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Retirements

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From the NY Times:

Some of New York City Ballet’s top dancers will take their final bows this spring season. The company has announced that dates have been set for the farewell performances of long-time principal dancers Yvonne Borree, Albert Evans, Darci Kistler and Philip Neal as well as the principal conductor Maurice Kaplow.

The season, which will feature performances of more than 40 ballets, will include new beginnings too. Ballets by the choreographers Melissa Barak, Mauro Bigonzetti, Peter Martins, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon will all have their world premieres.

Four commissioned scores will also make their debut, including a violin concerto composed by Esa-Pekka Salonen, for Mr. Martins’ work. Mr. Salonen will conduct the City Ballet Orchestra for all performances of that ballet.

The season kicks off on April 29 with a gala and the architect Santiago Calatrava, who provided scenic designs for five of the season’s world premieres, will serve as a chairman of the event. Also on the bill, 22 works by George Balanchine and seven by Jerome Robbins. Ms. Kistler’s farewell performance will take place on the last day of the season, June, 27. She is scheduled to dance excerpts from Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Mr. Martins’ “Swan Lake.”

Very sad that Philip Neal is retiring. I can't believe that Nilas Martins is not on the list of people retiring. This is nepotism at its worst.

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From the NY Times:

Very sad that Philip Neal is retiring. I can't believe that Nilas Martins is not on the list of people retiring. This is nepotism at its worst.

Too true about Philip Neal -- he is a great partner, and when I saw him in the divertissement in MND last week I thought he looked great. Also true about Nilas -- he is barely on stage anymore, b/c he can no longer handle most roles. :(

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Philip Neal looked wonderful in the Midsummer Divertissment last week (with Whelan, who was wonderful, too). He's always been a favorite of mine, and I'll be sad to see him go - but it's better to leave when we're wondering why he's going rather than when we're wondering why he's still there. He'll be missed for sure.

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Maybe I shouldn't be surprise, after all both Neal and Evans have been with the company respectfully for 23 and 22 years...most of those years as principal dancers. So they are at the age in which retirement isn't that far out of reach. But I'm still surprise and sadden by it. Both of them in their own individual ways are wonderful dancers and brought so much to the State Theater and to us audience members who has enjoyed them for so many years.

Philip Neal while never in the huge spotlight along with other male dancers is pure classical in terms of presentation on stage. A total gentlemen, an excellent partner and more talented then he's often given credit for. I mean technically speaking other male dancers may have been better...but I don't ever recall coming away from a Philip Neal's graceful performance disappointed. He was very steadfast and every company needs that and for me there's no shame at that. I often wondered what type of Apollo he would have been like. Perhaps he performed it. I don't know. If he had I never had the pleasure of seeing it. Perhaps this is a stretch - maybe I'm playing with it because of their height and dark hair - but I can't help imagining if Neal played the role he would very much be in line in the way that Jacques d'Amboise must have performed that legendary role. But as I said that's probably stretching it.

I've always wondered about Albert Evans in the role of Apollo. I always got the sense he would have been fabulous in the role. Now here's a terrific dancer. Noble and naturally regal, Evans has PRESENCE. He has strong masculinity and yet he present it with relaxing elegance and theatrical style. And with the retirement in recent years of Soto, Boal, and Hubbe, among others, he's the most gifted male partner currently dancing at City Ballet IMO. The man knows how to make his ballerinas look glorious. With him they're completely in safe hands. Agon, The Four Temperments, Puck - oh God PUCK - he has placed his stamp on roles that for me I won't be able to imagine anyone else dancing it as well anytime soon.

Both of them will surely be missed! Brava!! :(:(

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I'm also very sorry to hear about Philips Neal's retirement. Not only did I never come away from his performances disappointed, I made a point of seeking them out whenever I returned to New York. I always found his dancing extremely satisfying and particularly admired how he combined the classic virtues of the American dancer with an Old World elegance. I wish him the best of luck in his next career. :(

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I am also going to miss Philip Neal and I think NYCB will be poorer for his absence. He's always been one of my favorite male dancers at NYCB, and since Woetzel & Boal retired he's been #1 for me. Add me to the list of people who are shocked and outraged that Nilas Martins is not among this year's retirees. Unbelievable.

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NYCB has a history of not announcing all of their retirements in advance. I can think of many dancers who slipped away without any sort of fanfare (I was especially upset about Maria Calegari's non-announcement retirement. I adored her!). Perhaps certain dancers -- Nilas Martins among them? -- will just be dropped from the company without a word. I also recall that Pascale van Kipnis (another favorite) left the company on the QT too.

I am totally broken-heartened about Philip Neal's retirement. Like NY Susan, Philip has always been one of my absolute favorite dancers.

In my opinion, he never got enough attention -and appreciation - from either the audience or the critics. Philip looked like one of the 20 something NYCB whiz kids last season as the hoofer in "Slaughter!" And his skills as a partner -- I feel so bad for Wendy Whelan. First Jock, now Philip! -- are truly exceptional.

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NYCB has a history of not announcing all of their retirements in advance. I can think of many dancers who slipped away without any sort of fanfare (I was especially upset about Maria Calegari's non-announcement retirement. I adored her!). Perhaps certain dancers -- Nilas Martins among them? -- will just be dropped from the company without a word. I also recall that Pascale van Kipnis (another favorite) left the company on the QT too.

I am totally broken-heartened about Philip Neal's retirement. Like NY Susan, Philip has always been one of my absolute favorite dancers.

In my opinion, he never got enough attention -and appreciation - from either the audience or the critics. Philip looked like one of the 20 something NYCB whiz kids last season as the hoofer in "Slaughter!" And his skills as a partner -- I feel so bad for Wendy Whelan. First Jock, now Philip! -- are truly exceptional.

Yes, and for any of us to have seen him dance with Kyra Nichols...lucky, lucky! Neal will be missed, for sure!

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I've seen Albert Evans dance a couple of times with NYCB in the UK. He is the dancer I remember most from their visits with his magnificent stage presence. Very best wishes to him for the future.

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One of the most noteworthy of the unannounced NYCB retirements of years past (along with that of Maria Calegari) was that of Bart Cook. It still makes me melancholic to think about.

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I think NYCB is less likely to have principals, at least, retire quietly now that they've figured out the farewell performances are big draws. The ones I’ve been to (alexopolous, boal, soto, hubbe, woetzel, nichols) have all been full and excited houses (maybe not alexopoulos, but it felt pretty close to full).

I too will be very sad to see Neal and Evans go. Evans has been underutilized, in my view, his entire career. I hope his farewell includes Red Angels.

Neal was easy to almost forget about, especially when boal, soto, and woetzel were dancing, because he's not flashy. But he's a great partner, has impeccable technique, and you never feel that he isn’t giving it his all. A consummate professional and he sure doesn’t look like he's at retirement age! And who will Whelan dance with -- both of these men were good partners for her. Marcovici and Hall, I guess.

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I've always wondered about Albert Evans in the role of Apollo. I always got the sense he would have been fabulous in the role. Now here's a terrific dancer. Noble and naturally regal, Evans has PRESENCE. He has strong masculinity and yet he present it with relaxing elegance and theatrical style.
Oh, me, too! I would have loved to have seen Evans' Apollo. (Also Woetzel's. I know many people didn't think he had the right look for the role, but he was such a great dancer, I think he could have done great things with the role.)

Retirements are so bittersweet, more bitter when we feel the dancer has been underutilized. I think Evans is a prime example of one denied the opportunities to realize his full potential, which makes me particularly sad.

Deborah, Pascale was another of those who, even before her injury, wasn't given a range or roles worthy of her strength and versatility. She retired as a soloist, so it is not surprising that the company didn't give her a formal farewell, but I learned of her retirement, if I recall correctly, at her final performance.

While acknowledging his strong partnering skills and clean technique, I was not a big fan of Philip Neal's, finding him a too-effeminate presence -- until the last year or so. That's another kind of bittersweet -- now that the dancer has finally turned the corner and corrected the "yes, but," he's all but gone.

I wish all the departing dancers well in their future endeavors. :flowers:

One of the most noteworthy of the unannounced NYCB retirements of years past (along with that of Maria Calegari) was that of Bart Cook. It still makes me melancholic to think about.
:wink:

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Here's the link for the press release, now on the NYCB's website, announcing the retirements.

Each of the dancer's will give a farewell program -- a chance for the audience to show them some love (so to speak).

I would guess that still doesn't rule out others retiring without fanfare or an announcement -- now or in the future.

The powers that be must be pretty certain that they can fill the seats for a farewell performance.

http://www.nycballet.com/news/press/pr01-12-10.html

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Here's the link for the press release, now on the NYCB's website, announcing the retirements.

Each of the dancer's will give a farewell program -- a chance for the audience to show them some love (so to speak).

I would guess that still doesn't rule out others retiring without fanfare or an announcement -- now or in the future.

The powers that be must be pretty certain that they can fill the seats for a farewell performance.

http://www.nycballet.com/news/press/pr01-12-10.html

My goodness! Four Sunday matinees in a row - they could practically build a subscription program out of those farewell performances!

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. I often wondered what type of Apollo he would have been like. Perhaps he performed it. I don't know. If he had I never had the pleasure of seeing it. Perhaps this is a stretch - maybe I'm playing with it because of their height and dark hair - but I can't help imagining if Neal played the role he would very much be in line in the way that Jacques d'Amboise must have performed that legendary role. But as I said that's probably stretching it.

I would have loved to see Neal do Apollo. He was never given the chance at NYCB. Neal did the role with Suzanne Farrell's company in 1999, and received a wonderful review in the NY Times from Anna Kisselgoff, who wrote:

"Mr. Neal's New York debut in the title role of the Balanchine-Stravinsky ''Apollo'' (staged in the full version seen recently with the Kirov Ballet) was another triumph. His superb, muscular impetuousness flowed out of the choreography."

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Apollo was created for Serge Lifar. Lew Christensen was the earliest American dancer to make an impact, followed by d'Amboise and Villella, and then by Martins in an American company at NYCB. (I much preferred Andersen.) Those are five very, very different dancers. The idea that Apollo can only be a blond classical statue is a bit recent and in my opinion, limiting and myopic.

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I would have loved to see Neal do Apollo. He was never given the chance at NYCB. Neal did the role with Suzanne Farrell's company in 1999, and received a wonderful review in the NY Times from Anna Kisselgoff, who wrote:

"Mr. Neal's New York debut in the title role of the Balanchine-Stravinsky ''Apollo'' (staged in the full version seen recently with the Kirov Ballet) was another triumph. His superb, muscular impetuousness flowed out of the choreography."

I would have loooove to have seen that...and the description of his performance seem be very into keeping in how I would have thought he would have danced it. Missed chance! :flowers:

Apollo was created for Serge Lifar. Lew Christensen was the earliest American dancer to make an impact, followed by d'Amboise and Villella, and then by Martins in an American company at NYCB. (I much preferred Andersen.) Those are five very, very different dancers. The idea that Apollo can only be a blond classical statue is a bit recent and in my opinion, limiting and myopic.

I could be wrong but I get the feeling that has a lot to do with Peter Martins. I think when he views Apollo he is still thinking of himself in the role so he cast accordingly...blond...classical...Adonis. It will be interesting to see who he will cast in the role when the ballet comes back. For years and years only Boal, Hubbe and Nilas Martins danced the role at City Ballet. With both Boal and Hubbe now gone I can't see Nilas - who for me personally was the weakest - dancing the role exclusively. Or at least I would hope not.

:wink:

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Between Lew Christensen and Jacques D'Amboise, Igor Yousekevitch did Apollo (and Petrouska!) in the late forties, but it was Andre Eglevsky who generally played the part from 1943 until the late 1950s. John Martin in his Times reviews says at times Eglevsky's Apollo was sometimes a little Hephaistos-like but gave him high marks; also that Balanchine was remodeling the Apollo during this period, making it lighter and simpler.

After Andersen's retirement -- this is when I was going a lot and viewing from a fifth ring hang-glider seat -- Lindsay Fisher did it a lot, and I guess Zelensky, though he was at City Ballet, had to wait to do the role with the Kirov a few years ago.

Dark haired Gonzalo Garcia did a pretty terrific Apollo with San Francisco Ballet -- he was coached by D'Amboise but it didn't seem like D'Amboise at all -- Gonzalo's solos along the plane behind the three muses were boyish and free, and still nicely introspective where D'Amboise seems (on film) overly anxious. Does Amar Ramasar have the makings of an Apollo? Or Adrian Danchig-Waring? -- Though I wonder if all doing all the Wheeldon pieces might adversely affect the style of dancers -- and the sense of quiet and presence -- for Apollo.

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Thank you, Quiggin! I had forgotten Eglevsky.

Ib Andersen cast Astrit Zejnati, a medium-haired and height dancer in Phoenix two productions ago, and a brilliant young, slender dark-haired dancer, Roman Zavarov, last season. I loved both interpretations, both quite different from each other.

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I guess Zelensky, though he was at City Ballet, had to wait to do the role with the Kirov a few years ago.
Not exactly. My first glimpse of Zelensky was when he was the new up-and-comer at the Kirov during their visit to New York before he joined NYCB, and it was as a magnificent, young Apollo (with bad make-up) in the ballet's long version, with birth scene. Boy, did he grab my attention! And he's remained a fave of mine to this day.
Dark haired Gonzalo Garcia did a pretty terrific Apollo with San Francisco Ballet.
I'm intrigued. I can easily imagine him as a very different Apollo from what we're used to in New York, and a very good one.

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Apollo was created for Serge Lifar. Lew Christensen was the earliest American dancer to make an impact, followed by d'Amboise and Villella, and then by Martins in an American company at NYCB. (I much preferred Andersen.) Those are five very, very different dancers. The idea that Apollo can only be a blond classical statue is a bit recent and in my opinion, limiting and myopic.

I agree -- the last time we saw it here in Seattle, Pacific Northwest Ballet cast Stanko Milov. Tall and noble, yes, but certainly not statue-like. Strumming his lyre he looked like Elvis, and kept that wildness for a big chunk of the ballet, a very effective performance.

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I agree absolutely that Garcia was a wonderful Apollo - but the funny thing was I felt like his wild-boy quality was channeling d'Amboise! He looked to me like a smaller version of d'Amboise right down to the hair part. Go figure.

[edited to add] - here's what I wrote in 2004 on Garcia's Apollo.

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Maybe Nilas Martins is retiring, but it isn't being announced, because he won't be doing a farewell performance. I mean what could he dance? Certainly not Apollo!

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Thank you, Quiggin! I had forgotten Eglevsky.

Ib Andersen cast Astrit Zejnati, a medium-haired and height dancer in Phoenix two productions ago, and a brilliant young, slender dark-haired dancer, Roman Zavarov, last season. I loved both interpretations, both quite different from each other.

I loved Peter Boal's Apollo in the Suzanne F. company. That was toward the end of his performing career - far from a young dancer.

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Neal did the role with Suzanne Farrell's company in 1999, and received a wonderful review in the NY Times from Anna Kisselgoff, who wrote:

Ben Huys did it for Farrell too, that same season. Neal, Huys, Boal . . . I wish she was still importing NYCB dancers, past or present.

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