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ABT's Male Principal ProblemPoll


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Poll: Promote From Within or Go On a Spending Spree? (73 member(s) have cast votes)

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

  1. Promote from within to fill the ranks (45 votes [61.64%])

    Percentage of vote: 61.64%

  2. Go out into the free market and hire male principals from outside the company (28 votes [38.36%])

    Percentage of vote: 38.36%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#136 miliosr

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 04:56 PM

ABT only lists principals that dance in that particular engagement. Mariinsky did the same thing at the Met, it only listed principals that danced during the Met seaon in the programs last year.

Is that completely true, though? Murphy was listed but did she even dance??

Regardless, the point I was trying to make was that ABT is now two companies: the core company that tours and the dance collective comprised of wandering, itinerant stars who coalesce in New York every Spring and early Summer. The former is looking thin at the top, especially among the male principals. Gomes, Hallberg and Stearns are the workhorses who are holding it together but, again, if one or more of them goes down (knock on wood), the company's touring schedule is going to be in a world of hurt.

#137 balletmor

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 05:18 PM

The only Male "Principal Problem" ABT has is NOT developing the talent they have. It is almost a crime!

#138 Jayne

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 11:08 PM

Casey Herd was an ABT corpsman before he moved on to PNB (I read an interview where he said he was tired of carrying spears at ABT and wanted his career to progress). Now he is a principal at Dutch National Ballet.

http://www.ballet-da...Herd200705.html

#139 Plisskin

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 10:07 AM

The only Male "Principal Problem" ABT has is NOT developing the talent they have. It is almost a crime!

Indeed. And that could also be said about the female Principals in the company as well. So many talented dancers have unnecessarily sat in the Corp and eventually left the company to do better things elsewhere. McKenzie should develop the talent he already has, instead of constantly importing star guest dancers. But I don't see that, and other problems ABT has changing until they get a new (and better) AD.

#140 spinning2night

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 11:18 AM


ABT only lists principals that dance in that particular engagement. Mariinsky did the same thing at the Met, it only listed principals that danced during the Met seaon in the programs last year.

Is that completely true, though? Murphy was listed but did she even dance??


Murphy was supposed to dance Myrta in the Sat evening show back when the casting was announced in November...but in past years when ABT toured in Chicago, the whole company was listed...
perhaps with the number of non-principals who got leading roles this past week, ABT didn't want to call attention to the principals who weren't there...progress is slow at ABT is slow, but at least maybe they're headed int eh right direction

#141 Jayne

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 07:15 PM

Alright ABT groupies - baseball has the fantasy version, why not ballet?

(A) Assume ABT is going further in the "all stars" direction of hiring big names from the biggest companies. Name your top 6 male principals that you would like to hire into ABT full time, and why they would be a good fit for ABT ballerinas.

(B) Assume ABT is going to invest in their existing talent. Name your top 6 male soloists & corpsmen that you would promote within ABT, and why they are ready to partner ABT ballerinas.

I will take a stab at the "A" option (hope Kevin McKenzie is reading):

A.1. Sergei Polunin - currently unattached (even part time, he will bring electricity to NYC and sell tickets)
A.2. Alben Lendorf - Royal Danish Ballet (bring all that Danish technique to the Big Apple)
A.3. Vadim Muntagirov - English National Ballet (pair him with the Russian and Ukranian ballerinas)
A.4. Vladimiri Shklyarov - Mariinsky Theatre Ballet (every international dancer needs a guest year in NYC)
A.5. Joan Boada - San Francisco Ballet (ABT needs more Cubans on the roster)
A.6. Mathieu Ganio - Paris Opera Ballet (those beautiful lines!)

I can't answer "B" because I haven't seen ABT enough times to judge their corpsmen.

#142 spinning2night

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:27 PM

Jayne - I LOVE this idea...would love to see what everyone else comes up with. currently don't have to time to come up with a complete list for either options...though I don't doubt that for "B" while I'm not as familiar with the dancers b/c i only get to see ABT once a year or so, the current cultivation of male dancers seems to be focused on the young corp members.

just to throw it out there...can ABT get Danny Tidwell back...please and thank you, he's with the Norwegian National Ballet as a soloist. He's home-grown and a VERY recognize-able face with the younger crowd --> automatic interest.

#143 Mashinka

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:55 AM

With English National Ballet about to implode there is a very real chance that Muntagirov will leave, particularly if the new AD proves to be the person whose name has been mentioned on the internet. Sadly London's loss will be America's gain.

#144 nysusan

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:41 AM

Wonderful idea, Jayne! I may have time to come up with actual lists later but for now -

Option A - Muntagirov and Polunin for sure, and I'm with Spinning2night - it would be absolutely fabulous if Danny Tidwell came back!Another dancer I'd love to see with the company is Fabrice Calmels of the Joffery. He is super tall, elegant, a good actor and would be a great partner for Veronika.

Option B - there is no option B. I don't think any of ABT's current male soloists or corpsmen are ready to be promoted. Matthews and Tamm have potential, but they're not ready. Neither is Simkin. Hammoudi is my favorite, but he hasn't really made much of the opportunities he's been given, so who knows...

#145 mussel

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:58 AM

Muntagirov is the most likely choice. I don't think Polunin is going to happen, didn't he say he's done or will be done with ballet? And he's unreliable, if he walked out on RB, there's a chance he'd probably do the the same with ABT. I agree with TIdwell is a fab idea, ABT could still claim he's a home grown talent. How about Denis Matvienko?

#146 Golden Idol

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:14 AM

Option B - I agree completely about Eric Tamm (who I think has real danseur noble potential), less wholeheartedly about Jared Matthews (who gets better with each perf but too often appears simply blank on stage). None of the other men have that something extra that makes them obvious principal material. I like Phillips and Gorak, but they both look like kids--you can't cast them in leads. Simkin is great fun to watch, but he looks like a child. Salstein is the perfect clown and a wonderful dancer, but he's not a leading man and he knows it. Who else? Roddy Doble? Julio Bragado-Young? They should be a soloists, but not principals. Sascha? He continues to disappoint me, as he seems to make heavy weather of all his parts (someone on this site once said he "lands like a hammer"--all too true). Hammoudi? Not bad, but awfully variable. (I could see him as Solor, however.)So, whatever anyone wants to say about or against Kevin--and, yes, there's plenty to say--just who is there to nurture?

#147 Helene

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:36 AM

I was very impressed with Jose Sebastian when I saw him in ensemble roles in "Sleeping Beauty" last year. I think he should be developed from within.

#148 spinning2night

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 01:29 PM

killing some time between commitments right now...quick thoughts. ABT needs to get at least one (if not 2) full time male principala in the next 2 years or so...and arrange for more permanent guest principal relationships (i.e. Bolle, VIshneva, Osipova) based on need...this is based on how I see the male principal roster when you take into account the what the roster will look like in July and the fact that Hallberg is limited by his commitment with Bolshoi and Cornejo by his height and injuries.

option A - I can't really chime in too much on this only because I'm not familiar with enough up-and-comers internationally who are in situations that would work with ABT...but here are my thoughts on those already mentioned. First, Polunin - I say, nay...I dont' think he knows what he wants right now, and until he does, no company's going to go near him. Muntagirov is in a favorable position for jumping on board/having ABT "go get him." He's young, talented, and clearly headed toward "in transition." Since he will be dancing with ABT this season, let's cross our fingers that something comes of this -- in the form of a permanent long-term arrangement. While I'm ok with the idea of ABT continuing to pursue "guest principal" to fill roles, I don't like the instability and unpredictability of it, and it's better to fill the spot permanently now than not at all. Matvienko obviously like Muntagirov has the advantage on having a relationship with ABT due to his guest appearances this year...but I would think he's a package deal with Anastasia...not that I'd object. However, is age an issue here too...he's into his 30's is he not? - what's his injury track record?

option B - I've seen Phillips and Tamm. I think both of them have the potential to move up through the ranks. Seems that many like Gorak - haven't seen him, so can't really comment, same for Hammoudi. The corps as a whole is really young right now, so immediate promotions are unlikely. In regards to the soloists, not really a fan on Matthews but I think that's more due to his lack of charisma as a performer rather than his abilities as a dancer...if ABT wanted to, he could become the "filler" principal -- you know, the guy who can dance the roles, but you don't expect a WOW from. Daniil, he's a great dancer and performer but his physical limitations work heavily against him (I mentioned in the Angel Corella thread that when I saw Daniil in real-life in the audience at SL in Chicago, he was my size/I could have bumped into him and knocked him over -- and I'm 5'3", 115bs). As for the other soloists, I just don't see them stepping into the principal role. A part of me wants Sascha to be promoted since he has the longest and most established repertoire. I've seen him in numerous performances, both with ABT and as a guest with other groups. He's good -- I have yet to be bothered by his performances, but I wonder if all those years as a soloist has drained his drive a little, which leads to those unsatisfying performances some of you have witnessed. As I was browsing the ABT site though, one of the first thoughts I had after eliminating the retiring/non-permanent dancers was "woah, wait a minute, where are all the men in this company???" ABT's current male roster as a whole is thin not just the principals...(at least in regards to repertoire, which is a likely result of the crowding at the top for the past few years)
Another issue I see ABT encountering is that lack of "do it all" male dancers. We've managed to point out the positives and negatives of many of the corps members and soloists, but it doesn't seem that any one of them have the qualities that will allow them to be the "complete package male principal," where they can do both the prince and the bravura well and convincingly (i.e. Carenno, Corella, Stiefel...jeez we REALLY were spoiled). Personally, I'm still not sold on Stearns, but at least he's getting the job done, and it's unlikely ABT will be able to find the next Gomes or Hallberg easily.

Glad to know that nysusan and mussel agree with me about Tidwell...he's neither really option A or B but my understanding is that America wouldn't mind seeing more of him and he wouldn't mind having the opportunity to dance in his own country either...I'm not sure the exact circumstances as to why he's all the way in Norway, was there really no space in a US company at the time? but to me it seems quite obvious that he wanted to get back into ballet enough that he auditioned and took a position based on availability. Yes, he burned a bridge when he first left the company, but he's back doing ballet seriously for the past 2 years and it seems we'd welcome prodigal son who finally returned home.

Sorry, this was was longer than I intended...Posted Image

#149 miliosr

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 01:53 PM

Since I started this thread, I'll play:

Option A (Ranked from very plausible to completely implausible)
1) Muntagirov -- This is a no brainer. He's young, tall and, with English National Ballet in disarray due to Wayne Eagling's resignation/ouster, ripe for the picking.

2) (tie) Matvienko/Vasiliev -- If nothing else, management should make one or both of them full-on principals for the months of May and June when the company is based in New York.

4) Polunin -- This was a no-brainer for me until I read some of the interviews he gave to the British press. He seems very fragile mentally at the moment so I don't think he's in any frame-of-mind to take on the responsibilities of being a male principal at ABT.

5) Jared Angle -- He's considered the best partner at City Ballet and ABT is sorely in need of good partners. He's also stepped out of the Balanchine bubble by, for instance, performing Swan Lake w/ Mearns in Italy. Unlikely in the extreme to happen, as he is no doubt very settled at City Ballet. Also, he may not have the extroverted stage presence (like Angle the Younger has) which the ABT faithful demand.

6) Chase Finlay -- Close to 0% chance of happening given that Peter Martins is grooming him to be the premiere danseur at City Ballet. But he would look great in all those princely roles at ABT. Who knows? Wave a lucrative contract under his nostrils and see if he jumps.

Option B - ABT Soloists
Basically, this category is a desert. Matthews is the most plausible candidate but he suffers from a dull stage presence. If he makes it to principal status, it will be as a utility dancer who gets a lot of matinees. Radetsky's time for advancement has come and gone, and he appears to have settled in at his proper level. Salstein is a wonderful character dancer, and he should keep doing what he does best -- as a soloist. Saveliev is a decent second male lead in productions but, like Matthews, he is not an exciting stage personality and should not advance. Finally, Simkin is short, slight, not especially virile and dances like he is at a gala and not in a performance. If management finds it difficult to cast Cornejo, what are they going to do with Simkin as a principal?

Option B - ABT Corps Guys
This category is almost impossible to handicap because the corps guys are used in such a scattershot manner that it is difficult to know how any of them are growing artistically. That being said, the likeliest candidate for me would be Eric Tamm. He is tall, good-looking and has that all-important princely bearing. I had high hopes for Alex Hammoudi but then came the reports of his inconsistency in the opportunities he was given. I fear that his stock has declined with management. I also question what is going on with Blaine Hoven, who looked like he was on the fast track to soloist status but appears to have plateaued. Julio Bragado-Young is a great actor dancer and, if ABT had a principal character artist classification, he -- along with Salstein -- would be perfect for it. Other names that haven't been mentioned but may have promise are Gray Davis, Grant Delong, Thomas Forster and Luis Ribagorda. Davis has tagged along with Veronika Part as her partner at various guesting spots so maybe he should be given a shot and paired with her in something?

#150 ruteyo

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 03:03 PM

I can't comment on Option B because I haven't seen enough of ABT but from the few names given in Option A, no one has mentioned MATTHEW GOLDING! I think it would be fair to say that McKenzie missed a GOLDEN opportunity with Golding (formerly at ABT and currently with Het National Ballet) whom I think is stronger technically than Polunin&Muntagirov and has even more stage presence than Muntagirov (I took away Polunin's name with regards to stage presence, even though I had originally said that Golding had even more presence than Polunin or Muntagirov, I should be kinder to Polunin and credit him with his stage aura, which is quite special, but Muntagirov doesn't have enough aura for me!). No wonder Golding recently guested with the Kirov in the Mariinsky Festival a few days ago.

From the many performances that I've seen in London, Polunin was inconsistent, and again, Muntagirov doesn't have enough charisma, to be harsh. Golding was fantastic in La Bayadere and Ratmansky's DQ with the HET -- he has the physique, height, etc. I don't know why Golding left ABT so early, but I'm sure he didn't want to stay in the corps for so long, which the ABT has done to far too many dancers. I'm not sure if creating more hierarchies in the style of POB/RB would help, but probably not given the kind of season scheduling they have and with the MET being the most selling point of their entire season. This may explain why young American dancers who could have easily started out at ABT have, in the past few years, started to join European ballet schools and companies and have taken the non-ABT route.


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