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sf_herminator

Dancer Promotions for 2018-2019

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Posted (edited)

On their Facebook page, it has been announced that Wei Wang has been promoted to Principal Dancer and Benjamin Freemantle & Lonnie Weeks have been promoted to Soloist.  These changes are effective next season:

Congratulations to these gentlemen.  They have been spectacular this season, especially in this week's Robbins program.  Wei danced in both Opus 19: The Dreamer and Other Dances.  Benjamin danced Sailor #2 (or the pas de deux sailor) in Fancy Free,  Lonnie was Intruder #1 in The Cage and Sailor #3 (mambo sailor) in Fancy Free.  Exciting news leading into the Unbound Festival.  Well deserved!!!

Edited by sf_herminator

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Congratulations to Wang, Freemantle, and Weeks :flowers::flowers::flowers:

 

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Yes!!! Big shout-outs to Wei, Lonnie and Benjamin. I am especially happy for Lonnie who has been steadily developing his artistry to become quite an exceptional dancer.

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Congratulations to Wang, Weeks and Freemantle. I've been expecting the Weeks promotion.

I still have my reservations about Wang's partnering in traditional ballets. Obviously Tomasson seems to think he is ready now. I hope that turns out to be true - at least there is still lots of time for cross-training and coaching before SFB is likely to perform another classical ballet.

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Very good news on all accounts, especially Weeks, who I understand was injured, which seemed to delay this very well-deserved promotion.  He can have an intensity that’s almost scary; he’s definitely someone I’ll go out of my way to see.

As to Wei Wang, to be honest, as much as I like him, I have to wonder if he would benefit from another year or two at the soloist level, mainly to increase his stage presence.  He joined as apprentice 2012, corp 2013, soloist 2016, principal 2018, so he seems to be very young.  Having said that, it’s great to see an SFB male soloist being promoted instead of bringing in another male principal from outside, excellent as those imports have been. 

Speaking of promotions, when is Lauren Strongin going to be made principal?

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40 minutes ago, PeggyR said:

Very good news on all accounts, especially Weeks, who I understand was injured, which seemed to delay this very well-deserved promotion.  He can have an intensity that’s almost scary; he’s definitely someone I’ll go out of my way to see.

As to Wei Wang, to be honest, as much as I like him, I have to wonder if he would benefit from another year or two at the soloist level, mainly to increase his stage presence.  He joined as apprentice 2012, corp 2013, soloist 2016, principal 2018, so he seems to be very young.  Having said that, it’s great to see an SFB male soloist being promoted instead of bringing in another male principal from outside, excellent as those imports have been. 

Speaking of promotions, when is Lauren Strongin going to be made principal?

Totally agree about Wang - he's just young, and not physically and mentally as strong and seasoned as he could be. Strongin is now most likely at the top of the women's list, though, given a couple more years of experience, I would give the nod to Frantziskonis.

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34 minutes ago, pherank said:

...given a couple more years of experience, I would give the nod to Frantziskonis.

More than agree about that.  Actually, I haven't seen her since her stunning Prayer in Coppelia a couple of years ago.  Has she been out for some reason, or have I just been unlucky with casting?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, PeggyR said:

More than agree about that.  Actually, I haven't seen her since her stunning Prayer in Coppelia a couple of years ago.  Has she been out for some reason, or have I just been unlucky with casting?

You've just been unlucky. Though she may have died at the end of Frankenstein:

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You do have the Unbound Festival to look forward to:

26433134_952652134903656_342524106571461

 

Edited by pherank

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Is it odd that promotions for the men were announced, but not for the women? 

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13 hours ago, PeggyTulle said:

Is it odd that promotions for the men were announced, but not for the women? 

I thought the same thing.  I am hoping for another announcement for women sometime during the Unbound festival - perhaps after the last program (Unbound D) premieres?

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If the idea is to keep an even number of males and  females (and I'm not sure that it is), then there are already enough female principals - SFB is 'short' 2 male principals. There are, I think, currently 13 soloists and 6 are women, so 1 more could be promoted from the Corps.

But budget plays into all of this - there has to be money to pay increased salaries and who knows if that money is available at this time, or starting with the next contract period...

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I would love to see Madison Keesler promoted to soloist—such an elegant and intelligent dancer.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Dreamer said:

I would love to see Madison Keesler promoted to soloist—such an elegant and intelligent dancer.

Madison probably has seniority at this time, but the competition is tough. Elizabeth Powell and Ellen Rose Hummel also have a lot of experience. And then there's all these young ones like Wona Park, Norika Matsuyama and Ami Yuki being pushed into demi-soloist/soloist roles. Madison definitely has her fans. The question is always: will people purchase tickets specifically to see this dancer? Do they have that kind of charisma? Or will they be a dependable 'work horse' for the company? Dores André is a good example of a dancer that everyone seemed to think was a good work horse, but when she was finally promoted to principal, the audience finally began to see that she has all sorts of personality and is rather photogenic too. But somehow that wasn't noticed during her early years: she wasn't promoted to soloist for 8 years.

FYI: there are new Meet The Artist interviews with Keesler (3/14/18) and Hummel (3/28/18) in the podcast section of the SFB website:
https://www.sfballet.org/explore/podcasts

 

Edited by pherank

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pherank, I partially agree with your assessment.  By the way, I was one of those people who at first did not accept Dores Andre’s promotion. I just did not see her as a versatile dancer but in the past two years I have become a convert. I can’t think of any performance in which Dores would have left me unmoved. As far as other ladies you mentioned go, Wona Park is definitely a stand-out. But she is too young and needs some time to develop and gain more experience. I see a potential in many corps dancers but Madison to me is already beyond that—she has style and grace, solid technique and experience with many soloist parts and even a principal role (the title role in Khan’s Giselle). I understood that British audiences were quite fond of her during her time at ENB. 

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For my money, Keesler is no more than competent; there’s none of the technical proficiency and especially the movement flow and beauty that I look for.  Although she’s certainly photogenic, she’s just never stood out in any other way.  I’d certainly prefer any of the dancers Pherank mentions, particularly Hummel, always watchable, and Park, who was simply lovely in Serenade (I’m really interested to see if/how newcomer Park will develop over the next few seasons). 

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I won't choose a side.  ;)
But we're always looking for charisma, like these two have in spades:
(Is that Natasha in the still image below, first row, 2nd from left?)

 

Eventually, there will be two more openings for female principals, but I'm personally not in a rush to have Yuan Yuan and Sofiane retire - let them dance a reduced schedule, sure, but if they want to be around 3 or 4 more years, why not? Neither one of them has reached the point where it's clear they can't make the moves anymore.

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What a great thread - I've been absorbed in daily life and too busy to catch this exciting news. Wow - big congrats to all three men. Agree that this is long overdue for Weeks. Pherank, I'm cracking up over the Frankenstein pic. Where do you GET these wonderful pics?!

Enjoying all the thoughtful, insightful commentary.

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I swear there was a Maria-is-leaving thread awhile ago in the SF Ballet company folder, but it seems to be missing. Seems relevant to the ongoing discussion about the company roster and promotions. I am certainly sad to see her go. She's always been a bright, shining light on stage! With Maria and the company announcing her departure on public social media, maybe this will make way for some additional promotions for the women?

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Three new promotions from corps de ballet to soloist were announced today. Congratulations to Elizabeth (Lizzy) Powell, Wona Park, and Henry Sidford! 

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38 minutes ago, Josette said:

Three new promotions from corps de ballet to soloist were announced today. Congratulations to Elizabeth (Lizzy) Powell, Wona Park, and Henry Sidford! 

Very good news - I'm especially happy for Lizzy Powell. Now we get to see what she can do when she's coached for soloist roles specifically.

Congratulations to Wona and Henry too. And Wona is still a kid.  ;)

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Interesting promotions. I was expecting Ludmila Bizalion and maybe Ellen Hummel before Lizzy Powell... 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, PeggyTulle said:

Interesting promotions. I was expecting Ludmila Bizalion and maybe Ellen Hummel before Lizzy Powell... 

The year is young - I think we can expect a few more changes. I would put Ellen Rose Hummel high on the list as well. First there is that issue of who will fill Kochetkova's principal position. If Tomasson decides to hire from within,  then there will be a female soloist vacancy. I expect there's a certain amount of pressure to replace her with an experienced, proven talent from Europe, Cuba, etc. As choreographer and A.D. Trey McIntyre put it, "I had never seen a really happy Artistic Director. It's a really tough job, and it's a lot of masters to serve."

Tomasson does a pretty good job of seeming happy, or at least relaxed. But maybe that is his Scandinavian demeanor.

Edited by pherank

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