ngitanjali, on Aug 24 2007, 07:13 PM, said:
Thank you all for this wonderful discussion! This was exactly the reason I have loved this message board for so long, in a day, I've learned so much! My apologies for not responding sooner; I just moved into my dorm at college for the first time, so I'm adjusting to life with a roommate (who cannot stand ballet
Luckily your roommate is not a spouse who cannot stand ballet
We've branched from your original question, which was why is the Mariinsky casting so many corps members in Principal roles, to those who skipped the rank of corps.
On the latter branch, Balanchine was known for casting out of rank and finding younger and younger future stars that he trained. I can't say if during the years that NYCB didn't publicize rank that no one ever went straight from the school to Principal status, but since ranks have been published, the two dancers with the shortest projectory to Principal under Balanchine were McBride and Kistler, who went from corps to soloist to principal in two years. And Kistler did dance corps roles even as Balanchine cast her as Dewdrop and 2nd Movement Symphony in C: as she said in the Dancing for Mr. B
documentary, (paraphrase) she made a mess of corps roles, because her instinct was to move on the big music, the ballerina's music. Farrell noted in her autobiography that when she joined NYCB in 1961, she was thrilled when she danced Hot Chocolate, because she had been given the responsibility to set the latch Marie and the Prince's throne. It wasn't until two years later when Diana Adams was pregnant and had to pull out of Movements for Orchestra
, for which d'Amboise cajolled Balanchine into trying out Farrell, that Balanchine payed much attention to her. Without that opportunity, who knows how long she would have stayed in the corps. Also, Balanchine dancers were dancing Balanchine and learning from and being coached by the Master. Farrell, especially, spent hours and hours with him on established rep and creating new roles.
It is quite a different scenario than dancing full-length classical roles with over a century of tradition and expectations behind them. Balanchine emphasized the "now," while classical ballet emphasizes tradition.
To the original question, perhaps a reason why there are more corps members dancing principal roles now is that dancers in the Mariinsky can vote with their feet. For an company like the Mariinsky, losing a dancer they've identified as one of the chosen and have nurtured since a child of eight is more of an institutional trauma than losing a student who's been at SAB for a handful of years.