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Top American companies -- what are they? How many?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 Alexandra

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Posted 09 July 2002 - 11:03 AM

Several recent reviews of Pacific Northwest Ballet referred to it as "one of the top five American companies." I've never read such a list, but thought it an interesting idea.

Let's do it like football teams or tennis seeds -- not "it's a great company, but this is an off year" or "it's still pretty new, but they have a terrific season" but at this very moment, what are the best (however you define best) American companies?

And is there a top five? Or is it a top six, or eight, or four?

What are the top companies -- the cream, the head on a mug of beer, the companies (whether 4 or 6 or 9) that represent The Best in American ballet.

Whether or not you've seen any or all of the companies you've named is immaterial since perception is 9/10 of reality anyway :cool:

#2 BW

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Posted 09 July 2002 - 03:09 PM

OK, I'll stick my cyber neck out and jump in here:

ABT
SFB
NYCB
Boston Ballet
Houston Ballet
PNB
Washington Ballet
and Miami City Ballet

to name the first few that come to mind....

I would have also thought that Pennsylvania Ballet should have made the list as well until I read that they were making a come back...which makes me wonder where they're coming back from. As for Joffrey in Chicago, I'm sorry to say that I don't know much about them currently in the top seeded sense.

Naturally I only know what I read here on Ballet Talk! ;)

#3 Giannina

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Posted 09 July 2002 - 03:36 PM

ABT
NYCB
San Francisco Ballet

I don't see others often enough to rate them but I do enjoy Miami City Ballet a lot.

Giannina

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 06:54 AM

Just bumping this up for those who haven't seen it -- what are the TOP X companies in the U.S.?

#5 Calliope

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 07:04 AM

in no particular order

ABT
NYCB
Pacific Northwest
Miami
San Francisco
and Colorado.

I can't comment on the others as I haven't really seen them but I'd add to the list

Boston
Houston
Ft. Worth

I haven't seen Joffrey since they left NY, but they deserve "honorable mention".

I think my perception comes from reading about most of the companies in either magazines or actual reviews or spotlights.
I have no idea what would define a "top" company other than receipts, as technique to the audience is as varied as it is to the companies themselves.

#6 BW

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 08:45 AM

Good points Calliope! My own perceptions, which are based on real life experiences, are very limited, indeed! I have only seen NYCB and ABT out of this group. I am looking forward to SFB's visiting City Center, though. :)

If I were able to make it to all these other locales, I'd love to attend their performances - from The Joffrey to Washington's, to Colorado's too!

Here is my favorite part of your post:

I have no idea what would define a "top" company other than receipts, as technique to the audience is as varied as it is to the companies themselves.

Ain't it the truth!

#7 cindy

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Posted 18 July 2002 - 07:10 PM

So . . . who would be in the up-and-coming 5 (or so)?

#8 Fraildove

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 06:02 PM

Hi there!

In my opinin,

ABT
NYCB
Washington ballet
Boston Ballet
Houston Ballet

these are my top 5 based on quality of dancers as well as new coreography which keeps ballet alive.

I think that Miami is up an comming, Atlanta has always been strong and Tulsa should not be forgotten.

I have never seen PNB, but by reviews, they seem to be in the top 5.

~Rachel~:) :)

#9 Old Fashioned

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 04:44 PM

My top 5 are:

NYCB
ABT
PNB
SFB
HB

#10 Guest_aes301_*

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 07:11 AM

Hi, I've been reading this list for quite a while but haven't written before. I finally chose this thread to put my 2 cents in if thats ok.

From everything I've seen and simply judging on my personal tastes on quality of dancers/ repertoire/ productions/ style etc.
this would be my top 10 list in this order:

ABT
San Francisco
NYCB
Houston
Joffrey
PNB
Boston
Miami City
Pennsylvania
Washington

Of course it is impossible to do a list like this objectively since all of these companies and the companies no one mentioned have something different to offer. Yes there is a certain level that the company has to be presenting at but its still a very subjective thread.

Anyway thanks to Ballet Alert for maintaining a furum to talk about dance :)

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 08:37 AM

Thanks for putting your 2 cents in! It's very much okay :) Welcome, aes301, and I hope we'll hear from you often.

#12 Tessa

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 11:58 AM

This is tricky, but I'll give it a whirl:

The top tier- NYCB, SFB, ABT

The rest of the top five- Miami, PNB

Just below that: Houston, Boston (they are wildcards due to so many recent changes in leadership)

The rest of the top ten- Pennsylvania, Ballet West, Joffrey

I haven't seen all these companies, so my list is largely based on size, repertoire, and reviews (both formal and informal!), in addition to my own personal observations.

The other companies that I've read about that sound like they have interesting reps. or dancers include Ballet Florida, Cincinnati Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. And it will be interesting to see what happens to Fort Worth-Dallas Ballet with Ben Stevenson at the helm.

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 01:42 PM

Tessa, your top ten is my top ten, although I think I'd organize a bit differently.

I also think there are tiers. ABT and NYCB are both a bit problematic at the moment, but as institutions, they're at the top.

The next group would be:

San Francisco Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Miami City Ballet
Houston Ballet
Boston Ballet

I think what Tessa posted -- that the last two are wildcards because of changes in leadership -- is an important point. It's what separates those five from ABT and NYCB, for me, both of which have survived changes in leadership (I know that point is debatable for some NYCB fans, but the company is still dancing and its repertory is structurally, if not always qualitatively, within its traditions.) SFB is in good shape now -- although it's lost a lot of dancers. And its repertory is turning more and more to contemporary dance and away from ballet. PNB also has an uneven repertory -- and what will it be like under new direction? Miami has the sternest backbone -- it's as Balanchine company, goldarn it, and that's what it is -- but has financial woes.

Boston isn't quite a wildcard, because Nissinen's first new season has been announced, and it looks like it's going to be SFB East. Whether Boston will go for having their Russian-tinged repertory replaced with lots of New Now Dance and European faux classics (the Van Dantzig "Romeo and Juliet") is still an open question. Houston is wide open. Whatever one thinks of Stevenson's ballets, they're popular at home, and if someone comes in who wants to replace them with My Very Own Ballets, that could turn out to be a problem.

Ballet West has been left out of these discussions -- it's a quiet company now; it doesn't tour as much as the other biggies. But its budget is in the same range, it has good dancers, and its repertory is similar to Boston''s. I think the Joffrey should be in the Top Ten too -- as much for its history as its reality, although I think the company is on its way up rather than down. It takes a long time to recover from something like Billboards :)

The next group for me would be Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Colorado Ballets. Companies with big ballet repertories that are popular at home, but don't get out much, and don't have a consistently top level of dancers.

Then you have Oregon Ballet Theatre (also a wildcad, as its raison d'etre is packing it in), Washington Ballet (on the way up in terms of budget, but Webre is not, in my estimation, a good choreographer), San Jose-Silicon Valley (if the money holds, they'll be a player), Ballet Arizona (all they need is money; but Ib Andersen has turned that company around in two years, and IS a good choreographer), Milwaukee Ballet (had a recent personality change, going from a Saturday Night Out repertory to a contemporary ballet rep) and Carolina Ballet, which is being built very solidly, although I remain to be convinced about Weiss as a choreographer.

Apologies if I've forgotten one. I can't judge Oakland and Tulsa; I've neither seen nor read enough about them. There are also some small groups, like Ballet Florida and Ballet Austin, but I don't think they're into the major leagues yet.

#14 Farrell Fan

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 05:14 PM

This is all very interesting, and certainly nobody would disagree about NYCB, ABT, and SFB (by which I mean Suzanne Farrell Ballet, of course). But seriously, why hasn't Dance Theatre of Harlem been mentioned? I don't really know the current state of that company -- I haven't seen them in a couple of years. Can they have fallen that far out of favor? Since its inception, I've considered DTH one of our premier companies.

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 05:21 PM

Good question about Dance Theatre of Harlem, FF. I haven't seen the company in New York in ages, but from their yearly appearances in DC, they're going through a decidedly bad patch. I know several people who used to love the company and simply won't go to it any longer. Bad new repertory, poorly done Balanchine (which they used to do beautifully), and the technical standard of the company has slipped also. The company has been struggling financially, but there are other companies in the same straits that do better.

I honestly don't know where to place them. Ten years ago, I would have put them in the Top Ten. Now, I would not. A second tier company down on its luck, maybe.


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