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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

#16 bart

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 07:53 PM

Regarding miliosr's poll choices. Wouldn't it be easier for ABT to promote from within if they had an established feeder school with a long track record of training young dancers to dance in a more or less uniform style (as SAB does, for example)?

#17 spinning2night

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 08:39 PM

I think Kevin has enough potential in the ranks to promote from within, but he needs to devote the energy to these guys, and not just chuck them aside. The main problem is if Kevin keeps hiring star guest women to pad the majority of the season, he will continue to be loathe to use soloists from within as partners or replacements. It just doesn't look good to your guest if you stick them with a soloist (potentially in a debut) because their original promised partner was injured (the only recent exception I can think of is Vishneva and Saviliev in Swan Lake years ago). The company women also bear responsibility in this...imo Irina could have taken someone under her wing this year with Maxim being out and she didn't, or couldn't, rather than being put with other male principals when the roster is already strained to its limit.

On top of that, ABTs stable of men were famous not only for their bravura technique but also their sublime partnering and partnerships. It's clear this portion is falling to the wayside with the repeated reports of Hammoudi and Simkin botching moves with their partners onstage, and even Hallberg sometimes appearing out of his depths with the tall girls. Get Marcelo to teach a damn class or something.

With Carlos Lopez gone, he has only 5 soloist men. Salstein is not really a leading man type. Simkin can't dance with the majority of the women in the company. Radetsky has danced a lot of leading male roles with the DNB, but Kevin seems loathe to give him the push that would allow him to become a more refined dancer (injuries? too old? Stella and Sascha killed his puppy back in the day? Who knows!?). Matthews has gotten increasingly better, and needs more time out onstage. Saviliev is probably getting too old to ever promote, but he (in the past) has been a reliable back up to throw onstage.

This leaves the guys in the corps. Personally I'd like to see Sean Stewart out there more. Tamm, Hoven, Hammoudi?


I actually don't think that hiring Rolando Sarabia would be a terrible idea. I like him, and while he is injury prone, he would certainly be fine for several years to shore up the roster. He's exciting, has a good story, and could actually make ABT a home as opposed to living on the fringes as a guest for the Met only.


when i read the bit about Marcelo teaching a class on partnering, i actually almost started laughing as I remember reading somewhere that he didn't start partnering until later in the schooling years (someone correct me if i'm wrong). That makes me wonder if Marcelo has a better understanding of partnering and is much more mentally engaged in what he does when dancing WITH someone b/c of his steeper learning curve. Marcelo is the most reliable male principal in the company if not the most in the world. He partners with so little effort but so much care that it makes everything the female he is dancing with effortless.

in your comment, you bring up a lot of good points. And trying to get Sarabia would be a good start

IMO, ABT's male roster has been heading to this point for years, it's just surprising that Kevin hasn't pushed to start filling the holes that would start appearing. He could have easily masked these issues, but when almost all the wheels came off this season, EVERYONE saw that Kevin's going to be scrambling to try to make the male principal roster look the way it once did.
I do think Kevin needs to look abroad to get at least one mare male principal that can fill a hole for the foreseeable future who can truly commit to ABT and make ABT his primary company. I think for long term, Kevin should l promote from within. As you point out, he only has 5 male soloists, and with the standard that ABT men are held to, expecting a corps member to reach that point in their careers in the next few years, is wishful thinking on Kevin's part so he needs to fins quick fixes while providing enough time and incentive for dancers to develop and go after this opportunity that has presented itself. I assume one day Simkin will make it to the top ranks, but it shouldn't happen now. As many of us know, Radetsky is a popular dancer and has many principals in his repertoire mainly because of his time with DNB. I don't think it's a far stretch to say that Radetsky went abroad to try and gain experience and develop those roles (and I'd like to think that Kevin took notice). That being said, Radetsky could have easily stayed abroad, but instead he came back to his home company (and while being apart from Stella was part of the reason), I think it's pretty telling that he eventually returned to ABT. It's been a few years since his brief absence, and as you pointed out, Kevin hasn't done anything to encourage further development from Radetsky, who has basically dance every male role in all full-length ballets with ABT EXCEPT the principal ones (if i were him, i'd be frustrated beyond belief). While Radetsky is now 34, Kevin won't get a lot of years out of him, but 5 good years isn't a far stretch. Radetsky guests with other companies because of his fame from Center Stage, but he has proven that he can deliver. I think promoting him will provide ABT with the perfect quick fix that fills on of the holes and still lets everyone know that you still can be promoted from within while giving Kevin some time to continue to develop dancers. It's really puzzling that several female principal roles as debuted every year, but none for the men.

On that note, I think Kevin should consider promoting a female soloist to principal as he has several capable women to work with. WIth Wiles leaving, and Gillian's future commitments uncertain, the scarcity of Vishneva AND Kent's age, Kevin's going to have his hands full if he starts finding holes in his female roster...that being said, to be frank, age will slowly become an issue for Paloma and Xiomara in the next few years and Part's limited repertoire should not be over-looked.

I really hope that this season has been eye-opening to Kevin as well as the dancers in the company (as well as those outside the company) who will work to do all they can to prevent this from happening again.

#18 FauxPas

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 08:50 PM

Sascha and Stella would be good candidates for promotion but they have been given practically no principal roles to dance. Give Stella a Giselle and Juliet and give Sascha parts like Franz in "Coppelia", Basilio and Albrecht and see how they do. Then promote them. Stella may be holding herself back due to her back injury and its possible recurrence. Let me also add the comment that the majority of the current principal roster is over 35. Corey Stearns is likely the youngest with Wiles, Gomes. Cornejo and Hallberg probably just around 30. Where are the twenty somethings that are the heirs apparent? Other than Simkin and possibly Lane, not much out there.

#19 Helene

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 09:19 PM

when i read the bit about Marcelo teaching a class on partnering, i actually almost started laughing as I remember reading somewhere that he didn't start partnering until later in the schooling years (someone correct me if i'm wrong). That makes me wonder if Marcelo has a better understanding of partnering and is much more mentally engaged in what he does when dancing WITH someone b/c of his steeper learning curve. Marcelo is the most reliable male principal in the company if not the most in the world. He partners with so little effort but so much care that it makes everything the female he is dancing with effortless.

It occurred to me that if they were dancing Bournonville, there would be so many more opportunities for the men to learn the basics of partnering -- examples where to stand in relation to the woman, supported pirouettes, matching lines, supported arabesques, promenade -- before they have the adult muscles to do all of the heavy lifting. In one of the baseball books I gave away, the author described how a man in general doesn't have full shoulder strength until his mid-20's.

I think it would be enormously frustrating as a young male dancer to learn partnering while growing, with the center of gravity and proportions are shifting, and before the upper body strength is there to do all of the maneuvering.

#20 Barbara

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:45 AM

I am in complete agreement that it's time to move Sascha and Stella to principal status. Another dancer I keep noticing in the corps is Roddy Doble. He's tall, looks strong, has stage presence and should be given more opportunities than "peasant". Btw, he easily (along with a partner)lifted Marcelo last night in the SL maypole scene. Oh, and Blaine Hoven too, move him up!

#21 spinning2night

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 06:37 AM

Sascha and Stella would be good candidates for promotion but they have been given practically no principal roles to dance. Give Stella a Giselle and Juliet and give Sascha parts like Franz in "Coppelia", Basilio and Albrecht and see how they do. Then promote them. Stella may be holding herself back due to her back injury and its possible recurrence. Let me also add the comment that the majority of the current principal roster is over 35. Corey Stearns is likely the youngest with Wiles, Gomes. Cornejo and Hallberg probably just around 30. Where are the twenty somethings that are the heirs apparent? Other than Simkin and possibly Lane, not much out there.


Did Stella have a back injury? I was only aware of her really serious leg injury that kept her out for almost 2 years (both of those Giselle debuts)

as for the lack of up and coming stars in the company in their 20s, i think most of the dancers how would have had the potential have moved on when the realized how crowded it was at the top, but now many dancers who are with the company are either older and ok with their position in the company or too young to promote this soon.
Kevin's reluctance to promote (with the exception of Stearns...which I'm still trying to figure out why - at least as quickly as he did) makes me wonder if that's the reason he's lost many good dancers in the past 2 years...specifically C Lopez this year...

also, b/c I'm a huge fan of Danny Tidwell, why did he have to leave??? He made it into the corps at the same time as hallberg.

#22 bart

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 02:19 PM

OFF TOPIC: I just noticed that only 16 of us have voted in milior's poll at the start of this thread. If you are posting or even just reading, and have an opinion, why not scroll back to the original post and cast your VOTE. (Hey, we're a democracy here. :angel_not:)

#23 miliosr

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:03 PM

Based on board comments (this thread as well as other ones), the male dancers who have the most support for promotion would be Hammoudi (corps to soloist), Hoven (corps to soloist), Radetsky (soloist to principal), and Simkin (soloist to principal). And yet, also based on board commentary, all four have weaknesses which make further promotion far from a done deal. Hammoudi and Hoven have been the beneficiaries of pushes in the last two years but board members have reported inconsistencies in technique and a failure to grab the spotlight when it was offered to them. Radetsky is the most reliable of the four but (perhaps) his is a reliability that is not exciting enough for a principal. Simkin continues to have partnering problems, and his height and slight build limits his versatility. He also (again, perhaps) has taken Martha Graham's remark -- "Center stage is where I am" -- too much to heart as he sometimes dances with no great awareness of the production surrounding him.

So, are there any other in-house candidates??? (spinning2night is spot-on with -- her? his?? -- analysis of the other soloists.)

If not, who are the most likely candidates on the free market??? [NOTE: Speculation only please -- no "I heard so-and-so" is joining.]

#24 bingham

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:07 PM


Sascha and Stella would be good candidates for promotion but they have been given practically no principal roles to dance. Give Stella a Giselle and Juliet and give Sascha parts like Franz in "Coppelia", Basilio and Albrecht and see how they do. Then promote them. Stella may be holding herself back due to her back injury and its possible recurrence. Let me also add the comment that the majority of the current principal roster is over 35. Corey Stearns is likely the youngest with Wiles, Gomes. Cornejo and Hallberg probably just around 30. Where are the twenty somethings that are the heirs apparent? Other than Simkin and possibly Lane, not much out there.


Did Stella have a back injury? I was only aware of her really serious leg injury that kept her out for almost 2 years (both of those Giselle debuts)

as for the lack of up and coming stars in the company in their 20s, i think most of the dancers how would have had the potential have moved on when the realized how crowded it was at the top, but now many dancers who are with the company are either older and ok with their position in the company or too young to promote this soon.
Kevin's reluctance to promote (with the exception of Stearns...which I'm still trying to figure out why - at least as quickly as he did) makes me wonder if that's the reason he's lost many good dancers in the past 2 years...specifically C Lopez this year...

also, b/c I'm a huge fan of Danny Tidwell, why did he have to leave??? He made it into the corps at the same time as hallberg.

Danny was on his way up when he decided to leave ABT. i understood from his interviews that he was not too happy with classical ballet and wanted to try other things. He is presently with the Norwegian Ballet in Oslo.

#25 Classic_Ballet

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:12 PM

If not, who are the most likely candidates on the free market???
[/quote]


Here is an idea, Yoel Carrreno, Jose's brother, who is dancing in Europe but still not committed to a big company.
I have seen him on youtube (he has a channel) and I believe he is one of the most talented/experienced (still young and healthy) dancers out there in the free market.
His fiancee (or wife, I dont know) is also, according to the youtube videos I have seen, a superb dancer, i actually dont know if I like her more :)
I think she was a principal at Cuban National Ballet, with Yoel Carreno, before they both left the company.
I dont know how easy, from a legal point of view, is to bring two cuban dancers here from Europe, but its def. a pretty cheap and promising choice.

ksk04, yes we did, ha
i just checked and yes, they are both principals of The Norwegian National Ballet

#26 ksk04

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:16 PM

Danny was on his way up when he decided to leave ABT. i understood from his interviews that he was not too happy with classical ballet and wanted to try other things. He is presently with the Norwegian Ballet in Oslo.



Isn't that where Yoel Carreno dances now also? I wonder if the visa issues still remain for him in the US or would be an issue if an offer was extended from ABT...



Edit: It appears if ClassicBallet and I had the same idea!! Whoops!

#27 christine174

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:22 PM

I didn't cast a vote because either is fine with me -- what matters is that they're good, wherever they trained. However, it's hard not to like the idea of promoting from within, assuming the guys have enough coaching and traning to be up to principal-level work.

#28 christine174

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:26 PM

By the way, thanks for all the great analysis, commentary & performance reports, everyone! The board has been very vibrant this ballet season.

#29 mimsyb

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:47 PM

The issue isn't so much casting corps members in the leads in the full-lengths, but that the full-lengths don't have the enough parts, in general, to develop the corps members into the leads, especially Romantic and Classical leads. The male virtuoso dancers have it easier with jesters, Golden Idol, peasant pas, "Swan Lake" pas de trois.

That's why I mentioned that the full-lengths are ABT's bread-and-butter. I don't think people would necessarily boycott if one of the names was home-grown and less than a star, but I do think McKenzie has to hire from the outside to sell tickets.



Totally agree. There just are not enough opportunities for the corps to really dance. Every dancer needs stage time, in addition to special coaching and training to feel comfortable in a role. At NYCB, everyone dances every night, sometimes in two or three ballets. And not usually stage decoration roles like peasants, etc. Whatever one felt about the most recent three ballets done at ABT during their recent Classic to Premiere week, both Ratmansky and Wheeldon used corps dancers in their ballets and they danced beautifully! Whenever we see them dance in ballets like 'T&V 'and "Leaves Are Fading", etc. they look like remarkable technicians AND partners. I saw many dancers in these ballets who looked like they had very real potential for upward movement. ABT has a problem with their insistence on doing so many story ballets that have limited opportunities for the entire company. I think after awhile the dancers forget how to really do what they trained to do for so many years. And after many years of this, even the corps dancers get older and no longer look so motivated. As someone noted on this thread, if management keeps bringing in the stars, there's no real hope of going forward. There seems to be a lack of mentoring, along with great teachers working with the dancers to bring them along. It must be very discouraging for a corp dancer. I realize that stars sell tickets, which is maybe our fault as an audience too. And most of the audience (other than we, the balletomanes) really only want to see "Swan Lake" and "Giselle". It's a conundrum, for sure.
While we're at it, my vote for male dancer movement would be Joseph Phillips, Mikhail Ilyin, and Roman Zhurbin. (outside of all those crazy disguises he wears, he's a wonderful dancer!). I would have added Isaac Stappas, as I think he is amazing, but I understand he is leaving after L. A. A real loss for ABT.

#30 vipa

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:56 PM

[size="3"]OFF TOPIC:[/size] I just noticed that only 16 of us have voted in milior's poll at the start of this thread. If you are posting or even just reading, and have an opinion, why not scroll back to the original post and cast your VOTE. (Hey, we're a democracy here. :angel_not:)


I just voted for shopping for a principal, but I would like that to happen while talent is being nurtured from within. I just think that the immediate problem won't be solved from within, but in the future the AD could be ready.


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