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Promising RB Graduates not going to RB

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This is slightly off topic (feel free to move to a more appropriate thread if one exists), but I've been noticing for some time now that many of the most promising young dancers coming out of the Royal Ballet School - especially female - seem to NOT be getting into the main company, or at least not right out of school. I believe I read Johan Kobborg lamenting the fact that the UK loses many of its most promising talents to other companies. Most recently, for example, I was surprised to see that the wonderful Delia Matthews, a top Prix de Lausanne winner, had gone into Birmingham Royal Ballet instead of RB. Same thing in past years, including the wonderful Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun, who ended up taking a soloist contract with SFB when she wasn't offered a contract with RB (despite being the Adeline Genee Gold Medal winner). Does anyone know why this seems to be happening? I presume it's just that there simply aren't places for these new dancers coming out of the school? Or is Birmingham RB being used as kind of a 'junior company', a stepping stone, for some of these dancers (I do recall that Darcey Bussell was first in Sadler's Wells RB before getting into the main company).

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Off-topic for the thread on the RB's Cuban tour, from which this topic was split. If you don't see a topical thread, feel free to open one.

Unless she said something to that effect in a published interview, I'm not sure we know that Nutnaree -- or anyone -- wasn't offered a contract with RB. That's usually private, between dancer and company. Any number of factors could have influenced a dancer's choice -- repertoire, proximity to family and/or friends, coaches.

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I speak from a position of bias as I follow two non-London based ballet companies in England.

Maybe dancers choose BRB or other companies. For example, would Delia Matthews still be the equivalent of a "spear carrier" if she had joined RB or would she be getting good roles in mixed programmes as she has been with BRB eg the lead in David Bintley's Galantries and the girl on the hammock in Enigma?

A number of dancers have joined both BRB and NBT from RBS in recent years and most of them are getting leading roles within two or three years (if not their first year).

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I have to say this thread or rather the bias of it slightly irks me. For starters as Carbro so rightly pointed out, one can't assume anything based on the fact that a talented dancer chose not to or was not offered a contract with the Royal, we don't know the reasons nor the desires of the dancer for their career choices or their chosen company.

However, my biggest bone of contention is this continuing mindset of classing Birmingham as a second class company and the Covent Garden as the pinnacle of balletic achievement. For starters it's plugging in to this notion that the Covent Garden company is a world-class classical company, it's not, nor has it been for quite some time. Rather it's a world-class selection of principals from other schools and companies with a backdrop of RBS trained dancers as corps or if they're lucky demi caractere soloists.

Covent Garden RB has had a long history of under utilising and relegating talent to the sidelines and sadly letting a great deal of fruit whither on the vine and many dancers quite rightly see the Birmingham company as a much better bet to be used within a wide range of classical, commissioned and modern works and have a real chance of dancing constantly and be promoted. Bintley at Birmingham is brilliant at promoting and developing home-grown talent and giving that talent ample opportunities to progress and develop. Indeed all the male classical principals save two are RBS english trained and several started their careers at the Covent Garden company languised in the bottom ranks for a couple of years, before joining BRB and advancing. Jamie Bond, the most recent male promotion to principal being a case in point, ditto Natasha Oughtred. There's no point being in a "world class" company if all you're doing for a decade is pretty much of nothing except filling in crowd scenes.

Bussell was earmarked for Covent Garden from the start when every company in the world was in this bizarre ballet space race to make their own Sylvie Guillem in the late eighties, it's a bad example and indeed had she continued at Sadlers Wells and been able to develop her talents at her own pace perhaps she would have been the dancer she had the potential to be, rather than the Royals media-friendly figurehead.

Pipit-Suskun was I believe offered a Royal contract but for her own reasons chose to go straight in to soloist at SFB and indeed given the Royal's track record of under-using its young talent, can anyone blame a dancer for choosing to actually dance rather than an uncertain future languishing in the corps of a once-great company trading on past glamour and prestige.

It's also incredibly insulting to Birmingham Royal Ballet, its dancers, and personnel to view it as a stepping-stone junior company. It's not, it's the real deal in its own right, a classical major company presenting the full length classics, modern British and American classics and with a wide and varied policy of commissioning new works presented on main stage. The kind of company any young dancer would dream of joining. Given also that David Bintley sees his dancers as more than mere adjuncts to imported stars and actively cherishes the developing of young and emerging talent - BRB deserves to be seen and considered for what it is, a dream job for any dancer and not second best.

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However, my biggest bone of contention is this continuing mindset of classing Birmingham as a second class company and the Covent Garden as the pinnacle of balletic achievement. For starters it's plugging in to this notion that the Covent Garden company is a world-class classical company, it's not, nor has it been for quite some time.

It's rare for me to agree with every word of a post, but Simon G's sums up my own views exactly. David Bintley has managed to retain the English style of dancing in Birmingham whereas successive RB directors have not. For many years I've preferred both the BRB and, making allowances for their more modest repertoire, ENB, to watching the stylistic mishmash that currently characterizes RB Performances. If I were a young British dancer I'd avoid the RB like the plague.

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However, my biggest bone of contention is this continuing mindset of classing Birmingham as a second class company and the Covent Garden as the pinnacle of balletic achievement. For starters it's plugging in to this notion that the Covent Garden company is a world-class classical company, it's not, nor has it been for quite some time.

It's rare for me to agree with every word of a post, but Simon G's sums up my own views exactly. David Bintley has managed to retain the English style of dancing in Birmingham whereas successive RB directors have not. For many years I've preferred both the BRB and, making allowances for their more modest repertoire, ENB, to watching the stylistic mishmash that currently characterizes RB Performances. If I were a young British dancer I'd avoid the RB like the plague.

It's is even rarer for me to agree with everything that Simon G has to say, but I think his appraisal is shared by many who once regulary supported the Opera House Royal Ballet much more than they do today.

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This is a fascinating topic with great responses so far.

I have a question from a U.S. perspective. It seems that what most non-UK people call "the Royal" has two great prestige advantages when it comes to consolidating a World Brand. One is their history. The other is "London." I've noticed that Birmingham and even Northern Ballet Theater both perform in London, but don't know whether they have regular annual seasons, or what. Is "making it in London" still considered to be as crucial as it used to be? (I keep thinking of the line from New York, New York: "if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.) Do the top dancers at Birmingham or NBT get the national exposure that a dancer at Covent Garden might plausibly hope for?

This matter is relevant to the United States, which has its own equivalents of "the Royal" (two of them based in New York City). On the other side of the prestige fence there are a number of very high-level regional companies (San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Boston, etc.) which offer dancers performance and growth opportunities similar to those described by Simon.

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This is a fascinating topic with great responses so far.

I have a question from a U.S. perspective. It seems that what most non-UK people call "the Royal" has two great prestige advantages when it comes to consolidating a World Brand. One is their history. The other is "London." I've noticed that Birmingham and even Northern Ballet Theater both perform in London, but don't know whether they have regular annual seasons, or what. Is "making it in London" still considered to be as crucial as it used to be? (I keep thinking of the line from New York, New York: "if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.) Do the top dancers at Birmingham or NBT get the national exposure that a dancer at Covent Garden might plausibly hope for?

Bart,

The big thing about the Royal Ballet in London is a) the opera house, it's a real calling card for prestige the fact that the ballet and opera are enshrined there gives those respective companies this untouchable gloss. Which is a pity perhaps should those companies focus not so much on where the stage is, but what they put on it the Covent Garden RB might be in a better state.

b) the prestige of the company from the 40s to early 70s basically the company that De Valois, Ashton and Lambert created and artistically controlled and led.

The Covent Garden address can't be underestimated it's why the ROH garners the vast majority of arts funding, it's why those huge world stars flock to perform there and also why the RB at Covent Garden seems so reticent to actively develop new dancers and their technique and talents - to justify the huge prices for seats they want fully formed virtuosos. The time, effort and nurturing needed to create homegrown stars seems too much for the administration.

Another problem is that the Covent Garden Royal is a well paid job, with full benefits, fixed contracts and employment rights - a major draw for any dancer. It's why dancers from other schools and countries flock to London, the Royal offers as much security as a dancer can hope for. The problem a lot of dancers who find themselves relegated to "spear carrier" face is that they're artistically and professionally unfulfilled, but are terrified to leave that security.

There's been so much written about how the British school doesn't produce dancers of high calibre, but I think that's wrong, the problem is that the company doesn't produce mature dancers from the basic raw talent those dancers finish their training with. Bintley at BRB seems committed to this.

Northern Ballet Theatre used to be a classical ballet company however, it's now more of a ballet dance theatre company for many reasons, some may be changing audience tastes, another is that they just can't compete with the Royal, specifically Birmingham Royal and English National who are committed classical companies, have much more history and tour extensively as well as much greater budgets to stage the classics with a full company of dancers. Northern dances rarely in London and then in very short seasons. Birmingham Royal does dance in London once a year and the Covent Garden Royal tours rarely if ever in the UK but does tour abroad. A real bone of contention for non London based ballet lovers as their taxes are used to fund the Royal and its touring.

The short answer to top dancers receiving exposure is no, dancers at the BRB, ENB, NBt and Scottish Ballet rarely if ever receive the wider recognition the Royal dancers do, or rather the London based media recognition. But very very few of the dancers brought to wider prominence at the Royal actually are British, trained at the Royal Ballet School, are full products of the school or company. The Covent Garden company loves sensation because that creates media interest and of course ticket sales - even when creating that sensation does harm to dancers, it would sadly seem. Bussell, being a case where rapid elevation really stopped her creatively, Cojocaru, the 2001 Romanian sensation, has had huge injury problems because she was given a workload too heavy for her young technique and body. Tony Hall keeps droning on about "new Nureyev's" - two years ago Steven McRae was the new Nureyev, this year Sergei Polunin was annointed with that title - Hall loves his spin, but doesn't seem to realise how banal such a pronouncement is. Nureyev was a product of time, place, political situation and of course Fonteyn.

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Thanks, Simon. I really appreciate your ability -- and willingness -- to put these matters in a larger context including the politics and economics of it all.

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It's a real bug bear of mine that companies not based in London do not get nearly the same amount of exposure or plaudits as RB.

When I first started watching ballet in the mid 1980s I mostly went to London and saw quite a lot at ROH. To be honest, I got quite disillusioned because too often I saw the corps standing on stage mostly looking bored to tears. You never get that at BRB or NBT.

Perhaps if the film of Mao's Last Dancer takes off internationally there will be a positive effect for BRB and Chi Cao (whom John Percival described a couple of years ago as surely the best classical dancer in Europe and the US!). I've certainly enjoyed following his career from the day he joined BRB.

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It's a real bug bear of mine that companies not based in London do not get nearly the same amount of exposure or plaudits as RB.

When I first started watching ballet in the mid 1980s I mostly went to London and saw quite a lot at ROH. To be honest, I got quite disillusioned because too often I saw the corps standing on stage mostly looking bored to tears. You never get that at BRB or NBT.

JM,

That's it exactly and why I got so riled with the original tone of this posting. BRB dancers (sorry it's been a while since I saw NBT) are top flight dancers in a top flight company. Comparison to Covent Garden RB is invidious and pointless and indeed it's Covent Garden that comes out lacking.

As you say with BRB you get homogeny of style, a company which looks like a company and a committment to performance from a group of dancers who all look like they actually want to be there.

The London-centric bias is just ridiculous, when NYCB came to London last year there was so much bitching about how poor they were in comparison to the Royal, but I think that was severly misplaced complacency and parochial pride. With NYCB what you got was a company trained in a style, together in a style with a corps from Corps to principals trained in a school which still was the lifeblood to a company. When was the last time anyone could say that about the Covent Garden company?

I think actually another problem with the Royal at Covent Garden is the price of seats, with the majority of seats now being in the £80+ range for ballet and £150 range for opera the majority of Covent Garden's clientele are sadly block booking corporates and what they're fed is a diet of "international" stars, and poorly thought out programmes the majority of which are the Covent Garden's badly designed three act classics and stodgy Macmillan three acters. A quick look at the rep for the past x years and you'd never think that the Royal has one of the most varied, richest and exciting reps in the world.

The range breadth and beauty of the BRB dancers is brilliant - it's just such a pity that they're seen so often as "sloppy seconds", for all out dancing and company style they put Covent Garden to shame.

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Simon - your words are music to my ears!

Both BRB and NBT have a company style and look like a company when you see them on stage.

A friend of mine told me off a while ago for being disparaging about RB and she is correct. I never really go to see them (ticket prices and rep) so I can't comment too much on the current company. I just like to shout from the rooftops about BRB and NBT.

In case anyone thinks I am being too parochial and biased about those companies, I do try to see as many visiting companies as possible, usually at the Lowry. In fact, I saw an exhilerating performance from Rambert there last night. Rambert have got some sensational dancers at the moment.

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There are 3 points I'd like to address:

1) I feel that there are actually more exciting young ballerinas to watch at the corps and soloist level currently at BRB than the RB. For me, this includes Delia Matthews, Celine Gittens, Sonia Aguilar, Momoko Hirata, just to name a few. All these lovely ballerinas would be getting equal opportunities, and just as much attention even if they had joined RB. Again as Simon as has suggested, the London-focused media bias is extremely unfortunate.

2) Another important issue about the recent trend in hiring RBS graduates: in the past 5 years or so, it seems like those who win the Prix de Lausanne Apprentice Awards (not the Scholarship Award) are having an easier time getting into the RB rather than those who went through the RBS system. I won't name names as this may offend several students and company members. If you scrutinize the evidence closely, what does this say about the recent policy of the RB? Is it better to maximize your chances of a Prix de Lausanne medal and buy your way into the RB through a one-shot competition system rather than FULLY investing several years in the RBS school itself? Ideally, De Valois would have definitely valued the latter as the valid gateway into the company. I think the RB's recent hiring trends will cause further polemic with regards to the politics of the RB-RBS hiring relationship. I personally think it's terribly unfair to some of the RBS graduates, who otherwise could have gotten into the Royal Ballet, HAD they garnered a pseudo-company position as a "Prix de Lausanne Apprentice" in the first place.

3) I have one more thing to add, which I forgot to mention earlier. I think the ABT-NYCB vs the Regional Companies comparison won't have the same kind of relevance in the UK. While BRB isn't located in London, there is no way that BRB would ever be qualitatively classified as a "regional" company if it ever existed in the US. ENB, BRB, RB = they are altogether national, top companies!

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I have one more thing to add, which I forgot to mention earlier. I think the ABT-NYCB vs the Regional Companies comparison won't have the same kind of relevance in the UK. While BRB isn't located in London, there is no way that BRB would ever be qualitatively classified as a "regional" company if it ever existed in the US. ENB, BRB, RB = they are altogether national, top companies!

Oh, but it would. In the US any medium-large company not based in NYC has to prove, over and over again, that it is not "regional", which is often a buzzword for "provincial". I think that's why San Francisco Ballet seems to have passed "Go" and abandoned any further attempt to prove itself on a national level and to have gone straight to trying to prove itself as an international company.

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But let's simplify, and talk about the root issue behind this thread - students of a company-affiliated school not going into that company. 'Twas ever thus. Students from La Scala went to dance in Paris, Parisian students danced in London, School of American Ballet students joined American Ballet Theatre - it happened everywhere, continues to happen, and will continue as long as human nature is involved in selecting where an employee will work, and on the part of both the hirer and the hired.

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But let's simplify, and talk about the root issue behind this thread - students of a company-affiliated school not going into that company. 'Twas ever thus. Students from La Scala went to dance in Paris, Parisian students danced in London, School of American Ballet students joined American Ballet Theatre - it happened everywhere, continues to happen, and will continue as long as human nature is involved in selecting where an employee will work, and on the part of both the hirer and the hired.

Mel,

I think in the case of the Royal it's a little more involved than that. The Royal like the other great companies POB, Mariinksy, Bolshoi, RDB, NYCB has been linked intrinsically to its school throughout its history until the last decade. True the other companies have allowed in outside trained dancers from time to time (though I am aware that RDB has upped its outsider recruitment policy) but the stars of the Royal have been traditionally a product of its school, ditto its once world-class corps.

The Royal is increasingly like ABT, indeed with its overwhelming majority of Principals and First soloists trained, schooled and working in other companies the real question is the erosion of what was the Royal's style. A style BRB sees as its duty to maintain.

Ruteyo brought up this point:

Another important issue about the recent trend in hiring RBS graduates: in the past 5 years or so, it seems like those who win the Prix de Lausanne Apprentice Awards (not the Scholarship Award) are having an easier time getting into the RB rather than those who went through the RBS system. I won't name names as this may offend several students and company members. If you scrutinize the evidence closely, what does this say about the recent policy of the RB? Is it better to maximize your chances of a Prix de Lausanne medal and buy your way into the RB through a one-shot competition system rather than FULLY investing several years in the RBS school itself? Ideally, De Valois would have definitely valued the latter as the valid gateway into the company. I think the RB's recent hiring trends will cause further polemic with regards to the politics of the RB-RBS hiring relationship. I personally think it's terribly unfair to some of the RBS graduates, who otherwise could have gotten into the Royal Ballet, HAD they garnered a pseudo-company position as a "Prix de Lausanne Apprentice" in the first place.

I think though it's more a question of "fairness" - the school has most definitely been for many years NOT producing finished products, though that doesn't mean that with careful nurturing they didn't have the potential to be "stars" Jamie Bond, Robert Parker, Monica Zamora, Iain Mackay, Thomas Caley, Jenna Roberts - all dancers who at BRB found the means to achieve the technical and artistic abilities they didn't have or which were embryonic to achieve principal status.

The problem is that the Covent Garden company is a big business, expenisve business and unfortunately that business is one which is undervalued within society - ballet. The Covent Garden company needs its stars to be fully formed on entering and sadly it doesn't have the time to nurture its talent.

That notwithstanding the Covent Garden company is a draw for any young dancer, well paid, full time contracts, great health benefits and support and ostensibly a great rep and it will always be a major attraction for foreign dancers. It costs upwards of £20,000 a year to be a student at the Royal ballet school, students from poor countries of course can't afford this means of training and fast tracking into the country, hell students in the UK can't either - it's why despite the protestations that dance is egalitarian and the cheesy Billy Elliot myth, dance remains resolutely middle class, they're the only ones who can afford to train their kids.

Of course given that the training in the former Soviet countries and South America, especially, is so much better at producing the virtuosos modern ballet demands, it's far better for a young dancer to train at home and then use the Lausanne scholarship to come to prominence and attention with the Royal Ballet. It's not Cojocaru, Nunez, Polunin or McRae's fault that they were more talented than their British compatriots and used the only means at their disposal to gain entrance to the company. If the school was producing talent of that calibre the various prizes would be irrelevant, the company wouldn't need to shop around.

The other argument against the Royal's recruitment policy is when an RBS trained dancer gains fame within another company and comes back to the Royal or more often stays with their company and everyone laments "the one that got away" etc but the real issue is that that dancer hadn't achieved their potential at the school and needed the nurturing of a company which valued talent as an embryonic commidity and helped the dancer to reach their potential.

The Royal's burn out rate and injury rate amongst its fast-tracked stars is high, too high. Dancers are given back breaking workloads which cause them to self-destruct before they have the stamina to cope. Cojocaru especially I really can't see lasting another five let alone ten years given the horrendous extent of the injuries she's had to cope with. She was thrust into the spotlight far too soon, or rather she was given a seasoned ballerina's workload far too soon - Mcrae, Putrov, Bussell - all plagued by injuries from the outset. Again and again it comes down to the Covent Garden's bizarre policy of all or nothing, because it's not just artistry that needs nurturing it's a body's strength and stamina that equally needs slow progressive training to withstand a career as a principal.

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Simon, I can trace the consternation with "intruders" in the Royal Ballet's ranks right back to the policy of retaining Rudolf Nureyev in the rather chimerical title of "Permanent Guest Artist". I didn't like that status then, and I still think it worked mischief against the company's longterm best interests. In the 60s, the title of "corps de ballerinas" was held in common by both the Royal and the (then)Kirov. Both have slipped since then, and nobody seems to have taken their places. While it is, on the whole, a good thing for Britain to manifest its membership in the EEC by following the Brussels Accords on Employment, those policies have worked against ballet companies throughout Europe and have diluted essential qualities which made the Danes the Danes, the French the French, and the English the English. As a citizen of one of the most ethnically-eclectic nations on Earth, which is at the same time one of the most xenophobic, I can both sympathize with and deplore the homogenization of world ballet. Strong direction in the several centers of ballet is needed, and I just don't see any strong leaders coming to the fore.

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The Royal's burn out rate and injury rate amongst its fast-tracked stars is high, too high. Dancers are given back breaking workloads which cause them to self-destruct before they have the stamina to cope. Cojocaru especially I really can't see lasting another five let alone ten years given the horrendous extent of the injuries she's had to cope with. She was thrust into the spotlight far too soon, or rather she was given a seasoned ballerina's workload far too soon - Mcrae, Putrov, Bussell - all plagued by injuries from the outset. Again and again it comes down to the Covent Garden's bizarre policy of all or nothing, because it's not just artistry that needs nurturing it's a body's strength and stamina that equally needs slow progressive training to withstand a career as a principal.

On the other hand, we can't really blame the current AD, Monica Mason for that. It was Anthony Dowell who pushed Cojocaru first of all, and Ross Stretton who heaped so many Principal roles on her. We can even look at Cojocaru's brief stay with Kiev Opera Ballet and say that this was the start of many of her problems...

Monica Mason had to continue with Cojocaru from the point where Stretton had taken her - she couldn't really stop her dancing the roles she'd already danced under Stretton and Dowell with no good reason! But look at how well Mason paced Marianela Nunez - and how remarkable her growth as an artist has been as a result. Also, how few injuries she has had compared to others...

Nunez may be an 'import' but she is really a Royal Ballet dancer by now - not a foreign star. The same can be said about many of the RB's foreign principals and soloists.

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On the other hand, we can't really blame the current AD, Monica Mason for that. It was Anthony Dowell who pushed Cojocaru first of all, and Ross Stretton who heaped so many Principal roles on her. We can even look at Cojocaru's brief stay with Kiev Opera Ballet and say that this was the start of many of her problems...

Nunez may be an 'import' but she is really a Royal Ballet dancer by now - not a foreign star. The same can be said about many of the RB's foreign principals and soloists.

I'm not apportioning blame to one AD, Bussel hardly danced under Mason at all, or at least the tail end of her career. What's endemic however is the injury burn out rate. And indeed the disparate techniques the dancers dance which whether we like to admit or not is injurious to dancers' bodies- that's one thing Guillem was hugely censorious of regarding the RB, and her refusal to dance modern/classical in the same season because of the way it ravaged her body.

Moreover, you can't call Nunez an RB dancer, she's NOT. And this is the problem a great deal of RB flag waving has the appropriation of foreign styles, techniques and training as Royal Ballet style once the dancer has been there a long time. Nunez is a South American virtuoso, from her training to technique and continuing way she approaches the classics and her rep. This isn't a necessarily a bad thing, it's great for her - but only highlights the disparity between what was once a classical company with its own flavour, style, school and technique and what it is now - an artistic and technical mish mash.

Nunez, Cojocaru, Polunin, McRae, Rojo, Soares, Lamb, Yanowsky, Samodurov, Bonnelli etc are NOT RB dancers and never will be and indeed when one puts the "home grown" principals next to them, or rather those few elevated to principal status for what seems political reasons Cuthbertson, Pennefather and Watson, what is most apparant is how lacking they are in all areas of their technique and training and how far the Royal has fallen in terms of a technique, school and style.

However, on reflection I do think it was unfair of me to bring up Cojocaru, perhaps. I feel that Cojocaru's deeper problems stem from the fact that she may not have a body for ballet. She's essentially a lyrical ballerina, with a very fragile musculature and frame, but she was pushed as a virtuoso and had developed a hyper flexible technique, especially her back - there were times when it seemed she couldn't do a straight out classical arabesque even when one was called for, everything was 180 degree penchee with a vertical spine attached. I don't think hers was a body that was destined to last the distance, even when she started at the Royal she had those horrific bunions which necessitated extra wide blocks and those stresses have seemingly continued throughout her whole body.

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On the other hand: Nunez has been at RB (plus a year at RBS) longer than she trained in South America. Her coaching in the Classics has been given to her by former RB artists and RB coaches, her time in the corps was at RB. She is arguably the best Ashton dancer in the Company (at least among the principals and soloists) and arguably the best exponent of the RB's traditional mime out of any of the female principals. Yes, she may have come to London as a South American virtuoso, she may keep those qualities still today - but it doesn't mean she can 'never' be an RB dancer, and I would definitely say that her maturity as an artist has come from the Royal Ballet. And in terms of what she does, she may guest a bit but she is very much a Company dancer - she spends most of her time and does most of her performances at London and with RB.

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Even more so - Polunin has been at RBS since he was in his early teens, he even spent time at White Lodge! He may not be pure 'Royal Ballet material', the same for Nunez, but it doesn't mean you can say they are not demonstrative of RB style, just because they have had outside influence.

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Nunez, Cojocaru, Polunin, McRae, Rojo, Soares, Lamb, Yanowsky, Samodurov, Bonnelli etc are NOT RB dancers and never will be and indeed when one puts the "home grown" principals next to them, or rather those few elevated to principal status for what seems political reasons Cuthbertson, Pennefather and Watson, what is most apparant is how lacking they are in all areas of their technique and training and how far the Royal has fallen in terms of a technique, school and style.

That's a rather harsh assessment. All of these dancers have danced with the RB for many years and taken pains to absorb the RB repertoire and yes, style. That's like saying Peter Martins was NOT a Balanchine dancer and never would be because he wasn't trained at the SAB.

I also think the "British style" was influenced a lot by its repertoire (Ashton), rather than specific training. Margot Fonteyn and the other "founders" of British ballet had disparate training backgrounds but were united by their choreographer (Ashton) and the vision of Ninette de Valois. To me, the question should be, are these dancers able to do justice to the Royal repertoire? Not whether they were trained at White Lodge.

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That's a rather harsh assessment. All of these dancers have danced with the RB for many years and taken pains to absorb the RB repertoire and yes, style. That's like saying Peter Martins was NOT a Balanchine dancer and never would be because he wasn't trained at the SAB.

I also think the "British style" was influenced a lot by its repertoire (Ashton), rather than specific training. Margot Fonteyn and the other "founders" of British ballet had disparate training backgrounds but were united by their choreographer (Ashton) and the vision of Ninette de Valois. To me, the question should be, are these dancers able to do justice to the Royal repertoire? Not whether they were trained at White Lodge.

No Canbelto, it's not harsh at all. Indeed Martins went through years of having Balanchine practically torture him until he felt that finally he WAS a Balanchine dancer, so I'm afraid your comparison just doesn't hold water. The current trend of the RB seems to be "come as you are", as long as you can turn like a top, extend like elastic homogeny and style doesn't count.

Yes, canbelto, you're right on one count, Ashton and Fonteyn were vital for the founding of the British style, just as De Valois with her Russian based and Checcetti based influences, just as Balanchine, who you did indeed mention earlier would have been nothing without his basis in Vaganova Mariinsky style, ditto Petipa, ditto Bounonville and this saddens me that you so blithely dismiss the very cornerstone of balletic schooling, training and company uniqueness - without that incredible alchemy of a bedrock of ballet schooling, visionary choreographer and directorship ballet wouldn't evolve. It's what makes a great company great - and which the Royal seems to happy to toss away and no longer invest in.

I agree that it can be thrilling to watch the latest virtuoso bash their way through a company's rep with total disregard for what that company means, and their choreographic style but it's a dead end for ballet.

Indeed I argued as well that if White Lodge isn't training dancers to be complete and able to dance a rep, what's wrong with foreign nationals using the Prix de Lausanne to gain entry to the Royal. It's just a crying shame that the school doesn't seem to armour its students with the full armoury they need and the company at Covent Garden isn't prepared to develop those dancers. Nathalie Harrison is a worrying addition to the company if that's where Mason intends the modern British ballerina to be heading - she's a British Alina Somova.

And no, Canbelto, however many times one may repeat it, Nunez is NOT a british dancer in technique, temperament or style not will she ever be, her use of time and musicality sets her apart from any of her British contemporaries, it's thoroughly Latin American and that's before we even get to her technique - yes, she's a thrilling dancer, that I don't disagree with.

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And no, Canbelto, however many times one may repeat it, Nunez is NOT a british dancer in technique, temperament or style not will she ever be, her use of time and musicality sets her apart from any of her British contemporaries, it's thoroughly Latin American and that's before we even get to her technique - yes, she's a thrilling dancer, that I don't disagree with.

I'm not blithely dismissing anything, just pointing out that the Royal Ballet has never been a completely homogeneous company in terms of schooling and training. What united it was its repertory (Ashton, and later, MacMillan, and de Valois's commitment to the Petipa classics) and that itself created a style. It's sort of like the first generation Balanchine dancers spoke that it was dancing Balanchine's ballets that made them "Balanchine dancers." If that repertory has not been maintained up to standards I don't think it's because the RB lacks talented dancers.

Having also seen Nunez both live and on video I don't really see anything "Latin American" about her dancing, other than her ethnic heritage.

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Perhaps if the Royal Ballet went back to having Ashton's choreography as the bedrock of the company, those very diverse dancers would begin to develop some English style but it won't happen all the time there is a reliance on the MacMillan/McGregor choreographic axis.

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