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Leigh Witchel

Questions about NBoC - partnerships and Guillaume Cote

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Recent chat on the forum prompts me to ask two questions, I hope we get some more talk from NBoC watchers out there!

Is NBoC one of those companies that foster stable partnerships?(NYCB tends to switch people around)

Also, what of Guillaume Cote? I've not seen him yet in any major role (I get to see NBoC once or twice a year when I visit friends) and he seems to be shooting up the ranks. What do people think of him?

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I don't really think the NBoC is the type of company to specially foster partnerships. The only example of a prominent partnership in the last decade or so, would be Karen Kain and Frank Augustyn (competed in the Prix de Lausanne for pas de deux and won gold.) I've been watching NBoC for a couple of years, and all the castings were pretty much mixed up. No two principals or soloists were always casted with each other. With Guillaume Cote and Heater Ogden, the company might be trying to create a strong partnership out of them. They competed together in the Erik Bruhn Competition and both made their debuts (in a major role) for Romeo and Juliet together. However, Heather Ogden has partnered other dancers, just as Cote has.

As to Guillaume Cote, I haven't seen him too many times in a major role either (Prince Floriumund in Sleeping Beauty Act 3 and Romeo in R&J). From what I remember, he can act extremely well. The scene where Romeo was dreaming about Juliet, was filled with so much heartfelt emotions. This is pretty surprising, because he just graduated from the National Ballet School in 1999, I believe, and he was just promoted to First Soloist!

Does anyone have any other views on NBoC's partnerships and Guillaume Cote?

~Veronica

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Veronica -

What's funny is when NBoC fielded a team for the '99 Bruhn prize, they certainly weren't fostering a partnership; in fact, the competitors (Jhe Russell and Bei-di Sheng) didn't perform together in the contemporary section as all the other couples did, but did two solos instead. It really seemed like Sheng's contemporary variation (the Russian Princess from Kudelka's then-new Swan Lake) was a sacrifice bunt, and they were putting more hopes on Russell, who won. And Sheng left the company shortly after it seems.

In the performances I've seen so far, I haven't seen any natural partnerships. Antonijevic looks a bit insular (but he and Martine Lamy are not a match made in heaven). Geon van der Wyst was not at Hodgkinson's level in Mozartiana.

Paquita? Any comments?

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I think that recently NBoC has been on a real shortage of true classical male dancers, which had made developing partnerships a difficult task. Antonijevic is still the only one who can carry a demanding full-length classic. Depending on the ballet, he is usually paired with Greta Hodgkinson (Swan Lake, Firebird), Chan Hon Goh (T&V, Diamonds), and more recently Sonia Rodriguez (R&J). Rex Harrington is probably the company's finest partner, but he can no longer perform the 'prince' roles. He is excellent with Xiao Nan Yu though.

Cote is showing a lot of promise and I think they are trying to encourage his partnership with Ogden. I saw them at this years Bruhn competition, their dancing seems complimentary and they also share a good rapport. He needs to work on his consistency, but no matter what he does it is a joy to watch him. I think people were dissapointed that he didn't win the Bruhn Prize, but he clearly wasn't on the same level as Friedemann Vogel or ABT's David Hallberg. Still, he's one to keep an eye on.

Bei Di Sheng was said to be on a leave of absence, however I haven't heard any updates. I remember that she made a lovely Olga in Onegin. I hope to see her back.

Leigh, do you know which ballets you'll be able to catch this season?

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Paquita - I'm thinking of visiting for the November and February mixed reps if schedule allows - I'd love to see Fille as well, but it might be very expensive to travel around our Thanksgiving holiday.

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