Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:50 AM
Pacific Northwest Ballet is more of a finishing school than SAB, in that a lot of the PD students come to Seattle at 15-17 for a few years training -- not including any PNB summer training they've had -- instead of 13-14 like at SAB, staying for 4-5 years. However, I see a huge amount of talent coming out of that program, Just watching Bruce Wells' "Snow White" last month featured a handful of dancers that should be able to have promising careers, and I think that was just one cast.
Of the Principal dancers at PNB, six of 11 rose through the ranks of apprentice/corps to Principal, and two of the others, Bold and Cruz, were hired from companies/programs into the corps and rose through it. It took Russell many years to build a school and for Russell and Stowell to build a company to attract students with such talent to the school and company, instead of hiring Principals (or Soloists, often promoted to Principal the next year) from the outside. (As late as the late '90's/early 2000's, almost all of the Principals and Soloists were hired from the outside, but the apprentices that were coming out of the school from that time have become the Principals and Soloists of today.) Among the Soloists, about half came from other companies after to join the corps, with the balance from the school, and all have been promoted from within. (I do miss the stream of dancers who came from San Francisco Ballet, though. They were like cousins.) San Francisco still hires from the outside, but, given the core rep -- on the whole, even the full-lengths are coherent -- Helgi Tomasson has chosen dancers who complement each other and don't look like well-paid mercenaries.
Between SAB, CPYB, PNBS and schools at Miami City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Houston Ballet, just to name a few, I don't think it's a lack of talent that is ABT's problem, especially when ABT is considered one of the top two or three companies in prestige, and they have strong contracts and full seasons, and it should be considered a good job to have, not a career killer.
ABT, with the exception of the Baryshnikov years, is a place where talent is where talent, with the bet on Stars, primarily has been bought ready-made, rather than nurtured, or, even, forget about nurturing: how about recognized in the first place? At PNB, one example, Lucien Postlewaite screamed talent from the get-go. If he had joined ABT, he probably would have been carrying baskets of grapes for years.