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Joan Acocella on ABT's female principals -- and Misty Copeland


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#31 aurora

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 11:03 AM

Maybe the issue will boil down to economics. She seems to have a strong p.r. team and other support.


I'm sure some of it has to do with PR but people can't convince people uninterested in ballet that they are interested in it. Misty clearly is reaching an audience that has been untapped here previously. There were a lot more African American patrons in the seats on sat (when she had been scheduled to dance) than normally are seen at the MET. To their credit, they showed up anyway (and from the lobby talk they already knew). But I think to chalk that up to PR alone, or even primarily, is overly cynical (I'm not saying *you* were doing so).

An audience that has not seen themselves represented is doing so in Misty, and they are clearly very excited about it. I think that is all for the good.

This is not an argument for promotion, nor against it. Just an observation.

#32 mira

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 11:26 AM

I hope I am not straying too far afield in mentioning that fans of diversity in ballet have a lot to be excited about at NYCB - the already amazing Taylor Stanley and Sam Greenberg and two new apprentices, Silas Farley and Olivia Boisson. These hugely gifted dancers, in my humble opinion, have the potential to become soloists or principals at NYCB.

http://www.sab.org/n...wien_awards.php

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#33 puppytreats

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 11:29 AM


Maybe the issue will boil down to economics. She seems to have a strong p.r. team and other support.


I'm sure some of it has to do with PR but people can't convince people uninterested in ballet that they are interested in it. Misty clearly is reaching an audience that has been untapped here previously. There were a lot more African American patrons in the seats on sat (when she had been scheduled to dance) than normally are seen at the MET. To their credit, they showed up anyway (and from the lobby talk they already knew). But I think to chalk that up to PR alone, or even primarily, is overly cynical (I'm not saying *you* were doing so).

An audience that has not seen themselves represented is doing so in Misty, and they are clearly very excited about it. I think that is all for the good.

This is not an argument for promotion, nor against it. Just an observation.


I admit to cynicism.

Opening up and then appealing to a new audience (a good thing) creates economic opportunity, as well.

When Nina, Irina, Natasha, Ivan, etc. perform in NY, a large group of audience members speak Russian. I hear a lot of Italian when Roberto performs. I am sure ads are placed in local community newspapers for various performances.

Isn't this why some people characterize McKenzie's business model as "conservative"?

#34 abatt

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 11:36 AM

I hope I am not straying too far afield in mentioning that fans of diversity in ballet have a lot to be excited about at NYCB - the already amazing Taylor Stanley and Sam Greenberg and two new apprentices, Silas Farley and Olivia Boisson. These hugely gifted dancers, in my humble opinion, have the potential to become soloists or principals at NYCB.

http://www.sab.org/n...wien_awards.php

Mira


In addition, Craig Hall is a soloist. They also have Lara Tong in the corps.

#35 mira

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 12:05 PM

I'm not sure who considers themselves diverse and who doesn't but also wanted to mention Likolani Brown. Very exciting time at NYCB!

#36 Drew

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 01:51 PM



Maybe the issue will boil down to economics. She seems to have a strong p.r. team and other support.


I'm sure some of it has to do with PR but people can't convince people uninterested in ballet that they are interested in it. Misty clearly is reaching an audience that has been untapped here previously. There were a lot more African American patrons in the seats on sat (when she had been scheduled to dance) than normally are seen at the MET. To their credit, they showed up anyway (and from the lobby talk they already knew). But I think to chalk that up to PR alone, or even primarily, is overly cynical (I'm not saying *you* were doing so).

An audience that has not seen themselves represented is doing so in Misty, and they are clearly very excited about it. I think that is all for the good.

This is not an argument for promotion, nor against it. Just an observation.


I admit to cynicism.

Opening up and then appealing to a new audience (a good thing) creates economic opportunity, as well.

When Nina, Irina, Natasha, Ivan, etc. perform in NY, a large group of audience members speak Russian. I hear a lot of Italian when Roberto performs. I am sure ads are placed in local community newspapers for various performances.


I hope the company does place ads in local community newspapers for these performances...I don't think one has to be cynical to think it's a good idea. And it need not be bad for ballet as art. Bad for ballet would be if incompetent and undeserving dancers were promoted, but whether one likes them or not I don't think "Nina, Irina, Natasha, Ivan" are what one would call incompetent and undeserving and neither, from what I have seen, is Copeland.

Of course people have different opinions about who should be getting a shot at which roles and when...and some would prefer not to see so many guest artists--and I agree that it would be sign of company strength if ABT could properly develop more talent from within the ranks--but there is nothing scandalous per se about the dancers you mention that I'm aware of. And if/when that is the case, then I don't think it's cynical for the company to 'capitalize' on their appeal to particular audiences. If there is a Russian language paper out there, it would be sort of silly not to advertize "Nina etc." on the grounds that it was somehow infra-dig.

I gather the concern is that the tail has started wagging the dog...or more so than usual...I'm not convinced. (Some attention to box office is par for the course, and not always a bad thing artistically.)

Re Copeland: this season, she wasn't well matched with Vasiliev in Bayadere, but I thought she danced and mimed the principal role of Gamzatti very well in other respects and I also have seen her dance a very good peasant pas de deux. By all accounts--including the accounts of those who hated the ballet--she was terrific in Firebird; unfortunately I did not get to see her in that myself. The company has not made her a principal just yet and it would be a shame if Acocella's pronouncements--presumably designed to provoke discussions like ours--were used as a stick with which to beat her.

For the rest, why shouldn't Copeland get some special attention as a rising African-American dancer at a company that has a very traditional repertory of nineteenth-century classics as well as full-length 20th-century crowd-pleasers--and no very deep history of featured African-American dancers despite some (mostly male) precedent? No cynicism required...even a touch of idealism may be called for...

#37 angelica

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 06:44 PM

If I don't go to bed right now I'm going to go on and on about Stella Abrera and how she, too, does not fit the image of the standard ballerina and comes from an ethnic background that has been sufficiently marginalized to warrant special attention. Stella has extraordinary talent and technique and deserves a chance to make her mark on the world. And she needs it NOW! Misty has time on her side.

#38 onxmyxtoes

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 05:50 AM

Misty is 29 and Stella is 33. Both of them are around prime age and need opportunities now!

If I don't go to bed right now I'm going to go on and on about Stella Abrera and how she, too, does not fit the image of the standard ballerina and comes from an ethnic background that has been sufficiently marginalized to warrant special attention. Stella has extraordinary talent and technique and deserves a chance to make her mark on the world. And she needs it NOW! Misty has time on her side.



#39 angelica

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 06:04 AM

Misty is 29 and Stella is 33. Both of them are around prime age and need opportunities now!


If I don't go to bed right now I'm going to go on and on about Stella Abrera and how she, too, does not fit the image of the standard ballerina and comes from an ethnic background that has been sufficiently marginalized to warrant special attention. Stella has extraordinary talent and technique and deserves a chance to make her mark on the world. And she needs it NOW! Misty has time on her side.

I didn't realize that Misty is 29. Nevertheless, Stella is definitely the more classical of the two, and has already earned her stripes in the Royal Ballet of New Zealand's production of Sleeping Beauty. I think she's first in line. With Sarah Lane right behind her. However, I would definitely prefer seeing Misty get her chance over Isabella Boylston, who, IMHO, is cutting the line.

#40 FauxPas

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 07:00 PM

I love Misty dearly but she really shines in modern choreography. When grooming principals, ABT really focuses on who can carry the big classical ballets. Currently the two soloists who are being pushed into big classical parts are Heo Seo and Isabella Boylston (unlucky in love, lucky in her career right now! Take that Natalie Portman! - who is the real Black Swan?). Stella has danced the Kudelka "Cinderella" (beautifully) and big parts like Gamzatti and Myrtha and Lilac Fairy but not much else. That scheduled Giselle never came back her way after she returned from her long recovery from injury. Sarah Lane proved she had the right stuff in spades with her Aurora in "Sleeping Beauty" but never got another big role. ABT brought in Cojocaru and Osipova (with Semionova probably taking the role in the future) taking the opportunity to repeat the role away from her. This season, like Abrera, Lane has been relegated to third or fourth casts with few new roles. Sarah seems to be the go-to girl for the peasant pas de deux or one of the wilis or odalisques but she has stalled right there. Riccetto has realized she is never making principal and is taking time off to explore other horizons.

So the favored soloists marked for promotion are Seo and Boylston. Stella and Sarah are just marking time.

#41 angelica

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 01:18 AM

So the favored soloists marked for promotion are Seo and Boylston. Stella and Sarah are just marking time.

This is very wrong-headed of ABT. See Macaulay's review of Le Corsaire in the New York Times. Even he is coming around to Sarah and Stella.. Seo and Boylston don't hold a candle to them and Sarah and Stella deserve their chance at greatness.

#42 mimsyb

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 07:06 AM

I've been a bit on the fence about Sarah Lane recently, but after seeing her Gulnare last night everything about her said "ballerina"! She was so pure in her technique, believable beyond a doubt in her characterization, and her pas de deux work was assured and strong. (a small kudo to Saveliev there also!). Suddenly she seems less limited, more expansive in her dancing. And also appears to be enjoying herself on stage too. She has no where to go but up! She has earned it and deserves it! Brava!
Paloma began slowly for me, but got better as the night went on. Medora is a good role for her. And if David's "swash" doesn't "buckle" in the same way as the miraculous Marcello, he remains a formidable technician and enjoyable to watch. Simkin, again, splendid and amazing. But so too was Gennadi as Lankedem. Despite the utter silliness and "politically incorrectness" of this ballet, it still has some wonderful dance moments, and they are to be savored. All were fine, but the night belonged to Sarah!

#43 MRR

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 08:36 AM


So the favored soloists marked for promotion are Seo and Boylston. Stella and Sarah are just marking time.

This is very wrong-headed of ABT. See Macaulay's review of Le Corsaire in the New York Times. Even he is coming around to Sarah and Stella.. Seo and Boylston don't hold a candle to them and Sarah and Stella deserve their chance at greatness.


I think Hee Seo can hold up to Abrera and Lane....in the right role. She broke my heart as Juliet, and I know a lot of people on this board expressed praise for her Tatiana in Onegin. But I could never see her as a Gamzatti, Kitri, Odile, Manon, etc. I think Seo can be very, very lovely, but I doubt her versatility (and I say this is someone who enjoys her dancing but hasn't seen much of her beyond R&J).

#44 FauxPas

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 08:49 AM

Seo was an exquisite Giselle this year and a very promising Nikiya. Everyone loves her Juliet and the reports of her Onegin have been favorable. Her model and idol is Julie Kent. She is a lyrical ballerina, period. Nothing wrong with that but the Gamzatti this year showed Hee's limitations. Misty also didn't excel as Gamzatti though she may improve with repetition (dancing next to sputnik Ivan Vasiliev is another challenge). Isabella Boylston's Gamzatti improved mightily when she got a second crack at it subbing for Osipova. Boylston is strong and I think deserves the opportunities that have been given her recently. Actually the best Gamzatti besides Osipova and Murphy was Simone Messmer who exuded ballerina authority and technical security. She seemed a rounded and mature artist. I think that Simone should get a chance at Odette-Odile next season.

#45 vipa

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 10:52 AM

Interesting opinions all around. We all have our favorites. I favor Abrera and Lane. However I think that most likely all of theses ladies, including Copeland will be relegated to, in Kevin McKenzie's words "flagship soloists and jr. ballerinas."


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