Jump to content

Promising RB Graduates not going to RB

Recommended Posts

Perhaps if the Royal Ballet went back to having Ashton's choreography as the bedrock of the company, those very diverse dancers would begin to develop some English style but it won't happen all the time there is a reliance on the MacMillan/McGregor choreographic axis.

This is the ultimate crux of the matter, a great company is great because of what it is, the people who defined it:

Without Ashton, the Royal Ballet would never have existed; ditto New York City Ballet with Balanchine, ditto Royal Danish Ballet with Bournonville, ditto Bolshoi, Mariinksy, Paris Opera with Petipa.

Take out those ballets and works, water them down, neuter them and in less than a generation those compaines become faded parodies of what they once were. The attrition of POB after Nureyev built it into a phenomenal classical company happened remarkably quickly as successive AD's took out the classics and made the companies rep a bizarre hotch potch of contemporary and euro-trendy dance styles. NYCB, suffers under Martins' insistence on programming endless new works by himself and the company becomes ill versed in Balanchine's language.

There's nothing to be ashamed of in holding on to the style and school which made a company great. And I'm not saying that the RB should be UK-centric. Under De Valois, Ashton and Lambert there was a huge influx of foreign nationals who came to the school and entered the company because the training and schooling were second to none, the company was the absolute pinnacle of classical style, filtered through a uniquely British temperament. The stars created by the school and company reads like a who's who of ballet in the latter half of the 20th century.

When I say Latin American for Nunez I don't mean some kind of West Side Story spitfire, I mean her approach to music, tempo, technique and style is unmistakably forged in the Latin American virtuoso schools, she's a lovely dancer sure but when she leads the company all that one can see is the huge gulf between herself and her RBS contemporaries who more often than not are relegated to corps, crowds and demi caractere. The same for McRae, who I just can't stand as a dancer, it's flashy technique and pugnacious teeth-n-tits stage presence.

A quick look at the RB rep for the next six months is pretty depressing, Sleeping Beauty, that awful after-Messel bowlderized version now in the rep, a Christmas Nutcracker, a Fille and then a predominance of MacMillan to bring in the crowds. The Royal is now so much like ABT it's scary.

Share this post

Link to post

I still have to return to my earlier point about strong leadership with regard to national companies' identities, and the Birmingham discussion exemplifies my point. Leadership is stronger there than at Covent Garden, it would seem, and the identity of the company seems more unified. Perhaps a revised hermeneutic for the Royal Ballet(s) is in order. Birmingham is a national ballet company, Covent Garden is an arm of State?

Alas, we cannot order up genius. Even though we may pine for an Ashton, a Balanchine, a Bournonville, a Staats, we can't do much more than to afford talented possibilities an environment in which genius may be nurtured, and then, maybe, develop.

Share this post

Link to post
Off-topic for the thread on the RB's Cuban tour, from which this topic was split. If you don't see a topical thread, feel free to open one.

Unless she said something to that effect in a published interview, I'm not sure we know that Nutnaree -- or anyone -- wasn't offered a contract with RB. That's usually private, between dancer and company. Any number of factors could have influenced a dancer's choice -- repertoire, proximity to family and/or friends, coaches.

Carbro, the reason why I cited Nutnaree as an example was because she has stated in at least two different published interviews that she was offered contracts with a number of different companies, including BRB, ABT Studio, Hamburg, and SF Ballet - but specifically never has included RB amongst them.

Share this post

Link to post

I apologize to anyone who took offense to my initial post which began this thread, as I in no way meant to give short shrift to BRB or other smaller companies. I of course completely understand why some dancers would choose a contract with a smaller company than RB even when given a choice, especially if given the opportunity to join a wonderful company like BRB. The root of my question was partially that, being an American, I didn't know much about the current relationship (if there is one) between RB and BRB - which is why I posed the original post as a question and not a statement of fact or opinion. I remembered that in the past, BRB (which was known as Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet) was the smaller, touring arm of the Royal Ballet and acted as a sort of sister company that often fed dancers into the larger company after they'd gotten some experience under their belt. I simply wanted to know if this was still the case - I wasn't trying to suggest that the current BRB was inherently inferior to RB. Again the reason why this question arose was that I recalled that Darcey Bussell, despite being a top RB School student who was already being eyed as a future star of the Royal Ballet, had first gone into Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet following graduation - not into RB. For her and others, the smaller company was, indeed, a 'stepping stone' (and I mean to imply nothing pejorative about that term either). Nadia Nerina, Lynn Seymour, Leanne Benjamin, Miyako Yoshida, and Isabel McMeekan are also amongst those RB dancers who began their careers at what is now known as BRB before moving to RB.

Since making the original post, I have researched and found that the official relationship between RB and BRB ended in '97 but was wondering whether on some informal level, at least from the RB's and/or the dancers' standpoint, aspects of the prior relationship may still exist. Aside from Delia Matthews, I noticed that another of the school's top recent grads, Dusty Button, has gone into BRB. In published interviews Button has stated that her dream company is RB and that this is why she turned down a contract with ABT Studio in order to continue studying at the RB School - in hopes of getting into the company. Given that she ended up going into BRB right after graduation, presumably she did not get offered that RB contract despite having gotten principal roles in RB School performances, etc. My idea was that perhaps some young dancers who DO aspire to RB view BRB as a place in which to gain experience while remaining in close enough proximity to the RB that the latter's directors may keep an eye on them for future RB corps positions. I was simply wondering if anyone with more knowledge of these companies could tell me whether there's some validity to this theory.

Beyond BRB, though, my original question also stemmed from the following quote from Johann Kobborg in an interview with the Telegraph (the full article is here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre...l-Ballet.html):

"Kobborg disagrees with those who claim that there is a shortage of British native talent. On the contrary, he thinks the Royal Ballet doesn't move fast enough to capture it. 'Some amazingly talented English girls and boys have been snatched by American and European companies.'"

If what Kobborg says has some basis in truth, I was trying to find out the reasons behind RB 'not moving fast enough'; seemingly having these dancers in the RB School should afford the artistic leadership at the RB what we refer to in the film business as a 'first look' at the dancers; one would assume that the RB would do everything in their power to snatch up the prime talent from the school before, as Kobborg suggests, the other companies swoop in. Of course we can't know for certain which dancers would have WANTED to be offered an RB contract. It's hard to believe, though, that all or most of the top young dancers who have graduated in the past few years from the school but who ended up elsewhere -- including Adeline Kaiser, Matthews, Buttons, Pipit-Suksun, and others -- were offered corps contracts with RB but turned them down (I realize btw that none of these girls are technically UK born, but they trained at RB school). It's possible, but does seem highly unlikely, and concrete evidence points to the contrary in the case of Button and Pipit-Suksun in particular. Again, this is not to imply in any way that the other companies like BRB are inferior; that's missing the point of my original inquiry entirely. Here in NY, dancers coming out of SAB who are offered NYCB contracts rarely turn them down, although they often move onto smaller companies after a couple of years if it looks as though they'll have the opportunity to shine more in the smaller co (among other, varying reasons). This does not imply in any way that those smaller companies, like MCB, PNB, et.al., are at all inferior to NYCB; it's just a fact that the majority of dancers who are offered a contract right out of SAB accept such an offer -- at least initially. It may be much more common for RB School grads to turn down contracts with RB than for SAB grads to do so at NYCB, but I find it hard to believe that they do so as commonly as some are suggesting.

Also, with regards to Pipit-Suksun, as mentioned earlier, I based my conclusion that she was not offered a contract with RB on the content in her interview at ballet.co.uk (full article here: http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_07/ma...pit-suksun.htm) and in particular the quote below, in which she addresses how she decided to go to SF Ballet and lists the other companies where she was offered a contract...RB is not mentioned (also note that she lists the same exact set of companies, sans Royal Ballet, in at least one other published interview as well). While this doesn't 100% exclude the possibility that RB offered her a contract, it's absolutely reasonable to assume that they did not based on this and other published information:

"Asked when she was offered the contract, she [Pipit-Suksun] replied, 'Actually, I was offered contracts by Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre Studio, Birmingham Royal Ballet, La Scala, and Hamburg. During the Easter holiday, I took a trip to America, to Houston and New York, taking classes. While I was here, Mr. Jolley called me to say ‘San Francisco wants you to fly, see them, and take classes.’ I said, ‘My flight is already booked back to London—what am I supposed to do?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry. The ballet will organize everything, the hotels and stuff.’ I took three classes.'"

Share this post

Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.