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Promotions - Hee Seo and Alexandre Hammoudi

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NEW PROMOTIONS ANNOUNCED AT AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE

HEE SEO PROMOTED TO PRINCIPAL DANCER AND

ALEXANDRE HAMMOUDI PROMOTED TO SOLOIST

7/6/2012 - Hee Seo has been promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre and Alexandre Hammoudi has been promoted to Soloist. The promotions, which become effective immediately, were announced today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.

Hee Seo was born in Seoul, South Korea, and began her ballet training in her hometown at the Sun-hwa Arts Middle School. She was awarded a three-year full scholarship to continue her training at the Universal Ballet Academy in Washington, D. C. In 2003, Seo won a scholarship to train at the John Cranko Ballet Academy in Stuttgart. She is the recipient of the 2003 Prix de Lausanne Award and the 2003 Grand Prix at the Youth American Grand Prix in New York.

Seo joined the ABT Studio Company in 2004. She joined the main Company as an apprentice in May 2005, became a member of the corps de ballet in March 2006 and was promoted to Soloist in August 2010. Her repertoire with the Company includes Polyhymnia in Apollo, Nikiya and Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the title role and Zulma in Giselle, Olympia in Lady of the Camellias, Natalia in Alexei Ratmansky’s On the Dnieper, Tatiana in Onegin, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the Lilac Fairy, the Fairy of Sincerity and Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de trois, the Polish Princess and a big swan in Swan Lake, the Sylph in La Sylphide, Thaïs Pas de Deux and roles in Ballo della Regina, Birthday Offering, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Dark Elegies, Duets, The Leaves Are Fading, Seven Sonatas and Thirteen Diversions.

Alexandre Hammoudi is a native of Paris, France and began his training at age seven with Max Bozzoni of the Paris Opera Ballet. He continued his training at the Academy of Dance Salle Playel in Paris from 1996-1999 and subsequently at the English National Ballet School in London and the School of American Ballet. He has won numerous international competitions, including the Trophee Arabesque and the Biarritz Dance Competition. At age16, Hammoudi became a member of the National Ballet of Cuba and toured South America with that company.

Hammoudi joined the ABT Studio Company in 2002, joined the main Company as an apprentice in April 2003 and became a member of the corps de ballet in April 2004. His repertory with ABT includes the Rajah in La Bayadère, Pyotr and the Lead Highlander in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Bright Stream, Lead Mazurka/Czardas in Coppélia, Ivan in Ratmansky's Firebird, the Jailer in Manon, the Nutcracker Prince in Ratmansky's The Nutcracker, Olga's Fiancé in On the Dnieper, Romeo and Paris in Romeo and Juliet, the Spanish Prince and a Fairy Knight in The Sleeping Beauty, Orion and Apollo in Sylvia, and roles in Black Tuesday, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Brief Fling, Clear, Continuo, Désir, Duo Concertant, Glow-Stop, The Leaves Are Fading, Overgrown Path and Private Light. He created the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky's The Nutcracker as well as roles in Everything Doesn't Happen at Once, From Here On Out, Pretty Good Year, Seven Sonatas and Thirteen Diversions.

American Ballet Theatre’s 2012 Spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House continues through July 7. For more information, visit www.abt.org.

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Hee Seo and Alexandre Hammoudi in "Romeo and Juliet." Photo by Rosalie O'Connor.

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Wonderful news! I feel so fortunate to have seen them in Romeo & Juliet this season. Congratulations to Ms. Seo and Mr. Hammoudi!

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WOWEEE!!!! I've loved Hee Seo for a long time...well, ever since she graduated from DC's own Kirov Academy of Ballet. (wink-wink) Hammoudi was, to me, one of the shining lights of the recent Firebird. Congratulations to two gorgeous, elegant dancers! smile.png

What a year this has been for promos for so many of my personal faves. Obraztsova, Kondaurova, Ould-Braham, now Hee Seo. Let's keep this party rollin'! (NYCB, did you hear that? Lauren King to soloist, huh?)

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Well any "from within" promotion is to be applauded at this point!! Hopefully the promo gives Hammoudi some more studio time to concentrate on his interpretations because I think there is really something there, he just needs stronger coaching (hopefully ABT can provide it....). This still doesn't fix the male principal problem, but I suppose it begins addressing it very slightly and isn't just a bandaid like all the male guests this season.

So Semionova takes Wiles' vacancy, and Seo is stepping up as the go to lyrical ballerina for when Julie Kent retires. Unfortunately I don't see any of the other soloist women moving up for awhile now, depending on the rest of the principal women (how much time Murphy devotes to NZ, what Irina and Max decide to do, etc.). Poor Stella

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..... Unfortunately I don't see any of the other soloist women moving up for awhile now, depending on the rest of the principal women (how much time Murphy devotes to NZ, what Irina and Max decide to do, etc.). Poor Stella

I agree on Stella but, alas, her 'time for promotion' was ca-2006 (before she & Radetsky took long hiatus)...back in the days when she was annouced as Giselle, then it never happened. Sarah, Yuriko and some others seem to be victims of emploi. Daniil Simkin may be the one to break the curse of the shorter dancers, most likely next season. For the women soloists in general (short or otherwise), I bet that we won't be waiting for more than a year or so on Isabella Boylston's principal promo. Misty will be next, depending on her progress after the current long hiatus. But I'd bet the farm on Isabella, sooner than later.

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Even though I think that both Seo and Hammoudi need significant improvement, this should improve morale within the ABT ranks, especially the corps., Both of them came up through the ABT corps and are not hired guns from other ballet companies. Of course, these promotions are no consolation to people who felt they should have been promoted instead of these two dancers.

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Very happy for them both, especially Hammoudi who has toiled long and hard in the corps. abatt is exactly right that this should improve morale in the corps. I do think Hammoudi has a lot of work to do with his consistency. Here's hoping that he gets the help he needs to smooth out all of the rough edges.

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I agree on Stella but, alas, her 'time for promotion' was ca-2006 (before she & Radetsky took long hiatus)...back in the days when she was annouced as Giselle, then it never happened.

I couldn't agree more with Natalia on this. I have long admired Stella and was immediately drawn to her when I first began attending ABT performances, but I think the ship has sailed on a potential promotion. While she is a beautiful dancer, she hasn't always been the most consistent or technically secure (I am basing this only on my past eight years of attending ABT performances). She is generally very lyrical and graceful, but she sometimes seems to get stiff in the neck, shoulders, and face when presented with challenging elements. I realize these criticisms are similiar to those leveled at Part when she was a soloist, and she has now risen to the challenge and blossomed as a principal. I wish the same could have happened for Stella, but I fear now that the timing just isn’t right.

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The soloist I'd really like to see promoted is Simone Messmer, who I find a fascinating and powerful dancer.

It doesn't seem like a promotion is in the cards for Maria Riccetto either. Lovely, lyrical, pristine dancing. I sure will miss her this coming year. I hope she returns!

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So Semionova takes Wiles' vacancy, and Seo is stepping up as the go to lyrical ballerina for when Julie Kent retires. Unfortunately I don't see any of the other soloist women moving up for awhile now, depending on the rest of the principal women (how much time Murphy devotes to NZ, what Irina and Max decide to do, etc.). Poor Stella

I couldn't agree more with the above statement. I think that with Herrera's diminishing technique and Murphy out more (we don't know how this will work out) and the Irina factor added in Boylston is a sure thing for a promotion eventually as the strong dancer go to girl.

I feel bad for Stella - a quality dancer who could have been made a star. She is the best and most versatile of all the soloists. Also Sarah Lane is given very few opportunities unless she is needed by a guy! Cases in point - Theme & Variations, which is wickedly challenging and she does very well, she has been cast in to allow Cornejo to do. Same thing with Sleeping Beauty (Reyes was out injured so Lane did it with Cornejo). Again a fine performance, the only criticism I read was that she smiled too much. Nutcracker with Gorak and Flames of Paris pas with Simkin are two more examples. Her only hope for promotion is if Reyes goes and the AD doesn't see fit to hire a short principal from the outside.

I congratulate the promotions, but I lament the unfortunate waste of talent.

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I'm totally gutted for Stella. sad.png

I'm not at all surprised by the Hammoudi promotion, but from what I saw in the R&J dress rehearsal, he still needs A LOT of work.

I also expected Seo to be promoted to principal eventually, but I didn't expect it to be so soon! She also needs to work on her bravura technique, in my opinion.

Well, here's for hoping that they prove me wrong, and prove to be totally worthy of their promotions!

Based on this decision, I think Boylston will be up for principal next (and Simkin)...the management seems to be content to leave the senior soloists where they are...

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I think Hee Seo's promotion is in direct correlation with the impending retirement of Julie Kent as few ballerinas can come close to filling her shoes in the roles that she dances

That being said, such wonderful news for the company! I can't wait to see the development continue for both as well as various other soloists and corps members!

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I have expected the news of Seo's promotion to come with some resitance, but I would just like to say that Seo's MET debut in Romeo and Juliet was honestly one of the greatest performances I've seen from a Juliet (now, I'm only 19, so I haven't seen that many!) The tragic pathos, the musicality, the liquid bourees, and those exquisitely tapered legs and feet just broke my heart. Congratulations to her, and I hope she can replicate that standard in other ballets and roles.

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I have expected the news of Seo's promotion to come with some resitance, but I would just like to say that Seo's MET debut in Romeo and Juliet was honestly one of the greatest performances I've seen from a Juliet (now, I'm only 19, so I haven't seen that many!) The tragic pathos, the musicality, the liquid bourees, and those exquisitely tapered legs and feet just broke my heart. Congratulations to her, and I hope she can replicate that standard in other ballets and roles.

I, too, was transfixed by Hee Seo's performance in R&J, then thoroughly disappointed with her bland debut in Giselle. Her Tatiana was okay but not great. I think her reputation was sealed by those R&J performances but she has not yet lived up to the promise she showed in that ballet.

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I'm always happy to see dancers get promotions but I wonder when others will be recognized for their efforts. Seems to me that Joseph Gorak has had a good many successes and it's time for him to be recognized with an upgrade in status.

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I too am thrilled to see dancers being promoted, and I really like Hammoudi; I think he has good stage presence. I'd vaguely thought he was a soloist already. I think he has great potential for becoming principal. And as much as my heart breaks for those soloists being passed over, I can see why Seo was chosen; there's something really distinctive about her lyrical qualities. Though I didn't see her R&J, I've heard that that it was marvelous - and, that she received long and extensive coaching for the role that she didn't have for her Giselle. Given time and coaching her Giselle may grow to be as great.

With my preference for dancers I can always pick out of the lineup for their unique style, I'm going to cast my vote for Simone Messmer to make principal someday. I agree Boylston is probably next, and she's strong and versatile, but I'd rather watch Simone and wish she got more opportunities. And pray for Sarah Lane to be able to make the leap to the next level; when she's on, she can bring down the house, but I've also seen her falter. If she can develop real chemistry with Cornejo she'd be the clear fallback choice for whenever Xiomara isn't available. I wish them luck!

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Simkin is likely the next promotion to principal status and then after that Boylston. Giving Hammoudi roles like Romeo and Piotr in "The Bright Stream" and keeping him in the corps is rather awkward. On the other hand, I saw Hammoudi as Piotr and he partnered Part rather well. However, in his solos he listed to one side in pirouettes and turns and looked technically insecure. At other times I have found Hammoudi's partnering downright scary. Hammoudi at times has a goofy look about him onstage (his mouth assumes crooked positions). He has the charisma, height, look and strength but he needs a LOT of work in the studio.

If Seo's first Giselle was bland she has grown immeasurably in the role and was heartbreaking this year with Cory Stearns. The Nikiya was a bit stiff but had lovely promising qualities that will grow with repetition. Seo projects a spiritual aura onstage and there is something unique and special about her. I just hope she can stay uninjured and solidify her technique.

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My most vivid memory of Hammoudi's scary partnering was when he nearly dropped Simone Messmer during Lady of the Camelias. The guy needs A LOT of improvement.

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this is an interview with Sarah Lane, in which there are several clips of her doing Giselle.

it was interesting to me to see this

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flowers.gif for Ms. Seo and Mr. Hammoudi.

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