Leigh Witchel

Ansanelli to retire from dancing.

38 posts in this topic

I was disheartened reading that article. I hope she finds something to do that will make her happier. :)

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Ansanelli was a favorite of mine at NYCB, and I was very disappointed when she left. I admire her courage in going to the Royal, where she would have to assimilate a very different style, and take a soloist contract, having been a principal at NYCB, so I was delighted when she was promoted to principal.

I too hope she will return to dancing after a break, but whatever her future holds, I wish her happiness.

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Ansanelli was a favorite of mine at NYCB, and I was very disappointed when she left. I admire her courage in going to the Royal, where she would have to assimilate a very different style, and take a soloist contract, having been a principal at NYCB, so I was delighted when she was promoted to principal.

I too hope she will return to dancing after a break, but whatever her future holds, I wish her happiness.

I wish the same. Cynthia Gregory retired for a time (I believe she felt burnt out) and then returned to ABT. Perhaps Ansanelli will do the same. Whatever happens I wish her well. I loved her at NYCB>.

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That NYT article has been on my mind all day. The part where she says that dance felt like failure... I hope some day she realizes that for many of us of her generation, she's been positively inspirational.

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Ansanelli issued a release through Pointe Magazine (which sent it out as a preview to their new issue with AA on the cover):

A Statement from Alexandra Ansanelli

Alexandra Ansanelli, our June/July cover model, recently announced that she will retire from ballet at the end of this season. A principal with New York City Ballet, and now The Royal Ballet, she has asked Pointe to share the following statement.

Since age 11, I have been devoted in all aspects of my life to the art of ballet. Many sacrifices have been made in order to achieve the highest level of excellence of my capability. To me ballet is a religion, a devotion, a marriage. It demands that the mind, the body, and the spirit be present at all times.

At 15, my intense professional life began and "life" had an entirely new meaning. It has been very hard to accept for myself that my desires have changed. Yes, dancing the great neo-classical works as well as the classic ballerina roles has been very rewarding as an artist--but something inside is calling me in a new direction. I cannot deny that inner voice. It is what led me on this amazing journey. What is the voice calling me to now? I do not know yet. But time is passing by and I must make this next step in order to create more balance in my life.

There have been so many rewards working with geniuses of the entertainment world, as well as with two premiere companies, each striving to maintain the art in a different vein, located in different parts of the world. I shall be finishing the season at the Royal Ballet/Opera House on June 19th with the ballet Jewels, dancing "Rubies," a piece that I love--jazzy and pure Americana! We shall then tour to Washington, DC's Kennedy Center. On June 24th I will dance Natalia Petrovna in Ashton's dramatic masterpiece A Month in the Country. The final performance will be in Cuba a few weeks later.

Most importantly I shall miss the amazing artists, teachers and directors that I have worked with in the ballet world. They have enabled me to make the most of each role with their knowledge and collaborative efforts. I would like to thank directors Peter Martins and Monica Mason for enabling me to grow and experience ballet to its fullest. My friends and fans have been so understanding and supportive during all moments of this ride. Most of all, I thank my family, especially my mom and dad. Anyone who has been a part of my career knows how unbelievable they have been. No child could ask or wish for anyone more loving, sincere and, most importantly, brutally honest. I love you both so deeply and thank you for always believing in me.

I have never taken the gift that God has given me lightly. That is why this has been such a tormenting decision that has been in my mind for many years. But I know that this creative energy will always need to be expressed during my life. Hopefully I will be able to share it in many mediums in the future. I cannot live without expression!

To my beautiful first love of my life I say...Goodnight sweet love, goodnight.

With love and deepest thanks,

Alexandra Ansanelli

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I was hoping someone would comment on her Ondine (she replaced Cojocaru in the performance I attended). I had not seen her perform it before and found her charming and spirited in the role, her long arms and expressive face used effectively.

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Thanks for the heads-up -- I wouldn't have seen this otherwise.

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I found myself oddly disturbed by this article.  I am sure that A. Ansanelli has had a difficult time, but the article gives a grim picture of being a dancer and a dancer's life after retiring.  In reality there are many dancers in NYCB taking courses at Fordham.  There are countless dancers in companies all over who support causes, have many interests, are married or in relationships and who have children.  I actually think the kind of life Ansanelli lead (as portrayed in this article) was the exception, not the norm.  

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18 hours ago, vipa said:

I found myself oddly disturbed by this article.  I am sure that A. Ansanelli has had a difficult time, but the article gives a grim picture of being a dancer and a dancer's life after retiring.  In reality there are many dancers in NYCB taking courses at Fordham.  There are countless dancers in companies all over who support causes, have many interests, are married or in relationships and who have children.  I actually think the kind of life Ansanelli lead (as portrayed in this article) was the exception, not the norm.  

 

It left me feeling sad. Her experience (and complete dedication at the expense of anything or anyone else) is more typical of the "good old days" than it is now. When I was a dance student (especially) and later out trying to make it, if you pursued any other interests or hobbies you were thought of as not serious or dedicated to your art, and definitely not professional dancer material. You were supposed to eat, breathe, sleep, dream ballet. I'm sure there are still many dancers who subscribe to this, and I'm not criticizing their ways. I've been there. As you say vipa, dancers today are generally a lot more well-rounded with many outside interests and pursuits (and even other part-time careers). And, that seems to be more accepted and, gratefully, encouraged. Having more balance in your life can only make you a better artist, and probably a much happier person.

Edited by ABT Fan

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The article also left me feeling sad.  Although she expressly states that she is passionate about the work her father is doing, it seems like she took the easy route by not challenging herself to find her own path in life  after she left the ballet world.  Taking a job working for dad is the path of least resistance and effort.  I also got the distinct feeling that she is hoping that finding Mr. Right would solve many of her problems.  This seems like an outdated and misguided  way of thinking.

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I will say that, putting the article aside (though I found it quite interesting), the discussion reminds me what an extraordinary ballerina she was during her short career. It's certainly not everyone who can successfully negotiate being a principal at NYCB and the Royal of all companies. I feel lucky I got to see her dance! I remember the first time, too, that I saw her--she was in the corps of Serenade: I didn't yet realize that was "Ansanelli" (whom I had read about) but she really stood out. That was wrong of course as far as corps-de-ballet dancing goes, but somehow also right...that is, a clear signal she was not just another fine dancer. 

 

(From my own experience, too, I can't say it surprises me when dancers at the highest level have trouble finding the right balance in their lives. Though of course I hope Vipa is right that it's less common now, Still, come to think of it -- it's an experience many people have in all walks of life.)

Edited by Drew

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 I wish I had seen her dance, Drew. I see from the article that she had contemplated a return to dance, and it's ballet's loss that she didn't. I wish her the best and hope that she finds fulfillment on her new path.

 

I thought Ansanelli’s candor was admirable. Whatever else may be said about her, I don’t have the impression of someone who ever takes “the easy route"  -- whatever that may be when you’re talking about someone rebuilding her life. Nor does she seem to be waiting around for someone on a white horse (although culturally such ideas are so deeply ingrained, even today, as to be almost unconscious, and not necessarily deserving of individual censure). It’s my understanding that many young female dancers have faced questions and problems similar to Ansanelli’s and while the article may emphasize the negative, it is true that the ballet world can also be a very tough one. 

 

It is good that today there are groups around to help dancers cope with the challenges of retirement while still relatively young and without the financial support of a pension.

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