artist in leading roles? Ballet and opera usually have lead roles and principal dancers etc.

One thing in the article which I found interesting and I paraphrase was the differing approach to multiple performances of the same piece. ABT tends to do all the same ballets in a run, with different casts... rotating principals. This has multiple benefits. It is cheaper than striking and erecting sets constantly. It allows principals to rest since they are not going to be the only ones performing the role. It also allows the cast to stay focused and the ballet goer to see the difference in approaches in quick succession of different principals. This IS one of the most interesting things about ballet... to see different artists do the same role and how it is different.

The Met Opera takes another approach and stages different operas one after the other in a rotation over the whole season which often features the same leads at different dates as is the case of Anna Netrebko singing I Puritani this season, stating tomorrow.

She like, some ballerinas are major draws, yet ballet companies are not as keen to market their principals as much as their companies. The article had an interesting bit about Balanchine and Farrell and his archetype Balanchine girls.

In truth of fact, each performance and cast is a different version of the piece, whether opera or ballet and one of the reasons why we return again and again to see the some works. And then the staging can change or the choreography and the only thing which seems to be constant is the music. But wait, the tempi and so forth can be changed too, so we have almost and infinite theme and variations and this is a hook for ballet and opera lovers...

This was a very thought provoking article by Mr. Rockwell and featured a lovely picture of Wendy Whelan of NYCB.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 11:30 AM

The thing is, though, the star system in ballet isn't new -- not remotely. It began in the 1830s in Paris when Dr. Veron (director of the opera) pitted Taglioni and Elssler against each other. It sold tickets and provoked a lot of comments that it Was The End of Ballet As We Know It (because if people come only to see the star, if Star breaks foot, no one comes; also, star retires. And iin fact, one of the causes of the end of the Romantic movement and the long crash of ballet in Paris was that they ran out of stars.)

Helene mentioned the different approach taken by Balanchine (which is the same approach the Maryinsky/Kirov did): put the ballet first. They had stars, but they were cast in the ballets most suited to them (something that still prevails in opera, but it's probably only a matter of time before some tenor wanting to sing Boito's Mephistopheles will take the tenor voice where it has never gone before :tiphat: )

The star system, its pleasures and problems, were a constant topic of conversation and dance writing in the late 1970s, '80s, and '90s.

#5 On Pointe

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 11:09 PM

The Rockwell article was thought-provoking, but he left out an important aspect: stardom is a lot of work for the star. No doubt there are many dancers who would like the star push, or think they would. But are they willing to expose their private lives, their hopes and dreams, in the manner that the popular culture demands from its celebrities, even in the so-called high-brow arenas of opera and ballet? Bill Murray has said that all those people who think they want to be rich and famous should try rich first, to see if that isn't enough! Of course while Nureyev managed to amass an astonishing fortune, most ballet dancers are in no danger of becoming rich. But certainly dancers in the recent past have been dogged by gossip columnists and paparazzi, without the insulating comfort of wealth.

Stars do emerge, even in unlikely settings. Rockwell mentions Alicia Graf with the Ailey Company. He also writes that she seems to have engendered a lot of professional jealousy from the other dancers, who perhaps see her as an interloper from the ballet world. (And why isn't she in ABT or NYCB?) Stardom can be very lonely.

And what if they don't actually live up to the hype? A few months ago, a journeyman soprano (can't remember her name) got the chance of a lifetime when after years of waiting tables, she got to go on for an indisposed star at the Met. It was a great story, and she got a big anticipatory writeup in the New York Times. But her performance was merely adequate, and seems to have done little for her career. There have certainly been ballerinas thrust into the limelight long before they were ready. I can think of at least two fine dancers who IMO never lived up to the premature prominence they were given, and seemed to suffer because of it. And if an anointed star gives a below par performance, the critics can be brutal.

No doubt there are plenty of attractive, witty, and engaging dancers who could increase the audience for ballet, whether they are actually stars are not. (I'd love to see a pair of dancers on The Amazing Race. Foreign languages, airport maneuvers, tough tasks on little food and sleep - they would absolutely kill!) But today's dancers are not encouraged to think of themselves as part of entertainment. The public will make its own stars. But it has to know that individuals with star quality exist. Perhaps for the sake of company cohesion, ballet companies these days seem reluctant to exploit the natural appeal of their dancers.

#6 SanderO

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 03:59 AM

There are stars and there are stars. In the arts of ballet and opera. for example, no star is born overnight. It takes years of hard work to craft a real artist in dance or opera. It's probably less of the notion that there is enourmous amount of talent out there and it is often a lucky break that shoots one to star status as in acting, or perhaps pop music.

Celebrity status, need not be about talent, and often is not, as anyone who follows the US media's obessession with the likes of Paris Hilton or Britany Spears knows.

Ballet and opera companies need real talent in all aspects of their productions, not just in the lead roles. But once a great performer emerges they seem to rise in importance, as they perform the most visible roles - the leads. These performers add their artistic genius to the works they appear in. The companies recognize this and exploit it, the public recognize it and flock to it... and stars are born. But these companies cannot let the overall work fall to sub par. The best pictcher cannot win a baseball game if there are errors in the field and no batting on his side to score runs. A star in opera or ballet needs a great company to support them artistically.

The idea of stars, the "cult of personality" is nothing new. It works nicely with the notion of being excellent and that competiton is essential in "getting ahead" in whatever you do. When you get out front in anything, you become one of the top dogs and the tandard to be toppled by one who comes along and can do better. There is and always will be focus on the great acheivers.

And then our culture becomes interested in the personalites of its stars... how are they like us? And how are they different? What made them great aside from the expected "hard work"? So this often works to inspire some people, I suppose who, want to be in the top wrung on the ladder of success in their chosen fields. And of course, in this culture excellences is then equated to econmic reward. Then cash and notoriety become the reward, often influencing the "star", their work and so on. And companies, teams etc. turn this into an economic instrument... stardom. No?

#7 Haglund's

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 06:14 AM

And what if they don't actually live up to the hype? A few months ago, a journeyman soprano (can't remember her name) got the chance of a lifetime when after years of waiting tables, she got to go on for an indisposed star at the Met. It was a great story, and she got a big anticipatory writeup in the New York Times. But her performance was merely adequate, and seems to have done little for her career.

The soprano was Erika Sunnegårdh, and the debut was Fidelio with an international radio audience of millions listening. I thought her performance was far more than adequate. I attended her subsequent Fidelio a couple of weeks later, and found the performance very good. Sunnegårdh was outstanding in a supporting role in this year's Die Zauberflote and has been given 5 performances of the lead role in Turandot this spring at The Met. She, and her singing, continue to be a great story.

The problem with Rockwell's arguement is that today's star dancers are far more artistically flexible than the opera divas. A soprano can sing lyric, dramatic, coloratura, Wagner, or what-have-you roles, but not all of them. They don't frequently cross over from Wagner to a very light role. Their performing opportunities do not cover the spectrum of opera roles. Company associated ballerinas, however, will dance S.L., Don Q., and R&J all in the same year plus maybe some Graham, Taylor, and dare I say, Jorma Elo. (An exception to this might be someone like Alessandra Ferri who hasn't done anything in a tutu in many years.) Singers are becoming more flexible, and are receiving a lot of criticism for trying to do so, but they are still typed and cast accordingly far more than dancers. I would think in that respect, singing would be far less artistically satisfying than dancing.

#8 GWTW

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 07:22 AM

Interesting article, but I think that comparing the workings of a ballet company and an opera company is like comparing apples to oranges. (Disclaimer: I know nothing about opera and not all that much about ballet history and administration. :tiphat: )

A ballet company is, and at least for the last couple of hundred years has been, a "real" company. Although there are and have been stars, they are also part of the company. Dancers almost never start out as soloists, they start as part of the corps de ballet and then they rise to the top, meteorically (sp?) or gradually. An NYCB apprentice had a featured role in a gala a few months ago and has since spent the winter dancing in the corps in The Nutcracker. Would that happen with an opera singer? I don't think so. They start as soloists in smaller places until they get noticed and rise to the top.

Another aspect that Rockwell glossed over in his article is the difference between promoting a star as part of the advertising and marketing of a company and promoting a star within the company, like Balanchine did with Farrell, de Valois with Fonteyn (as I see it, de Valois first made Fonteyn into a star within the Sadlers Wells Ballet and then used that star power to promote the Ballet). The reason he glossed over this difference is that in opera there is very little difference between the two. Again, because in opera there is no "company" the way there is in ballet.

In terms of marketing a company, Kristin Sloan by way of her blog TheWinger (www.thewinger.com) is doing an incredible job of promoting NYCB in particular and ballet and dance in general, in a way that is very attractive to the young audience that marketers so desire to attract... (Rockwell complained that today's dancers aren't glamorous enough, but perhaps Rockwell's idea of what is glamorous is different to that of today's young audience. I personally find Sloan's accounts of her heroic efforts to recover from injury very inspiring and, yes, glamorous in an "I'll do anything for my art" way.) Does it matter that Sloan and most of her collaborators aren't the stars of their respective companies? I don't think so.

And on the other hand, I don't know that the fact that a dancer is a star necessarily brings in an audience for ballet as a whole. Did ABT see any significant rise in ticket sales in Ethan Stiefel's perforamnces after the movie"Center Stage" was released? Darcey Bussell is a celebrity in Britain. Has this affected the Royal Ballet's general ticket sales? If Bussell were to appear in every performance of the Royal Ballet, would there be more ticket sales?

Sorry for the random thoughts. Just easing back into things after the longweekend.

#9 bart

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 07:58 AM

I'm sympathetic to the public's desire for stars, or at least for brand names or for performers they feel they know, understand, and can relate to personally.

Those of us who attend multiple performances of a company's work have the experience of looking, comparing, creating favorites, and even assigning favorite dancers to favorite roles. We make our own "stars," as the extensive commentary on this or that dancer on the NYCB and other large BT boards shows. Even for knowledgeable audiences, "knowing the dancer" becomes a source of great satisfaction and helps us appreciate the work more.

Am I the only one here who, when watching a video of an unfamiliar company, danced by dancers I have never seen or heard of, feels somewhat disoriented and has to focus more than I usually do on looking, observing, thinking, responding to what is going on in front of me? We all need signifiers of some sort or other. People who don't have the luxury of attending -- or the desire to attend -- many performances have to rely on signifiers created by the media.

Ballet can attract audiences by focusing on stars, on choreography, on production values. Personalizing creativity -- giving it a human face and back story -- makes the process smore accessible. Noverre, Pavlova, Nijinksy, -- even that notable non-dancer Balanchine !!! -- have been to one extent or another creatures of the star system. Has it ever been very different?

#10 4mrdncr

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 06:30 PM

PROMOTE THE STAR...or NOT?
Apropos to this thread, I once had a very interesting (and somewhat oblique) conversation about this very thing with a "star". The question was, should management cast them because they were popular and the public demanded it? If it was good for the bottom line, and past experience had sort of proven that, then why not? What determined the choice? Aesthetics or economics? Kevin McKenzie said in an article in the NYTimes last year, that in years past, he had DELIBERATELY mixed up an established (and sure money-making) partnership with no great drop in attendence or $. Therefore, if economics wasn't the answer; then aesthetics was a much more touchy (confusing, frustrating, and hurtful?) reason. And that brought up the subject of why people are cast in certain roles in the first place.

CROSS-TRAIN and CROSS-PROMOTE
My first thought was that others need a chance, too, to learn or grow into a part. One of the things I always admired about Baryshnikov's tenure at ABT was his willingness to promote from within, and not dance every star turn role (maybe to save those knees?). This could create new "stars" in a particular role, and provide more casting depth and/or back-up in case of injury. An example of the standard business technique of "cross-training". McKenzie does this too.

WHAT MAKES A STAR? TECHNIQUE or ARTISTRY? THE DANCER OR THE AUDIENCE?
My interest in a dancer--and especially a "star" dancer--is HOW and WHY are they greater? Technique is one reason "how", artistry one reason "why". If it's a question of technique, then one is comparing it to a standard. Who created that standard? And if many dancers have excellent technique, what makes a particular dancer stand out from the rest?

It's not just HOW they do a step, it's how they do it DIFFERENTLY. And here is the crux of that bias--again, it is a COMPARISON. Unless you have seen others perform the same step or role, then you cannot see or analyse what makes your favorite "star" truly stand out. Unless there is a "crowd" there cannot be one who stands out from that crowd. So, others MUST perform the work or role to provide a standard of comparison. And if technical mastery is equal, then again, it's how each does it differently. This is where the "artistry" comes in.

Now we are being SUBJECTIVE because each of us has our own standard of what "artistic" differences please us most. A rather astute 'star' once said (paraphrasing) "at a certain professional level, all dancers are technically great, art[istry] shouldn't be competitive, and for the audience [and maybe judges at competitions?] it just devolves to a [subjective] liking of one dancer over another." A star may be created first by an objective critique of technique or technical mastery, but eventually it devolves to a more subjective predeliction (too strong?) or affinity (too mushy?) for certain aesthetic "traits". What is artistry? Tell me it's not a personal (and subjective) standard.

What about stage presence, or charisma, on-stage and off? Charisma does help, if it reaches across the footlights to an audience. It draws an audience into the performer/performance, and by making them feel involved (and invested), creates an affinity. This consequently makes an audience forgive more if technique flags. I once said a certain dancer excelled in a role because of a synergy of looks, temperament, and technique. I thought it was the presence of all THREE traits, not just one that contributed. A more general audience probably goes by looks alone--the bane of many a "star" who wants to be taken as a serious "actor". Or dancer? (Take that Mr. Rockwell! for your sexist bemoaning of a lack of "glamourous" dancers.) Here, the audience (or media) creates the star.


ADS: PROMOTE THE DANCER OR THE DANCE? e.g.: ABT's banners in front of the Met 2006

First there was Stiefel & Murphy in the lake in Fabrizio Ferri's photo. Was this an attempt to promote two stars (not exactly good, considering Stiefel didn't dance at all that season)? Or an attempt to promote the romance of "Swan Lake"? Or just an interesting pic to make people look up? I think it was (hopefully) a combo of reasons 2 & 3. Ditto Alessandra Ferri in her husband's double exposure pic of Giselle; useful as both a promo for her in a signature role, and as an intriguing "ghostly" image to draw in the less informed audiences who saw it. And how many times have we seen the passionate close-up used to promote R&J? I still remember BB's photos by -?-Brandt in the early 90's. All tight close-ups of tight clinches by their "hot" (ie. popular not just physically) principal dancers. Ditto ABT in the past: Nancy Ellison's close-up of Herrera & Corella used at the bus stops, and this year Rosalie O'Connor's photo of Reyes & Corella on the Met banners. But I don't think the R&J banners this past season just promoted a "star" in a signature role (and again, what makes it a signature role or that dancer a star?) Rather, like the ghostly Giselle pic, or Siegfried/Odette in the water, it promoted the essential plot point of the ballet--using THE most expressive dancers in those roles to illustrate it. What, in fact, F. Ferri said was the point of his photos--and maybe why his example of R&J was Tybalt (Hallberg) killing Mercutio (Cornejo): the conflict as principal plot motivator, not the love story. So Rockwell can look at the banners as promos for stars--but I saw them as promos for ballets using the dramatic actions/exemplars to promote them. Good for the stars, but more importantly, good for the bottom line if it brought in the curious.

#11 beck_hen

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 08:54 PM

I do think American Ballet Theatre, at least, should actively promote its own stars. It is interesting to note that Diana Vishneva is the star cited by Rockwell. She was created as one—by the Kirov. I can think of many Soviet/Russian stars who genuinely outshined almost all their American or European counterparts, but I do think they are granted a mystique that works to the disadvantage of the others. An American tendency toward egalitarianism prevents the audience from getting to know its own favorites, and the dancers from receiving the recognition they deserve.

Also, it is not enriching to see a different ballerina in Swan Lake at ABT every night. It means ballerinas can't deepen their interpretations through repetition and is often plain-old miscasting. I think it makes more sense to cap most ballets at three ballerinas and give each of them more performances.

#12 2dds

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 04:14 PM

The Rockwell article was thought-provoking...

Stars do emerge, even in unlikely settings. Rockwell mentions Alicia Graf with the Ailey Company. He also writes that she seems to have engendered a lot of professional jealousy from the other dancers, who perhaps see her as an interloper from the ballet world. (And why isn't she in ABT or NYCB?) Stardom can be very lonely.

The public will make its own stars. But it has to know that individuals with star quality exist. Perhaps for the sake of company cohesion, ballet companies these days seem reluctant to exploit the natural appeal of their dancers.




This is probably :dry: :blushing: (moderators please move as appropriate)

but is also a direct response to On Pointe in post #5 on this topic

Without speaking directly to other political issues that might influence casting, hiring, and promotion of individual dancers, I think On Pointe asks an interesting question.

Alicia Graf's style and physical attributes are so obviously balletic (check out her leg line on the December cover of Dance Magazine), why did she wind up in a modern company after Dance Theatre of Harlem went dark...

There is, of course, the question of Graf's height, but at least one observer thought that she looked similarly lovely on pointe when moving across the floor together with Maria Korowski in class at Steps in NYC...

Here's an example of a ready made star (Graf's status was established at Dance Theatre of Harlem) without a ballet company home... Does this speak directly to On Pointe's other observation about companies reluctant to promote (or in this case maybe hire) particular dancers in the interests of company cohesion?

Just an observation here. I honestly don't know the answer to On Point's question, but I had wondered the same thing myself. Maybe Graf had no interest in NYC or ABT. Do note, however, her brief, very brief, association with Complexions ballet company.

Idle speculation and food for thought.

#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 04:46 PM

I think with Graf it's hard to speculate; the lengthy injuries she's suffered need to be thrown into the mix. There are things she may no longer feel that her body can handle.

#14 leonid17

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 05:43 AM

It is interesting to note that Diana Vishneva is the star cited by Rockwell. She was created as one—by the Kirov.


I am not sure that Diana Vishneva was created a star by the Kirov in the same way that
Yulia Makhalina or Svetlana Zakharova were or Uliana Lopatkina has been.

Diana Vishneva was given first nights on occasions, but she did not exactly fit the ‘mould’ that is desired by the Kirov’s ’marketing’ of leading dancers, nor was she seen as an example of what seemed to be the prevailing, preferred, Vaganova Academy product type.

Vishneva has become probably the most interesting performer, with a successful wide repertoire, to emerge from the Kirov in a long time. It seems to me that she has fulfilled her talent by dint of hard work, her collaboration with Malakhov, an understanding of what is best for herself, the recognition of her abilities and opportunities given to her by ABT etc.

Please no one assume I am a ‘fan’ of Vishneva, but I do admire her achievements.

"An American tendency toward egalitarianism prevents the audience from getting to know its own favorites, and the dancers from receiving the recognition they deserve."

I can remember complaints at the RB about Dame Margot Fonteyn getting all the performances with Rudolf Nureyev and it was said to be unfair to other dancers who were unable to develop their characterization of leading roles. Utter tosh.


To talk about “….preventing the audience getting to know its own favorites…” may mean only favourites of 50 or so regular attendees at ballet performances out of an audience of 2000. On the other hand audience favourites in the wider sense, will be those dancers that are generally most admired and considered to be outstanding performers in a role and have ‘must see’ attraction.

There is now doubt in my mind that in the past there was definitely what one would call
an ‘elite’ of dancers of the ABT and NYCB and yet you use the expression, “An American tendency toward egalitarianism…” There aint in in classical story telling ballets or even in most neo-classical ballets.

Such stars were universally recognised as such, guested with other companies across the world that emphasised their so called star status. They achieved their status because they were different and special and certainly not equalled by other members of their respective ballet companies.

Ballet is about excellence and especially about the excellence a select few can achieve in leading roles that communicate with an audience and grip their attention. It is a reality and no amount of equality of opportunity will change that. Not every dancer no matter how talented is destined to become a star
performer.

As a member of the paying audience. I see it as the role of the management of a ballet company to endeavour to ensure that high calibre interpretative artists appear in major ballet roles at every performance or at least see true potential of young dancers to achieve such status.

"Also, it is not enriching to see a different ballerina in Swan Lake at ABT every night. It means ballerinas can't deepen their interpretations through repetition and is often plain-old miscasting. I think it makes more sense to cap most ballets at three ballerinas and give each of them more performances."


To cast only three dancers as suggested (not sure about the use of the word 'ballerinas') so as to give them more performances in an era when many large companies have four, five or six contenders, is obviously problematical and has always been so.

I am sure that there are many of our fellow contributors who can think of dancers who one thought should have had a different career or a bigger one. Egalitarianism has never existed completely in any society and there is no such thing as true equal opportunity. Real life teaches us (if we can fairly objectively observe it) that not everyone is equal, but as far as is realistically possible we should all concur that they should be treated as such, but not on the stage and not in front of me when I am paying 160US dollars for a performance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden..

#15 Old Fashioned

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 01:14 PM

I am sure that there are many of our fellow contributors who can think of dancers who one thought should have had a different career or a bigger one. Egalitarianism has never existed completely in any society and there is no such thing as true equal opportunity. Real life teaches us (if we can fairly objectively observe it) that not everyone is equal, but as far as is realistically possible we should all concur that they should be treated as such, but not on the stage and not in front of me when I am paying 160US dollars for a performance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden..


And this is why we do not have a true interpretation of MacMillan's R&J with Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable on film, and the ballet is still largely associated with Fonteyn and Nureyev. And let's not forget that when Sadler Wells Ballet first brought Sleeping Beauty to the States, the American people wanted to see Moira Shearer because of the fame she accumulated from The Red Shoes, but Fonteyn was pushed into the spotlight by dancing Aurora on opening night. In the latter case, an artistic decision was made over a financial one, and it was a brilliant move, but one can't help but wonder what kind of impression Shearer would have made. Both examples illustrate how the star system can be helpful or detrimental to the multiple people involved.


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