The problem with talented dancers like Mikhail Ilyin and Joseph Philips who were dancing soloist with Miami City Ballet and joined ABT as corps is that there are still a lot of soloists ahead of them.
I can see taking a step down to join a larger company, but, in Ilyin's case, he was principal at one point at Miami City Ballet and he took the step down from principal to corps. And he wasn't moving from a teeny teeny company to the ABT. http://www.abt.org/d...p?Dancer_ID=215
"Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Mikhail Ilyin graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in 1998. In 1999, he joined the Boston Ballet for two years, then Miami City Ballet where he became in principal in 2003..... He has been an Artist-in-Residence with Ballet Mississippi since 2005."
Now, that being said, based on his performances in "Airs", I didn't perceive that Ilyin deserved elevation from the ABT corps (although it is difficult to make an evaluation based on observing him in only one piece).
On ABT having had little room at the top on the male side, I can see that. Particularly given how prolific Gomes and Hallberg have been in learning new works, and how they seem to be able to take on any type of danseur role (given that they are relatively tall, have powerful jumps and techniques, and yet can also participate in more reflective roles). Both Gomes and Hallberg seem to be able to take on a lot of new roles each ABT season. When you consider how recently Hallberg has been principal, it seems, at least to me, impressive that he has been able to become (1) one of the main partners for Gillian Murphy, herself a very prolific ballerina, particularly in recent periods as Ethan S has become more beset with injury, (2) retained being the preferred partner of Michelle Wiles, (3) done meaningful work with P Herrera (even though he is not necessarily her single preferred partner), (4) begun to partner Hee Seo (query whether that is more than a temporary thing) at times and (5) partnered various other people on occasion, including some soloists.