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ABT's Male Principal Problem

Promote From Within or Go On a Spending Spree?   73 members have voted

  1. 1. To solve its looming shortage of male principals, should ABT:

    • Promote from within to fill the ranks
      45
    • Go out into the free market and hire male principals from outside the company
      28

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351 posts in this topic

It was a bit funny that the NY Times critic A. Macauley, indirectly picked up on our Ballet Talk thread in his summary of the ABT season, in effect pointing out the male principal problem at ABT which we have been talking about here for years.

I think they were expecting that Hammoudi would step into some of the principal roles by now, but it was clear to me from watching Hammoudi's Rothbart that he is not even remotely ready physically or in any other way to be a leading man.

Gorak is their next great prospect, but he needs to work on partnering. In his favor, he took on the Prince in Cinderella on short notice. However, they dumbed down the partnering to assist him. They should not do that in the future.

Another problem that has become apparent is that they have two short principal men (Cornejo and Simkin), but they have not taught certain leading roles to their own short ballerinas. Other than Boylston, they did not have an inhouse short ballerina who could dance SL with Cornejo, so when Cojocaru did a last minute cancellation, there was nobody left to fill in. Sarah Lane would have been a great choice, but ..... Now they are teaching O/O to Copeland, who presumably could dance with Herman in the future. (Not thrilled about the proliferation of short people in SL. SL looks better on long limbs.)

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Although you wouldn't always know it from reading Ballet Alert!, Macaulay is watching the same season that we are.

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Thank you FauxPas for starting this comprehensive list.

An interesting suggestion that Gomes could be running his own company in a few years....

Hallberg is 31 I believe and I think Gomes is 34 or 35. I'll be very interested to see how much Hallberg dances during the fall season.

I keep checking the casting for Australia - who is going to dance all of those SL's if they don't take guest artists? Maybe they'll have Jackson from the Australian ballet guest with them again?

I also keep wondering if we'll see any new hires soon? Not guest artists. Four male soloists is not enough (esp with Hammoudi frequently injured/still not recovered and Zhurbin who dances mostly character roles). And of course the principal problem....

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Let me also say thanks to Faux for writing yet another excellent summary this year!

A few thoughts to add:

1) The year-after-year injuries to Herman Cornejo and David Hallberg during the Met season, and the continuing casting challenges posed by the heights of Cornejo and Daniil Simkin are major problems for the company. They force the company to overrely on Marcelo Gomes, Cory Stearns and James Whiteside. If one of those three goes down with an injury (as happened this year to Stearns), the company is thrown into turmoil and is forced to cobble together a patchwork of male dancers from around the world to cover.

2) I'm still ambivalent about Simkin as a principal. To his credit, he stepped in and did back-to-back Themes this season. He also looks like he is spending time in the gym bulking up his waif-like physique. Nevertheless, I think it was telling that his name was hardly in the mix for replacement duties when the schedule cratered again at the end of the season. He's just difficult to cast.

3) As ABT Fan noted, the male soloist situation remains woeful. Roman Zhurbin and Craig Salstein are more actor-dancers than dancer-dancers. That leaves a rising Joey Gorak and a stalled Alexandre Hammoudi as potential backstops for the principal roster. I would really like to see Thomas Forster and Eric Tamm advance in order to bolster the depleted soloist ranks.

4) Losing Jared Matthews was a real blow. He had finally come into his own and was poised to replace Vasiliev when he inevitably leaves (by his choice or McKenzie's.)

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I'll add that Cory Stearns remains a very frustrating dancer. He has beautiful lines, great posture, etc. etc. but just can't project beyond the footlights. His face is either just not a stage face, or he hasn't figured out a combo of makeup/acting that will project beyond the footlights. It hurts that he dances in the Met, where many seats are so far away. As of now he remains like a complete cavalier type dancer: solid, good partner, but nothing acting-wise. It really makes me miss Angel Corella and how he used to jump onstage and beam and the last row of the family circle could see it.

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Hallberg is 31 I believe and I think Gomes is 34 or 35. I'll be very interested to see how much Hallberg dances during the fall season.

Gomes is 34, almost 35 (birthdate: 9/26/79), if Google and Wikipedia can be believed.

Hallberg is 32 now, at least according to this PBS story: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/dancer-david-hallberg/

I was amazed to see him Tweet a few days ago that he was on his way back to Moscow. He performs at Lincoln Center next week -- that's a lot of air travel and jet lag. I wonder how long he can keep up that kind of routine. When I saw him on the fall ABT schedule, I wondered if perhaps he is trying to make sure he always can fall back on ABT if things go sour at the Bolshoi.

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Another problem that has become apparent is that they have two short principal men (Cornejo and Simkin), but they have not taught certain leading roles to their own short ballerinas. Other than Boylston, they did not have an inhouse short ballerina who could dance SL with Cornejo, so when Cojocaru did a last minute cancellation, there was nobody left to fill in. Sarah Lane would have been a great choice, but ..... Now they are teaching O/O to Copeland, who presumably could dance with Herman in the future. (Not thrilled about the proliferation of short people in SL. SL looks better on long limbs.)

The thing I find weird about this is that Lane HAS performed O/O--with Corella and his company. Granted it was awhile back at this point, but there's no reason she (an longtime soloist with the company) shouldn't have been able to fill in there with a production she has been dancing in for probably a decade now. Baffling.

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I think ABT's weird casting (or lacktherof) such as not having Lane dance with Cornejo, etc. is either McKenzie thinks foreign (mainly Russian) dancers are superior, or maybe more people come to see these "guests" versus ABT's own dancers. I understand on forums and blogs people complain about ABT's dancers going by the wayside, but is this outrage seen at the box office? Would a Lane/ Cornejo ticket equal or outsell a Cojocaru/ Cornejo or Kotchekova/ Cornejo ticket?

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I think ABT's weird casting (or lacktherof) such as not having Lane dance with Cornejo, etc. is either McKenzie thinks foreign (mainly Russian) dancers are superior, or maybe more people come to see these "guests" versus ABT's own dancers. I understand on forums and blogs people complain about ABT's dancers going by the wayside, but is this outrage seen at the box office? Would a Lane/ Cornejo ticket equal or outsell a Cojocaru/ Cornejo or Kotchekova/ Cornejo ticket?

Interesting Plisskin. As a person who bought a Cojocaru/Cornejo ticket I was disappointed when she cancelled but would have been happier if Cornejo had performed with Lane. He was half the reason I wanted to see the ballet and I would have preferred seeing Cojocaru be replaced by someone like Lane instead of Hee Seo. If I had wanted to see Seo I would have bought a ticket for her performance.

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The fact that you have done a role with some other company doesn't seem to have any impact on casting. Stella did multiple Auroras, and Murphy has done Giselle. Neither has been cast in those roles at ABT. In fact, McKenzie went out of his way to give Giselle to Boylston, bypassing Murphy. Granted, Murphy may not be the most lyrical or expressive dancer, but neither is Boylston. They should have given the slot to Murphy.

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Faux Pas, I really enjoyed your analysis! Thank you for writing it all up.

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Faux Pas, I really enjoyed your analysis! Thank you for writing it all up.

Only part of what he intends to say so far.

Thank you - I am still working on it through today and fixing it bit by bit. I am also taking into consideration going over the guest artists (I saw most of them) and promising corps members who deserve another looking over. (Daniel Mantei, Luis Ribagorda, Courtney Lavine, etc.)

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Okay FINAL VERSION:

Male Principals:

Roberto Bolle: He is 39 years old and is not going to be dancing that much longer. He shares his time with several other companies but they cast him less now - so he has more time for ABT. The "Swan Lake" I saw showed a fine artist and excellent partner but no longer a high powered technician. He is still in good shape and is needed. But it ain't going to last much longer.

Herman Cornejo: Again he had injuries this season - brief and some of them were health issues, not dance-related injuries. But still he was not a reliable presence. The one big problem is that ABT is trying to find a new female partner for him to replace the 40+ Xiomara Reyes (who is in great form now). So they reached out again to Maria Kochetkova who did an excellent Kitri with him. For Giselle, Bayadere and Swan Lake they went with Alina Cojocaru, another guest artist and also fragile. They managed the one Bayadere together but the Giselle was aborted by his cancellation due to illness and the Swan Lake by her cancellation due to injury. So Herman still needs a petite star partner and hasn't found one yet. I suspect if "Giselle" returns Herman will be dancing Albrecht with Kochetkova. Herman's work was again excellent this season in "Don Quixote" - one of the world's greatest male dancers.

Marcelo Gomes: Still a pillar supporting all of ABT's treasures - from the ballerinas he elevates physically and artistically to his command of the entire male repertory. He also filled in for Hallberg and Cory this year. His dancing is still extremely fine though I can see that he is content to be clean and strong, seldom attempting high-flying bravura tricks. In his mid-thirties and is starting to choreograph. I could see him running a company in five or six years...hmmm....

David Hallberg: Slightly younger than Gomes. Still dancing mostly with the Bolshoi though he will make the Fall Koch season this year. Again scheduled few performances for the Spring/Summer Met season and canceled several due to injury. It seems that he has those accumulated fractures, easily torn muscles and problem joints that dancers get after years of physical stress and coming back too quickly after injuries. He needs to take some time off and heal up. Seems to be more of a guest artist than a full-time principal. I was glad that he stayed long enough to learn a new role in Ashton's "Cinderella". He seems to be better partnered with Gillian Murphy than with Polina Semionova. Unlike Gomes who makes any ballerina look better while delivering a stellar performance himself, Hallberg really seems to work off of the woman. If it is a bad match or the ballerina has a cold temperament (Mme. Svetlana Zakharova I am looking at you) he will recede or fail to strike sparks. The mismatched ballerina will impede his interpretation. When dancing with a warmer or more passionate performer like Osipova or Cojocaru, Hallberg will blossom. Clearly with his injuries a bigger ballerina like Semionova (or Part) is not a good match.

Daniil Simkin: I saw the Siegfried in "Swan Lake" this year and was surprised how much I liked it. He was encouraged not to do his acrobatic tricks and a gorgeous classical danseur emerged. It made me think that his Albrecht in "Giselle" is an obvious next step. Simkin showed wonderful Romantic temperament and style as Siegfried. Simkin handled the Act II lifts in "Swan Lake" well but had some glitches in the "Black Swan" Act III pdd. "Giselle" has even harder partnering due to the need to make the ballerina look weightless in Act II. He would need a tiny ballerina - maybe Cojocaru or perhaps Sarah Lane as Giselle?

Cory Stearns: The blankness is still there. I actually rather liked him in "Manon" with Semionova - his youth and callowness were a better natural fit for Des Grieux. You wonder why Gomes' strong, passionate lover doesn't push Manon aside or slap her silly. With Stearns you saw a more impressionable youth who wasn't as strong. He is a good dancer if not an exciting one. More acting lessons since this season it seems that he has taken a step backward. Now prone to repeated injury.

Ivan Vasiliev: I wonder how much longer he will be with ABT. The joint appearances with Osipova will eventually peter out - it was that Vasipova (or is it Osiliev?) "Carmen" tour that took him out of most of the ABT season. He danced two Basilios in "Don Q" at the beginning of the season and appeared as Solor in the Opening Night Gala. The Solor (betrothal pas only) was dashing if a little rough around the edges (some heavy landings). The Basilio actually had more charm and classical finish than the one he danced a few years ago with Osipova. He had a less competitive but inspired leading ballerina (Paloma Herrera in the one I saw) and he worked well with her. I don't see him developing a deep artistic collaboration with ABT. If he can't spend more time with them developing and expanding his range, then maybe he needs to be let go eventually. A star stopgap and glorified guest artist, not a jewel of the company.

James Whiteside: Showed his worth this year covering a wide repertory really well. I did not see his opening night Prince in "Cinderella" but that was a major coup taking over from Stearns for such a coveted premiere. He may outstrip Cory as the young rising in-house male star of the company. Not everyone loves him as dancer or actor but he is delivering the goods. With Cory and Marcelo one of the workhorses of the male contingent. However, though I do not blame him for this, I do think that his lightning fast rise to principal after one year as a soloist was the wedge that drove Jared Matthews to Houston and Sascha into early retirement. It is humiliating to see the new male soloist promoted over you in just a year or less when you have been grinding away as a soloist for years.

Female Principals:

Isabella Boylston (after 8/1): Typical of American training, Boylston is strong below the waist and rather sloppy above. Definitely she needs to work on her epaulement and port de bras. However, she took on two signature classical roles this season: Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake" and her first "Giselle". I didn't see the Giselle but I did see her in "Swan Lake". Odette/Odile has very specific movements of the head, neck, arms, hands and back and somebody (Susan Jaffe in the past but probably more recently the Kirov's Irina Kolpakova) has been very carefully coaching her. Boylston lost the scraggly arms and hands and looked more much a ballerina. Her Odile was strongly danced but lacked the polished style of the Odette. Reviews indicate that Boylston was remarkable in "Giselle" but she had coached the role with Tatiana Terekhova in St. Petersburg as an exchange artist with the Mariinsky. Clearly the coaching took. So what Boylston needs is a very exacting Kirov school coach to work on her upper body problems. We may be unhappy about other soloists being ignored or passed over but in my view Boylston is delivering strong dancing over a wide repertoire. Also Boylston is showing development as a dancer and artist. I think the promotion was a good move and she will be a useful and strong company dancer.

Paloma Herrera: As is often the case in recent years, I didn't go out of my way to see Paloma in the great classics and only bothered to watch her in new roles in ballets I am interested in. I did go to see her in "Don Quixote" mainly to catch Vasiliev in his only role this season. I wondered if she would show her age and he would dance her off the stage. However, like Osipova did when she danced Kitri partnered by late career Jose Manuel Carreno in "Don Q", being paired with a hot young virtuoso acted as a stimulant and inspiration for the older dancer. Paloma pulled out a sparkling performance and seemed to be enjoying dancing with Vasiliev and saved the best for last matching him turn for turn and spin for spin in the wedding pas de deux.

Trained at SAB, Paloma is a natural Balanchine dancer. I found more notes of mystery and ambiguity in her interpretation of the last section of "Duo Concertant" than Misty Copeland summoned up. Paloma definitely did well in "Duo Concertant" and it made me wonder if she joined the wrong company. She isn't an interesting dance actress and mainly does well in modern neoclassical ballets and purely classical, not dramatic 19th century parts like Raymonda and Aurora. Paloma is a better Kitri than Odette/Odile or Giselle. She is retiring at the end of the 2015 season, so she isn't a factor in the artistic future of the company.

Julie Kent: I saw her in "Cinderella" but avoided her Giselle and Manon. She was not scheduled for "Swan Lake" this year which is a good thing. Obviously she has a very special relationship with the management. She is starting to teach and coach which is a very good move. They need another female coach badly. The Cinderella I saw showed that she still has lovely lines and personal grace. Her arabesque is rather low these days and she has a tendency to sketch in the steps rather than dance full out. Julie joined ABT as an apprentice in 1985 and then joined as a full company member in 1986. I think she is waiting until 2016 to retire upon the occasion of her 30th anniversary with the company. The acquisition of the various "long skirt, passion play" dance melodramas - Manon, Dame aux Camellias, Onegin and even Ashton's "A Month in the Country" are due to the need to find repertory for her. She can still do lovely, lyrical things and can give pleasure. But her technical ability is diminished. It is time to start dropping roles and dancing just the few things she still can. And start planning that 2016 farewell - it will be time.

Gillian Murphy: Gillian was usually seldom injured but sustained two injuries this season - a pulled muscle and a sprained foot. She bounced back within a week or two in each case. Frankly, I thank god for Gillian these days - ABT needs one full time, home grown star and she is it. I think they are developing Boylston as a potential replacement. I loved her Cinderella this year - Gillian's acting ability is always improving. But this was not her best season due to all the injuries and problems. In the past Gillian was almost never injured but now this is two seasons in a row.

Veronika Part: Long suffering Veronika was relegated to matinees this year. I frankly wondered why she wasn't drafted to replace Cojocaru in the Saturday "Swan Lake" since she danced the role with Bolle a few years ago. Veronika didn't let the matinee casting (she got evenings of secondary roles like the Glove Seller, Myrtha and the Fairy Godmother) faze her. She danced excellently in the matinees I saw of "Bayadere" and "Don Quixote". The Kitri was a pleasant surprise - a cheerful exuberant temperament and strong jumps and turns. The main pleasure was the solid collaboration with James Whiteside - I hope they dance "Swan Lake" together eventually. Veronika is hard to partner and never has found the right man at ABT. Bolle and Gomes should be her partners but perhaps choose not to work with her.

The situation with matinees only has to stop. After the anguish and years she spent stalled and ignored as a soloist to purposely marginalize her like this after achieving principal status is sadistic. Veronika has earned her place at the top many times over. ABT currently has an aging underwhelming ballerina roster with not much depth. If there is a personality problem - well great artists aren't always easy to deal with. Hee Seo, Isabella Boylston and Misty Copeland will never match Veronika in "Swan Lake".

Kevin McKenzie shame on you.

Xiomara Reyes: Xiomara is over forty but you wouldn't know it. I wasn't expecting much from her this year but was delightfully surprised each time. Now in the "Don Quixote" she danced with Lendorf, she ran out of gas a bit in the final wedding pas de deux (iffy balances and the last rotations in a solid set of fouettes got away from her). The rest was charming and well danced. Manon works well for her in the first act's semi-innocent country coquette and the last act's battered waif. The second act glamorous queen of the demi-monde doesn't work for her - not commanding or sexy enough. The gown, wrap and jewels seemed to wear her and swallow her up. The Cinderella was lovely and touching with delicate enchantment. The Giselle I expected to really be a severe comedown after Vishneva's - but it had a sweetness and magic of its own. The Coppelia was charming and strongly danced. Xiomara is an excellent example of a "stage face" - she is tiny but she reads big onstage. Her technique is still very admirable - retirement seems to be still a few years into the future.

Polina Semionova: She is a superb technician with a fabulous body. I agree with the recent criticisms of her as being a company ballerina who can dance everything but isn't terribly distinctive in anything. She lacks a personal approach and doesn't always emotionally engage the viewer. As Macauley said about her first "Swan Lake" she has all the steps but doesn't tell you anything new or interesting about the character. However, her Nikiya in "La Bayadere" with Shklyarov this year was truly magnificent and I have seen ballerinas from Guillem, Asymuratova to Vishneva in the role. Semionova gave them a run for the money - was Makarova working some magic in the rehearsal room? If that is the case get Makarova into the room for her next "Swan Lake" - Semionova has the perfect body for "Swan Lake" - we need to get some slavic soul into her "Swan Queen" and Natasha is our gal for that.

Hee Seo: When will Kevin get the message that Hee Seo isn't quite ready for the center spotlight? The problem isn't so much of technique but really one of stamina. She hasn't got enough to carry a demanding classical role to a successful completion. She will start the steps correctly and then her muscles will fail to support her to the finish. She is a little stronger this year - her Dryad Queen actually nailed the first three Italian fouettes but then stumbled out of the last ones. In the Odile's Black Swan PDD she began the coda strongly with a solid, fast, high and tight series of fouettes. But they started to travel and then the working leg tired. She fell out of the set three or four rotations short of the finish. The technique is there but the stamina isn't. Now this has been a problem for many ballerinas at the beginning of their careers - Margot Fonteyn and Natalia Makarova mentioned soft muscles and problems with difficult sections of choreography in their early Giselles and Swan Lakes. Is Kevin doing Seo a favor by throwing her into every role in the repertory and making her dance two Swan Lakes in a row? Is this going to build her up or diminish her and make her susceptible to injury? Will she get stronger or just struggle on with her problems while better equipped ballerinas like Sarah Lane languish? Seo also has lovely interpretive ideas - the Odette had lovely moments but she was working only moment to moment with no sustained arc because of her technical frailty. I didn't see the Cinderella this year and skipped her Giselle. Giselle is possibly her best role because there are only short bursts of difficult dancing and she can manage the lyrical moments beautifully. Giselle and Juliet are her best roles right now. Stella Abrera danced a much better Dryad Queen and would be a better Odette/Odile and Aurora and probably an equally good Giselle and Juliet. Hee Seo's biggest problem is that she projects a small-scale soft-edged loveliness - she is "nice" and "nice" ain't gonna get you through one "Swan Lake" let alone two in a row.

Diana Vishneva: Great artist - about 38 years old. No new roles this season and ABT doesn't seem to be acquiring or developing new roles for her like they have for Kent, another veteran ballerina. Moving away from difficult classical roles and concentrating more on dance dramas like "Onegin" or "Manon" where her collaboration with Gomes is comparable to Fonteyn/Nureyev, Fracci/Bruhn or Ferri/Bocca. The "Bayadere" is her one classical role and she struggled a bit with the unsupported pirouettes in the "Shades" act. The rest of it was gorgeous. Her Giselle was historic this year. She is working harder to achieve her level of perfection but she gives all she has. How can you not love a dancer who gives so much? Give her something in return, ABT.

Soloists:

Male:

Joseph Gorak (after 8/1): This was Joe Gorak's breakthrough season. Alastair Macauley was constantly singling him out in reviews and showering him with praise. Taking over the "Cinderella" was the deciding factor. His appearance as Franz in "Coppelia" showed that he can carry a leading role in a full-length ballet. The promotion to soloist was inevitable - the momentum had started from the opening night. Still needs to work on his partnering. Hope he gets the Prince Desiré/Florimund in "Sleeping Beauty" next year. One of the few happy success stories going on at ABT right now.

Alexandre Hammoudi: He has the looks, he has the presence, he has the height, he has the body - he ain't got the technique. Hammoudi was out most of last season with an injury and he also was out for more than half of this year's Spring/Summer season. He has spent more time out injured since he was promoted to soloist than he has danced. Clearly, ABT has plans to promote him further - they gave him one Albrecht this year and he was scheduled to dance Siegfried before being injured a year ago. Romeo was also in the cards. His Purple Rothbart this year was shaky and lacked technical control. I was told the Albrecht in "Giselle" was adequate, no more and not even comparable to Cory Stearn's performance. He keeps getting cast in leads over Tom Forster and Eric Tamm which really makes you think Kevin McKenzie may be going blind or losing his senses.

Craig Salstein: I like Craig a lot and he is an impressive technical virtuoso but he is often given little credit for his dancing. Excels at comic demi-caractere roles but can deliver a clean, polished Peasant Pas de Deux in "Giselle" for example.

Roman Zhurbin (after 8/1): Roman's dramatic interpretations have been such an integral part of so many great evenings at ABT that his promotion is beyond deserved. He has contributed so much, I am glad he is getting recognition.

Female:

Stella Abera: I am surprised she didn't retire along with Sascha - perhaps they need one steady paycheck in case "Flesh and Bone" on Starz gets canceled. Stella I guess has accepted her lot and is just putting in her time until she is ready to leave or Kevin doesn't renew her contract.

Misty Copeland: I like Misty but her assignment of Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake" on the Australian tour is another head scratcher. She has the wrong body type, the wrong personality, isn't a great lyrical dancer for Odette and lacks the bravura classical technique for Odile. She is fairly petite and I guess could be the in-house dancer being prepared to partner Herman Cornejo in "Swan Lake". Not the best choice. NYSusan mentioned that she admired Misty for promoting the hell out of herself, getting her name out there and forcing Kevin's hand in casting her and promoting her.

Sarah Lane: Sarah and Luis Ribagorda could be the next married couple defection (a la Jared and Yuriko) from ABT's ranks. She is 29 and I sense a quiet desperation behind the smile. She is frozen as a sweet little solo dancer - nothing she has been given has let her develop beyond the ingenue. A Giselle or Juliet could show an emotionally mature, womanly side to her persona. Her T&V and Miranda in the "Tempest" shows how much she has to offer. What did she do to deserve this kind of neglect? She could become another sad case like Stella Abrera watching the seasons go by and being passed over for inferior dancers in her dream roles like Juliet and Giselle. Ratmansky is a great champion of the young and unjustly overlooked and probably will give her an Aurora. How about a Lane/Gorak opening night cast?

Christine Schevchenko (after 8/1): Some people were saying "Why promote Christine and not Skylar Brandt or Melanie Hamrick?" Christine has been totally consistent with the high quality of her dancing whereas the other two are more variable. Also Christine was Gillian Murphy's cover in Ratmansky's "Piano Concerto #1" final section of the Shostakovich Trilogy. She took over in the lead role when Gillian was injured and did very well keeping up with the major principal dancers. As a reward, when the ballet was revived for the Fall season as a standalone piece, Schevchenko kept her role in the alternate cast (Gillian was recovered, Vishneva was not dancing that engagement). Ratmansky might have had a lot to do with her retaining her role. Anyway, another deserved promotion.

Devon Teuscher (after 8/1): A replacement for Simone Messmer and perhaps Maria Riccetto. Not as developed as a classical stylist but technically strong. Much needed right now since the female principal and soloist ranks are depleted and full of dead wood.

Gone Baby Gone: Jared Matthews, Sascha Radetsky, Yuriko Kajiya, Kristi Boone, Nicola Curry, Kelley Boyd.

Guest Artists:

Amy Watson: the one Myrtha didn't impress me. Her opening manege looked stiff and jerky. Though she had the height and look she wasn't really commanding or cold enough. I say no return invitation.

Olga Smirnova: beautiful woman, beautiful dancer - needs time to develop into a great artist. It is all there though. I wouldn't mind if she came back in "Swan Lake" but would prefer to see Kondaurova guest as Nikiya and Odette/Odile.

Viktoria Tereshkina: killer technique, amazing strength, would love to see her in "Swan Lake" and "Don Quixote" but maybe with the Mariinsky on tour in their productions.

Vladimir Shklyarov: definitely invite to return but with some decent rehearsal.

Alina Cojocaru: She is so lovely but no Swan Lake. How about the Ashton Cinderella and another Juliet?

Denis Matvienko (did not appear): A fine male danseur - injuries prevented his appearances paving the way for Lendorf's Basilio, Kevin Jackson's debut as Des Grieux and especially Jared Matthews' first (and last) ABT Albrecht. Invite again.

Kevin Jackson: He was good but not better than Eric Tamm or Joseph Gorak would have been as Des Grieux in "Manon". However he is experienced and a good partner - given the preponderance of overhead lifting and twirling in those MacMillan ballets his experience and knowledge of the role made him a practical replacement. Now start teaching the role to some soloists.

Denys Nedak: Very good dancer, excellent masculine stage presence and good technique. His debut was marred by one bad spill due to unfamiliarity with the stage. The rest was very good. Rehire.

Vadim Muntagirov: Also not much of an actor and lacks personality. Quite good dancer and accomplished partner. Now a principal with the Royal Ballet. Maybe he will not be as available in the future for guesting. Maybe yes or maybe no as to rehiring.

Alban Lendorf: Love this dancer. The Don Quixote wasn't his best role or performance but would love to see him do Sylphides or a Bournonville Ballet with ABT. Rehire.

Andrew Veyette: He looked great but it was an insult to Jared Matthews that ABT brought him in at all. He is busy enough across the plaza, we love you Andrew but do not rehire.

Possible future guests: Kondaurova, Sarafanov, Obraztsova and Fabrice Calmels.

Corps de Ballet promising faces: Eric Tamm and especially Tom Forster need to be given more soloist and principal roles (Purple Rothbart for starters...). Pronto. Get them on the promotion track. Zhiyao Zhang nailed every part he was given - especially the Golden Idol - keep Zhang busy. Luis Ribagorda was the beneficiary of Joseph Phillips' departure and Carlos Lopez's retirement and emerged as a demi-caractere soloist. Exciting sexy looking dancer with potential. More Ribagorda please. Gray Davis needs to be given more as does Sterling Baca. I kept noticing the very tall, very handsome Daniel Mantei emerging from the line - especially in "Manon". He needs to be groomed for leads - there is more there. Calvin Royal was seriously thrown away and given nothing to do. Gabe Stone Shayer has been given a lead role by Ratmansky but McKenzie hasn't given him anything else to do. Bloggers have been singling out Courtney Lavine among the corps girls. Gemma Bond should be getting a Lilac Fairy in SB and the Fairy Godmother in "Cinderella" and other soloist roles. (I forgot to mention Nicole Graniero who danced a scintillating Amour in "Don Q" - give her more solos). Sean Stewart is a veteran corps dancer who could be groomed to do character parts at this point - he has acting ability and a wonderful face for comedy roles. Katherine Williams emerged with solo parts from the corps - she is a little soft and tentative but shows promise. Melanie Hamrick was looking stronger than ever and ready for bigger assignments but the fallout over the Mick Jagger yachting trip may have clouded her prospects. Zhong-Jing Fang is just clocking in her time with ABT - another sad story of promise unfulfilled.

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The injury of Stearns, which led to Gorak getting the Prince in Cinderella, sealed the deal for Gorak's promotion. Cory's misfortune turned into Gorak's winning Lotto ticket. Thanks for summary Faux Pas. See you at the Bolshoi!

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Really excellent, intelligent, sensitive analysis throughout. Well done, Faux Pas, and actually not a "faux" step anywhere.

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Thanks, Faux Pas. Excellent analysis. I'd only add that Ratmansky seems to have a good eye for picking talent and we can hope that his choices give those dancers a little boost. E.g., he put Calvin Royal in a prominent role in the Piano Concerto a year ago. I assume he also had a hand in picking Schevchenko to replace Murphy. In Symphony #9 (my favorite of the 3), he had Part-Bolle as second cast to Semionova-Gomes when it premiered at City Center. It's also interesting that he doesn't use certain dancers who are not well-regarded on this site...mmm...

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Thank you so much Faux Pas for your wonderful and thorough analysis. My only small disagreement is about Hee Seo. I have even less confidence in her than you because I think there are underlying technical flaws along with stamina issues!!

Thank you again I really appreciate your contribution to the discussions.

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I kept noticing the very tall, very handsome Daniel Mantei emerging from the line - especially in "Manon". He needs to be groomed for leads - there is more there.

I would agree about Daniel Mantei. He should be doing more. Has improved a lot in the past year. I would also vote for Nicole Graniero as someone who can handle more. She has one of the cleanest techniques on stage, has lovely, focussed port de bras, and delivers in everything she does. My eye always goes straight to her whenever she's on stage. And she can dance the classics, Balanchine and Tharp with equal accomplishment.

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What a great contribution, FauxPas. Although I agree with almost everything you say, I would ask please that we not write off Stella Abrera so quickly. She is such an astonishingly gorgeous dancer, perhaps with some real movement out of the female principal rank she may still get her chance, if not a promotion, at the very least some leading roles of which she is so deserving. I would attend every performance in which she is the lead dancer.

I also think that James Whiteside is so inferior a dancer compared with his peers of principals, that ABT had to really try hard to find someone so undeserving. Thomas Forster, Eric Tamm, JARED MATTHEWS, SASCHA RADESTSKY, and now Calvin Royal--McKenzie should have held on a little longer and not brought Whiteside in. He lowers the standard of the company.

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Bring in Fabrice Calmels to dance with Veronika Part and Polina Semionova!

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Thank you FauxPas. From your lips to KM's ears.

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Bring in Fabrice Calmels to dance with Veronika Part and Polina Semionova!

I found a picture on his Pinterest account of him and Part dancing SL:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/455919162247480236/

Does anyone know when/where this took place? He makes Part look tiny!

Would love to know what performance that was too. He is 6'5"/maybe even 6'6" which makes for a very compelling and striking image if he had the opportunity to dance with Veronika more frequently. That being said, he is very happy in Chicago/at Joffrey, but I wonder if ABT will look into at least building an occasional guest wrist relationship wih him. The Joffrey doesn't do as many traditional classical full-length ballets so it could be a beneficial relationship.

I too am going to hold out on writing Stella off...perhaps no promotion, but the roles absolutely have to come if she stays. And that means I will absolutely be there for evey single one (and I don't even live on the east coast...)

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Robert Gottlieb writes an overview of the Met season:

http://observer.com/2014/07/the-season-at-american-ballet-theatre/

Most of the article's content falls beyond the scope of this thread. But two things caught my eye.

First, he compares Stearns and Whiteside unfavorably to the triumvirate of Cornejo, Gomes and Hallberg. That may or may not be true and certainly, on this board, opinions vary widely about Stearns and Whiteside. But the point that Gottlieb misses (or, only alludes to briefly) is that Cornejo and Hallberg aren't entirely reliable from the director's standpoint. Both are oft-injured and, in Hallberg's case, he only showed up for the second half of the season. If I'm McKenzie, I have to like somebody like Whiteside who carried the season on his back just as much as Marcelo Gomes did. (The question of whether McKenzie should have brought in Whiteside over in-house tall dancers like Thomas Forster or Gray Davis is another question.)

Second, he points out (in the second to last paragraph) that the bench is looking a little thin in terms of future promotions. I think we're finally seeing the result of all those defections over the last half dozen years.

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