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ABT's Male Principal ProblemPoll


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Poll: Promote From Within or Go On a Spending Spree? (72 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 [62.50%])

    Percentage of vote: 62.50%

  2. Go out into the free market and hire male principals from outside the company (27 votes [37.50%])

    Percentage of vote: 37.50%

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#31 miliosr

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 03:59 PM

Throwing some names out there to prompt discussion. Most (if not all) may not be available for a whole host of reasons:

Stephane Bullion at the Paris Opera
Chase Finlay at City Ballet
Iain Mackay at the Birmingham Royal
Vadim Muntagirov at the English National (If not him, then someone else -- Wayne Eagling has a lot of male talent at ENB.)
Leonid Sarafanov at the Mikhailovsky

Just thinking out loud . . .

#32 California

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:00 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 didn't vote, because they don't seem mutually exclusive. Hasn't ABT always brought in a fair number of outsiders? Baryshnikov was supposedly going to nurture talent from within, although he himself was the quintessential guest artist and he brought in Godunov, at least for a time.

#33 miliosr

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:04 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 didn't vote, because they don't seem mutually exclusive. Hasn't ABT always brought in a fair number of outsiders? Baryshnikov was supposedly going to nurture talent from within, although he himself was the quintessential guest artist and he brought in Godunov, at least for a time.

Feel free to cast a write-in vote of 'BOTH'. The only reason I structured the poll the way I did was so people would really take a stand one way or the other. In retrospect, probably a mistake on my part because people's hearts seem to be leading them toward a blending of the two methods.

#34 nysusan

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:21 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.


I have to respectfully disagree with some of the above statements. I don't think ABT "has a problem with their insistence on doing so many story ballets that have limited opportunities for the entire company." I think ABT has an identity - a longstanding identity as a classical ballet company that performs classical & full length story ballets. Like the Royal, Mariinsky, Bolshoi etc - their rep is built around full length story ballets. I'd love to see them add more 1 acts as well - things like Les Partineurs, Rhapsody, Jeune Homme, etc - but their bread & butter will always be full length ballets and box office names.

I can understand the proclivity of fellow New Yorkers to constantly compare the opportunities young dancers receive at NYCB vs at ABT but I think its very wrong headed. Is there anyone who wants to see ABT become a rep company? That would be suicidal, their audience would desert them in droves.

There will be lots of opportunities for corps and soloists in the upcoming week long City Center season, but how many people will be there to watch them? Almost everyone I know has expressed disappointment with their choice of rep and plans to see VERY few performances. They typically have trouble filling City Center even with their normal City Center season. Their audience (myself included) comes to see world class dancers in the classics and in more recent story ballets. It's fine to have a soloist debut on a Wed or Sat mat, in fact I think it's a good policy, but beyond that - when I go to the Met I want to see a great performance from the principals, not a work in process.

I voted for them to import male dancers. I think Simkin,Hammoudi, Matthews and Philips are all possible future principals, but IMO none are ready for promotion now. Looking further into the future, Forster and Gorak both seem very promising. On the female side the only dancer I think is ready for promotion to principal is Abrera, and her injuries may be a limiting factor. All of them need development, and those opportunities exist in soloist roles and incremental opportunities in leading roles.

#35 Helene

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:33 PM

Throwing some names out there to prompt discussion. Most (if not all) may not be available for a whole host of reasons:

Stephane Bullion at the Paris Opera
Chase Finlay at City Ballet
Iain Mackay at the Birmingham Royal
Vadim Muntagirov at the English National (If not him, then someone else -- Wayne Eagling has a lot of male talent at ENB.)
Leonid Sarafanov at the Mikhailovsky

Just thinking out loud . . .

Please keep thinking that there's no one west of NYC :) (We love our men out here!)

#36 miliosr

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:37 PM


Throwing some names out there to prompt discussion. Most (if not all) may not be available for a whole host of reasons:

Stephane Bullion at the Paris Opera
Chase Finlay at City Ballet
Iain Mackay at the Birmingham Royal
Vadim Muntagirov at the English National (If not him, then someone else -- Wayne Eagling has a lot of male talent at ENB.)
Leonid Sarafanov at the Mikhailovsky

Just thinking out loud . . .

Please keep thinking that there's no one west of NYC :)

Except for Finlay, who is the 800-pound-gorilla in the room, I tried to stay clear of US companies. But, now that you mention it, I've heard Pacific Northwest Ballet has some very fine male dancers . . . :wink:

#37 Helene

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 04:52 PM

We just lost eight dancers from PNB. There's been no word yet on where Josh Spell is going, but there isn't a ballet company in North America that wouldn't be richer for hiring him.

#38 Amour

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 08:07 PM

Kevin is just letting ABT wither away by totally focusing on having guest artists do all the principal roles. Instead of discussing which dancers to bring in or promote from the inside, I think what ABT needs is a new AD. Kevin has shown he no longer has the energy, enthusiasm or ideas for how to develop great dancers from within the company. IMO he has also shown bad judgement in the ballets he has either restaged himself (Swan Lake) or brought in restaged (Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, both duds). Both PNB and the Royal Danish (and soon the Royal Ballet) show how new ADs can breathe some fresh life into a company. I think that is what ABT desperately needs now. Now that Ratmansky is set for another 10 years, getting a new AD should not be so difficult and truly is vital.

#39 spinning2night

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 08:29 PM

(spinning2night is spot-on with -- her? his?? -- analysis of the other soloists.)


her :)

#40 spinning2night

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 08:43 PM

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.


why? where? and out of curiosity does this affect Kristi Boone's status with the company?

also, in regards to the lack of roles available in full-length ballets, that is definitely true, but ABT doesn't operate with the ideo to maintain permanent partnerships, which means that in order to find immediate principal success, one must be very adaptable and confident before even trying to dance a principal role b/c you probably won't also be working with the same person, who will always know your idiosyncrasies.

Also, ABT has not had a full fall season for years, which is usually when soloists and corps members get a chance to "try things out" and the MET season has just completely dominated by the "popular" ballets with established principals. I think the main reason for this has been the economy. ABT needs to make sure it brings in enough money. And the only way to guarantee that it is perform the popular stuff so fan continue to come and those who are not as familiar with ballet will at least stop in to "check it out." Furthermore, a part of me thinks that the abundance of guest artists in recent years has been an economic move as well. While it definitely cost money to get international stars to come, ABT's reputation and the pay-off of have a fuller-house is these difficult financial times, are things that the company has had to take into consideration, and I doubt that Kevin's the only or even the person who has any true say and the financial aspects of running a world-renowned ballet company. As a result, I'm developing and promoting dancers has fallen somewhat on the wayside.

When you look at the size of the ABT roster compared to the staff/coaches available, its a wonder how everything gets done. The corps looks ragged at times, and sometimes soloists don't seem as ready as they could be, but overall the productivity of the company is very impressive.

I was just on the ABT site, trying to look for diamonds in the rough in the corps, specifically for the men (and in case you were curious, I support promotions of Phillips, Hoven, int he near future)...but i noticed that the roster as a whole seems to have shrunk somewhat compared to the end of 2010...have there been any "disappearances" unaccounted for?
also, I made a relatively disturbing revelation. ABT doesn't just have a male principal problem OR a male solist problem...ABT has a male dancer problem... Has the male coprs always been so small? It almost seems that ABT doesn't have the "resources" available for promotions...ugh, this is becoming increasingly frustrating!

as an aside, how is it that the Norwegian Ballet has managed to snag all these great dancers in the couple years?

#41 Fraildove

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 08:46 PM

Too bad that Zdenek Konvalina and Bridgett Zehr decided to head to ENB. Both would be wonderful additions to ABT. Another young and healthy and beautiful dancer is Conner Walsh with Houston. Although he probably would not come in as a principal, he would be one more to develop and have a long career. He is a few years younger than me and has many years (hopefully) of performing ahead of him!

#42 Helene

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 10:04 PM

Another young and healthy and beautiful dancer is Conner Walsh with Houston. Although he probably would not come in as a principal, he would be one more to develop and have a long career. He is a few years younger than me and has many years (hopefully) of performing ahead of him!

I saw him a few seasons ago in "The Nutcracker", and he was ready to be a Principal then, in my opinion.

#43 Amour

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 02:27 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.


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...


I think that many ABT dancers are NOT OK with their situation in the company and are very frustrated. I think many dancers (as many as he can take) will leave ABT to go to New Zealand with Ethan. Other dancers who weren't trained at SAB are not necessarily suited to the many other excellent U.S. companies because of their Balanchine heavy reps (most are run by former NYCB dancers) That leaves them in a difficult spot. Some of the Spanish ones (Cornejo and I believe Riborgada) perform with Corella's company. Others may be looking abroad, as Radetsky did. But if Kevin continues to be so slow to promote, and relies heavily on guests, I think there will be increasing defections from ABT.

BTW, Simkin and Lane are not that young - both 25 or 26. Many principals at NYCB are that age and have been principals for almost 10 years. If you wait until a dancer is 30 to promote him/her, you are losing the bulk of their career. And that is the age when injuries start happening with greater frequency. Also, the dancers who have specific donors sponsoring them (Ricetto, Simkin, Boylston, Messmer) get more stage time than those with no sponsors. It's not a fair system and certainly not one to depend on for growing great talent.

#44 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 04:22 AM

Although I voted for ABT hiring dancers from outside the company, I really agree with George B (I think that's who it was) who said ABT should do both. Since the problem with both male and female principals at ABT is an immediate one, the immediate solution would be to hire from outside the company now and develop from within for the future. I would like to see Ivan Vasiliev dance with ABT on a regular basis. Yes, his technique is not as refined as it could be, but he's very young. I really think he could learn a great deal from dancers like David Hallberg and Marcelo Gomes. I'm not sure what male dancers should be promoted from within. I think Sascha has the best shot. I really don't want to see Jard Matthews become a principal. I find him a very bland peformer and his dancing is okay, but nothing spectacular. Daniil Simkin should definitely become a principal and sooner rather than later since he's 24 (not 14 or 15 even though he look that young). Yes, he's short, but I think he's taller than Cornejo (or at least the same size). And he does need to work on his partnering, but again so did Cornejo. Cornjeo had a lot more problems with partnering a few years ago than what I've seen with Simkin. A couple of years ago when I saw Mikhail Ilyin dance the bronze idol in La Bayadere, the peasant pas deux in Giselle and Birbanto in Le Corsaire I thought he definitely should be promoted to soloist. But lately I only saw him in Saturday's Swan Lake in the Nepolitan dance. He was fine, but not as exciting as I remember. And I'm not sure, but he looks to be on the short side as well.

With regard to female dancers, again I pray that Polina Semionova will become a part of ABT on a regular basis. Yes, she dances with another company, but so did Nina A. (I never can remember how to spell her last name). And with regard to that company (the Bolshoi Ballet) I'd love to see Natalya Osipova dance at ABT at least for the whole Met season. I saw her last year in Romeo and Juliet and this year in The Bright Stream, and like Polina, I think she can dance and act a wide variety of parts. With regard to current ABT female dancers, I would love to see Stella promoted to principal. I'm still waiting for her Giselle which I and so many other ardent fans were deprived of three years ago due to her injuries. I've seen Hee Seo as the Slyphide in La Slyphide (2009), Gamzatti in La Bayadere (2010) and Giselle in Giselle (2011) and I would also like to see her promoted to principal. Maria Riccetto can be lovely, but she's too inconsistent. I loved her in Giselle in 2009 (as Giselle) but found her to be very disappointing as Swanilda in ABT's Coppelia (this season).

#45 bingham

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 06:35 AM

Throwing some names out there to prompt discussion. Most (if not all) may not be available for a whole host of reasons:

Stephane Bullion at the Paris Opera
Chase Finlay at City Ballet
Iain Mackay at the Birmingham Royal
Vadim Muntagirov at the English National (If not him, then someone else -- Wayne Eagling has a lot of male talent at ENB.)
Leonid Sarafanov at the Mikhailovsky

Just thinking out loud . . .


Vadim Muntagirov? He is tall and had received very good reviews from the British critics and bloggers.


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