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Daniil Simkin to join ABT as soloist


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#16 miliosr

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 06:47 AM

In total agreement with you darla788.

What a morale crusher it must be for those talented guys in ABT's corps (and ABT is thick with them) when something like this happens.

#17 FauxPas

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 06:59 AM

But hasn't this always happened at ABT? What about the talented soloists and corps men Charles Askegard, Carlos Molina, Joaquin de Luz, Danny Tidwell, the 2002 Sean Stewart, Parrish Maynard et al.? All talented, all worthy and all overshadowed circa 1995 to 2006 by the Malakhov/Carreno/Bocca/Corella/Stiefel/Cornejo/Gomes dream team. They knew there was no room at the top at ABT. Askegard and Joaquin de Luz went to NYC Ballet. Maynard to San Francisco Ballet. Molina to Boston Ballet. Now there is room at the top and hence Simkin.

BTW: one fellow who rose from the ranks to the top: Marcelo "the Magnificent" Gomes. Earned his status from the bottom up. Carreno, Malakhov, Stiefel, Acosta etc. were all brought in as established stars from other companies. Bocca and Corella were major wunderkind competition winners who were teenagers. They already were on their way up in the ballet world and joined as soloist or principal. Gomes worked his way up from corps on talent and hard work alone against the greatest competition in the world. Ditto Hallberg.

#18 bart

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 07:13 AM

The videos and the reviews suggest that Simkin is a unique and extremely gifted performer. He is very young, but virtually everyone comments on his enormous potential.

Several of the posters who have been concerned about the effect of this promotion on members of the corps have used the word "talented." I mean no disrespect, but is "talented" enough to sustain the push to a high-level international ballet career?

Simkin has been very successful on the international competition circuit, which seems a requirement nowadays if you want to be considered for a top job. He has also danced as a member of a major European company. Skimming the biographies of members of the ABT corps, there are not many who have achieved as much as he in such a short time.

On the other hand, employment at ABT still seems attractive to those who have reason to be ambitious in a variety of goals. For example, Joseph Phillips left Miami a soloist to take a corps position at ABT. (To be fair, his tenure at MCB was of brief duration and with with about as much impact as the blink of an eye.) Mikhail Ilyin was a successful and valuable principal at MCB before joining the ABT corps. Clearly, ABT exerts a pull on dancers of many levels of experience and ambition.

#19 Haglund's

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 07:44 AM

Also as far as Joseph Gorak is concerned, he has now been in ABT 2 (studio company) for 2 years is it not time for him to be moved up? I will be interested to see what happens this fall and if any of those boys in the 2nd company get moved up. Many of the girls moved this year in the fall as there seemed to be many openings suddenly in the female corps. There are many very talented dancers in the ABT corps It would be nice to see more of them in the rep.

I believe that Gorak is barely 18 years old. Who knows if he has even graduated from high school yet. More power to the ballet company that refuses to exploit its extraordinarily gifted children.

#20 Memo

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 09:29 AM

BTW: one fellow who rose from the ranks to the top: Marcelo "the Magnificent" Gomes. Earned his status from the bottom up. Carreno, Malakhov, Stiefel, Acosta etc. were all brought in as established stars from other companies. Bocca and Corella were major wunderkind competition winners who were teenagers. They already were on their way up in the ballet world and joined as soloist or principal. Gomes worked his way up from corps on talent and hard work alone against the greatest competition in the world. Ditto Hallberg.


Also David Halberg began in Studio Company, (oops I just saw that you mentioned him Faux Pas him) Maxim and Irina started in the corps before they were an overnight sensation and many of the soloists have worked their way up. Basically ABT has a corps loaded with soloists however and its a long wait. I have watched Jared Mathews under David Howards tutoring constantly over the last few years and marvel at his tenacity. It was nice to see him have the opportunity to step out in Swan Lake this season even if he was in my opinion sadly miscast as Von Rothbart. I hope he gets to do some roles that are more suited to his demeanour on stage. It must be tough. But NY is such a stimulating place to be around ballet they seem to survive it.
I dont mean to take anything away from Danill. He is a REALLY talented guy and I personally will enjoy seeing him dance. I think ABT is deep with talented dancers and I wonder how many will wait around. A dancers life is short having the opportunity to dance is important. If they dont feel like they are getting it they are going to need to move on.


Here is my list of people in the corps I would like to see more of at ABT
Isabella Boylston, Zhong Jing Fang, Thomas Forster (who stood out in the corps in Swan Lake), Blaine Hoven, Mat Murphy, Simone Messmer, Renata Pavam, Joseph Phillips, Jacquelyn Reyes, Sarawanee Tanatanit, Hee Soo.

#21 miliosr

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 09:31 AM

Well, I can name three ABT corps guys -- Isaac Stappas, Alex Hammoudi and Blaine Hoven -- who I saw at the Opera House in Chicago on April 10th, who caught my eye and who look like they're ready to move up. Hoven is young so I can understand letting him marinate in the corps for awhile more but what about Stappas and Hammoudi? In particular, Hammoudi looks like he has the potential to be a good partner for Michelle Wiles, who is languishing a bit for want of an ideal partner. (Hallberg is great -- I just don't think he and Wiles are great together.)

I agree with the poster who said this policy has been ever such. In retrospect, the Baryshnikov regime policy of promoting from within was the aberration. ABT has only reverted back to what it was in the 70s. (And, I freely admit that 70s-era ABT was a Golden Age for ABT.)

#22 Memo

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:06 AM

I believe that Gorak is barely 18 years old. Who knows if he has even graduated from high school yet. More power to the ballet company that refuses to exploit its extraordinarily gifted children.


Well 2 years in studio company (now ABT II) is a long time when he could have been completing his training in a school setting if they did not want to "exploit" him. I believe he was already a corps member of Orlando Ballet at 16 when ABT II offered him a contract in April 2006. My guess is that he completed high school in 2007 but I could be wrong.

#23 carbro

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 12:40 PM

I think its wiser to go a little to slow than a little too fast while developing young dancers. An 18-year-old male is often still physically immature, perhaps judged not quite strong enough (in terms of brute strength) for the demands of a professional career. I'd rather have a dancer spend an extra year in the intermediate program than to lose a year to injury.

ABT II is a two-year program. Not all of its dancers stay for the full two years, but many do. Staying for the second year is not analogous to repeating first grade.

#24 Figurante

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 04:55 PM

I will second your comments, Darla. I find this extremely weird. For one example: Misha or Mikhail Iliyn, formerly a PRINCIPAL of Miami City Ballet (born in Russia and trained, yadda yadda) has joined ABT in the CORPS DE BALLET. He has over 10-15 years of performing expoerience. Now this young kid comes in as a soloist. Artistic decisions such as this really baffle me. While it is great for Danil, You can't help but to think of people like Misha, and others who have put in so much time at ABT waiting for that soloist promotion, only to have the place taken by an outsider. Sounds like a cute little deal was cracked.

#25 Memo

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:32 PM

Figurante do you think if they have joined the corps from a Principal or soloist contract at another company there are promises that may have been made as to there advancement?

#26 Figurante

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 05:38 AM

I know a lot of dancers that have deals with artistic directors like this. I know some people that were in San Francisco Ballet for 10 years in the corps, and they decided to join a smaller company in order to get promoted to soloist and be respected as a dancer. After one year in the corps in that company they will now be soloists next season. Doesn't that sound reasonable? I mean, you need to know the dancer inside and out before you put them onstage. Especially being so young, and from overseas. It just boggles my mind! Just because he has won a bunch of prestegious competitions, and has a bunch of videos on youtube (which I will not deny are technically perfect), doesn't mean that he should be able to just waltz into America and overstep all these people that Kevin has known for so long! Whatever happened to promoting from within?! The same thing happened at Miami City Ballet last season. People were fired, and held at the same rank to keep the financial situation under control, so Edward Villella could hire eleven new dancers that have surpassed people who have been in the company their whole life. Maybe it will still happen for the dancers in ABT. I suppose it is still early. Sigh.

#27 drb

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 06:14 AM

Are there not three primary reasons for promotion?
1. A (financial) reward for long and exemplary service.
2. To hold on to a dancer who fulfills a very specific need (e.g., the tall man needed to partner a tall star ballerina).
3. Talent.
A company needs stability, fit, and dancers with the electricity to attract audiences. When budget constrains, I believe that talent must get first priority.
Hopefully an AD will not miss talent right under her/his nose, and not fall into "the grass is always greener on the other side" syndrome...

#28 FauxPas

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 06:22 AM

Bravo, DRB for that insight. Talent (and Daniil is an electric, exciting talent) must be recognized. Baryshnikov probably blew Ted Kivitt and Royes Fernandez out of the water when he joined ABT in 1974. Should they not have hired him? Who other than those two dancers would have gained from that? Blaine Hoven may be a very nice dancer and able to carry a lead role but will he be a star who can sell 4000 seats at the Metropolitan Opera House? Very likely not. Ditto Isaac Stappas who has had a lot of solo opportunities especially during the City Center season.

How about some of the women who have been languishing: Maria Bystrova, Zhong-Jing Fang et al. Anna Liceica who had a lot of potential was just thrown away. Look at all the been there, done that with the principal casting this coming season (only Cornejo and to a lesser extant Murphy have substantial new roles). There are lots of sad stories of missed opportunities at ABT and elsewhere. I am glad that Daniil is getting an opportunity and maybe if ABT adds a week to its City Center season more of these young corps dancers will get a chance.

#29 darla788

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 07:11 AM

And FauxPas would you think that a 21 year old would be able to do this just because he has won a few competitions and had some favorable press. How could you make the determination that some of the male corp at ABT would not be able to sell 4000 seats when they have never even been cast consistently enough for anyone to form a fair opinion. The idea would be to mentor and mold your young talent to be the performer that you want them to be and to market their strengths. I can not imagine there not being at lease 1 qualified candidate sitting in the corp at ABT. I do believe that that was the whole purpose behind ABT II, to mold young dancers and to find young talent that could become star performers.

With that being said as with any business when you make decisions like this you must always think about what affects it will have on your employees. Morale issues can be detrimental to a company's success. You can't perform a classical ballet with just one dancer.

#30 miliosr

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 07:24 AM

A couple of points:

1) Hiring Simkin may prove to be a masterstroke on ABT's part -- only time will tell. But the (perhaps) salutary act of hiring talent from outside of the company's ranks doesn't make it any less true that (a) morale within the corps may suffer, and (b) that defections may occur at a more rapid clip as a result. Now, from the artistic staff's viewpoint, having a high "burn rate" in the corps may be an acceptable trade-off if it leads to long-term replenishment of the principal ranks. (That would actually be an interesting statistical comparison -- year-to-year turnover at the corps level among the major US companies.) But it puts lie to the notion that ABT is anything more than a glittering collection of international stars. ("More stars than there are in Heaven" as it were.)

2) I don't think anyone would argue against Lucia Chase's hiring of Baryshnikov in 1974. (It did work against Kivitt but then he was already a principal of six-years standing at the time. Bad luck on his part.) My understanding of the situation at ABT in the mid-70s is that morale suffered more as a result of Chase's penchant for importing guest stars from around the world who jetted in and jetted out of New York and refused to tour than it did from hiring Baryshnikov. (Correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

3) On the matter of Blaine Hoven, Faux, you and I will just have to agree to disagree.


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