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Alexandra

Who's the MVP of the Year in your hometown company?

21 posts in this topic

Well, it's Bowl season. And at the end of every game, the MVP (Most Valuable Player) gets the game ball and a trophy and maybe a sports car. The MVP is the guy who threw the most passes, made the most tackles, blocked what would have been the winning field goal, and just generally made himself really really useful.

So who was the Most Valuable Dancer in your hometown company this year? Not the best dancer, or one's favorite dancer, necessarily, but the one who was the backbone of the company, who made the season special, the dancer without whom 2002 would have been just another season? In sports terms, who carries the load for the team? :)

In the Washington Ballet, it's Jason Hartley. He's Septime Webre's leading man, every ballet -- and he's interesting in every ballet. When he first joined the company, I didn't particularly like him. He doesn't have an ideal body for classical ballet: short legs, stocky build. And much of what Webre sets for him is perpetuum mobile -- jump around, run, spin. He must lose 10 pounds every performance. But he makes ballets I don't particularly like watchable, and that is no mean feat :) And I've come to respect what he does very much. I can't imagine the WB's current repertory without him. They'd have to cancel the season.

[Not that I asked this question, but I'll answer it. She doesn't have as much a hold on the repertory, but that's not her fault: most interesting dancer, Erin Mahoney. Her Dark Angel in "Serenade" was, for me, the performance of the season.]

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For Finnish National Ballet I'd like to nominate Salla Suominen.

She has during this year several times demonstrated an amazing capability to dance any role with any partner, however short the notice, and dance it technically confidently and expressively.

The most amazing feat I saw was a last day emergency change for Nikiya in La Bayadere. She was not cast to appear in La Bayadere at all this year, yet there she was with Anu Viheriäranta's partner dancing her heart away. I may not be the most accurate judge of techique, but she danced so confidently and smoothly that I thought she must have been Nikiya in the second cast, until I read the program notes. (Now that I think of it, smooth may not be the right word to characterize Nikiya - her interpretation of the second act was emotionally anything but smooth)

In fact, it seems last year almost every time I or my friends go to see ballet, Salla Suominen is dancing the main role, wheter she was scheduled to appear or not. Either there is a coincidence of unbeliavable scale or she is shouldering a truly disproportionate amount of the company "dance load".

I wonder what has happened to the other female principals?

Päivi

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For the National Ballet of Canada, I'd nominate Greta Hodgkinson. She is one of the most versatile principals, appearing in almost every ballet this season. Her technique is assured and she brings a freshness and vitality to every role she performs. Her dancing is consistently excellent, and she is definately one that the company can rely on at any time.

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NYCB:

Wendy Whelan

talk about a trooper

talk about an artist....

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Tough to choose from the Royal Ballet but I'll have to go for Johan Kobborg. He's proved himself time and time again his committment to every performance is no less 100%. It's so plain to see how thouroughly he has thought about his characters and the way he manages to completely subsume himself into these roles is extraordinary! But I think with the lack of male principals and the number of injuries at the top, he (and by extension his partnership with Alina Cojocaru) has also been a consistent presence, a guarantor of excellence even in the most gloomy ballets. I can't possibly imagine future RB seasons without Kobborg. He couldn't let anyone down if he tried!

And I have to sneak in first soloist Mara Galeazzi here as well, for swooping in at the last minute to dance Tatiana and Mary Vetsera and proving she is as capable of being wonderful in principal roles as the Tamaras and Alinas of the world.

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I second Juliet's nomination of Whelan but want to give a nod to the senior ladies of the corps (Walker, Edge, Abergel, Golbin) who bring so much pleasure and are so little recognized.

Paul Taylor Dance Company - Patrick Corbin is indispenable not only for his fabulous dancing but for the humanitie he brings to Taylor's characters whether they are good or evil.

Merce Cunningham - Robert Swinton, still going strong and looking like a latter day Cunningham dancer - not so balletic but a beautiful mover.

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At Joffrey, Calvin Kitten, Maia Wilkins, Willy Shives and Suzanne Lopez are the spine of the company.

They work with impeccable taste, projecting the perfect example of Mr. Joffreys vision of what a Joffrey dancer should be.

Not only do they approach classes, rehearsals and performances with the highest perfection, they also help new (and old) dancers after class and any time.

Watch out for umcoming members of the "Spine of the Company Club" Julianne Kepley and Michael Levine.

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For ABT a toss up between Gillian Murphy who finished her Swan despite all the hullabaloo in the audience

and Michele Wiles, for sticking through ABT's program of going through the studio company and working her way through ABT.

NYCB, I'd agree with Whelan and lots of props to the sr. corps members. Also to the male corps members who we never seem to see enough of.

The Kirov, I'm blanking on the name of the principal, female, really exaggerated extensions. Ugh, sorry blanking. I'd nominate her!

And kudos to Twyla Tharp, to listening to what critics and audiences had to say about her out of town production and changing it into what's now a great show.

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I'll bow to Glebb's greater expertise on this, but our family's votes mirror his. My first thought was Maia Wilkins, who seems to carry just about any and every role with thoughtful élan. My husband voted for Willy Shives, arguing that he is consistent and stylish, and he provides a strong foundation off of which others can work. Dolphingirl's mind immediately jumped to Calvin Kitten, "because he's amazing!"

I guess this multiplicity reflects Joffrey's rejection of the "star system". In truth, we each had all three of these fine dancers on our short lists. That we each picked a different one speaks to how closely tied they are.

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For ABT, Marcelo Gomes has been holding the company up recently, and of course Julie Kent for consistency and perfection.

For the future: David Hallberg and Michelle Wiles.

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Calliope, are you thinking of Svetlana Zakharova?

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That's her! Thank you Dale!

I can stop digging through boxes for the stagebill!

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[comment deleted by A.T.]

Meg Flaherty-Griffith for the Spring and Fall 2002 seasons. The ballets that were choreographed on her are the most memorable and intruiging to me. She is also able to learn large quantities of new choreography at the last minute, just as the rest of us are all afraid there is too much music left to get it all done in time for opening night.

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calliope, what happened during the swan lake that there was hullabaloo in the audience? i saw gillian murphy's first swan lake and i thought she acquitted herself pretty well.

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For Bavarian State Ballet, Munich: Lisa-Maree Cullum - because she is the one who steps in whenever anyone is injured. With any male partner. Last Nutcracker series (Neumeier, some years ago) she danced almost every performance after one after the other Louises had to pull out...

This season, I heard she was waiting in the wings during the Don Q performances as it was not sure whether the lead would be able to carry on, although I have no proof for this...

(This is not meant to disqualify any of the other dancers, of course!)

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Mme. Hermine, a baby started screaming during the white swan pas e deux, but Murphy took no notice and was wonderful.

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And Dale, what about that performance of Odile?

WOW!!!!!!!

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At Paris Opera Ballet, my favorite female dancer is Clairemarie Osta ( Etoile since 1 week ... ) ... I like very much Agnès Letestu too ... and my favorite male dancer is José Martinez :):( !

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Thank you for that, Ophelie. It's a happy time when one's favorite dancer gets promoted! Congratulations to both of you :)

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For Pennsylvania Ballet, I nominate Tara Keating and Charity Eagens, two corps dancers who have shone in individual roles and have also helped to lead an increasingly unified and elegant corps.

And for most exciting newcomer, I nominate Riolama Lorenzo!

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