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Veronika Part leaving ABT

417 posts in this topic

2 minutes ago, angelica said:

Those people on the Board should get busy and do more fundraising. Or stop spending all that money on productions like Golden Cockerel and Whipped Cream. McKenzie and the Board really made a mess of this company by bringing in guest artists for so many years.

Personally I thought the Golden Cockerel a real waste of money. Whipped Cream seemed to be popular, we'll see if it has legs, I certainly hope so. The Ratmansky Nutcracker wasn't a financial success in NY. I hope it has better success in the west. The Ratmansky Sleeping Beauty is controversial (I wouldn't recommend it to a new or casual ballet goer). Now he's been given a big check for another "historically accurate" ballet. 

 

I understand that there are different pools of money for dancer salaries and new productions. I also admire many of Ratmansky's works BUT maybe the overall direction of the company needs an overhaul.

 

I digress with a discussion about the artistic vision or lack there of. Bottom line is that ABT made a mess of the departure of a ballerina who deserved better.

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11 minutes ago, vipa said:

Personally I thought the Golden Cockerel a real waste of money. Whipped Cream seemed to be popular, we'll see if it has legs, I certainly hope so. The Ratmansky Nutcracker wasn't a financial success in NY. I hope it has better success in the west. The Ratmansky Sleeping Beauty is controversial (I wouldn't recommend it to a new or casual ballet goer). Now he's been given a big check for another "historically accurate" ballet. 

 

I understand that there are different pools of money for dancer salaries and new productions. I also admire many of Ratmansky's works BUT maybe the overall direction of the company needs an overhaul.

 

I digress with a discussion about the artistic vision or lack there of. Bottom line is that ABT made a mess of the departure of a ballerina who deserved better.

 

vipa, I think you would make a better AD than McK. I agree with everything you said.

 

But to place so much money at the feet of Ratmansky and to strain the budget for dancer salaries seems like a very poor choice of resource allocation.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, canbelto said:

 

Hmm this makes me worried for David Hallberg. He's not dancing the fall season and it's unlikely he'll ever be able to dance a normal principal workload again.  

Actually, Hallberg is dancing in the fall season.  It is Gomes who is skipping the Koch.

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3 minutes ago, abatt said:

Actually, Hallberg is dancing in the fall season.  It is Gomes who is skipping the Koch.

 

Gomes is going to be dancing in the Matthew Bourne production of "The Red Shoes." As I understand it, in every performance at City Center, but I'm not sure about other venues. He'll be playing the role of Julian Craster. Be still my heart!

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3 hours ago, nanushka said:

 

This is an interesting detail; I didn't realize that. I've heard that there are some age-discrimination protections that kick in when a dancer reaches 40. Does anyone know if that's the case or know any further details about that?

https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adea.cfm

 

The federal age discrimination act applies to people 40 and older.  However, even if she had been terminated at age 40 instead of 39, I doubt that she would have been able to establish a viable age discrimination claim.  

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3 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

So, assuming Trenary and Brandt continue dancing at such a high level, can they only be promoted next spring if ABT decides to sack Abrera and/or Murphy? Or maybe ABT's finances will magically improve...? Or will they be forced to wait for promotions until they are 28, 29, 30...?

 

I'm assuming that yes Brandt/Trenary will have to wait until someone else leaves. I'm pretty sure they're both 24, so they can afford to wait 2 or 3 years (I sure hope no longer than that). It would be different if they were 27 or 28 like Teuscher and Shevchenko. And, as of right now neither of them has carried many full lengths and with the three promotions, those new principals will be tapped for debuts in next year's war horses. So I wonder if either of them will get any new opportunities next year. I guess that'll depend on whether or not Kochetkova comes back AND if we have a repeat like this year with injuries galore. Plus, if they're promoted before someone leaves, the principal roster will be very heavy and it's hard enough as it is already for everyone to get one measly SL or SB or whatever (with the exception of Copeland). ABT just doesn't perform enough for that many principals. Imagine being promoted and only getting to do one lead in one full length during the Met season. Vishneva performed twice this season in a ballet that may not be repeated next year, and Part less than a handful (not counting Mozartiana). And, Kochetkova once? So while the company gains space on their website and in Playbill (and money from their salaries) with their departures they don't gain that many openings on the schedule for the new principals. Shevchenko had such a breakout season because Murphy was injured for most of it and she subbed for her in DQ, Le Corsaire and as Myrta (Teuscher subbed for her in Whipped Cream) and she rose to the challenge. If Murphy and the rest of the female principals are mostly injury free next year or at least not out for weeks like this summer, it will be challenging for the principals to have enough to go around let alone give Brandt/Trenary any new challenges. I would rather see Brandt/Trenary have to wait a little longer for that promotion than, sure get the title and the money but have very little to do. Sorry, didn't mean to rattle on for so long....

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Posted (edited)

I'm still trying to fully absorb and come to terms with what happened to Part. I really don't know how she held it together those final two weeks. As noted above, her relatively happy demeanor at Vishneva's farewell seems to suggest she wasn't aware at that point that her time with ABT was over. The idea of her unknowingly giving her final Swan Lake performance, only to be told a week later she was fired (following a love-fest farewell for a fellow Mariinksy dancer) seems too much for anyone to bear. Her patched-together farewell, complete with a NYT article stating she was fired, must have been humiliating for her. ABT could have hardly treated her departure more poorly than they did. Oh, not to mention that she was forced to give her farewell during a matinee, in a mixed program, rather than in one of the full-lengths she's most closely associated with. And then a few people gave her bouquets while others stood in the background wearing shorts and other street clothes. She was disrespected in so many ways. Not to mention that she now has no income for the next season. I guess ABT found a way to fire a dancer with two weeks notice and suffer no repercussions.  

Edited by fondoffouettes

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7 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

I'm still trying to fully absorb and come to terms with what happened to Part. I really don't know how she held it together those final two weeks. As noted above, her relatively happy demeanor at Vishneva's farewell seems to suggest she wasn't aware at that point that her time with ABT was over. The idea of her unknowingly giving her final Swan Lake performance, only to be told a week later she fired after (following a love-fest farewell for a fellow Mariinksy dancer) seems too much for anyone to bear. Her patched-together farewell, complete with a NYT article stating she was fired, must have been humiliating for her. ABT couldn have hardly treated her departure more poorly than they did. Oh, not to mention that she was forced to give her farewell during a matinee, in a mixed program, rather than in one of the full-lengths she's most closely associated with. And then a few people gave her bouquets while others stood in the background wearing shorts and other street clothes. She was disrespected in so many ways. Not to mention that she now has no income for the next season. I guess ABT found a way to fire a dancer with two weeks notice and suffer no repercussions.  

 

Part was also at Marcelo Gomes' 20th anniversary performance and she seemed pretty happy then too. You can see her in the background in this video.

 

 

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There have been some additional comments from Part herself on the protester's website (all translated from Russian). 

 

In response to a comment to the effect of "ballet is for the young," as well as to some sentiments about theater life being inherently unfair, Part has responded:

  • I don't argue about the age of ballet... and that sooner or later everyone has to change the profession. But the scurvy of certain people in the position of force I accept and understand cannot and refuse. As to me and to the aforementioned dancers! The slogan "life is unfair" doesn't work for me. What about all the beloved and deeply respected Julia Kent? She was 47.
  • And Alexandra Ferry (54)
  • Or in this case, you will say that the level of talent of the artists overrides the age barrier...
  • What's not to say?
  • And don't you dare argue with me because I've lived every minute of my life in this profession sense and trying to understand and explain to myself somoy why is it still "life is unfair"(29 years of my life in a profession)

I honestly can't blame her for being pissed. 

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I would say that life has been very unfair to Part, from the time that her mentor at the Mariinsky died. During her time at ABT she was never fully recognized, except by a core admiring audience, for her sublime and unique talent. Not by the Artistic Director, not by the then Executive Director, not by the then Board, and certainly not by the then influential, although dangerously unknowledgeable, New York Times dance critic, who summed her up in one word, damning her with faint praise: statuesque.

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3 minutes ago, angelica said:

[...] not by the then influential, although dangerously unknowledgeable, New York Times dance critic, who summed her up in one word, damning her with faint praise: statuesque.

 

And one other: "handsome."

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4 minutes ago, angelica said:

I would say that life has been very unfair to Part, from the time that her mentor at the Mariinsky died. During her time at ABT she was never fully recognized, except by a core admiring audience, for her sublime and unique talent. Not by the Artistic Director, not by the then Executive Director, not by the then Board, and certainly not by the then influential, although dangerously unknowledgeable, New York Times dance critic, who summed her up in one word, damning her with faint praise: statuesque.

 

I think that's a bit melodramatic. Part's dismissal was very graceless and obviously hurt her a lot. But she still got to be a principal dancer with one of the premiere companies of the world, and acquired a large and loyal fanbase. There are many dancers who toil for years in the corps and are given the pink slip and no one knows or hears about it. Or whose careers are hampered and shortened by devastating injuries -- Jennie Somogyi is exhibit A. Part had a very fine career and I hope one day she can look back with some fond memories of the good times and not just the very sour ending.

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3 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

And one other: "handsome."

 

Why is "handsome" objectionable? I actually dislike when ballerinas are praised endlessly for their "beauty" and not for their dancing. I find this way of simply writing about a dancer by her physical attributes rather sexist and I've always hated it.

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2 minutes ago, canbelto said:

 

 Part had a very fine career and I hope one day she can look back with some fond memories of the good times and not just the very sour ending.

 

I agree, somewhat. But the ending counts. It's a final statement of how one was valued. And not only at the end but also along the way many of us believed she was not valued in accordance with her talents. A "very fine career" for a fairly senior principal generally does not include quite so many Wednesday matinees as Part danced as recently as a few years ago.

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5 minutes ago, canbelto said:

 

Why is "handsome" objectionable? I actually dislike when ballerinas are praised endlessly for their "beauty" and not for their dancing. I find this way of simply writing about a dancer by her physical attributes rather sexist and I've always hated it.

 

Doesn't your point suggest that "handsome" and "beautiful" should be equally objectionable?

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1 minute ago, nanushka said:

 

Doesn't your point suggest that "handsome" and "beautiful" should be equally objectionable?

 

"Beautiful" is IMO a more gender-specific term and more generic and dismissive. "Handsome" implies a sort of dignity and stature.

Anyway I really dislike the aesthetic fetishes that develop around ballet dancers. I love David Hallberg but if I have to read one more time about his blond tresses or arched feet ...

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4 minutes ago, canbelto said:

 

"Beautiful" is IMO a more gender-specific term and more generic and dismissive. "Handsome" implies a sort of dignity and stature.

Anyway I really dislike the aesthetic fetishes that develop around ballet dancers. I love David Hallberg but if I have to read one more time about his blond tresses or arched feet ...

 

I disagree, personally. I think of numerous male dancers as being quite beautiful. 

 

My problem with "handsome" is that, historically, it has been used as an adjective to describe women who "are not feminine in the way I [the speaker] think they should be." I think it's used for a dancer such as Part precisely because she is not delicate and conventionally sylph-like. In other words, I think it's an insult (by those who think in that narrow-minded way) disguised as a compliment.

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53 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

I'm still trying to fully absorb and come to terms with what happened to Part. I really don't know how she held it together those final two weeks. As noted above, her relatively happy demeanor at Vishneva's farewell seems to suggest she wasn't aware at that point that her time with ABT was over. The idea of her unknowingly giving her final Swan Lake performance, only to be told a week later she was fired (following a love-fest farewell for a fellow Mariinksy dancer) seems too much for anyone to bear. Her patched-together farewell, complete with a NYT article stating she was fired, must have been humiliating for her. ABT could have hardly treated her departure more poorly than they did. Oh, not to mention that she was forced to give her farewell during a matinee, in a mixed program, rather than in one of the full-lengths she's most closely associated with. And then a few people gave her bouquets while others stood in the background wearing shorts and other street clothes. She was disrespected in so many ways. Not to mention that she now has no income for the next season. I guess ABT found a way to fire a dancer with two weeks notice and suffer no repercussions.  

Thanks to all who reviewed Part's final performance and for all your comments.  Watching the curtain calls on youtube was painful, and Part's embrace of Ratmansky, Kolpakova and Gomes seemed qualitatively different from her contact with KM. I don't know how she maintained her stoic and professional demeanor in receiving his "embrace".  I hope the true story of what happened will emerge.

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38 minutes ago, angelica said:

I would say that life has been very unfair to Part, from the time that her mentor at the Mariinsky died. During her time at ABT she was never fully recognized, except by a core admiring audience, for her sublime and unique talent. Not by the Artistic Director, not by the then Executive Director, not by the then Board, and certainly not by the then influential, although dangerously unknowledgeable, New York Times dance critic, who summed her up in one word, damning her with faint praise: statuesque.

I agree. It's well known that the nameless critic was incapable of appreciating Part.  That adjective "statuesque" has never sounded like a compliment to me.

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5 minutes ago, Marta said:

Watching the curtain calls on youtube was painful...

 

I still haven't been quite able to bring myself to watch. Maybe tomorrow.   :/

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23 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

I disagree, personally. I think of numerous male dancers as being quite beautiful. 

 

My problem with "handsome" is that, historically, it has been used as an adjective to describe women who "are not feminine in the way I [the speaker] think they should be." I think it's used for a dancer such as Part precisely because she is not delicate and conventionally sylph-like. In other words, I think it's an insult (by those who think in that narrow-minded way) disguised as a compliment.

I also find it odd since she is an exceptionally beautiful woman.

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Posted (edited)

Just to remember some recognition she did receive too: Part appeared on Letterman --  the only other ballerina I saw on his show was Makarova. I don't know if there were others, but it was a pretty extraordinary coup for Russian ballerina Part especially post cold war. She also had a consistently warm champion at Vanity Fair (Wolcott).  At the NYTimes Macaulay seemed to me to soften over the years though he also seemed ultimately not that moved by her, but I certainly remember a very warm review in the NYTimes of a Part Swan Lake (by Kisselgoff). Years ago, on this website, people noted Clement Crisp's raves for her dancing with ABT in London. I don't follow dance criticism that carefully, but if I did I am confident I could recall much more. The people I've mentioned are all prominent.

 

Part also had several roles created for her by an extremely high profile choreographer, probably the best ballet choreographer around, Alexei Ratmansky. (Personally I think ABT's investment in Ratmansky is worth every penny.) Sure she faced challenges too.  I also infer from what people have written that she was not a box office powerhouse, and of course I know that not everyone loved her dancing, and that some of those who admired her, such as myself, did so with reservations. But one could say the same of several great ballerinas.

 

I tend to believe ABT should have done more to find her the right partner though I can't know everything they may have done. And with the right partner she might have had a shot at some of the glamorous dramatic roles that she was denied (Tatiana, Juliet). But all in all Part was nothing if not sui generis, and I think she is a ballerina who will be remembered. A ballerina people will talk about after her career is long over. That's not true of a lot of fine ballerinas.

 

I am, like pretty much everyone posting here, sorry that the end of her career wasn't more graciously handled, but that's on ABT. Whatever troubles she faced Part and all who admire her can look back on a career that had many wonderful highlights.

Edited by Drew

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Didn't Part have a reputation for being difficult to partner in extended lifts, not just because of her size? The same thing was written about tiny-sized Gelsey Kirkland...that she did not wish to employ the measures to assist the man with the lift, such as deep plié and certain "propulsion" weight-shifting methods. In other words, she expected the man to carry "dead weight" for artistic beauty reasons. If strong men had trouble with tiny Kirkland, imagine with Part (if such talk is true).

 

I could also imagine things said to partners as they tried to work on lifts...maybe choosing wrong words? English is Part's second (or third) language.

 

One of the great things that I've noticed about Sara Mearns is how she does everything in her physical power to assist the guy with lifting her. I noticed that a lot in the recent RO-DEO at the Kennedy Center. That lady propels, as if she has inner jets! I've noticed the same on films of Carrie Imler.

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7 hours ago, nanushka said:

 

I disagree, personally. I think of numerous male dancers as being quite beautiful. 

 

My problem with "handsome" is that, historically, it has been used as an adjective to describe women who "are not feminine in the way I [the speaker] think they should be." I think it's used for a dancer such as Part precisely because she is not delicate and conventionally sylph-like. In other words, I think it's an insult (by those who think in that narrow-minded way) disguised as a compliment.

 

I feel like this is often the way female dancers are described as "beautiful": Barbara Bush uses it in the exact way that I hate when discussing a woman she doesn't like. 

 

 

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