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ABT: Roster in Review - 2018

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I agree about the departed dancers, especially Messmer and Kajiya. I'd add Maria Riccetto, a longtime soloist who left to pursue opportunities elsewhere. I cherished the pristine clarity of her dancing. 

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With regard to casting, since there are not many principals to begin with, every principal is expected to be able to dance any full length role, even if it's not suited to their talents.  Look how many principals NYCB has, and compare it to how few ABT has. This makes no sense, since it is much more difficult on the body to dance a full length role as compared to a 20 minute rep ballet.  It's all about money. ABT does not have the money to hire the full roster of principal talent that it needs to present 8 consecutive weeks of ballet, most of which is full length ballets. Also add to the mix that many of ABT's principals barely dance with the company or take on all the full lengths (Bolle- 1 show only; Hallberg - 1 Giselle plus 2 R&J's, if he makes it at all).  As a result, you get Hee Seo  dancing Kitri, a role she is woefully unsuitable for.   I would have enjoyed seeing Brandt debut as Kitri, but McKenzie has to give most of the lead roles to the principals, even if they can't actually do the steps.

 

By the way, I agree that Kent stayed much too long, but I think Herrera retired at an entirely appropriate age and stage of her career. 

Edited by abatt

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ABT was always a company of guest artists---as early as the 1940-s.... that policy allowed me to see Toumanova, Riabouchinska, Lichine, and Markova..of course, their backup ballerinas were Alicia Alonso and Nora Kaye...nowhere do I see that talent with today's backups.....and I might add---Jean Babilee!!

 

Edited by atm711

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Definitely..  ABT has always historically included guest artists.  Now McKenzie is trying to reverse course> In part  he is getting rid of the guest artists to save money.  Why pay a guest artist if Copeland can sell out the house on the nights she appears. Also, McKenzie previously relied on guest artists too heavily for too many performances each season.  When the un-reliables cancelled, this created havoc.  Now there is a diminished roster of talent within ABT's own ranks.  Gone are the days when Corella, Carreno, Ananiashvilli, Ferri, Bocca and other greats were regular members of the company.  We are down to a very few great artists within ABT's own ranks, and the absence of guest artists is now exposing just how thin ABT's own roster is in terms of superior talent at the top.

If you  keep doing the same classic war horses year after year, you have to have a reason for audiences to return.  If that reason isn't a superstar guest artist, you need to present your own superstars from your own company to fill the seats.  Not many superstars present at ABT right now.

Edited by abatt

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46 minutes ago, abatt said:

 Gone are the days when Corella, Carreno, Ananiashvilli, Ferri, Bocca and other greats were regular members of the company.  We are down to a very few great artists within ABT's own ranks, and the absence of guest artists is now exposing just how thin ABT's own roster is in terms of superior talent at the top.

I do miss that star power within the company. I remember going to five Swan Lakes in one week; I can't imagine that every happening again. At this point, the biggest draws for me are the promising soloist females (Trenary and Brandt), and the recently promoted female principals. Half the principals are dancers I either avoid, or simply tolerate when they are paired with a dancer I do like. 

Based on her Sleeping Beauty debut alone, Trenary is a dancer that really seems to have that "it" factor. She radiated star potential that day. She was also incredible as Princesse Praline. If she's ever cast as Giselle or Juliet, I'd be there in a hot second.  

Edited by fondoffouettes

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I so agree with you, fondoffouettes.  I saw Trenary's Aurora twice in Paris and was entirely enchanted - as was her Bluebird with another who Paris deemed a substantial talent, Gabe Stone Shayer.  Their potential is DEFINITELY there.  

Also - with the discussion of guests - and if a guest were to be brought it - (and I realise this may seem a little off the wall) - but what about the prospect of Robbie Fairchild for a selection of performances.  He still seems to be local - and if he's in shape - why not.  A fine dancer and a good actor at his best methinks.  

Edited by meunier fan

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5 hours ago, miliosr said:

 

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.)

 

It's interesting to note that the RB seems to subsidize McGregor's one act ballets when they appear - certainly in their premiere outings - by subsidizing the ticket prices.  They are much lower than the full lengths certainly.  (If memory serves this was true for the premiere of Woolf Works as well.) I don't know if this will be true for ABT's triple outing in this regard.  

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RB triple bills are lower priced regardless of the choreographer.

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9 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

RB triple bills are lower priced regardless of the choreographer.

But, Mashinka, it sometimes strikes me that McGregor's are lower than other triples - and this is to take nothing away from McGregor.  Am I wrong in this?  If so, I happily put up my hands.  In any event, RB prices seem - understandably - to be rising (like everything else).  Certainly that is true for the escalating tariffs for the new Swan Lake headed by Scarlett.  

Edited by meunier fan

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I don't think ABT mixed programs at the Met start out any cheaper than full-lengths do; it's just that full-lengths are likelier to be subsequently hiked up by "dynamic pricing."

I remember at least one mixed program a number of years ago (though I forget which ballets) that seemed a particularly bad deal, when we paid full price for maybe 65-70 minutes of dancing.

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I wonder if you are thinking of the ABT program where Duo Concertant, which is about 15 minutes long, was preceded and followed by 20 minute intermissions. 

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25 minutes ago, abatt said:

I wonder if you are thinking of the ABT program where Duo Concertant, which is about 15 minutes long, was preceded and followed by 20 minute intermissions. 

Yes, probably!

The Ratmansky triple bill was rather short as well — my recordings of the pieces total 1h13m. But I know that one didn't annoy me quite as much because all three pieces are of high quality and together feel like a substantial work of art.

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33 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Yes, probably!

The Ratmansky triple bill was rather short as well — my recordings of the pieces total 1h13m. But I know that one didn't annoy me quite as much because all three pieces are of high quality and together feel like a substantial work of art.

For me it's the quality of the works that matter not the duration of the program. I do get annoyed when a short ballet is followed by a 20 minute intermission rather than a pause (with the given there are no sets to put in etc.). I know it's good for selling drinks and things but I find it annoying. 

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49 minutes ago, nanushka said:

The Ratmansky triple bill was rather short as well — my recordings of the pieces total 1h13m. But I know that one didn't annoy me quite as much because all three pieces are of high quality and together feel like a substantial work of art.

I agree. And, his triple bill is also an opportunity to see several dancers take on a principal or soloist role all in one evening. I hope we don't have to wait too long to see it again.

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10 hours ago, atm711 said:

ABT was always a company of guest artists---as early as the 1940-s.... that policy allowed me to see Toumanova, Riabouchinska, Lichine, and Markova..of course, their backup ballerinas were Alicia Alonso and Nora Kaye...nowhere do I see that talent with today's backups.....and I might add---Jean Babilee!!

 

This is so true, but I think there are some differences now. There used to be international stars who sold tickets not only to ballet audiences but to general audiences. Dancers were mentioned in the press, on the covers of magazines etc. Those days are long gone. There are some ballet stars such as Osipova and Cojocaru who are big enough names for ballet audiences that they'll sell tickets, but neither is a household name the way stars of the past were. Now ABT has Misty Copeland who serves that function. I saw no reason for ABT to hire Maria Kochetkova as a guest and then a semi company member.  I can't believe she sold one ticket. Simply hiring a gust is not necessarily the best way to go.

 

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20 hours 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.")  

I'm looking forward to hearing about Dorrance's work for the company -- I think she's a very smart choreographer, and is likely to make something quite special for them.

I hadn't noticed the lack of Robbins' work -- not even Fancy Free?

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2 hours ago, sandik said:

I'm looking forward to hearing about Dorrance's work for the company -- I think she's a very smart choreographer, and is likely to make something quite special for them.

I hadn't noticed the lack of Robbins' work -- not even Fancy Free?

I think they did Fancy Free in 2015.  I just thought it would have been nice to give Robbins more of a nod on his 100th birthday.  Perhaps they will in the fall.  

I was not thrilled with what Dorrance did in Vail.  Perhaps I have not seen enough of her work.

 

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11 hours ago, vipa said:

T. Now ABT has Misty Copeland who serves that function. I saw no reason for ABT to hire Maria Kochetkova as a guest and then a semi company member.  I can't believe she sold one ticket. Simply hiring a gust is not necessarily the best way to go.

 

Back in the day when Kochetkova was first a guest artist and then became a regular company member, there were no principals small enough to partner with Cornejo.  She was a good match for him.  Now he has  Lane and Copeland on the principal roster, so Cornejo and Circio both have small partners to work with.  Kochetkova  became superfluous.  I would much rather see Kochetkova than Copeland any day. She is way above Copeland in technical strength.

The invitation to Dorrance to choreograph a piece for ABT is bizarre.  I always go see Dorrance and her company, but tap  and ballet do not blend.  An experiment that may be completely appropriate and innovative for a summer festival is not not an experiment that should also be pursued at a large opera house.  This is a McKenzie gimmick.

 

 

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43 minutes ago, abatt said:

Back in the day when Kochetkova was first a guest artist and then became a regular company member, there were no principals small enough to partner with Cornejo.  She was a good match for him.  Now he has  Lane and Copeland on the principal roster, so Cornejo and Circio both have small partners to work with.  Kochetkova  became superfluous.  I would much rather see Kochetkova than Copeland any day. She is way above Copeland in technical strength.

The invitation to Dorrance to choreograph a piece for ABT is bizarre.  I always go see Dorrance and her company, but tap  and ballet do not blend.  An experiment that may be completely appropriate and innovative for a summer festival is not not an experiment that should also be pursued at a large opera house.  This is a McKenzie gimmick.

 

 

Agreed on all of the above.  I am in the minority, but I would rather watch Kochetkova than many of the ABT dancers.  

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The fear of languishing in the corps is not a phenomenon that is unique to ABT.   It's a problem  for many large and even mid-sized companies. Dancers like free agents in sports,  move around much more frequently than in years past. And some like powerhouse soloist Derek Dunn formerly of Houston Ballet, now dancing with Boston Ballet, don't necessarily leave because they are unhappy, but because they want  other challenges.

Also, I believe  as surely as the president loves to tweet, that there are pockets of talent, administrative and programming mediocrity that exist in practically all of the so-called prestige companies.  The concept of unyielding artistic brilliance or even uniform excellence is a largely a myth.

Edited by Tapfan

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15 minutes ago, Tapfan said:

The fear of languishing in the corps is not a phenomenon that is unique to ABT.   It's a problem  for many large and even mid-sized companies. Dancers like free agents in sports,  move around much more frequently than in years past. And some like powerhouse soloist Derek Dunn formerly of Houston Ballet, now dancing with Boston Ballet, don't necessarily leave because they are unhappy, but because they want to other challenges.

Also, I believe  as surely as the president loves to tweet, that there are pockets of talent, administrative and programming mediocrity that exist in practically all of the so-called prestige companies.  The concept of unyielding artistic brilliance or even uniform excellence is a largely a myth.

These are excellent points. One only has to read the threads here on NYCB, Mariinsky, Bolshoi, POB, Royal Ballet, etc, to see how many people are dissatisfied with their dancers and their rep.

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Kochetkova may lack dramatic expressiveness but she is technically flawless. I’d rather see her than a ballerina with supposedly “true acting chops” incapable of executing fouettés. At this moment, there are no dancers at ABT who would merit a cross country trip for me, so I am saving my funds on supporting regional companies where one can witness some extraordinary talent.

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17 minutes ago, Dreamer said:

Kochetkova may lack dramatic expressiveness but she is technically flawless. I’d rather see her than a ballerina with supposedly “true acting chops” incapable of executing fouettés. At this moment, there are no dancers at ABT who would merit a cross country trip for me, so I am saving my funds on supporting regional companies where one can witness some extraordinary talent.

Completely agree.  Kochetkova lacked dramatic skills, but had the highest level of technical ability.  So far, I'm not convinced that the ballerina in question has "true acting chops".  I saw Copeland'sGiselle last season with Lendorf, and it was very ordinary in terms of her acting.  In contrast, I left Lane's Giselle in tears I was so moved -that was true acting.

Save up for the Mariinsky at the Kennedy Center.

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9 minutes ago, abatt said:

So far, I'm not convinced that the ballerina in question has "true acting chops".

If there was any question remaining that Gia Kourlas was in the business of journalism and/or criticism rather than dancer promotion, that article resolved it in my mind.

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The 34 week contracts do not help in a variety if ways: preparation time, income, and limited touring opportunities.  

If ABT could extend it’s season by an additional 10 weeks to 44 weeks total - 4 spent on domestic tours to allow upcoming dancers to try principal roles in theatres with supportive environments - that is the ideal.  

It might work for ABT have a fall season in Orange County with all their works.  Then spend Jan - June in NYC.  

Edited by Jayne

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