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"Footloose ballet stars"

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Yesterday's Links lead with an article by Rosalyn Sulcas and Michael Cooper about how stars are leaving flagship companies for international careers. They write,

Those flagship companies are the incubators of national styles that have accrued over generations through training methods and the influence of homegrown choreographers.

The Royal Ballet is known for its pure classicism and strong acting, the Paris Opera for its elegant lyricism, the Bolshoi Ballet for its large-scale bravura.

But as star dancers now fly in and out of these companies, and others jump ship at earlier ages, the purity and continuity of these styles is becoming harder to maintain, leading to fears of homogeneity.

Reading a lot about the Royal Ballet in the last two decades, this doesn't strike me as anything new; however the Royal style that changed to follow the virtues of Macmillan long became diffuse. Reading about the Mariinsky, over the past two decades it seems to be aiming for a misunderstanding of a Western aesthetic. As far as the stars leaving leading to homogeneity, it strikes me that this is like the tail leading the dog, that ship sailed long ago, and what makes stars unique is less about their training and more about their interpretative and technical gifts. As someone who grew up on ABT in the '70's, what made a Fracci/Bruhn "Giselle" different from a Makarova/Nagy "Giselle" -- and so pleasurable -- was just as much about training and style as interpretive and technical gifts.

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