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Maria Kochetkova leaving San Francisco Ballet

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

Nyet.  This was either on social media or in an article about her when she first arrived.  I remember the discussion about how her SO was big in the ABT set/stagehand hierarchy, so he had the skills.

I remember reading this as well. 

I also wonder if Kochetkova will go to Berlin with Simkin. They already do a lot of guesting and galas together. She seems to already have a busy guesting schedule, so maybe she'll just freelance. 

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In normal circumstances such announcements are usually made weeks or months after the decisions are made and the contracts are signed. When Kochetkova was going to ABT a few years ago, she made the decision by February, around April 1 everything was already done, the announcements from ABT and SFB came only in June (if I remember correctly). It was clear to me back then, that Kochetkova leaving SFB permanently was imminent. Commuting form New York to SFB was insane, it could work only as a short term solution, while the format of the SFB season (not even three and half months every year), plus their limited repertoire, was not giving a dancer with big aspirations and capabilities an opportunity to fully realize her potential.

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11 minutes ago, Laurent said:

It was clear to me back then, that Kochetkova leaving SFB permanently was imminent. Commuting form New York to SFB was insane, it could work only as a short term solution, while the format of the SFB season (not even three and half months every year), plus their limited repertoire, was not giving a dancer with big aspirations and capabilities an opportunity to fully realize her potential.

It does not look that Kochetkova is leaving SFB to take up a position at ABT. SFB and ABT seasons do not overlap, so having a bi-coastal engagement seemed to work just fine for her. The commute between NYC and SF is actually not that bad, even when one needs to have a couple of coaching sessions early spring before the start of the MET season. Her more exhausting travels would have been to Europe and Japan. 

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Posted (edited)

As far as I know, the ABT arrangement is over. Kochetkova just got back from South America - no one has as crazy a schedule as she does. Masha just doesn't take time off.

 

Edited by pherank

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5 minutes ago, Dreamer said:

SFB and ABT seasons do not overlap, so having a bi-coastal engagement seemed to work just fine for her.

This was the only reason why it was even theoretically feasible.

 

Quote

 The commute between NYC and SF is actually not that bad,

Tell this to Kochetkova.

 

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 Her more exhausting travels would have been to Europe and Japan. 

One thing is to go to a gala performance, another is to commute for regular work. Why no other ABT dancers are interested in being principals at SFB if the New York San Francisco commute is not a problem, as you claim, and the performing seasons don't overlap? Thomasson is very much pressed by the need to bring the world class dancers to his company. Otherwise the company faces a serious erosion of quality problem. During my recent visits to San Francisco this was already very much in evidence.

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9 minutes ago, Laurent said:

Why no other ABT dancers are interested in being principals at SFB if the New York San Francisco commute is not a problem, as you claim, and the performing seasons don't overlap? 

Most dancers are not principals in two companies. I can't imagine that the commute is the reason. The arrangement that Kochetkova had with ABT for a couple of years was very unusual. She and ABT probably went their separate ways when ABT no longer needed her, or couldn't offer her sufficient rep when they had 3 new principals on the roster. Ana Sophia Scheller in the company certainly adds a lot of star power. I can't imaging SFB is lacking for principal talent.

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4 minutes ago, vipa said:

I can't imaging SFB is lacking for principal talent.

I don't know what this sentence is supposed to mean, I am talking about "quality". Are we talking about the top companies, or companies of regional importance? When two years ago I was seeing NYCB in Paris every night for almost two weeks, I was very, very impressed with the company, Scheller was the only one of their principals who didn't impress me then. SFB in comparison, seemed to be far below, with the notable exception of Kochetkova.

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, Laurent said:

Thomasson is very much pressed by the need to bring the world class dancers to his company. Otherwise the company faces a serious erosion of quality problem. During my recent visits to San Francisco this was already very much in evidence.

This isn't a new situation for a West Coast company. Tomasson knows his job - he's proven that. And the dancers come to him a great deal of the time, so it's not a case of having to steal dancers from other companies. I'm not worried. Retirements happen, and as long as talented young dancers enter the ranks the company will continue moving forward. Unusual talents are not something that can be easily predicted. There's only one Tan, one Sylve, one Kochetkova. Schools have never been able to produce major talents on order. So we all wait, and watch...

15 minutes ago, vipa said:

Most dancers are not principals in two companies. I can't imagine that the commute is the reason. The arrangement that Kochetkova had with ABT for a couple of years was very unusual. She and ABT probably went their separate ways when ABT no longer needed her, or couldn't offer her sufficient rep when they had 3 new principals on the roster. Ana Sophia Scheller in the company certainly adds a lot of star power. I can't imaging SFB is lacking for principal talent.

There's no lack of talent so far. It's difficult to know just how much growth a dancer is capable of, and how much natural-born acting skills they may possess in addition to their athletic abilities. That's why every large company brings in a certain number of known talents from outside. Masha leaving does free up a position, so it will be interesting to see if Tomasson promotes from within or finds someone new to bring in.

Edited by pherank

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11 minutes ago, Laurent said:

I don't know what this sentence is supposed to mean, I am talking about "quality". Are we talking about the top companies, or companies of regional importance? When two years ago I was seeing NYCB in Paris every night for almost two weeks, I was very, very impressed with the company, Scheller was the only one of their principals who didn't impress me then. SFB in comparison, seemed to be far below, with the notable exception of Kochetkova.

That should settle it -  you don't have to waste any time or money flying to SF in the future. Leave it all to the rest of us.  ;)

Everyone has their particular likes, dislikes and prejudices. I've long appreciated Masha, but that doesn't mean there weren't other SFB dancers I liked better, or as well, in certain kinds of roles or in particular choreography. No one artist can be all things to all people.

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Simone Mesmer (a name out of Henry James!) will be missed in Shostakovich Trilogy next year and she was excellent in Ratmansky's Scarlatti. I think there was definitely a place for her in the company. I once watched her in rehearsal – only a few feet away, almost too close – as she was, with great passion and precision, helping a younger dancer learn a part.

I always felt that Maria Kochetkova was more a free agent than a company person. I liked her this year in The Cage, with her doe-eyed, poker faced look, which put a different spin on the part of the novice, and in general in contemporary works. Sometimes in classical ballet, tiny and long waisted, with her puckish expression, she seemed a size too small to have the dramatic weight the part required.

Maybe she felt it was time for her to leave San Francisco, not just the company. The city, of which I'm a native, doesn't seem to stick to people in the long run – there's something like a 50% turnover every 20 years and this has been true at least since the sixties, well before the rents got crazy. I've heard couples say it takes five years to make friends here, and just as they do, one of the couples leaves. SF has a cerebral egalitarianism to it, but not much of the social warmth of New York or even, forgive me, Los Angeles. Europe itself, not its US replica, might feel more of a home at this point for MK.

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3 hours ago, Laurent said:

I don't know what this sentence is supposed to mean, I am talking about "quality". Are we talking about the top companies, or companies of regional importance? When two years ago I was seeing NYCB in Paris every night for almost two weeks, I was very, very impressed with the company, Scheller was the only one of their principals who didn't impress me then. SFB in comparison, seemed to be far below, with the notable exception of Kochetkova.

I think it's difficult to compare the two companies. New York City Ballet has a school, a company style – crisp and witty – and a very specific repertory and charge. San Francisco has a generalist program, a mixture of styles and schools, a certain lovely finish to tie everything together. One San Francisco ballet student's mother described it as a bit of a "rag tag" company (her son joined City Ballet and now is at PNB). I thought it was best when it had Cuban, Russian and City Ballet dancers and was doing Balanchine regularly. But three of the principals who were in a fine Symphony in Three Movements – Mesmer, Quenedit, and Mazzo – as well as Domitro of Scotch Symphony and Four Ts – are gone.

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37 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

Maybe she felt it was time for her to leave San Francisco, not just the company. The city, of which I'm a native, doesn't seem to stick to people in the long run – there's something like a 50% turnover every 20 years and this has been true at least since the sixties, well before the rents got crazy. I've heard couples say it takes five years to make friends here, and just as they do, one of the couples leaves. SF has a cerebral egalitarianism to it, but not much of the social warmth of New York or even, forgive me, Los Angeles. Europe itself, not its US replica, might feel more of a home at this point for MK.

'Personal issues' probably had something to do with her decision as well.

People do get hung up about being in San Francisco - as if anything else would be a loss. Very few of my friends stayed in the city for long. We mostly ended up in the north Bay Area which I remain very loyal to even though I've had to relocate. I personally love trees, mountains, rivers and the ocean. Why live in the inner city when it's possible to live on the side of Mount Tamalpais with a view of the entire region? Or on a country road in Sonoma County? San Francisco is great for an evening or weekend getaway, but to live in? That takes a very urban-oriented person. Coincidentally, Masha spent some of her very brief vacation periods exploring Marin, Big Sur and Santa Cruz. Though I now wonder if that was really more her husband's choice than hers.

Froustey had the right idea - the only way to get anything close to your money's worth, and get a large living space, is to look outside of San Francisco. And you have to deal with the commute, like everyone else.

I tend to agree with your assessment of Kochetkova as "more a free agent than a company person". But to her credit, she always worked hard and danced when she was asked to dance. But I don't think it's in her nature to be a "den mother" as someone once termed Lorena Feijoo. Masha looks out for Number 1 at all times.

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Posted (edited)

She may wish to be in Europe, anchored to acompany or just guesting, so her family can more easily see her dance.  These careers are short, and opportunities to have friends snd family nearby are more important as you (and your parents) get older. 

Edited by Jayne

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Posted (edited)

:offtopic:I would have thought there were all kinds of people very attached to San Francisco indeed.

 

 

Edited by Drew

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7 hours ago, Drew said:

:offtopic:I would have thought there were all kinds of people very attached to San Francisco indeed.

 

 

Thanks, Drew. I had quite a love affair with this city when I lived here. Well Simone is gone and now Maria is maybe on her way. That leaves Mathilde. Hope to see her some day and do the coastal sequoia forests as well. And don't forget Yosemite and its waterfalls, which are some of nature's most beautiful ballerinas.  

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14 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

I remember reading this as well. 

I also wonder if Kochetkova will go to Berlin with Simkin. They already do a lot of guesting and galas together. She seems to already have a busy guesting schedule, so maybe she'll just freelance. 

Can someone explain freelancing realistically? Because I have read of Guillem  and know of Bolle ( yet he is also an etoile and principal),  but I also read of names hardly known who host a gala or two . In my head , that is called unemployment.

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1 hour ago, Vs1 said:

Can someone explain freelancing realistically? Because I have read of Guillem  and know of Bolle ( yet he is also an etoile and principal),  but I also read of names hardly known who host a gala or two . In my head , that is called unemployment.

There is no one path or one realistic freelance scenario.  It depends on the individual dancer's status network, agent, demands, willingness to travel, personal finances, family situation, and versatility, and also whether they are interested and/or willing to put together a touring group for a given project or there are principal guest artist contracts available. For someone with Kochetkova's reputation and network, and that she was invited pretty constantly for individual galas, of which there are many, I don't think she'll be unemployed much more than she wants to be.  Her experience should be very different from the one Barry Kerollis documented in his blog, Life of a Freelance Dancer.

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28 minutes ago, Helene said:

There is no one path or one realistic freelance scenario.  It depends on the individual dancer's status network, agent, demands, willingness to travel, personal finances, family situation, and versatility, and also whether they are interested and/or willing to put together a touring group for a given project or there are principal guest artist contracts available. For someone with Kochetkova's reputation and network, and that she was invited pretty constantly for individual galas, of which there are many, I don't think she'll be unemployed much more than she wants to be.  Her experience should be very different from the one Barry Kerollis documented in his blog, Life of a Freelance Dancer.

When I think of freelancing Rolando Sarabia always come to mind. Being a superstar in Cuba and a potential one at the Miami City Ballet he apparently decided to leave and go the freelance route. I thought after Miami City Ballet he could be excellent at a place like ABT, perhaps becoming one of the greatest if he stayed put and focussed. Cristian suggested at the time that he probably preferred the idea of freelancing. He may now have settled at The Washington Ballet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolando_Sarabia

His could be an interesting story as well about freelancing.

 

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The SFB doesn’t come to an end with Kochetkova’s departure. Its roster of principals is still quite strong. Besides YY and  Sophiane Sylve, it has a beautiful and sensitive Sasha de Sola, a technically and musically impeccable Frances Chung, an expressive, quick-footed, distinguished by her clean attack and chiseled lines Ana Sophia Scheller, an elegant and emotive Sarah Van Patten and a lithe and svelte Mathilde Froustey. Not to mention a slew of very promising soloists and corps de ballet dancers.  I do not expect Kochetkova’s place to remain unclaimed.

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8 minutes ago, Buddy said:

When I think of freelancing Rolando Sarabia always come to mind. Being a superstar in Cuba and a potential one at the Miami City Ballet he apparently decided to leave and go the freelance route. I thought after Miami City Ballet he could be excellent at a place like ABT, perhaps becoming one of the greatest if he stayed put and focussed. Cristian suggested at the time that he probably preferred the idea of freelancing. He may now have settled at The Washington Ballet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolando_Sarabia

His could be an interesting story as well about freelancing.

 

Buddy, Sarabia is rarely spotted on the stage at WB. This season, I only saw him dancing the Snow pdd in Nutcracker. Very strange. His wife, Venus Villa, is quite active, however.

As for Kochetkova, I wish her the best although I’ve never been convinced that she lives up to the hype. She was a middle-of-the-road dancer in her grad class in Moscow, that I recall. Sorry, I never quite understood her rise in the West. A hard worker with good business savvy  - I’ll give her that. Maybe she’ll be dancing with Simkin in Berlin?

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8 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

Buddy, Sarabia is rarely spotted on the stage at WB. This season, I only saw him dancing the Snow pdd in Nutcracker. Very strange. His wife, Venus Villa, is quite active, however.

As for Kochetkova, I wish her the best although I’ve never been convinced that she lives up to the hype. She was a middle-of-the-road dancer in her grad class in Moscow, that I recall. Sorry, I never quite understood her rise in the West. A hard worker with good business savvy  - I’ll give her that. Maybe she’ll be dancing with Simkin in Berlin?

So  the Sarabia saga continues. How was he, by the way?  I'll say again that I thought that he could become one of the greatest and I guess he makes an ongoing interesting look at the freelance life.

In regard to Maria, I do have to disagree, although our viewing experiences may have been quite different. As I posted earlier, I found one of her Swan Lakes with ABT to be one of the finest ballet performances that I've ever seen and I've seen some great ones as I'm sure you have as well being based in Moscow. The several other times that I've seen her I was also highly impressed.  

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15 hours ago, Laurent said:

I don't know what this sentence is supposed to mean, I am talking about "quality". Are we talking about the top companies, or companies of regional importance? When two years ago I was seeing NYCB in Paris every night for almost two weeks, I was very, very impressed with the company, Scheller was the only one of their principals who didn't impress me then. SFB in comparison, seemed to be far below, with the notable exception of Kochetkova.

 

15 hours ago, pherank said:

That should settle it -  you don't have to waste any time or money flying to SF in the future. Leave it all to the rest of us.  ;)

Everyone has their particular likes, dislikes and prejudices. I've long appreciated Masha, but that doesn't mean there weren't other SFB dancers I liked better, or as well, in certain kinds of roles or in particular choreography. No one artist can be all things to all people.

I have never thought that SFB lacked talent or were "far below" the talent of NYCB dancers.  Just goes to show us that ballet is very subjective, isn't it?  SFB has some beautifully talented principal dancers and others on the rise that bode well for the company.  Quality is certainly not an issue when looking at the resumes of SFB dancers.  I am with you, pherank.  And, given a choice, I would watch SFB over NYCB or ABT any day.  It just so happens that I live on the east coast, so I do not get the opportunity. 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Buddy said:

So  the Sarabia saga continues. How was he, by the way?  I'll say again that I thought that he could become one of the greatest and I guess he makes an ongoing interesting look at the freelance life.

In regard to Maria, I do have to disagree, although our viewing experiences may have been quite different. As I posted earlier, I found one of her Swan Lakes with ABT to be one of the finest ballet performances that I've ever seen and I've seen some great ones as I'm sure you have as well being based in Moscow. The several other times that I've seen her I was also highly impressed.  

I saw Rolando recently at a gala where he danced the Nut pas with one of the girls from Washington Ballet.  He looks great.  The problem for Rolando was the toll his training and early performances took on his body, especially his knees.  I spent some time with him at the party after this recent gala (we know each other from when he first defected.)  He is happy with his life - married with a baby.  He dances what he can at WB and does guestings, mostly with his wife.  He also teaches at the school.  He really could have been one of the greatest (I still think he is beautiful on stage), but sometimes the transition from Cuba can be a challenging one.  I wish he had had some more guidance when he first arrived.  

Concerning Maria, I have always enjoyed her performances, and was one of the people in the minority here on this board who was glad to have her at ABT.

 

Edited by its the mom

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12 minutes ago, its the mom said:

I saw Rolando recently at a gala where he danced the Nut pas with one of the girls from Washington Ballet.  He looks great.  The problem for Rolando was the toll his training and early performances took on his body, especially his knees.  I spent some time with him at the party after this recent gala (we know each other from when he first defected.)  He is happy with his life - married with a baby.  He dances what he can at WB and does guestings, mostly with his wife.  He also teaches at the school.  He really could have been one of the greatest (I still think he is beautiful on stage), but sometimes the transition from Cuba can be a challenging one.  I wish he had had some more guidance when he first arrived.  

Concerning Maria, I have always enjoyed her performances, and was one of the people in the minority here on this board who was glad to have her at ABT.

 

Thanks so much for your post, Its the mom. Glad to hear that Rolando Sarabia is happy and doing well. I talked to him very briefly once when he was with Miami City Ballet and I told him that I thought that he might be one of the greatest. And to get back to Topic, thanks for your thoughts about Maria.

Edited by Buddy
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3 hours ago, Vs1 said:

Can someone explain freelancing realistically? Because I have read of Guillem  and know of Bolle ( yet he is also an etoile and principal),  but I also read of names hardly known who host a gala or two . In my head , that is called unemployment.

As Helene states, freelancing can vary.  Ironically, Taras Domitro has had great success in this arena since leaving SFB.  

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