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Hierarchies in ballet companies


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#16 Mel Johnson

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Posted 01 February 2002 - 07:34 AM

Delia was a hoot, but she didn't photograph particularly well. I was surprised when I first met her, at her youth. She was always good in a funny part, like the dancer who walks around a tableau in "Donizetti Variations" as if to say, "Now, what was all that rushing about? For this?" wink.gif

And while we're remember remarkable corps members of NYCB, let's not forget Rosemary Dunleavy, and Shaun O'Brien, who for years was carried as "corps"!

[ February 01, 2002: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]



#17 Manhattnik

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Posted 01 February 2002 - 02:05 PM

Call me odd, but I rather liked Peters' patrician looks.

While I understand the reasoning behind comparing Peters and Rutherford, I don't think they're really quite comparable. Not to take away from Peters' gifts (as noted, she was a great comedienne, and a very great WREN in addition to the roles already mentioned), but seldom if ever would Peters have been given principal or almost-principal roles with the frequency of Rutherford. Peters would never have danced Summer, for instance, or Liebeslieder.

Peters is a great exemplar of NYCB's unofficial demi-soloist corps dancers, who often accrue to themselves a substantial repertory of "small" but important roles. I really do think Rutherford is in a bit of a different category. Her case reminds me much more of Stephanie Saland, who for years and years was a soloist who was cast as a principal. She finally got her promotion; perhaps Rutherford will get hers soon, too.

#18 ileana

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Posted 03 February 2002 - 04:36 PM

It seems like if you have been telling a lot about POB on this board !
I would like to give a detail : dancers are very young when they enter the POB corps : generally no more than 16, and often 15 and a half !
I think this may be a reason why there are so many ranks in POB. (and now there are only five versus 6 in the old days when there were "petits sujets" and "grands sujets" !)
But Katharina Kranker is right on this point (though very hard indeed toward our dancers !) : the issue is not the formal rank, but whether each dancer be given a chance to be given some interesting roles and develop himself.
I would point out that very promissing young dancers may be given such roles even when they "official" rank is low. Recently, in the same role of the young girl of Afternoon of a Faun (from Robbins)3 different dancers have been casted : 1 "première danseuse" (Eleonora Abbagnato), and two "coryphées" (Emilie Cozette and the 19-year-old Juliette Gernez.

Ileana from Paris

#19 felursus

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Posted 03 February 2002 - 10:17 PM

I am in the process of clearing out a trunk in my basement. It is packed with programs that date back to the 60s and some souvenir programs that are still older. One interesting thing that I noted with respect to the Royal Danes: the high percentage of people listed in the corps (early 60s) who later became solo artists. I don't think I have ever noticed such a high percentage in any other company. Perhaps, at least in those days, there was an EXPECTATION that each young dancer had the makings of a solo artist - be his/her strength in classical or character roles.

With the Russians, it has always been clear that some graduates of either the Maryinsky or Bolshoi schools were earmarked for careers as soloists/principals in the last couple of years before graduation - and everybody (other students) knows who they are. There are some who never set foot in the back of the corps. (The most famous example was Anna Pavlova, who entered the Maryinsky company as a coryphee.)They are also clearly earmarked prior to graduation to be classical vs. character dancers. You don't see anything of someone who came to dance Odette/Odile dancing something like the Spanish dance when younger (viz. Monica Mason of the RB).

Another point about the Russians: their titles when on tour in the West are/were not necessarily the same as their titles back home. These days, and especially in the waning days of the Soviet Union, to save money only a certain number of "principal dancers" were carried on the tour. Many of the "solo artists" are/were "principals" back in Russia, but in order for them to participate in the foreign tours (always a desirable thing), they had to go as dancers of a lower rank. I think there used to be a lot of solo artists in the corps. (I remember one tour of the Bolshoi to England where the average age of the corps was probably well over 35 - dancers married and with children at home to lessen the probability of defections.)


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