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Veronika Part leaving ABT

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Posted (edited)

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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Just asking, that's all. Trying to find a reason other than ABT's wish to promote others.

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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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Posted (edited)

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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Posted (edited)

I thought we concluded that the naming is simply an honor but that the funds go into a pool that pays for all salaries and possibly just operating expenses in general? The quote from Moore said as much.

 

Also, the pricing chart for sponsorship that someone found (sorry, being lazy with locating it) showed that you could sponsor a principal for far less than their full salary. That's not to say that some well-heeled donors pay much more than that, though.

 

Of course, Part's comment about trying sponsorship implies that a donor offered funds specifically to keep her on the roster. I can see why that would be problematic for ABT, as it would give even more artistic control to that donor.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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Posted (edited)

Regarding Part's latest comments (translated in an earlier post above), she compares her situation to Julie Kent and Ferri, both of whom were permitted to dance with ABT at far more advanced ages than Part's.  The fact that she is comparing herself to them is indicative that Part has no sense of how having a massive audience following can influence your standing at ABT.  Kent was the face of ABT for decades and was a beloved figure with a huge following; that following trailed off by the end because her ability had declined so much.  She had a special place in ABT history.  Ferri also had a massive following and a legendary career, so it was a box office bonanza for ABT when she decided to make a comeback and dance 2 shows last season and this season.  Unfortunately, if we are being completely realistic, Part did not have either a huge fan base or a historically significant relationship with ABT, so she was never going to receive the same treatment as either Kent or Ferri.

Edited by abatt

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16 hours ago, abatt said:

Actually, I think money is that tight.  I think McKenzie probably has a fixed amount of money to work with to pay dancer salaries, so that a new promotion to principal is highly dependent on the departure of someone who is already a principal.  Since Veronika was very senior, her firing may have paid for one new "junior" principal, plus a portion of the money needed to promote Royal. It's an ugly business at ABT.

The past 25 years or so have not been easy financially for ABT. The company emerged from the Baryshnikov era on the precipice of bankruptcy and nearly went under. They managed to claw their way back to solvency by the end of the 90s but then the dot.com implosion in 2001 set back long-term fundraising. They managed to get back on reasonably solid footing again by mid-decade but then the economic collapse of 2008 and the resulting Great Recession happened. Unfortunately, ABT is constantly in a boom-or-bust financial cycle, which makes managing the roster very, very difficult from a financial perspective. (And, let me add, that this is no way justifies the how of Veronika Part's dismissal.)

 

One other thing I would add. When the collapse of 2008 happened, the ABT dancers voted to take any cut to the dancers' salaries as a group and ABT management went along with it. This was in contrast to what happened at the New York City Ballet and the Miami City Ballet, where Peter Martins and Edward Villella cold-bloodedly cut loose dancers who were deemed expendable. The grass isn't necessarily greener every place else but ABT. 

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Posted (edited)

Miliosr makes a great point. I had forgotten about the concession of the ABT dancers to take a pay cut.

 

Also wanted to add a question.  I thought Part was a wonderful dancer and I treasure her performances.  If Part had stayed at the Mariinsky, do you think she would have eventually been elevated to principal?  The competition at the Mariinsky is fierce and they had so many world class ballerinas who were Part's contemporaries (Lopatkina, Vishneva).  At ABT, she was a unique dancer with Vaganova training, unlike any of the other ABT ballerinas.

Edited by abatt

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3 minutes ago, abatt said:

Regarding Part's latest comments (translated in an earlier post above), she compares her situation to Julie Kent and Ferri, both of whom were permitted to dance with ABT at far more advanced ages than Part's.  The fact that she is comparing herself to them is indicative that Part has no sense of how having a massive audience following can influence your standing at ABT.  Kent was the face of ABT for decades and was a beloved figure with a huge following; that following trailed off by the end because her ability had declined so much.  She had a special place in ABT history.  Ferri also had a massive following and a legendary career, so it was a box office bonanza for ABT when she decided to make a comeback and dance 2 shows last season and this season.  Unfortunately, if we are being completely realistic, Part did not have either a huge fan base or a historically significant relationship with ABT, so she was never going to receive the same treatment as either Kent or Ferri.

 

She's also saying those things in what's undoubtedly an extremely frustrating, troubled, stressful time –– which of course is not the best time for one to be posting publicly on Facebook. She may well have a sense of that in general. If so, though, she hasn't shown a strong interest in all the sort of social media-based "personal brand management" that has become so common. 

 

And on the last point, you're certainly right.

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Posted (edited)

Just to clarify, the popularity of Ferri and Kent had nothing to do with social media.  I would say the only ABT dancer who has really exploited social media/PR machine to an art form is Misty Copeland.

Edited by abatt

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Posted (edited)

23 minutes ago, abatt said:

Regarding Part's latest comments (translated in an earlier post above), she compares her situation to Julie Kent and Ferri, both of whom were permitted to dance with ABT at far more advanced ages than Part's.  The fact that she is comparing herself to them is indicative that Part has no sense of how having a massive audience following can influence your standing at ABT.  Kent was the face of ABT for decades and was a beloved figure with a huge following; that following trailed off by the end because her ability had declined so much.  She had a special place in ABT history.  Ferri also had a massive following and a legendary career, so it was a box office bonanza for ABT when she decided to make a comeback and dance 2 shows last season and this season. 

I got the sense from tracking ticket sales on the Met's website that the Ferri factor had much less of an impact this year (or maybe they managed to sell a bunch of tickets closer to the show dates). It could have been a variety of factors: the novelty of her return had worn off; Onegin had never been one of her signature roles; her technical/physical state became too much of a hurdle for some fans; balletomanes spent their money on Vishneva's farewell instead. If anyone attended and saw something different in terms of seats sold, please chime in.

 

In Part's defense, she was responding to remarks about ballet being only for the young, and she cited Ferri and Kent as two dancers who clearly have defied that. I think she must be well aware she is held in a different regard by ABT.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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1 minute ago, abatt said:

Just to clarify, the popularity of Ferri and Kent had nothing to do with social media.  I would say the only ABT dancer who has really exploited social media/PR machine to an art form is Misty Copeland.

They could get away with not having social media self-marketing only because they are a generation behind Copeland; when it wasn't popular/necessary.

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Just now, abatt said:

Just to clarify, the popularity of Ferri and Kent had nothing to do with social media.  I would say the only ABT dancer who has really exploited social media/PR machine to an art form is Misty Copeland.

 

Oh yes, I didn't mean to suggest that. I just meant that the fact Part doesn't even engage to the degree of other non-Misty principals (e.g. Murphy, Whiteside, Boylston, etc.) suggests that if she's aware of how essential having a mass audience following can be, she hasn't acted on that awareness in that particular way.

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I think it simply comes down to popularity. I didn't sense that Part ever had that big a following at ABT, except for the diehards. And I wonder what a good solution would be so as to promote soloists that have earned the right to be a principal. At some point, someone has to go. 

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...on the other hand, she does have some social media presence, and the fact that so many of her former ABT colleagues have been completely silent there regarding her departure (a huge contrast to the many tributes to Vishneva) is really striking, and disappointing. There have been some exceptions. But why such total silence from dancers such as Gomes and Whiteside (both former frequent partners), Murphy (fellow senior principal), etc? Is it self-protection? If so, that seems extreme.

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1 hour 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. 

But can you imagine the hew and cry if it had been Stella who was terminated instead of Part.?  After waiting so long for her promotion, it would have been a total PR disaster if ABT had terminated Abrera now.  They will have to give her a few years in her new capacity perhaps just to please her very formidable fan base.  I love Stella and wish she could have had a longer time, but I do wonder about up coming rep for her.  I doubt she will ever get a "Swan Lake", or a "Bayadere".  I hope it will be Abrera who will decide when it's her time to leave and not ABT's.   Also, I find it odd that ABT supported so many dancers who were long term injuries (Hallberg, Cornejo, Hammoudi, Gillian, this year in particular, Stella even, and some in the corps also....Zhong-Jing Fang comes to mind ), but that they were so impatient with Part and her injuries.  She at times struggled to "work through them" rather than stay out and truly heal.  I'm only saying it feels to me as if ABT never truly understood what a treasure they had in Part and thus never really gave her full support.   Even now, with Kolpakova getting older (although who would guess it!), ABT could REALLY, REALLY use someone like Part to help coach and guide these younger Principles.  Role models and mentoring are such a big part (no pun intended!) of becoming a true artist. Despite what Veronika is saying now, I so hope she will find a place somewhere in which HER artistry can be fully appreciated.

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51 minutes ago, mimsyb said:

But can you imagine the hew and cry if it had been Stella who was terminated instead of Part.?  After waiting so long for her promotion, it would have been a total PR disaster if ABT had terminated Abrera now.  They will have to give her a few years in her new capacity perhaps just to please her very formidable fan base.  I love Stella and wish she could have had a longer time, but I do wonder about up coming rep for her.  I doubt she will ever get a "Swan Lake", or a "Bayadere".  I hope it will be Abrera who will decide when it's her time to leave and not ABT's.  

 

Also, I find it odd that ABT supported so many dancers who were long term injuries (Hallberg, Cornejo, Hammoudi, Gillian, this year in particular, Stella even, and some in the corps also....Zhong-Jing Fang comes to mind ), but that they were so impatient with Part and her injuries.  She at times struggled to "work through them" rather than stay out and truly heal.  I'm only saying it feels to me as if ABT never truly understood what a treasure they had in Part and thus never really gave her full support.   Even now, with Kolpakova getting older (although who would guess it!), ABT could REALLY, REALLY use someone like Part to help coach and guide these younger Principles.  Role models and mentoring are such a big part (no pun intended!) of becoming a true artist. Despite what Veronika is saying now, I so hope she will find a place somewhere in which HER artistry can be fully appreciated.

 

I agree that there would have been an ever bigger uproar if Abrera had been terminated instead, since she was recently promoted. It could also be due to the fact that Abrera is smaller and easier to partner. We keep coming back to that issue regarding Part because it's important (though I'm not insinuating that that's the definite reason she was let go). I also wonder about the diversity issue. Since Copeland went front page regarding the lack of color in ABT's ranks (a very important issue), ABT started Project Plie and has become significantly more aware and assertive about attracting diversity to its school, community and company. Abrera didn't garner as much attention as Copeland when she was promoted, but several publications and interviews did emphasize that she was the first Philippino-American promoted to principal at ABT. That is something. I'm certainly not suggesting that Abrera was promoted because of a diversity initiative (she more than deserved it). I'm only saying that ABT has become acutely aware of diversity, and the lack thereof, in their ranks so it's something to consider when they probably would have received quite a backlash for letting go a principal who is well liked merely two years after promoting her and she was also a "first" in regards to diversity.

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2 hours ago, abatt said:

...

Also wanted to add a question.  I thought Part was a wonderful dancer and I treasure her performances.  If Part had stayed at the Mariinsky, do you think she would have eventually been elevated to principal?  The competition at the Mariinsky is fierce and they had so many world class ballerinas who were Part's contemporaries (Lopatkina, Vishneva).  At ABT, she was a unique dancer with Vaganova training, unlike any of the other ABT ballerinas.

 

That was my heyday of living and working in St Petersburg. So glad that you asked this Q, Abatt.

 

Short answer:  No-Way-in-H***. 

Longer answer: Until her mentor Zubkovskaya passed away ca 1999, Part was given occasional chances at major roles (a couple of O/Os, Emeralds "walking pdd girl"  role, a Muse in Apollo, etc.) and, of course, that great chance as the first Lilac Fairy in the SB-Vikharev revival in spring '99. After Zubkovskaya died, she danced very little and had gained noticeable weight (for a dancer). For ex., during a 2000 tour of Japan, she danced "Big Swan" to Gumerova's O/O in a famous telecast. (To put things in to perspective.) I remember Wash DC fans who knew of her, barely recognized her "stuffed" into her Lilac costumes on the first of the annual Mariinsky tours to DC, ca 2000/01. Her career stalled; she was not involved in big Vikharev and Ratmansky premieres in her last two years in Russia. When she re-emerged in the USA, she had to work hard (at NYCB studios, I think, because her then-boyfriend worked there) to regain her 1999 figure and strengthen the technique that, to be honest, was barely there. But the beautiful dancer prevailed and got into ABT. To her great credit, she defied the thinking of all of us who knew of her in St P from 1995/96 (her grad year) through her departure: she miraculously became an ABT Principal. When I think back to the tall beauty who carefully essayed her "Pavlova & Ceccheti" solo - because it was basically a solo with Vadim Desnitsky standing by the side as Ceccheti - at the 1995 pre-graduation year, I am so pleased that she defied the odds and had a notable career. I would never have predicted that. So now I celebrate the greater-than-imagined career that Part enjoyed. Cheers!

 

Abatt, during her five or so years as a pro at the Mariinsky, she contended with much more than Lopatkina & Vishneva. Remember -- Zakharova was then there. Also, then vying for Principaldom, Dumchenko & Pavlenko. She also overlapped with Volochkova's first 3-4 years at the MT, before she went to the Bolshoi. The Russian ballet world is much tougher on "big" ballerinas than we are in the West (think Volochkova!). That alone would likely have relegated her to walk-on roles. She was so lucky to have made it out of Russia. [Kondaurova's extreme slenderness helped her cause...ditto Lopatkina. Their very tall & big-boned contemporaries, Part, Amosova and Serova, weren't so lucky.]

 

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Thanks for the insights, Natalia.

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Natalia said:

Longer answer: Until her mentor Zubkovskaya passed away ca 1999, Part was given occasional chances at major roles (a couple of O/Os, Emeralds "walking pdd girl"  role, a Muse in Apollo, etc.) and, of course, that great chance as the first Lilac Fairy in the SB-Vikharev revival in spring '99. After Zubkovskaya died, she danced very little and had gained noticeable weight (for a dancer). For ex., during a 2000 tour of Japan, she danced "Big Swan" to Gumerova's O/O in a famous telecast. (To put things in to perspective.) I remember Wash DC fans who knew of her, barely recognized her "stuffed" into her Lilac costumes on the first of the annual Mariinsky tours to DC, ca 2000/01. Her career stalled; she was not involved in big Vikharev and Ratmansky premieres in her last two years in Russia. When she re-emerged in the USA, she had to work hard (at NYCB studios, I think, because her then-boyfriend worked there) to regain her 1999 figure and strengthen the technique that, to be honest, was barely there. But the beautiful dancer prevailed and got into ABT. To her great credit, she defied the thinking of all of us who knew of her in St P from 1995/96 (her grad year) through her departure: she miraculously became an ABT Principal.

I vividly remember Veronika Part from the 1999 Mariinsky tour at the Metropolitan Opera.  She was very prominently featured in many of the programs:  Part danced Maria in "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai" with Asylmuratova as Zarema.  She was Terpsichore in "Apollo" and I believe also danced the Second Movement in "Symphony in C".  I also remember her as the Lilac Fairy in the Vikharev reconstruction of "The Sleeping Beauty".  I remember that Part was very tall but also very slender and rather more willowy of build than she was when she entered ABT a few years later.  Anyway, on the 1999 Mariinsky tour Part was put forward very prominently in multiple leading roles as an emerging star of the new generation along with Vishneva, Lopatkina and Zakharova.

 

Part danced Odette/Odile for the first time in New York in the summer of 2002 during a Kirov-Mariinsky residency as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.  I don't remember her being notably out of shape at that time.  I think that was the year the Mariinsky performed "Jewels" in NYC and Veronika did the walking solo in "Emeralds".  Again, she was prominently featured on that 2002 tour and I believe also danced Nikiya in "La Bayadere" on a London tour around that time.  

 

Later that year Veronika joined American Ballet Theater where she was relegated most of the time to dancing "Tribute to George Harrison" in jeans as part of the ensemble.  A weight gain was noticeable in her first years with ABT and also struggles with basic ballet technique.  Something seemed to be off from the very beginning of her tenure at ABT.  Part seemed constantly to be fighting to maintain her position and for recognition at ABT right from the get go.

 

Interviews indicate that Veronika took classes at Steps on Broadway, not NYCB to get back in shape.  Her instructor who became her boyfriend and later fiancé, was Alexander Tressor who was teaching classes at Steps.  I don't know if she and Tressor ever got married - he seems to be fighting Parkinsons disease and teaches in Connecticut these days.

 

Edited by FauxPas

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Posted (edited)

I definitely saw one SL O/O in StP ca 1998 - at least a year before Zubkovskaya died. Her Siegfried may have been Ilya Kuznetsov....who usually danced Von Roth. It was an unusual Odette-Siegfried pairing. (My Russian playbills & albums are at home. I'm currently on work-related travel.)

 

fauxpas, she may have gone to Alexander @ Steps, but...

 

Edited by Natalia
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