Well, it has been one year since my original post/poll and I question whether ABT is any closer to solving its male principal problem. I am reposting FauxPas'
excellent analysis from p. 1 of this thread to use as a guide to see where we are one year later. (I've only included Faux's
discussion of the men since this is the male principals thread.)
One thing I must mention is that the principal roster - male and female - is spotty, full of dead wood and needs an overhaul.
Lets run up and down the roster:
Maxim Beloserkovsky: Nearly 40 and prone to repeated injuries. The company is pulling roles away from him. He is tied to his wife and partner, Irina Dvorovenko who is still in top form technically. He is not. Major problem and you can't retire or fire him without firing his wife, who they need.
Roberto Bolle: Not a kid, around 35 years old. Also belongs to two other major ballet companies and is a guest, touring attraction world-wide. Not a lot of time to give to ABT. Then there was that little incident last year when he canceled with an injury and then danced in Europe for big fees while recovering. Sir Rudolf Bing fired a couple of Italian star singers for pulling the same stunt in the 1950's - notably tenor Giuseppe di Stefano. Still I would rehire him and try to get more performances out of him for a few years. He is tall, a great partner and needed.
Jose Manuel Carreno: Retiring this year though he has danced better this season than he has in years. Frankly he looks like he has a year or two left in him of top quality dancing. He will be missed.
Angel Corella: Not what he was 10 years ago but the "Coppelia" I saw revealed most of the technique and all the charm intact. Obviously ABT didn't like it when Angel struck out on his own limiting his appearances with the company. Make it up with Angel, ABT - you are losing more than you are gaining.
Herman Cornejo: Truly great dancer limited by his height. ABT took too long in promoting him in leading roles. Now prone to injury - he seems to have a major injury every Spring season. Also tours with his brother-in-law Angel Corella's company taking him away from ABT for long periods of time.
Marcelo Gomes: A backbone of the company and a star who gives everything to his ballerina and the audience.
David Hallberg: A beautiful artist and with Gomes holding the standard of the male contingent to a high level.
Corey Stearns: Developing rapidly as a technician and a partner. His stage presence is wooden and bland though he cuts an attractive figure onstage. Lacks the partnering skills and stage presence of Gomes. I am not sure if he is being helped or hindered by all the major roles being thrown at him at once - ABT might have spread the wealth around a bit to Joe Philips, Sascha, Simkin, Hammoudi and others.
Ethan Stiefel: How is ABT going to retire Ethan? They are going to have to. He has been teaching recently and not been dancing anywhere else. He is taking over the New Zealand Ballet next year. He comes for the Spring season to dance roles he has danced for a decade with the company and withdraws because he is "unprepared". He knows the parts and productions and ballerinas very well. What is going on here? Not at all the dancer he was when he joined the company, the time is nigh for him to go. I would have retired Ethan this season and kept Jose on.
I like the opportunities being given to Hammoudi but he looks underprepared for some of his roles. More in depth coaching and rehearsal is needed for these corps guys to shine in soloist and principal parts.
The immediate, obvious observation is that 3 former bedrock principals are now gone -- Carreno, Corella and Steifel. Beloserkovsky continues to be a non-factor. (What are they paying him for -- to show up for the farewells with wreaths in hand?) Kevin McKenzie papered over the cracks with Kobborg, Matvienko, Muntagirov and Vasiliev but only Vasiliev appears to have worked his way into the firmament (and then only as a May-July principal.)
On the internal promotion front, Hammoudi has clawed his way to soloist but has much work to do before he is remotely ready to be a principal. Simkin appears likely to rise to principal but having another short male principal (who is also somewhat androgynous) doesn't relieve the pressure on the remaining principals. As for the rest of the soloists, I'm hard-pressed to see any promotions on the horizon. (Matthews may function as a de facto
Looking at the La Bayadere
workload for the upcoming Taiwan/South Korea tours, the workload is distributed as follows:
Gomes -- 4 shows
Stearns -- 4 shows
Cornejo -- 2 shows
Hallberg -- 1 show
Matthews -- 1 show
For late July anyway, Gomes and Stearns are the workhorses.
So, that's where we find ABT one year later. Discuss!