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ABT: Roster in Review - 2018

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From Cassandra Trenary's Instagram, it looks like her husband, Gray Davis (the subway hero....), may be leaving after the Met season to become the new Artist in Residence at The Georgia Academy of Dance and the Performing Arts. She says that he starts in the Fall and I'm assuming that's a full-time job.

 

That aside, thought I'd pose the question of who do we predict will be promoted (or hope to see) at the end of the Met season this year?

My money is on Shayer. It'll be inexplicable if he's not.

They need more female soloists, and I think Hurlin is in the running. Also, maybe Waski, if her Myrta debut is successful.

I don't expect anyone to be promoted to principal this year. I wouldn't be surprised if they hire a male principal at the end of the season, though.

 

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Eric Underwood's available.  That is of course, if he hasn't quit ballet altogether. 

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13 hours ago, Tapfan said:

Eric Underwood's available.  That is of course, if he hasn't quit ballet altogether. 

ABT seems pretty open to welcoming back dancers who've previously departed. Ribagorda and Radetsky come to mind, and Nicole Graniero seems to be dancing with them for some of their on-the-road engagements, as well as the Met (but I guess maybe she's just contracted on a performance-by-performance basis). 

But I wonder if simply too much time has elapsed since Underwood last danced with ABT for him to be welcomed back with opera arms. I do remember him as a very promising corps dancer. He's 33, as well, so I suspect they may be looking for male principals that have at least a decade or so of dancing still ahead of them. But you never know. 

 

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If they do promote a male to principal, it will probably be Hammoudi. I don't forsee any female soloists making principal for a couple of years at least.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Fleurfairy said:

If they do promote a male to principal, it will probably be Hammoudi. I don't forsee any female soloists making principal for a couple of years at least.

A year ago, I would have said he'll never get promoted, but with Gomes gone and Hallberg barely dancing, I would say it's not out of the question. I think it would be a desperate move on ABT's part, but it's possible.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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12 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

A year ago, I would have said he'll never get promoted, but with Gomes gone and Hallberg barely dancing, I would say it's not out of the question. I think it would be a desperate move on ABT's part, but it's not out of the question at this point. 

I guess I wouldn't be surprised. However, Hammoudi is barely dancing. He's doing one Siegfried at the Met (and two Espada's). That's it. No Albrecht or Romeo, even though he's done both in the past. A corps dancer is debuting as Solor, not him. Unless he's tapped to cover for Hallberg, assuming Hallberg cannot dance, it would be desperate to say the least to promote someone who's dancing ONE lead. I've been thinking that maybe the company has finally wised up regarding him, and that's why he's doing so little. He only did SL in Singapore as a sub, for, I can't remember who (Gomes? Lendorf?). 

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3 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

I guess I wouldn't be surprised. However, Hammoudi is barely dancing. He's doing one Siegfried at the Met (and two Espada's). That's it. No Albrecht or Romeo, even though he's done both in the past. A corps dancer is debuting as Solor, not him. Unless he's tapped to cover for Hallberg, assuming Hallberg cannot dance, it would be desperate to say the least to promote someone who's dancing ONE lead. I've been thinking that maybe the company has finally wised up regarding him, and that's why he's doing so little. He only did SL in Singapore as a sub, for, I can't remember who (Gomes? Lendorf?). 

That's true. It reminds me a lot of Gennadi Saveliev, who danced a principal role every once in a while and was a go-to when a sub was needed. I think it became clear after a while that he was going to remain a soloist. 

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I wonder if they'll try to lure Jared Mathews away from Houston Ballet?

 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, Tapfan said:

I wonder if they'll try to lure Jared Mathews away from Houston Ballet?

Then they'd no doubt have to also take back Yuriko Kajiya. Don't know if they're willing to take both of them back.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, cobweb said:

I’d say welcome back to both. 

Since they are both principals in Houston, I doubt they'd want to come back to the soloist rep they were doing before they left.  I don't see Yuriko Kajiya being promoted to principal at ABT at this point.

Edited by vipa

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22 hours ago, Fleurfairy said:

If they do promote a male to principal, it will probably be Hammoudi.

I hope not.   I'd sooner see them bring in an established/capable male dancer from the outside, than promote a dancer to a position beyond their capabilities.  He might be fine as a principal at a regional company, but ABT is still considered to be one of the finest ballet companies in the world.  If they encourage and endorse a mediocre level of dancing to be "good enough" for the world stage, then I believe they are no longer interested in keeping their position as one of the world’s top ballet companies.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, NinaFan said:

I hope not.   I'd sooner see them bring in an established/capable male dancer from the outside, than promote a dancer to a position beyond their capabilities.  He might be fine as a principal at a regional company, but ABT is still considered to be one of the finest ballet companies in the world.  If they encourage and endorse a mediocre level of dancing to be "good enough" for the world stage, then I believe they are no longer interested in keeping their position as one of the world’s top ballet companies.

With a few notable exceptions, I think ABT has already lost its position as a top ballet company.   Mediocrity abounds.  They are certainly better than a "regional" company, but they no longer rank with top tier companies of the world in the full length rep that is their bread and butter.   We've all commented previously regardign notable lapses in certain dancers.  Many of the dancers who are principals at ABT wouldn't make it principal at top companies like the Mariinsky, Bolshoi or Royal Ballet.  In fact, some of ABT's principals wouldn't even make it to soloist at those companies.

Edited by abatt

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20 minutes ago, abatt said:

With a few notable exceptions, I think ABT has already lost its position as a top ballet company.   Mediocrity abounds.  They are certainly better than a "regional" company, but they no longer rank with top tier companies of the world in the full length rep that is their bread and butter.   We've all commented previously regardign notable lapses in certain dancers.  Many of the dancers who are principals at ABT wouldn't make it principal at top companies like the Mariinsky, Bolshoi or Royal Ballet.  In fact, some of ABT's principals wouldn't even make it to soloist at those companies.

Agreed.  There are a number of dancers who do not belong at the principal level already.  I'd hate for ABT to continue that trend.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, abatt said:

With a few notable exceptions, I think ABT has already lost its position as a top ballet company.   Mediocrity abounds.  They are certainly better than a "regional" company, but they no longer rank with top tier companies of the world in the full length rep that is their bread and butter.   We've all commented previously regardign notable lapses in certain dancers.  Many of the dancers who are principals at ABT wouldn't make it principal at top companies like the Mariinsky, Bolshoi or Royal Ballet.  In fact, some of ABT's principals wouldn't even make it to soloist at those companies.

I'm inclined to agree with much of this, and my overall feelings about the company are at something of a low point these days (or months or years), but just to play devil's advocate, as I'm looking over the current principal roster...

Bolle, Cornejo, Hallberg, Lendorf, Murphy, Simkin: I don't get the sense that many on here would argue these dancers are not world-class, and deserving of a principal position in a top-tier company.

Seo, Boylston: I don't particularly like them, but the former has guested at the Mariinsky, I believe, and the latter recently guested at POB. So at least some must think they belong in such environments.

Cirio: He has something of an international profile as well, I believe, though I'm not as familiar with the details.

Abrera: Beloved by many on here including me. Deserving of a principal position in a top-tier company?

Lane: Beloved by many on here including me, though perhaps not as across-the-"board." Deserving of a principal position in a top-tier company?

Shevchenko, Teuscher: I like both quite a lot, but I don't think either is yet world-class. Still, I give them a pass for being first-year principals and fairly young. Even top-tier companies would have a couple of those, I'd guess.

Stearns, Whiteside: Enh. Still, I wouldn't say these two are enough to taint the whole enterprise.

That leaves us with Copeland. Admittedly, I haven't seen her dance since she made principal; she no longer dances many soloist roles, and I'm disinclined to buy tickets to performances in which she's the lead, based on reports I've read here.

I'm not sure this all adds up to an abundance of mediocrity. Though it's true casting plays a big role: when the more mediocre dancers get more performances, that creates an overall feeling of mediocrity, perhaps. That, plus the fact that several of the names in my first group above are rarely present, are soon to be less present, or are nearing the ends of their careers.

Really I'm just thinking aloud, though.

 

 

Edited by nanushka

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Bolle, Cornejo, Hallberg, Lendorf, Murphy, Simkin: I don't get the sense that many on here would argue these dancers are not world-class, and deserving of a principal position in a top-tier company.

Setting aside the issue of mediocrity, this group is problematic in its own right. Bolle is in his 40s and barely dances with the company any more. Hallberg and Lendorf are injured more often than not and also have loyalties elsewhere (the Australian Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet respectively.) Murphy is increasingly beset by injuries. Simkin will be spending a big portion of his time with another company. That leaves Cornejo as a major part of the company's backbone and he's past 35 as well.

1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Stearns, Whiteside: Enh. Still, I wouldn't say these two are enough to taint the whole enterprise.

I know these two have taken up the old 'Veronika Part - Divided Opinions' mantle but the company needs them. They are workhorses, especially now that Gomes is gone.

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8 minutes ago, miliosr said:

Setting aside the issue of mediocrity, this group is problematic in its own right. 

...

I know these two have taken up the old 'Veronika Part - Divided Opinions' mantle but the company needs them. They are workhorses, especially now that Gomes is gone.

Completely agree with you on both these points.

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Abrera: Beloved by many on here including me. Deserving of a principal position in a top-tier company?

Lane: Beloved by many on here including me, though perhaps not as across-the-"board." Deserving of a principal position in a top-tier company?

I think Stella in her prime was certainly deserving of principal at a top tier company. She still has so many lovely qualities as a dancer, but IMO her technique is not as strong anymore. All those years when she was dancing Lilac Fairy, Myrtha and Gamzatti and holding down the fort as a soloist she could have been a beautiful Aurora, O/O, Giselle, Nikya, etc. Alas now it's too late. Don't get me wrong she's a wonderful dancer still but her career never developed the way it should have.

As for Lane I believe she also is in her mid-30's when she finally got promoted. Again, we'll never know how her career might have progressed had she not spent so many years dancing the peasant pas de deux. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, canbelto said:

All those years when she was dancing Lilac Fairy, Myrtha and Gamzatti and holding down the fort as a soloist she could have been a beautiful Aurora, O/O, Giselle, Nikya, etc. Alas now it's too late. Don't get me wrong she's a wonderful dancer still but her career never developed the way it should have.

As for Lane I believe she also is in her mid-30's when she finally got promoted. Again, we'll never know how her career might have progressed had she not spent so many years dancing the peasant pas de deux. 

Ugh yes, this is something that has been SO frustrating about the careers of both of these fine dancers. And unfortunate.

Edited by nanushka

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22 minutes ago, canbelto said:

I think Stella in her prime was certainly deserving of principal at a top tier company. She still has so many lovely qualities as a dancer, but IMO her technique is not as strong anymore. All those years when she was dancing Lilac Fairy, Myrtha and Gamzatti and holding down the fort as a soloist she could have been a beautiful Aurora, O/O, Giselle, Nikya, etc. Alas now it's too late. Don't get me wrong she's a wonderful dancer still but her career never developed the way it should have.

As for Lane I believe she also is in her mid-30's when she finally got promoted. Again, we'll never know how her career might have progressed had she not spent so many years dancing the peasant pas de deux. 

All so true canbelto. I believe Sarah Lane is 33 so has some prime years left, but when I look at her casting in the Met, I believe that Kevin M is going to squander those years. Which brings me to another point. Casting is a contributing cause of the mediocracy that we see. Hee Seo, Boylston and Copeland are cast in pretty much everything, and we have Lane in Don Q but not Romeo & Juliet. Yes, yes I know the argument for Copeland getting Swan Lakes but if you took dancers out of roles they weren't suited for, it would give dancers who could excel in those roles more opportunities, and maybe even give more soloists a chance at principal roles.

As far as Lane being principal material for other major company - the Giselle I saw her do was world class. How things unfold is anybody's guess. If she was in any other company she'd be cast in Romeo and Juliet and probably not Don Q!

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, vipa said:

Casting is a contributing cause of the mediocracy that we see.

Definitely. From one perspective, a company is defined by its roster of dancers. From another, it's defined by the actual body of performances it presents to the public. In my opinion, ABT is a significantly weaker company when judged from the latter perspective than from the former.

Edited by nanushka

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11 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Definitely. From one perspective, a company is defined by its roster of dancers. From another, it's defined by the actual body of performances it presents to the public. In my opinion, ABT is a significantly weaker company when judged from the latter perspective than from the former.

So well put nanushka. I will always keep that in mind! 

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I know that I am not as familiar with the company as most people on this thread.

However, I think the company suffers from a few different policies:

1) the harm of numerous guest dancers for so many years.  

2) Kevin allowing several principals to stay on past their prime.  

Both of these policies have caused non-development of potential principals.  People like Messmer, Matthews and Kajiya (who have left), and Forster and Hoven in the soloist rank come to mind.  I am sure there are others who have left.  

3) Miscasting - once again, not allowing dancers to develop roles of which they should be given the opportunity.

4) Severe lack of creativity and vision.  While the company is supposedly America's classical company, the dancers should be afforded the opportunity for strong contemporary work.  Looking around at the other large companies in the U.S. and abroad, they are all performing works which afford the dancers the opportunity to work with current, contemporary, and proven choreographers.  (PNB, SFB, Boston, and numerous European companies come to mind.) While many here will disagree, I am delighted that the dancers are working with McGregor.  I do not consider Lang, Millipied, and the latest announcement of Dorrance, to be of the caliber the dancers deserve.  Obviously, an opinion.  I also wonder why the company has not joined in on the MacMillan celebration or Robbins celebration (I realize they performed "Other Dances.")  

I just do not see that management cares about developing its dancers, giving them opportunities to grow, and to become the artists they should/could be.  I get the sense that it is a "take or leave it" kind of situation at the company.    

 

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, its the mom said:

1) the harm of numerous guest dancers for so many years.

The company is paying the price now for the overreliance on guest stars in the first half of this decade. Dancers either left to pursue opportunities elsewhere or had to tread water for years.

50 minutes ago, its the mom said:

2) Kevin allowing several principals to stay on past their prime.

Julie Kent and, to a lesser extent, Paloma Herrera were the most egregious examples of this. The problems this caused were twofold: Kent and Herrera clung to spots that would have been better used to prepare younger ballerinas (see point #1) and, in Kent's case, her continuing presence led McKenzie to program ballets that suited an older, more experienced dancer like Kent but were ill-suited to twentysomething ballerinas.

50 minutes ago, its the mom said:

3) Miscasting - once again, not allowing dancers to develop roles of which they should be given the opportunity.

This manifests itself in dancers being cast regardless of whether or not they are suited for the role. We all remember 'Hee Seo Ballet Theatre'.

50 minutes ago, its the mom said:

4) Severe lack of creativity and vision.  While the company is supposedly America's classical company, the dancers should be afforded the opportunity for strong contemporary work.  Looking around at the other large companies in the U.S. and abroad, they are all performing works which afford the dancers the opportunity to work with current, contemporary, and proven choreographers.  (PNB, SFB, Boston, and numerous European companies come to mind.) While many here will disagree, I am delighted that the dancers are working with McGregor.  I do not consider Lang, Millipied, and the latest announcement of Dorrance, to be of the caliber the dancers deserve.  Obviously, an opinion.  I also wonder why the company has not joined in on the MacMillan celebration or Robbins celebration (I realize they performed "Other Dances.")

Of all your excellent points, this is the only one I disagree with. Baryshnikov tried this in the 80s and a portion of the audience drifted away. The ABT audience didn't want to see Karole Armitage, Merce Cunningham and David Gordon. Paul Taylor (!) was considered radical enough!!!

In any event, the sheer size of the Met works against programming a lot of these one act wonders who make works for the companies you cite. (It will be interesting to see just how well Wayne McGregor sells.)

50 minutes ago, its the mom said:

I just do not see that management cares about developing its dancers, giving them opportunities to grow, and to become the artists they should/could be.  I get the sense that it is a "take or leave it" kind of situation at the company.

I don't know that their unconcerned about developing dancers. There are very real problems with the number of coaches on staff relative to the number of dancers. But that's a resource issue.

I don't think management is wrong to have a "take it or leave it" approach. You cited Messmer, Matthews and Kajiya as departures. I would add Sterling Baca, Roddy Doble and Matt Golding. But there was always someone to replace them. We can argue about whether the replacements are as good as what might have been if the departing dancers had stayed. But the continuing willingness of people to join the company tells me it's still a buyer's market at ABT rather than a seller's market.

Edited by miliosr

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15 minutes ago, miliosr said:

Of all your excellent points, this is the only one I disagree with. Baryshnikov tried this in the 80s and a portion of the audience drifted away. The ABT audience didn't want to see Karole Armitage, Merce Cunningham and David Gordon. Paul Taylor (!) was considered radical enough!!!

In any event, the sheer size of the Met works against programming a lot of these one act wonders who make works for the companies you cite. (It will be interesting to see just how well Wayne McGregor sells.)

I was actually thinking more of their fall programming, and not the Met.  

12 minutes ago, miliosr said:

I don't think management is wrong to have a "take it or leave it" approach. You cited Messmer, Matthews and Kajiya as departures. I would add Sterling Baca, Roddy Doble and Matt Golding. But there was always someone to replace them. We can argue about whether the replacements are as good as what might have been. But the continuing willingness of people to join the company tells me it's still a buyer's market at ABT rather than a seller's market.

It's interesting.  In talking with young, talented dancers, many will cite the fact that they do not want to dance for ABT and languish in the corps for so long, nor do they want to wait until they are thirty-something to get the opportunity to dance principal roles. So, in reality, is ABT attracting the best of the best in terms of young, developing dancers? I am not so sure.  

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