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What are the 5 or 10 "best" ballet companies?

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[H]opefully the JKO is much more serious than that. And not to be argumentative -- because I'd do whatever I can to help raise ABT's status -- but almost all (if not all?) of those Studio Company dancers that you cite come from academies not affiliated with ABT, such as Kirov Academy of DC, Central Pa Youth Ballet, No. Car Dance Theater, Harid, etc.
And while 90% or so of NYCB's dancers are SAB grads, few of them got all their training there.

Not being argumentative, either. Just pointing to the absence, in the US, of a real national academy -- or two -- as in Denmark, Russia, France and to a lesser degree, if I have the right sense of it, England.

Yes, but difficult when ballet training begins at age 8, and talent is spread all over the country, for dancers to get all their training from SAB. Very few families are willing to part with their dancers until they reach at least 13-14-15.The JKO school will never truly be able to attract national talent if it does not have the same structure and support that SAB offers - residence hall, cafeteria, etc. The relationship SAB has with NYCB in terms of feeding dancers into the company is unique as well as commendable.

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The relationship SAB has with NYCB in terms of feeding dancers into the company is unique as well as commendable.
Forgive the nitpicking, but "unique" only in the US. Kirov, Bolshoi, Perm, Kiev, POB, RB and RDB all have residential programs for their students.

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Kirov, Bolshoi, Perm, Ukraine, Paris, London and Denmark all have residential programs for their students.

For that matter, so does the National Ballet of Canada, though I can't say the company has an unmistakable style. Perhaps that must be formulated by great choreographers. Transplanting Cecchetti training and classics with an English School emphasis across the Atlantic isn't the most obvious way to spawn a distinctive identity. But I agree with Hans completely about the importance of a "default" style for each company, and I would think this would be difficult to achieve without uniform training.

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Here is a quote by Reid Anderson, director of the Stuttgart Ballet Company on the importance of ballet schools to companies. The link is http://www.acts.hdm-stuttgart.de/reviews.html

"I fear that both ballet schools and ballet companies tend to be the first target for cuts. So you’re always aware that the future of dance could be a bit gloomy. Stuttgart is a positive exception. People here have made ballet part of their lives. But elsewhere, few people realize what happens when you start cutting. One key example is cutting subsidies to ballet schools. When you do this, you remove a vital support from the local ballet company. Large casts draw upon a pool of dancers from the school. One third of my dancers come from the John Cranko School. A company of sixty dancers plus a local school can do almost anything. Without the back-up of students from the school a company loses flexibility and has to concentrate on small shows."

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The relationship SAB has with NYCB in terms of feeding dancers into the company is unique as well as commendable.
Forgive the nitpicking, but "unique" only in the US. Kirov, Bolshoi, Perm, Kiev, POB, RB and RDB all have residential programs for their students.

Nitpicking forgiven, I actually agree wholeheartedly, and should have stated "in this country", and while criticism's of SAB are legitimate, as no instituion is perfect, it is an academy with the necessary support and structure to train dancers for the company, and the relationship between the school and the company is very solid. It is understanfdable why young dancers wish to train at an academy that not only is attached to a company, but has a longstanding tradition of moving dancers from school to company. And while SAB is not the ony school that does this (SanFran,Miami, PNB...), the relationship between ABT and the JKO school is still not determined.....

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Here is a quote by Reid Anderson, director of the Stuttgart Ballet Company on the importance of ballet schools to companies. The link is http://www.acts.hdm-stuttgart.de/reviews.html

"I fear that both ballet schools and ballet companies tend to be the first target for cuts. So you’re always aware that the future of dance could be a bit gloomy. Stuttgart is a positive exception. People here have made ballet part of their lives. But elsewhere, few people realize what happens when you start cutting. One key example is cutting subsidies to ballet schools. When you do this, you remove a vital support from the local ballet company. Large casts draw upon a pool of dancers from the school. One third of my dancers come from the John Cranko School. A company of sixty dancers plus a local school can do almost anything. Without the back-up of students from the school a company loses flexibility and has to concentrate on small shows."

Wouldn't Stuttgart qualify for the top ten? I haven't personally seen the company in performance, but they have a school turning out excellent dancers, they have a "style" and a distinctive repertoire. Is their corps de ballet standard or some other factor keeping them out of the top ten, or is it just lack of travelling/exposure?

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Wouldn't Stuttgart qualify for the top ten? ...

Ostrich, at the time that Germany was divided, Stuttgart was very much the #1 ballet troupe in 'the Germanies' but I believe that all of the cache and glory (and most state funding) has shifted to the big new unified-Berlin troupe, headed by Vladimir Malakhov. Three different ballet companies of former East and West Berlin became one jumbo company during the past five or so years. That's where superstars like Vishneva regularly perform. Semionova is their resident prima. You get the picture.

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I'm unclear as to why the Royal Danish Ballet would ever not be included in a list of the best companies in the world.
I agree with you, Royal Danish Ballet should be included in the list because they're the only company that can produce Bournonville Ballets at such a high standard.

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What are your views about Boston Ballet?

They qualify in terms of having a school, although I don't think any of the current company members trained there much if at all.

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If we're talking about ballet companies whose main dancers come from their own "school" I'd say the NYCB, Kirov, Bolshoi, POB, Royal Danish Ballet are the best ballet companies. Of the companies where dancers are drawn from all over the world, I'd say the Royal Ballet is the best.

Within those ranks, I agree with Natalia. There's not even a question: Theatre Street has produced the greatest dancers/choreographers. It's useless to even name all the ballet greats that have come from Theatre Street, but these lists are fun:

Choreographers: Marius Petipa (well he was French but ...), Mikhail Fokine, Leonid Lavrovsky, Yuri Grigorivich, and of course one shy young boy from Georgia ...

Dancers: Mathilde Kscessinska, Anna Pavlova, Tamara Kasarvina, Nikolai and Sergei Legat, Vaslav Nijinsky, Olga Spessivtseva, Alexandra Danilova, Galina Ulanova, Konstantin Sergeyev, Marina Semynova, Natalia Dudinskaya, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, Irina Kolpakova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Alla Sizova, Yuri Soloviev, Tatiana Terekhova, Altynai Asylmuratova, Diana Vishneva, Zhanna Ayupova, Svetlana Zakharova, Uliana Lopatkina, Daria Pavlenko, Andrian Fadeev, Evgenia Obraztsova, Igor Zelensky, Igor Kolb ... Whether you like all these dancers is another question, but year after year, wonders emerge from Theatre Street, like butterflies.

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I was watching the Tsar's Box of Yuri Soloviev and one very touching moment was when they showed what must have been a pamplet of the Kirov roster around 1959/1960. They pointed out the young promising dancers in that pamphlet -- first there was Irina Kolpakova, then Yuri Soloviev, then Rudolf Nureyev, and Natalia Makarova. Around that time Alla Sizova was also just becoming a star, famous dancers like Alla Shelest and Alla Osipenko were still dancing, and I can just imagine that every performance at the MT must have been a great performance, with that kind of roster. I think the late 1950s/early 1960s must have been a peak in the time of the Mariinsky. As were maybe the early 1900s, when Mathilde Kscessinska, Mikhail Fokine, Tamara Karsavina, Anna Pavlova, and Vaslav Nijinsky graced the stage.

So ... do you think a company has peaks and valleys? Meaning an era of extreme excellence followed by perhaps dry spells? For instance I know many dance critics look at the era of "Nureyev's children" as the best era of the POB history, and there are complaints that the era is over and the company is losing the greatness "Nureyev's children" and the perfect classicism that he so relentlessly drilled into his "children." At the same time, the Bolshoi seems to be reaching a peak with the new Ratmansky regime (I remember Maya Plisetskaya saying something to that effect), after the reign of Grigorivich ended. Complaints that the NYCB is in a valley show up in so many critics' reviews nowadays.

If so, an interesting question might be: what eras have been the peaks (and valleys) of a company? And can the greatness of a company be judged by its ability to remain on a peak with very brief valley stints?

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I was watching the Tsar's Box of Yuri Soloviev and one very touching moment was when they showed what must have been a pamplet of the Kirov roster around 1959/1960. They pointed out the young promising dancers in that pamphlet -- first there was Irina Kolpakova, then Yuri Soloviev, then Rudolf Nureyev, and Natalia Makarova. Around that time Alla Sizova was also just becoming a star, famous dancers like Alla Shelest and Alla Osipenko were still dancing, and I can just imagine that every performance at the MT must have been a great performance, with that kind of roster. I think the late 1950s/early 1960s must have been a peak in the time of the Mariinsky. As were maybe the early 1900s, when Mathilde Kscessinska, Mikhail Fokine, Tamara Karsavina, Anna Pavlova, and Vaslav Nijinsky graced the stage.
Is there a WOW!!! icon? Thanks for posting that, canbelto.
So ... do you think a company has peaks and valleys?
Great question. Probably the simple answer -- "yes" -- is clear to all. But how? and when? should definitely be added to the question(s) that started this thread.

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Is there a WOW!!! icon? Thanks for posting that, canbelto.

Yes, and it was very poignant, as all of them looked so beautiful in the pictures. But yeah, must have been a peak, if ever there was one, at the Mariinsky. :clapping:

Other peak eras:

NYCB - 1960s? Mr. B was still creating great ballets, and the roster is legendary. The company without stars had so many stars dancing night after night.

Bolshoi - 1950s-early 60s? Maya Plisetskaya, Galina Ulanova, Vladimir Vasilev, Ekaterina Maximova? And also, since Ratmansky took over? Seems to be another peak. ETA: also forgot Natalia Bessmertnova, Raisa Strukchova, Nicolai Fadecheyev, the slightly dimmer stars, if you will, in that era.

POB - 1980s/early 1990s? Nureyev's children at their finest, even when he passed away in 1993.

Royal Ballet - late 1940s to mid 1960s?

ABT - now? Maybe the best collection of male dancers in the world.

I'm not going to go into the valleys but feel free to chime in ...

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I'm not going to go into the valleys but feel free to chime in ...

*chime* Valleys may be caused by lack of respect for 'company heritage'?

Peaks could simply be luck of the draw? Well, schooling as well, but for example the Bolshoi's Plisetskaya, Ulanova, Maximova and Vasiliev era almost seems too good to be true - a 'bumper crop', if you will.

Creative genius, or at least driving force, must be a factor, like Nureyev for the POB, Ashton for the RB and now Ratmansky for the Bolshoi... Dedication and commitment.

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Canbelto, thank you for including the name of Igor Kolb. What wonderful style he has.

Yeah, that's quite a list

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Must put in my two cents on this subject. Stuttgart Ballet has to be considered a "top" company. They perform both classical and modern ballet with such strength and entertainment quality. Sorry I don't care to watch NYCB do "classical" ballet!

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These are in no particular order

1. NYCB

2. Batsheva (Ohad Naharin)

3. San Francisco

4. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

5. NDT

6. ABT

7. Paris Opera

8. Kirov

9. Royal Danish

10. I just cant decide

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I would agree that Stuttgart Ballet would be at the very top of the list along with POB, The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Kirov, and Vienna State Opera Ballet, not in any particular order. As wonderful as many of them appear, I would not place any of the American ballet companies in the top 5. I wonder where Ángel Corella's new ballet company will rank after it's first season. Has anyone heard when this company will open it's first season?

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Here's my 5 fav. pick. They are randomly listed.

1-Kirov/Marinsky Ballet

2-Royal Danish Ballet

3-Bolshoi Ballet

4-Ballet Nacional de Cuba

5-Paris Opera Ballet

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