Jump to content
Dale

Veronika Part leaving ABT

Recommended Posts

I've gotta say, I just can't feel too terrible for her. That all sounds pretty reasonable to me. 

 

If you're "the marquee star of the company" and you're 44 years old and you have a major surgery and you come back with noticeably diminished flexibility –– well, you have a choice. You either stick it out and face the fact that your role in the company is going to change –– that you may no longer be given all the roles that you've been dancing for 22 years –– or you decide you don't want to face a reasonable decline in reportoire and casting opportunities and you get out before that happens. Either of those options seems respectable to me.

 

"I want you to only look best on stage. And I don’t think this makes you look your best." –– That doesn't sound like a terribly unreasonable thing for an AD to say  to a dancer in that situation. Things are going to change. He didn't fire her or force her to retire at that point. He altered her position in the company in what seems to me like a reasonable way.

Edited by nanushka

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I've gotta say, I just can't feel too terrible for her. That all sounds pretty reasonable to me. 

 

If you're "the marquee star of the company" and you're 44 years old and you have a major surgery and you come back with noticeably diminished flexibility –– well, you have a choice. You either stick it out and face the fact that your role in the company is going to change –– that you may no longer be given roles that you've been dancing for 22 years –– or you decide you don't want to face a reasonable decline in reportoire and casting opportunities and you get out before that happens.

 

"I want you to only look best on stage. And I don’t think this makes you look your best." –– That doesn't sound like a terribly unreasonable thing for an AD to say  to a dancer in that situation. Things are going to change. He didn't fire her or force her to retire at that point. He altered her position in the company in what seems to me like a reasonable way.

You expressed my thoughts better than I could nanushka, thank you. I've watched too many dancers hang on to certain roles for too long. It's painful as an audience member and fan. I heard an interview with Jacques D'amboise in which he said, late in his career, he came off stage from a ballet (I don't remember which) and his wife told him he shouldn't dance the piece anymore. He argued that he was still able to do it, but she said he didn't look as good in it as he had just months before. (paraphrasing). That's a loving wife. He took her advise. 

 

None of us want to hear what we shouldn't do anymore as we age. All in all I think Whelan was treated respectfully.

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, vipa said:

None of us want to hear what we shouldn't do anymore as we age. All in all I think Whelan was treated respectfully.

The only upside I saw to the Veronika debacle was that she left the company still giving beautiful performances in her signature roles. 

Share this post


Link to post

Someone once said "Ballet is the cruel art," but I can't for the life of me recall who said it or find the quote via a Google search. I used to think it was Pushkin, but I can't find it anywhere in his writings. Has anyone else heard this? It could have many meanings, of course, including the difficult and intensive training; the difficulties rising in a company; and a hundred other factors would fall under these difficulties; but I think the worst is the shortness of a dancer's career and the difficulty of retiring from an activity that can bring tremendous sacrifice, satisfaction, accolades, narcissistic gratification, but above all, joy, is the cruelest part of the equation. They don't always tell you about retiring when you're winning competitions at the beginning of a promising career. Too tired to write more, but you get my gist.

Share this post


Link to post
7 minutes ago, angelica said:

 Too tired to write more, but you get my gist.

 

Indeed. "A dancer dies twice."

 

Edited to add:

The first time, if they're really lucky (and have the foresight), they get to set the terms.

Edited by nanushka

Share this post


Link to post
9 minutes ago, angelica said:

... They don't always tell you about retiring when you're winning competitions at the beginning of a promising career. 

In my experience they do tell you, but you have no idea what that really means when you're 15. 

Ballet dancers sacrifice their entire  youth to the consuming art. Then where are you when it's over? 

Share this post


Link to post

As I remember, no-one on the board who commented on Part's performances this season wrote that she looked seriously diminished or needed to consider retirement. Rightly or wrongly, People DID write that way about Kent at the end of her career. 

 

What's written by fans is not the last word on any dancer, and most fans are not dance professionals. But as a general principle I'm not really on board with the idea that major ballerinas should be pushed out of the way prematurely. Sure, some hang on too long, but some dance with real greatness into their early forties and often with qualities the most sensational younger ballerina may not (yet) have. While companies need to promote younger dancers, they also need high quality senior dancers. 

 

Whatever reason ABT let Part go, I'm inclined to think it is a shame the ballet world did not get another season or two of her dancing.

Edited by Drew

Share this post


Link to post
7 hours ago, canbelto said:

And after watching Restless Creatures, it seems like Wendy still hasn't gotten over it. It was sad to hear that she doesn't keep in touch with her former NYCB colleagues and the rift between her and Peter Martins hasn't been mended.

 

I get the sense that she's a bit more at peace with this now than she was when those scenes were shot, but I imagine it still stings.

 

She's very frank throughout the whole film -- her comments on coming to grips with that kind of change in her identity as a dancer were in my head as I was reading this thread about Part.

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, nanushka said:

I've gotta say, I just can't feel too terrible for her. That all sounds pretty reasonable to me. 

 

If you're "the marquee star of the company" and you're 44 years old and you have a major surgery and you come back with noticeably diminished flexibility –– well, you have a choice. You either stick it out and face the fact that your role in the company is going to change –– that you may no longer be given all the roles that you've been dancing for 22 years –– or you decide you don't want to face a reasonable decline in reportoire and casting opportunities and you get out before that happens. Either of those options seems respectable to me.

 

"I want you to only look best on stage. And I don’t think this makes you look your best." –– That doesn't sound like a terribly unreasonable thing for an AD to say  to a dancer in that situation. Things are going to change. He didn't fire her or force her to retire at that point. He altered her position in the company in what seems to me like a reasonable way.

Just wanted to note that in Restless Creature and in the article canbelto linked to, the timing is that Wendy was not injured in nov 2011 when Martins called her in and told her he didn't think she should dance sugarplum.  She says in Restless Creature that the conversation affected her so profoundly she began to doubt herself, and suffered the hip injury - her first major experience with debilitating pain in her career - after that talk. She basically blames the sugarplum conversation for her injury. And after that she was no longer the same.  

Share this post


Link to post

I loved Wendy Whelan, but I don't know if Sugarplum was ever a good role for her, especially not later in her career. Whelan was never the joyful fairy sprightly type. Martins' statement was perfectly reasonable, even considerate. It must be terrible sometimes to be the AD and have to juggle different egos. 

Share this post


Link to post
21 minutes ago, Fleurfairy said:

I loved Wendy Whelan, but I don't know if Sugarplum was ever a good role for her, especially not later in her career. Whelan was never the joyful fairy sprightly type. Martins' statement was perfectly reasonable, even considerate. It must be terrible sometimes to be the AD and have to juggle different egos. 

 

I saw Wendy in Nutcracker around 2008. She wasn't the joyful sprightly type but she was technically excellent in the grand pas de deux. The one tutu role I saw her struggle with throughout her career was Diamonds. She wasn't bad, but romantic reverie roles were never her thing, and her upper body was too harsh and angular to look good in the Diamonds tutu.

Share this post


Link to post
10 hours ago, Drew said:

While companies need to promote younger dancers, they also need high quality senior dancers. 

That's part of the problem.  ABT does already has high quality senior dancers- Murphy and Abrera, who are both approximately either 38 or 39.  In addition to the financial issues discussed above, ABT needed some young principal women who are not limited by a history of injuries.  Since the principal women roster is always about 8 or 9, they did not need 1/3 of that roster to be comprised of ladies pushing 40.  Someone had to go.  Murphy still can dance most of the killer roles, although she seems to be injured for a portion of every season.  Since Stella was only just recently promoted to principal 2 yrs ago, they were not going to fire her.  That left Part.

 

 

Let's not forget that to put together a season of 8 consecutive weeks of performances, you need a very healthy and robust team of dancers at your disposal.  You cannot throw a corps dancer into Nikiya or O.O, the way Martins can throw a corps dancer into a 20 minute rep piece.  The principal roster needs to be healthy and ready to dance, and ready to fill in for extra shows too in the event of illness or injury to another lead dancer.

Edited by abatt

Share this post


Link to post
8 hours ago, balanchinette said:

 She basically blames the sugarplum conversation for her injury. And after that she was no longer the same.  

Whelan also seems to implicitly blame Martins and NYCB for her decision not to have a baby.  Really?

Edited by abatt

Share this post


Link to post
17 minutes ago, abatt said:

That's part of the problem.  ABT does already has high quality senior dancers- Murphy and Abrera, who are both approximately either 38 or 39.  In addition to the financial issues discussed above, ABT needed some young principal women who are not limited by a history of injuries.  Since the principal women roster is always about 8 or 9, they did not need 1/3 of that roster to be comprised of ladies pushing 40.  Someone had to go.  Murphy still can dance most of the killer roles, although she seems to be injured for a portion of every season.  Since Stella was only just recently promoted to principal 2 yrs ago, they were not going to fire her.  That left Part.

 

 

Let's not forget that to put together a season of 8 consecutive weeks of performances, you need a very healthy and robust team of dancers at your disposal.  You cannot throw a corps dancer into Nikiya or O.O, the way Martins can throw a corps dancer into a 20 minute rep piece.  The principal roster needs to be healthy and ready to dance, and ready to fill in for extra shows too in the event of illness or injury to another lead dancer.

 

This reasoning would make a lot more sense to me if these dancers were 42 or 43 rather than 38 or 39, and if they were showing noticeable signs of diminished technique. I don't really see a problem with having 3 out of 9 female principals nearing 40, especially considering the strength of the female soloist roster to fill out the casting.

Share this post


Link to post
17 minutes ago, abatt said:

Whelan also seems to implicitly blame Martins and NYCB for her decision not to have a baby.  Really?

 

I read it more as "Hey I made this sacrifice for you, I did everything right, and now this is how you're treating me?"

 

(But maybe that's what you meant?)

Edited by nanushka

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, nanushka said:

 

I read it more as "Hey I made this sacrifice for you, I did everything right, and now this is how you're treating me?"

Right, I agree with your reading.  Whelan felt that she made the sacrifice of not having a kid because her first or only loyalty was to NYCB.  However, to me that demonstrates a lack of self awareness.  Nobody at NYCB ever told her not have a kid, and there are numerous principal women at NYCB who did have kids and then return.  Wendy's choice was based on what she wanted to do with her own life, without having the burden or distraction of raising a child. 

Share this post


Link to post

From everything I've read or seen about Wendy, she seemed to have been one of those ballerinas whose motto is: "My work is my life and my life is my work." In Restless Creatures she says "If I don't dance I'd rather die." She probably thought that having a baby would disrupt her total and complete dedication to her career and was stung when NYCB moved on without her. 

 

Again, I only bring this up because for years Wendy was described as a completely down-to-earth, devoted-to-her-craft ballerina and she handled her retirement with a lot less equanimity than expected. 

 

I was shocked that she says she doesn't go to the ballet anymore nor does she keep in touch with her colleagues at NYCB. 

Edited by canbelto

Share this post


Link to post
4 minutes ago, canbelto said:

From everything I've read or seen about Wendy, she seemed to have been one of those ballerinas whose motto is: "My work is my life and my life is my work." In Restless Creatures she says "If I don't dance I'd rather die." She probably thought that having a baby would disrupt her total and complete dedication to her career and was stung when NYCB moved on without her. 

 

Again, I only bring this up because for years Wendy was described as a completely down-to-earth, devoted-to-her-craft ballerina and she handled her retirement with a lot less equanimity than expected. 

 

Yes, that's very interesting. I think abatt's reference to "self awareness" is spot on, then. Because if your implicit motto is "My work is my life and my life is my work" –– well, unless you're planning ahead for the inevitable, you're going to face a crisis.

Share this post


Link to post

I will say this so: the last couple times I saw Wendy I was shocked at how much her technique had eroded. For instance in La Sonnambula those silky smooth bourrees were rather effortful. I already mentioned Glass Pieces too.

 

With Veronika I didn't any erosion of technique -- in fact she seemed to be getting more consistent and was also coming out of her shell on social media. She posted some very funny pictures. So I think her dismissal must have come as a greater shock because she might have felt that she'd finally arrived at a good place -- getting along with her colleagues, becoming more consistent, having roles created on her (via Ratmansky). 

 

 

Edited by canbelto

Share this post


Link to post
14 hours ago, nanushka said:

I've gotta say, I just can't feel too terrible for her. That all sounds pretty reasonable to me. 

 

If you're "the marquee star of the company" and you're 44 years old and you have a major surgery and you come back with noticeably diminished flexibility –– well, you have a choice. You either stick it out and face the fact that your role in the company is going to change –– that you may no longer be given all the roles that you've been dancing for 22 years –– or you decide you don't want to face a reasonable decline in reportoire and casting opportunities and you get out before that happens. Either of those options seems respectable to me.

 

"I want you to only look best on stage. And I don’t think this makes you look your best." –– That doesn't sound like a terribly unreasonable thing for an AD to say  to a dancer in that situation. Things are going to change. He didn't fire her or force her to retire at that point. He altered her position in the company in what seems to me like a reasonable way.

 

I agree. I understand Balanchine, for one, would just start taking your roles away, and if confronted he was a lot less diplomatic. Martins didn't take away the part and let her stew, he called her in to tell her face to face what was going to happen and why. There is no way such a conversation is not going to hurt, but even by Whelan's own telling Martins seems to have done a difficult thing in a decent way.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, canbelto said:

With Veronika I didn't any erosion of technique -- in fact she seemed to be getting more consistent and was also coming out of her shell on social media. She posted some very funny pictures. So I think her dismissal must have come as a greater shock because she might have felt that she'd finally arrived at a good place -- getting along with her colleagues, becoming more consistent, having roles created on her (via Ratmansky).  

 

1

I agree, canbelto. When she had glitches, they were usually in turns, though she became much more reliable in the past several years. She also learned how to roll with the punches and not let imperfections interfere with her performances. For instance, in her recent Swan Lake, she had to switch legs during the end of the adagio in the Act II pas de deux (the part where Odette flutters her free foot). This must have been necessitated by her ankle injury. In her early years with ABT, Part often became visibly disturbed by issues like these, but she got to a place where the bobbles were far less frequent, and when they did happen, she didn't let them interrupt the overall flow of the performance. There has been some loss of flexibility in the past couple seasons (perhaps also related to a back injury), but she still looked beautiful. She also managed to stay in remarkably good physical shape, despite being given reduced performance opportunities.

 

I expected her to have at least one more season, if not two or three. I still think she has some beautiful Odette/Odiles and Nikiyas left in her. It's too bad she didn't get to dance Aurora after the Kirkland production was scrapped, but I understand she's not everyone's idea of an ideal Aurora. And I can't decide whether or not the reconstruction would have been a good fit for her.

 

Edited to add: I hope this isn't too dramatic, but I still feel like I'm in a state of mourning about not being able to see those future Odette/Odiles and Nikiyas on the Met stage, or possibly anywhere. It hasn't fully sunk in for me.

Edited by fondoffouettes

Share this post


Link to post

Can coaching positions  have sponsorships/endowments/ fellowships?   Part's resume [Vaganova School, danced soloist and principal roles at the Mariinsky and ABT, over 39 years old] indicates a transition to a teaching/coaching position with ABT [JKO] with occasional performances.  

 

Part's experience is unique in the US and ABT needs coaches for it's repertoire.  I saw the Part/Whiteside SL at the KC.  Part did about 25 fouettes but used the music-planning.  

Edited by maps

Share this post


Link to post

I'm not sure everyone is cut out for teaching or coaching simply because they have a strong personal resume.  I have no idea whether Part would be considered a good candidate for that type of job.  Communication skills and personality factor into the equation.

Share this post


Link to post

Based on the reports about how most of the dancers onstage after Part's final performance did not extend to her the same affection and, let's face it, respect as they did for Vishneva, I'd say that she and they are not good fits in terms of coaching. The relationship needs to be mutually respectful.

Share this post


Link to post

A factor we'll likely never know for sure: the details of the supposed negotiations for her to make occasional appearances next season. Perhaps she thought she was worth more money or more appearances than McKenzie was willing to offer. Until they both come clean in their memoirs some day, all we will know are rumors and speculation about why she was cut off this year.

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×