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Misty Copeland - Divided ViewsWas, ABT on Tour - Casting for Austrailia


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#31 abatt

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 07:04 AM

Graf danced at Ailey for a few years then retired due to injuriies.  After about 2 years, she returned to Ailey and came out of retirement because her injuries had healed.  Most recently, she had significant back surgery and has been out of Ailey since April 2014.  Not sure if or when she will return to the stage.  Based on her history of significant injuries, I can't really dispute NYCB's unwillingness to take a chance on her.  Once you have a long history of illness or injury, NYCB does not go out of its way to hire you (see Kathryn Morgan).



#32 Plisskin

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 07:12 AM

I was in Payless earlier this year and there was a special kiosk with Misty's Payless ballet and tap shoes. Their were 3 African American girls crowded around it (and from their dress I assume they were ballet students) and I overheard them gushing about Misty, how much they want to be like her, etc. Incidents like these makes me see how much her self promotion has been inspiring a lot of young, black girls, to take up classical ballet. I think more ballet dancers should welcome the media like Misty and Hallberg have. Maybe ballet in the U.S. would be less of an art form seen as elitist and elusive. That's one thing I admire about how ballet is seen in Russia.



#33 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 07:27 AM

I was in Payless earlier this year and there was a special kiosk with Misty's Payless ballet and tap shoes. Their were 3 African American girls crowded around it (and from their dress I assume they were ballet students) and I overheard them gushing about Misty, how much they want to be like her, etc. Incidents like these makes me see how much her self promotion has been inspiring a lot of young, black girls, to take up classical ballet. I think more ballet dancers should welcome the media like Misty and Hallberg have. Maybe ballet in the U.S. would be less of an art form seen as elitist and elusive. That's one thing I admire about how ballet is seen in Russia.

Yep, it is ironic that perhaps the most prominent  evangelist for ballet in America is someone that many balletomanes don't see as worthy of carrying the message. 

 

Stranger things have happened.



#34 abatt

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 07:34 AM

She's worthy or carrying the message.  She is a very fine soloist, particularly in modern ballets. I don't think anyone here is disputing that she is a fine soloist. The issue is that McKenzie appears to think that being a ballet "evangelist" should translate into casting for principal roles, although others at the soloist level appear to be more deserving of being cast. 

 

Casting is like a zero sum game for the dancers.

 

Also, the use of the term "evangelist" is misleading here.  I assume Misty was compensated by Payless for the use of her name/image, so this is as much about economic profit as about spreading the joy of ballet as far as the Payless deal goes. Nothing wrong with making a little extra $$$ to supplement the ABT salary.



#35 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:14 AM

Misty has lots of endorsements, for which she is most assuredly well compensated.  

 

But she doesn't just sell products OR herself. This woman has done scores of interviews in black media and has appeared in countless dance studios preaching and teaching about ballet.

 

I would love it if some other black woman  like Precious Adams was to become a star dancer because her mere presence turns the notion of how a beautiful dancer is supposed to look on it's head. 

 

When Adams did her Aurora variation at Lausanne,  the act of simply wearing dark, flesh-colored tights when everyone else wore white, was downright subversive. 

 

But alas, Precious is just beginning her career.

 

And I wonder what made her decide on ENB when she had expressed interest in NBC and The Dutch National Ballet?



#36 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:20 AM

Graf danced at Ailey for a few years then retired due to injuriies.  After about 2 years, she returned to Ailey and came out of retirement because her injuries had healed.  Most recently, she had significant back surgery and has been out of Ailey since April 2014.  Not sure if or when she will return to the stage.  Based on her history of significant injuries, I can't really dispute NYCB's unwillingness to take a chance on her.  Once you have a long history of illness or injury, NYCB does not go out of its way to hire you (see Kathryn Morgan).

If she was so physically broken down, why would Ailey want her? I would think she would be unemployable anywhere doing any style of dance. And why would ABT say they were turning her down because  she was too tall, not because she was too physically fragile? 



#37 Plisskin

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:26 AM

She's worthy or carrying the message.  She is a very fine soloist, particularly in modern ballets. I don't think anyone here is disputing that she is a fine soloist. The issue is that McKenzie appears to think that being a ballet "evangelist" should translate into casting for principal roles, although others at the soloist level appear to be more deserving of being cast. 

 

Casting is like a zero sum game for the dancers.

 

Also, the use of the term "evangelist" is misleading here.  I assume Misty was compensated by Payless for the use of her name/image, so this is as much about economic profit as about spreading the joy of ballet as far as the Payless deal goes. Nothing wrong with making a little extra $$$ to supplement the ABT salary.

True, but then, when can Misty appear in a classical principal role without taking it away from someone more "deserving"? Lane, for instance, has danced in more classical principal roles than Copeland and they were promoted to soloist at the same time.



#38 abatt

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:42 AM

Alicia Graf did a lot to raise the profile of the Ailey company, I think.  The reviews, expecially in the NY Times, of her performances were always very positive, sometimes ecstatic. I'm pretty sure that a number of years ago, the NY Times listed her performances in its top ten end of year roundup as among the most pleasurable dancegoing performances of the year.  She has a skill set - a classically trained ballet dancer - - which most of the Ailey women lack.  Although Ailey is a "modern" company that does not perform on pointe, Graf just looks  better than almost any other Ailey women in the choreography she is assigned to perform. In addition to her high skill level, her proportions are awe inspiring.  In addition, she has beautifully arched feet and a gorgeously flexible back. Sadly, the same cannot be said of a lot of the other Ailey ladies. The difference is palpable on stage.  That's why, among other reasons, they took a chance on Graf despite her history of illness/injury.  She is capable of a much higher level of dancing than almost any of the other women in the Ailey company.

 

Personally, once I learned that Graf was injured, I decided to skip their engagement at the Koch in June.  If Graf doesn't return for the December 2014 Ailey seasons at City Center, I will probably take a break from seeing the company.  They do post their casting in advance.



#39 Plisskin

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:46 AM

I think the problem isn't Misty taking a role away from someone more "deserving" (which I agree that there are better dancers in the soloist rank, most notably Stella Abrera), but the complete lack of opportunities for soloists and corp de ballet dancers to dance in these roles. In companies like the Mariinsky, Bolshoi, or the Royal Ballet it is not an anomaly to see soloists and corp de ballet members dancing lead principal roles like it is for ABT.

If it wasn't such an anomaly I think people wouldn't be so hard on dancers they consider "less than" being given a chance. But then, that opens up a whole other can of worms with ABT like the lack of adequate coaching. If Misty had proper coaching to fix her issues, would she be considered a dancer only accomplished in modern works? It makes me wonder.



#40 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:10 AM

In that infamous 2007 NY Times article about the lack of black ballerinas, Delores Brown said that she feels  heartbroken when she speaks to talented black ballerinas who tell her they'd rather go to Broadway or a modern company than keep feeling they have to be twice as good to get half as far in the ballet world.

 

Are some of these women incorrectly assuming that they are being left behind because of their race when it really is due to a lack of talent?  Yes.  

 

Are all black female classical dancers with racial grievances about the ballet establishment paranoid whiners? No way.There are just too many of them.  Most of these women don't want to be victims, they just want to dance. 

 

As to the evidently unending highway robbery committed against Stella Abrera, well why hasn't another company snapped her up?!



#41 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:15 AM

Alicia Graf did a lot to raise the profile of the Ailey company, I think.  The reviews, expecially in the NY Times, of her performances were always very positive, sometimes ecstatic. I'm pretty sure that a number of years ago, the NY Times listed her performances in its top ten end of year roundup as among the most pleasurable dancegoing performances of the year.  She has a skill set - a classically trained ballet dancer - - which most of the Ailey women lack.  Although Ailey is a "modern" company that does not perform on pointe, Graf just looks  better than almost any other Ailey women in the choreography she is assigned to perform. In addition to her high skill level, her proportions are awe inspiring.  In addition, she has beautifully arched feet and a gorgeously flexible back. Sadly, the same cannot be said of a lot of the other Ailey ladies. The difference is palpable on stage.  That's why, among other reasons, they took a chance on Graf despite her history of illness/injury.  She is capable of a much higher level of dancing than almost any of the other women in the Ailey company.

 

Personally, once I learned that Graf was injured, I decided to skip their engagement at the Koch in June.  If Graf doesn't return for the December 2014 Ailey seasons at City Center, I will probably take a break from seeing the company.  They do post their casting in advance.

I greatly admire Alicia Graff Mack.  But in all the articles I've read about her, I've never gotten the feeling that she felt she "saved" Ailey by joining the company. 



#42 nysusan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:15 AM

I think the problem isn't Misty taking a role away from someone more "deserving" (which I agree that there are better dancers in the soloist rank, most notably Stella Abrera), but the complete lack of opportunities for soloists and corp de ballet dancers to dance in these roles. In companies like the Mariinsky, Bolshoi, or the Royal Ballet it is not an anomaly to see soloists and corp de ballet members dancing lead principal roles like it is for ABT.

If it wasn't such an anomaly I think people wouldn't be so hard on dancers they consider "less than" being given a chance. But then, that opens up a whole other can of worms with ABT like the lack of adequate coaching. If Misty had proper coaching to fix her issues, would she be considered a dancer only accomplished in modern works? It makes me wonder.

 

Exactly. Misty didn't take the opportunity away from Sarah or Stella because THEY WERE NEVER GOING TO GET IT. Mckenzie's actions have made it very,very clear that he doesn't see those dancers as O/O. I'm sure he doesn't see Misty as O/O either, but she forced his hand by going out and developing her own following, by creating demand. In addition to the appearances & Payless deal she has been a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance 5 times so far this season. 5 times! Do you know how big that audience is? McKenzie didn't need a small O/O, Hammoudi is a big guy. If he hadn't given her the O/O he would have given a second performance to Part or Hererra. It wouldn't have gone to Stella or Sarah.

 

Also, I think Misty is quite fine in terre a terre classical work. She was a good Gamzatti (barring the performance just coming back from that horrendous leg injury) and an excellent Gulnare. I just don't think she's particularly suited to O/O, but with the right coaching, who knows?

 

In any case, most role assignments aren't based solely on talent or suitability for the role. Just look at Seo's Fouettes, or Boyleston's gangly elbows . How much were those role assignments and promotions based on powerful patrons or one man's taste in dancers? I admire Misty for taking her future into her own hands.



#43 mimsyb

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:23 AM

Let's all take a deep breath and await her reviews.  Has anyone actually seen her performance as O/O?  I have yet to see a review.  Only comments about why she shouldn't be doing this role.  I'm trying to keep an open mind about it all.



#44 vipa

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:24 AM

In that infamous 2007 NY Times article about the lack of black ballerinas, Delores Brown said that she feels  heartbroken when she speaks to talented black ballerinas who tell her they'd rather go to Broadway or a modern company than keep feeling they have to be twice as good to get half as far in the ballet world.

 

Are some of these women incorrectly assuming that they are being left behind because of their race when it really is due to a lack of talent?  Yes.  

 

Are all black female classical dancers with racial grievances about the ballet establishment paranoid whiners? No way.There are just too many of them.  Most of these women don't want to be victims, they just want to dance. 

 

As to the evidently unending highway robbery committed against Stella Abrera, well why hasn't another company snapped her up?!

In respect to questioning why Abrera hadn't been snapped up by another company, we have no idea if she's gotten offers from or sought out other companies.  I wouldn't assume that she's unhappy in ABT.  



#45 abatt

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:33 AM

I doubt that the Hamoudi - Copeland performance will be reviewed in the press, as it is buried in a Wed matinee late in the run.  I think they decided to teach the role to a short in house ballerina because they now have two short Siegfrieds (Cornejo and Simkin), but only one small in house O/O (Boylston).  If they are truly serious about continuing to let Herman dance the lead in SL, they need to find him an inhouse partner.  For two years they tried to set him up with Cojocaru, and for two years Cojocaru has cancelled.  The first time, the cancellation was early enough for them to get Kochetkova to fill in.  The second time, the cancellation was too late in the game, and Herman got screwed out of his SL performance. Certainly, they could have fixed Hamoudi up with Part or anyone else because he is so tall he can partner anyone. The goal, I think, was a longer term goal of teaching it to a short woman so that Herman, in future seasons, might have a partner in SL without looking to other companies.

 

I'm sure Stella's reasons for staying at ABT are good ones.  Financial stability, good benefits, and the ability to continue living in NYC.  In addition, leaving ould have meant separation from Sascha unless they went elsewhere together. When Sascha returned from his stint in Europe and came back to ABT, he mentioned in interviews that the separation from his wife made him  unhappy, and that it was more important for them to be together than to continue chasing after lead roles in Europe.  I've seen them together on the Upper West Side, and they seem very much in love.




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