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...