angelica

Stella Abrera

71 posts in this topic

I will definitely join the band wagon re:making Matvienko an ABT principal who will return every year at least to the Met. Angelica, I wish I knew Kevin McKenzie or someone on the board of ABT so I could bring up the question of why Stella is not a principal. Unfortunately I'm just a ballet lover like all of us and I don't know anyone at ABT. I am not very knowledgeable about all the social media out there, but could we conduct a facebook campaign or something? Doesn't ABT face a facebook page? I'm sure they do. It's just a thought. Maybe some facebook savy Ballet Talk posters out there could tell us the best way to conduct a make Stella Abrera a principal at ABT campaign.

I don't know how to do this either, Colleen, but I'm hoping that Stella gets to dance the title role when ABT presents Giselle next spring. I've tried asking people in the membership office (the closest I've been able to get to the administrative side) and been told that it's Keviin McKenzie himself who makes all the artistic decisions. Admittedly, Stella was cast as Giselle in a Wednesday matinee performance a few years ago but got injured and had to withdraw. A cruel twist of fate. But she's back at the top of her game now, and her time has come.

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Sadly, I think Stella's time for promotion has passed. Not sure of her age, but I assume it is about 33? Promotions usually happen by age 30. I think her severe back injury, which caused her to be out for so long, ruined her chances. Once they see that you have sustained a serious injury which has a likelihood of recurring, they are unllikely to consider promotion. I think that is why she is not given many lead roles, but continues to do the same secondary roles in the full length ballets that she has been doing for years. They tend to give the lead roles to soloists who they are testing out for potential promotion. Based on that, I think Boylston is likely to be the next female principal at ABT, in perhaps a year. Related to this is also the timing of Kent's retirement, which she seems to be putting off for as long as possible.

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Sadly, I think Stella's time for promotion has passed. Not sure of her age, but I assume it is about 33? Promotions usually happen by age 30. I think her severe back injury, which caused her to be out for so long, ruined her chances. Once they see that you have sustained a serious injury which has a likelihood of recurring, they are unllikely to consider promotion. I think that is why she is not given many lead roles, but continues to do the same secondary roles in the full length ballets that she has been doing for years.

Well, that's just crazy. All dancers get injured. It comes with the territory. ABT has seen it's share of injured personal. To deny promotion based on that criteria is nuts. There maybe is some other reason? One has only to look at how she's dancing so far this season to understand she is most definitely of principle caliber.

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Sadly, I think Stella's time for promotion has passed. Not sure of her age, but I assume it is about 33? Promotions usually happen by age 30. I think her severe back injury, which caused her to be out for so long, ruined her chances. Once they see that you have sustained a serious injury which has a likelihood of recurring, they are unllikely to consider promotion. I think that is why she is not given many lead roles, but continues to do the same secondary roles in the full length ballets that she has been doing for years.

Well, that's just crazy. All dancers get injured. It comes with the territory. ABT has seen it's share of injured personal. To deny promotion based on that criteria is nuts. There maybe is some other reason? One has only to look at how she's dancing so far this season to understand she is most definitely of principle caliber.

I totally agree, mimsyb. And didn't Veronika Part wait a long time for her promotion to Principal. Does anyone know how old she was when she was given Principal Dancer status?

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I think Part was about 29 or 30 when she was promoted. She was never out for a long period of time due to a substantial injury during her soloist years at ABT, to my recollection. Steady wins the race, as they say.

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I think Part was about 29 or 30 when she was promoted. She was never out for a long period of time due to a substantial injury during her soloist years at ABT, to my recollection. Steady wins the race, as they say.

This is either outdated paternalism on the part of ABT ("it's for her own good") or else they're afraid their workers compensation bill will go up. Many ABT dancers have been injured, some short-term but multiple (Cornejo), some longer-term (Seo, Hallberg), and same at NYCB (Jenny Somogyi comes immediately to mind.) After dancing 10 Auroras in 30 days in Royal Ballet of New Zealand's Sleeping Beauty, it is apparent that Abrera has the ability to sustain herself in full-length ballets.

(On a completely different topic, I'll be out of town just long enough to miss ALL the performances of the new Ratmansky ballet(s), so I'm looking to my fellow Alerters to keep me informed. Thanks in advance, everyone.)

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I think Hallberg's, Cornejo's and Somogyi's long term injuries all took place after they were promoted to principal. It's not a matter of paternalism or insurance. Part of the evaluation of whether a dancer will become a principal relates to stamina- does this person have the physical ability to perform lead roles on a reliably regular basis. It's not solely about the quality of the dancing, divorced from all other considerations. Back injuries are particularly onerous and often return. Look at Sara Mearns, and how many times she has been out for long stretches due to repeated back related injuries. I don't think having long term injuries as a soloist instills confidence that an individual will be able to handle the physical demands of being a principal. Let me add that I happen to enjoy Stella's work very much, and I wish she had been promoted to principal.

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Part became an ABT Principal in 2009. She was born in 1978....so became a principal at 30 or 31.

Stella Abrera joined ABT as a corps member in 1996 - the same year when Part graduated from the Vaganova Academy and joined the Mariinsky corps. In a best-cast-scenario, they are exactly the same age; more likely Abrera is a year or two older than Part (?).

Never say never. Haven't one or two recent POB promotions to etoile taken place when the dancer was in her mid/late-30s? Ciaravola, for example.

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I think Hallberg's, Cornejo's and Somogyi's long term injuries all took place after they were promoted to principal. It's not a matter of paternalism or insurance. Part of the evaluation of whether a dancer will become a principal relates to stamina- does this person have the physical ability to perform lead roles on a reliably regular basis. It's not solely about the quality of the dancing, divorced from all other considerations. Back injuries are particularly onerous and often return. Look at Sara Mearns, and how many times she has been out for long stretches due to repeated back related injuries. I don't think having long term injuries as a soloist instills confidence that an individual will be able to handle the physical demands of being a principal. Let me add that I happen to enjoy Stella's work very much, and I wish she had been promoted to principal.

You may be right, abatt, but the larger picture (e.g., Aurora) shows that Stella has the stamina to keep up with the demands of principal status. And she has not had any recurrence of her injury since she returned to the stage.

On the plus side, we are getting a lot of practice spelling the word "principal."

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Part became an ABT Principal in 2009. She was born in 1978....so became a principal at 30 or 31.

Stella Abrera joined ABT as a corps member in 1996 - the same year when Part graduated from the Vaganova Academy and joined the Mariinsky corps. In a best-cast-scenario, they are exactly the same age; more likely Abrera is a year or two older than Part (?).

Never say never. Haven't one or two recent POB promotions to etoile taken place when the dancer was in her mid/late-30s? Ciaravola, for example.

I agree, Natalia. We must continue to advocate for Stella. I believe Marie-Agnes Gillot became an etoile in her mid/late thirties also.

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So what actually can we do? Is there a way to reach Kevin McKenzie by e-mail that anyone knows? If somehow a number of us could get word to him by e-mail, social media, whatever, that we all spend a lot of money on ABT tickets and we're huge Stella Abrera fans and we would buy even more tickets if she were a principal and dancing principal roles? I'm just thinking off the top of my head here. It might not do any good, but it certainly wouldn't hurt and at least we would have tried. What do you Ballet Talkers think? Any good suggestons?

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First, thank you, Helene, for making this a new thread.

I don't have any good ideas. When the new Director of Membership, Grey Johnson, came on board last year, I spoke to him at a performance of Nutcracker at BAM, asking why Stella Abrera had not been promoted to Principal Dancer. He said he was so new that he didn't know anything about the situation and would ask around and get back to me. When he got back to me he said that the Membership side and the Artistic side of the Company are completely separate, and the only thing he could say was that Kevin McKenzie has the final say on matters such as this. I then sent an email to Kevin McKenzie, expressing my devotion to the Company and asking that Stella be promoted, giving a litany of reasons for my request. I had been told by the Membership Department to send it via them, asking them to please pass it on. I don't know if McKenzie ever got it. Maybe it's possible to email KMcKenzie@abt.org. and perhaps I ought to have tried to do that.

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Have you considered organizing a Twitter campaign? ABT has an account, and tweets in favor of Abrera would have the benefit of being public, wouldn't they?. (I am a Twitter ignoramus, so I really don't know.) I've sent e-mails to all sorts of people and organizations, but I'm often left wondering whether they ever reach the intended recipient or simply end up deleted by the gatekeeper.

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Have you considered organizing a Twitter campaign? ABT has an account, and tweets in favor of Abrera would have the benefit of being public, wouldn't they?. (I am a Twitter ignoramus, so I really don't know.) I've sent e-mails to all sorts of people and organizations, but I'm often left wondering whether they ever reach the intended recipient or simply end up deleted by the gatekeeper.

Exactly, volcanohunter, I have no idea whether my email ever reached its intended destination. Twitter might be a good idea, especially if such a campaign "goes viral," as they say. I don't have a Twitter account and am also a Twitter ignoramus, so if anyone else thinks this might be a good idea, please post instructions on this forum of how to proceed. Thank you. The only thing we don't want is for ABT to consider it spam.

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Ahem: I'd like to bring up that 3 years ago I went to the post performance Q&A session at PNB. Kiyon Gaines was one of the featured dancers, and Peter Boal was the host. I raised my hand and complimented Kiyon on his years of wonderful performances, and then asked "Mr Boal, when are you going to promote Kiyon Gaines to soloist?" The other 50-odd people in room chuckled and clapped loudly. Somewhat uncomfortably, Peter said something to the effect of: "I'm going to have to ask the dancers to stop bringing their friends to these sessions to plant questions". But he did promote Kiyon 2 years later. In the book "Wear Snowflakes Dance & Swear" this exact issue was discussed. At the time, Peter Boal felt Kiyon would have more opportunities to perform on stage if he was a corps member, because soloists traditionally compete with principals for their roles, so they are fewer and further between. Obviously he changed his mind at some point.

So I suggest that all of you do the same - do it at a performance, lecture, demonstration, etc (so Kevin McKenzie knows you bought a ticket and support ABT) and pigeon-hole him on the issue (in a nice way).

Furthermore, be vocal at Stella's performances! Yell your bravas, stand up, and physically show that you think she is outstanding! Encourage others to do the same. If Stella's performances receive particularly strong responses, I think Kevin is more likely to promote her. Finally, invite your friends to go to her perforamances. Strong box office makes a difference too!

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I think Stella's a beautiful dancer and agree that she deserves to be promoted to principal, but I'm wary of any kind of "campaign" like this because ... well, there's obviously a lot of politics backstage. We don't know what goes on behind closed doors, and such a "campaign" could even backfire if Kevin McKenzie thought Stella was in any way involved or if she was even paying for such a campaign. Her husband also works there. I would hate to think that I made a tense situation even worse or if McKenzie reacted badly and Stella and her husband were punished for it. ABT seems from the outside to be a rather autocratically run organization, with a rigid hierarchy. I just don't know how much any campaign, no matter how well-meaning, would help.

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I think Stella's a beautiful dancer and agree that she deserves to be promoted to principal, but I'm wary of any kind of "campaign" like this because ... well, there's obviously a lot of politics backstage. We don't know what goes on behind closed doors, and such a "campaign" could even backfire if Kevin McKenzie thought Stella was in any way involved or if she was even paying for such a campaign. Her husband also works there. I would hate to think that I made a tense situation even worse or if McKenzie reacted badly and Stella and her husband were punished for it. ABT seems from the outside to be a rather autocratically run organization, with a rigid hierarchy. I just don't know how much any campaign, no matter how well-meaning, would help.

I agree Canbelto. As much as I admire Abrera's dancing an AD has a lot to consider. I think Seo's promotion to principal an unfortunate mistake (what was the hurry), but zt the same time a promotion should be by popular demand - IMO. We don't have the big picture.

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I agree that a campaign should not explicitly ask for Abrera's promotion, but a lot of "I love Stella!" responses after her performances would reinforce the vociferous reaction Jayne rightly suggests.

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I think Stella's a beautiful dancer and agree that she deserves to be promoted to principal, but I'm wary of any kind of "campaign" like this because ... well, there's obviously a lot of politics backstage. We don't know what goes on behind closed doors, and such a "campaign" could even backfire if Kevin McKenzie thought Stella was in any way involved or if she was even paying for such a campaign. Her husband also works there. I would hate to think that I made a tense situation even worse or if McKenzie reacted badly and Stella and her husband were punished for it. ABT seems from the outside to be a rather autocratically run organization, with a rigid hierarchy. I just don't know how much any campaign, no matter how well-meaning, would help.

I agree with this. A "campaign" is too risky. You never know what the "unintended consequences" would be.

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She is one of my favorite dancers onstage, with technique and skills that surpass many others. She is also very well spoken and makes excellent presentations when discussing her art and her own experiences, such as during her presentation at the Guggenheim.

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Stella has always been one of my favorite dancers and she should have been promoted years ago. I will never understand that. I’ve never seen a less than wonderful performance from her and have been following her for years. Whether she’s dancing Myrta (possibly my favorite role of hers), Lilac Fairy, or in any one of Alexei’s ballets, her technique is rock solid and she infuses each role with a lovely luminosity. She’s never disappointed me. However, she is now about 35 actually, and I believe her time to be promoted has passed. ABT missed a great opportunity.

But, now I can understand why she wouldn’t be promoted given her age (if that is the reason). I doubt they would want to invest the additional coaching and resources (salary, etc.) to promote her when they’ll probably get only about another 5 years from her (no way to tell really, but at that age it’s undeniably limited). They’d rather put their resources towards developing a much younger dancer with principal potential (Seo, Boylston – though I agree that Seo was promoted too soon, despite how lovely she is; she needed more time to develop). And, I have to admit that that makes sense at this point. ABT also has a history of only promoting women to principal who dance all (or nearly all) of the leads in the 19th century classics or big full-length ballets. The only exception I can think of is Kathleen Moore. Stella has never carried one of these ballets, has she? Besides Cinderella? She’s always in the 2nd supporting role. I think she would have made a terrific Giselle, but I can’t see her as Odette/Odile, Kitri, Juliet, to name a few (not for lack of technique, but just not the right fit, and something in my opinion coaching wouldn’t change).

I agree that a “campaign” won’t have any positive affect – I doubt McKenzie will be influenced by that and granted he may have many other reasons that we don’t know about as to why Stella hasn’t been promoted.

But, until McKenzie sits me down and explains his reasoning to me (ha ha), I’ll always shake my head in disbelief. Stella is truly a beautiful and gifted dancer.

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Isabelle Ciaravola was made a POB étoile at age 37, even though the company was perfectly aware that she would hit mandatory retirement age five years later. If ABT were indeed investing resources in developing younger dancers, that would be one thing. But Irina Dvorovenko's recent interview suggests that it's not. Instead, she points out, ABT is hiring already developed leading dancers into whom other companies had invested time and resources.

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Isabelle Ciaravola was made a POB étoile at age 37, even though the company was perfectly aware that she would hit mandatory retirement age five years later. If ABT were indeed investing resources in developing younger dancers, that would be one thing. But Irina Dvorovenko's recent interview suggests that it's not. Instead, she points out, ABT is hiring already developed leading dancers into whom other companies had invested time and resources.

Most of the time ABT doesn't appear to be interested in promoting from within, as evidenced by their hiring outside guests artists and principals. But, they promoted Seo up from the corps (she started w/ the Studio Co.) and many people agree that they're grooming Boylston to be the next principal. Unfortunately, their preference for developing dancers seems not nearly as important as bringing in seasoned stars.

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Quite a few of ABT’s principals were developed at least partially from within, because despite their varied backgrounds they started their ABT careers in the corps de ballet: Herman Cornejo, the just-retired Irina Dvorovenko, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent, Gillian Murphy, Hee Seo and Cory Stearns. It’s not an alien concept for ABT. But all except Seo and Stearns are over 30, and apart from Hallberg the others have been principal dancers for at least ten years. So the mechanism for promotion has largely ground to a halt, and if the ranks of leading dancers are going to be replenished constantly by stars eager to spend springtime in New York, pretty much everybody else is stuck where they are. But it wasn't always that way.

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So the mechanism for promotion has largely ground to a halt, and if the ranks of leading dancers are going to be replenished constantly by stars eager to spend springtime in New York, pretty much everybody else is stuck where they are. But it wasn't always that way.

Exactly!

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