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Veronika Part leaving ABT

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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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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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4 hours ago, Natalia said:

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.

 

 

I'm sure we could "imagine" lots of things, but what would those imaginings be based on?

 

As for her reputation –– I've never heard anything like that and would be curious to know your sources.

 

Edited by nanushka

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7 hours ago, Drew said:

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.

 

Beautiful tribute, Drew. I hope and think you're right about this. I feel immensely lucky to have been here now to see her.

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Good grief. When I went to bed the conversation here was going strong, and it seems it continued apace overnight!

I was trying to figure out why they chose Part to terminate, over other dancers. It seems that senior ballerinas are at risk of being forced out before they are ready, and sometimes before their technique diminishes (Part, Reyes, Dvorovenko). Looking at the roster, the other late-thirties ballerinas are Murphy and Abrera. As others have said, Murphy seems to be in a category of her own. That leaves Abrera. I wonder what was the thinking that led to terminating Part rather than Abrera. Do they see Abrera as more versatile or able to cover more roles? Or was it a matter of their paycheck? I gather that pay is related to seniority at the company, but I'm not clear how that relates to years at a particular level. In other words, to compare Murphy and Abrera, are they making roughly the same compensation, as both are principals and have been at the company more or less the same amount of time? Or is Murphy making more because she's been a principal so much longer? And similarly, with Abrera and Part, was Part making more because she was a principal longer, or was it roughly the same because Abrera's been with the company for so long? 
Anyway, agreeing with Drew that Part was sui generis. 

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7 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Good grief. When I went to bed the conversation here was going strong, and it seems it continued apace overnight!

I was trying to figure out why they chose Part to terminate, over other dancers. It seems that senior ballerinas are at risk of being forced out before they are ready, and sometimes before their technique diminishes (Part, Reyes, Dvorovenko). Looking at the roster, the other late-thirties ballerinas are Murphy and Abrera. As others have said, Murphy seems to be in a category of her own. That leaves Abrera. I wonder what was the thinking that led to terminating Part rather than Abrera. Do they see Abrera as more versatile or able to cover more roles? Or was it a matter of their paycheck? I gather that pay is related to seniority at the company, but I'm not clear how that relates to years at a particular level. In other words, to compare Murphy and Abrera, are they making roughly the same compensation, as both are principals and have been at the company more or less the same amount of time? Or is Murphy making more because she's been a principal so much longer? And similarly, with Abrera and Part, was Part making more because she was a principal longer, or was it roughly the same because Abrera's been with the company for so long? 
Anyway, agreeing with Drew that Part was sui generis. 

 

Well since it's sort of come out in the wash how important it is for dancers to find sponsors, Part, Vishneva, and Shevchenko were all sponsored by the same person -- Theresa Khawly. When Part said the "gave her contract away" it's not hard to deduce that Khawly's funds were simply moved to give Shevchenko the promotion and raise.

 

Stella Abrera however is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Shen, who have no other dancers on their sponsorship. 

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3 minutes ago, canbelto said:

 

Well since it's sort of come out in the wash how important it is for dancers to find sponsors, Part, Vishneva, and Shevchenko were all sponsored by the same person -- Theresa Khawly. When Part said the "gave her contract away" it's not hard to deduce that Khawly's funds were simply moved to give Shevchenko the promotion and raise.

 

Stella Abrera however is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Shen, who have no other dancers on their sponsorship. 

 

Not sure that follows, since it means Khawly has gone from sponsoring 2 principals and a soloist to (as far as we know), 1 principal....

 

I would have imagined it wouldn't have been necessary to eliminate Part to make her accounting work out, in fact she now is paying less than previously.

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1 minute ago, aurora said:

 

Not sure that follows, since it means Khawly has gone from sponsoring 2 principals and a soloist to (as far as we know), 1 principal....

 

I would have imagined it wouldn't have been necessary to eliminate Part to make her accounting work out, in fact she now is paying less than previously.

 

Well we don't know what goes on behind the scenes but the thing about leaving the salaries to sponsors is their life situation could change and they might not be able to afford sponsoring two principals. Again, I'm really shocked how important these sponsorships are in securing your future at ABT.

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8 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Well since it's sort of come out in the wash how important it is for dancers to find sponsors, Part, Vishneva, and Shevchenko were all sponsored by the same person -- Theresa Khawly. When Part said the "gave her contract away" it's not hard to deduce that Khawly's funds were simply moved to give Shevchenko the promotion and raise.

 

This is an interesting theory, but couldn't Vishneva's share have covered Shevchenko's rise from soloist to principal? If I understand you correctly, Khawly was sponsoring Vishneva as (semi-)principal, Part as principal, and Shevchenko as soloist. Would sponsoring Part and Shevchenko both as principals have really made a difference?

 

Part also wrote on FB that a sponsorship had been offered for her but that ABT declined.

 

Edited to add:

Sorry for the redundancy. I see now that aurora made the same point above.

Edited by nanushka

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