Plisskin

Simone Messmer (ABT Soloist) Leaving to San Francisco

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Simone Messmer is leaving ABT for a soloist position at San Francisco Ballet. She gave an interview with Time Out Magazine on why she decided to leave. The full Interview is here: http://www.timeout.com/newyork/dance/american-ballet-theatre-soloist-simone-messmer-talks-about-her-decision-to-leave

A few interesting quotes from Simone:

Time Out New York: Why are you leaving ABT?
Simone Messmer:
In the full-length classicals, my rep has gone as far as it can go. There’s only so much you can do with a two-minute variation—you can continue to play with it, but after a while it gets a little dry. I do a lot of rep in the fall [season], and I’ve worked a lot with choreographers. But for some reason, maybe because the rep shows don’t sell as well as the full-lengths, they are not considered at an equal level as doing a Swan Lake. So getting promoted or moving up or getting more—you have to get those ballets, and they won’t give them to me.


Time Out New York: I would trade an “exciting” performance for people just trying something and dancing differently.

Simone Messmer: Dancing differently—I want to go to the ballet and see ballet. I don’t want to go to the ballet and see gymnastics. Again, it’s a taste thing. I wish that ABT would put validity in the theater part of American Ballet Theatre; we are the only company that has all of this rep and the possibility to really make those theater things amazing and fresh again. And I’m an actress. There needs to be more focus on what you say when you point your foot and what you say in your transition steps. We just don’t have the rehearsal time to break it down. I hope to come back here one day, but right now it’s not a place where I can be an artist or grow.

Time Out New York: But when you joined, the company was different. How did it change?

Simone Messmer: How do you explain Nina? How do you explain Alex? And Julio [bocca]? They used to invite me to warm up with them backstage before their shows, because they knew I was going to warm up anyway, and they knew I took Willy’s class. Now everybody’s out for their own, and you can’t fault them because that’s the way things are going these days, but they used to put the effort into that—into knowing the company and in showing the company how they do it and what they do to get there. And you know, Irina and Max, always… [irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky]. When people started getting injured my second or third year in the company, they were the ones that went in the office and said, “Simone can do the pas de trois” [in Swan Lake].

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Another one to SFB?!!! There's definitely something in the water.

I'm not familiar with Messmer's dancing, and it's not looking like there are many videos of her - Is there anything available on the Web?

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I found this one on Youtube. It's contemporary:

It's really hard finding video's on ABT dancers.

Edit: I honestly wouldn't be shocked it the next dancers to leave would be Stella Abrera and Sasha. There's been multiple dancers talking about how low the company morale is, ABT has changed for the worse etc. Time for a change in AD?

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I can't say I care for the choreography here, but the fact that she's (presumably) interested in contemporary ballet too, is going to be a major plus for SFB, since all principals are expected to take part in all ballets. And the SFB repertory is varied.

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Many thanks for posting, Plisskin!

I am very excited about this move: of all of the non-guest dancers I've seen in my last few visits to NYC, Messmer was, by far, my favorite, and she's even more reason to get to San Francisco for the Ratmansky program in 2014.

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Many thanks for posting, Plisskin!

I am very excited about this move: of all of the non-guest dancers I've seen in my last few visits to NYC, Messmer was, by far, my favorite, and she's even more reason to get to San Francisco for the Ratmansky program in 2014.

Yes, I guess Helene really will have to make it to SF next year. ;)

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Many thanks for posting, Plisskin!

I am very excited about this move: of all of the non-guest dancers I've seen in my last few visits to NYC, Messmer was, by far, my favorite, and she's even more reason to get to San Francisco for the Ratmansky program in 2014.

Messmer is one of my favorites! Big loss for ABT--Wonderful news for San Francisco. I hope she has many great opportunities there.

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Wow that interview is kind of sad. It's good she's going to SFB and starting fresh, but it sounds as if company morale has deteriorated rapidly from the recent exit interviews.

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She said a lot of things Irina Dvorovenka in her last interview. ABT has a problem.

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This part of the interview is interesting - I like to hear about the details, the nuts and bolts, as it were:


Time Out New York: What rank are you going in as?
Simone Messmer: Soloist. Their rep is great. There’s all the Balanchine, a lot of new choreographers, which always works well for me, and enough full-lengths that there will be time to work on them. I have 13 weeks of rehearsal. Actual rehearsal!

Time Out New York: Did you audition for other companies?
Simone Messmer: No. I looked at the rep. I looked at who was running the company. I looked at the staff and in all honesty, I’m a New Yorker. I do not want to live in many other places, so San Francisco was the one place. I sent a small reel; they called me when I was in Beijing and said, “Come now.” I ended up flying from Beijing straight to San Francisco. And because Beijing’s pollution is so bad, my wisdom tooth got infected; I ended up having emergency oral surgery and having two teeth removed and my jaw scraped 12 hours before my audition. The dentist was like, “Don’t move for two weeks.” I was like, “Okay.” [Laughs] So I did my audition 12 hours later on only ibuprofen. I looked like I had been punched in the face. I couldn’t talk. I was like a chipmunk. It was the worst-case scenario. And 17 hours of jet lag on top of everything.

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Thanks for sharing the article. Simone was really under-used at the company, so I hope we will get to see her in bigger roles when she comes to NY with SFB.

Did think the singling out of Isabella Boylston and Leann Underwood was a bit tactless, but what can you do?

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"I think there’s a soloist from the Paris Opera going to San Francisco. And a boy soloist from the Bolshoi." Well I've been wondering about the male principal situation at SFB. They need at least one more danseur among the soloists. Any idea who this "boy soloist" is?

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This is definitely sad news but I'm happy that she'll hopefully get bigger and better roles at SF. I'm so glad I got to see her one last time last week in SL. Another negative interview for ABT. Geez.

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I was actually told that this would happen awhile ago, but it was unofficial. I haven't had a chance to read the interview or the other posts here, but will try to do so. I can offer my limited opinion having seen her perform about ten times at the most.


She Fascinates Me !


I consider her totally one of a kind. Perhaps she is a 'personality' artist. It's possible that ABT simply decided that she didn't fit the 'criteria' or 'mold' to do the major roles. I think that if she ever did Odette/Odile we would have been discussing it for the next year. It would possible be unlike any Swan Lake that we've seen before. This is not an impossible idea.


I think that there is a definite place for great artists who are hard to define and who work outside the box. I'm very sorry to see her leave ABT, both for her fans and for herself, considering the amount of time she devoted, but hopefully at SFB she'll get a chance to spread her wings.

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She Fascinates Me !
I consider her totally one of a kind. Perhaps she is a 'personality' artist. It's possible that ABT simply decided that she didn't fit the 'criteria' or 'mold' to do the major roles. I think that if she ever did Odette/Odile we would have been discussing it for the next year. It would possible be unlike any Swan Lake that we've seen before. This is not an impossible idea.
I think that there is a definite place for great artists who are hard to define and who work outside the box. I'm very sorry to see her leave ABT, both for her fans and for herself, considering the amount of time she devoted, but hopefully at SFB she'll get a chance to spread her wings.

A nice appraisal, Buddy. I hope she does find SFB to be a good fit. It seems that the 2014 season is going to be full of new surprises - for the audience and the company both.

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Thanks, pherank.


It's hard to read this interview and not get emotionally hung up. Simone Messmer takes her career and her art form very seriously. Because of her amazing talent, sincerity and love this would seem totally understandable. She says that she wants to grow, do her best and be appreciated. Fair enough. I, for one, feel that she deserves this.


I think that Gia Kourlas' introduction sums up a lot of folks' feelings.


"This incredible American Ballet Theatre soloist will depart for San Francisco the day after ABT wraps up its Metropolitan Opera House season….She will be missed.


"For years, Simone Messmer has been one of my favorite dancers—not just at American Ballet Theatre, which she joined as an apprentice in 2002, but in the entire dance universe. With distinction, grit and unflinching elegance, she has provided a reason to endure otherwise meaningless ballets, as well as been spectacular in good ones like In the Upper Room, On the Dnieper and Firebird. Even so, she’s been too-often passed over for roles. Following ABT’s Metropolitan Opera House season, Messmer joins San Francisco Ballet; it’s a brave and bold decision, but I’ll miss her profoundly. One consolation is that her first performance with SFB will be in New York this fall. It’s fate."


These are a few of Simone Messmer's comments that stand out for me. 



"I think Kevin [McKenzie] thinks that I’m not as classical as some of his other dancers, which I can see in a sense, but I consider myself very versatile. I continue to work on my technique and really try to push myself…."


"And I’m an actress. There needs to be more focus on what you say when you point your foot and what you say in your transition steps.


"It’s about telling a story and putting yourself out there…. [This is perhaps a key statement. Her identity, her moves and expression may not all be classically fine (maybe they are) but their statement and meaning are powerful.]


" I made a real effort to not compromise in my career and that’s all I can do."



I wish her all the best.

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It's also interesting that the interviewer happens to be the much-maligned Gia Kourlas. Forum members have been writing a lot about her of late.

Yes, bon chance to everyone at SFB and ABT.

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Why did Kourlas put in parenthesis that Messmer cried while giving one of her responses? Was it really necessary to add information about her demeanor, instead of just reporting the response itself? I didn't think it was appropriate.

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Another one to SFB?!!! There's definitely something in the water.

I'm not familiar with Messmer's dancing, and it's not looking like there are many videos of her - Is there anything available on the Web?

Another one? Who was the first?

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Does anyonne know when Messmer's final performance at ABT will be? Since she does not have any lead roles during the final week, it's not possible to discern that info from the ABT calendar.

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Another one to SFB?!!! There's definitely something in the water.

I'm not familiar with Messmer's dancing, and it's not looking like there are many videos of her - Is there anything available on the Web?

Another one? Who was the first?

These discussions are getting all scatterd about on the forums, but what is known for now: Messmer and Mathilde Froustey to SFB, and Messmer herself says that a Bolshoi danseur is headed for SFB, but I've heard no confirmation of that. And I should say that SFB has made no official statements yet.

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Does anyonne know when Messmer's final performance at ABT will be? Since she does not have any lead roles during the final week, it's not possible to discern that info from the ABT calendar.

Messmer says in the article that her last performance will be the last SB (which is also the final ABT performance of the season) when she'll dance the "finger Fairy".

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Another one? Who was the first?

Not another one from ABT: Mathilde Froustey from Paris Opera Ballet, who will take a one-year sabbatical.

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Another one to SFB?!!! There's definitely something in the water.

I'm not familiar with Messmer's dancing, and it's not looking like there are many videos of her - Is there anything available on the Web?

Another one? Who was the first?

These discussions are getting all scatterd about on the forums, but what is known for now: Messmer and Mathilde Froustey to SFB, and Messmer herself says that a Bolshoi danseur is headed for SFB, but I've heard no confirmation of that. And I should say that SFB has made no official statements yet.

Thank you, Pherank. I thought what was meant was someone else from ABT. Phew!

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Another one? Who was the first?

Not another one from ABT: Mathilde Froustey from Paris Opera Ballet, who will take a one-year sabbatical.

And thank you to you, Helene.

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