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Megan Fairchild's debut as Swanilda - Saratoga

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It was a lovely idea--the debut of a fresh new talent on the SPAC stage, in a role originated on that stage by a beloved ballerina. And it was successful--at least 90 percent.

Megan Fairchild is a delight, a tiny sparkler with precise technique AND, even at this early point in her career, a style of her own. Her Act I Swanhilda was close to perfect. I might like to see even more made of Swanhilda's little fits of pique, but that will come as she grows into the role. She had all the small allegro steps right where they needed to be. The "ear of wheat" had the proper poignancy. Act II, what many call the core of the ballet, came across well--it is my least favorite act, to be truthful--there is too much story and no pas de deux!--but Megan made a wonderful transition from doll to girl. You could see each step of the transformation as it happened. Robert LaFosse was a terrific Coppelius, and I think in part because Swanhilda/Coppelia was so believable, the audience could understand why he believed. She enhanced his performance--how many times can that be said of a newbie and a veteran? (thanks to my daughter for clarifying that point in my mind). By Act III, so-young Megan was beginning to tire, and that daunting pas de deux seemed to make her nervous--well duh! She seemed to be concentating so much on getting through the steps that Swanhilda's newly mature personality did not emerge, and I missed Megan's bright smile (such fond memories of Patty)--it wasn't there. The performance lost nothing technically, every hop on pointe and flashing turn was there, and the coda was a thrill, but it will be ever better as she develops in stamina. I can't wait to see how she grows as a dancer. BUT. Alexandra Ansanelli has pulled out of her 2 scheduled Swanhildas and Megan will be doing all four, including 2 on Thursday, matinee and evening. I am no dancer, but I have to think this is foolish, foolish, foolish. This young lady is a wonder, and if she is overused now, I shudder to think of what could happen to her. I am sure we all remember similar scenarios. Don't the powers that be ever learn?

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It's appalling that a company with the resources of NYCB can call on only one dancer (a corps member, at that) for four consecutive Coppelias, including two in one day! :innocent: Megan Fairchild is a very appealing young dancer and I hope she comes through this ordeal okay. Thanks for the report, rkoretzky.

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BUT. Alexandra Ansanelli has pulled out of her 2 scheduled Swanhildas and Megan will be doing all four. . . I have to think this is foolish, foolish, foolish. This young lady is a wonder, and if she is overused now, I shudder to think of what could happen to her. I am sure we all remember similar scenarios.

There's a poetic symmetry here that should have been a lesson. This spring, when Alexandra was doing her first Swanildas, Jenifer Ringer was unable to do the two for which she was scheduled, so Alexandra ended up doing all four. The Powers didn't learn from that lesson. :rolleyes:

RKoretzky, any word on the nature/seriousness of AA's injury (if injury was indeed the reason for her withdrawal)?

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When Patricia McBride danced Swanilda on matinee days, she never danced at the other performance, even just a short ballet. The idea that a nineteen-year old corps member who had trouble with stamina at her first performance is doing TWO Swanildas in one day is appalling.

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I bet if it weren't an evening-length it would be replaced with something else. There are other dancers - Taylor, Riggins, Bouder, Edge who could do the role. Here comes the cycle of young dancer gets a lot of attention, then burns out or gets injured, only to have to work themselves back in good graces. I hope Fairchild will not have to follow in the toe shoes of Ringer, Meunier, Bouder.

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That is really scary. I couldn't imagine dancing 2 full ballets like that in One day,especially if I don't have alot of experince doing it. Like you said,many experinced dancers don't do that. There are many others they could use,Manderjeff,Bouder..tons...I really wonder what Directors are thinking sometimes! :wacko:

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I must also add that I dont see why Yvonne couldnt do one performance on Thursday, I've seenher perform it before as well. Poor Megan but I'll be seeing her Sat afternoon so I'll let you know how she makes out once its all over. Goodluck to her I'm 19 also and I wish her all the best. And if she comes through on two feet some of the upper dancers betterwatch for this little one. I love her already.

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I was wondering why they don't cast Jennifer Ringer for one of the Coppelias, especially as she danced it this spring, then I thought maybe they were saving her for the Russia performances at the expense of poor Megan!

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It's pretty obvious that keeping the Big (well, Somewhat Big) Names in shape for Russia is the most important thing for NYCB right now. Whoever made the decision, the powers that be have decided Fairchild is expendable. If she breaks down from this ordeal, well, there are lots of promising kids coming out of SAB every year. Well, some. And if she is reduced to marking the role tonight from injuries and/or exhaustion, well, it's only Saratoga, so who cares?

It's hard to be too cynical, sometimes.

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I'm sorry I hate to be rude or anything but it's terribly unfair to say that the powers that be concider Megan to be expendible. Also to say well it's only Saratoga is harsh because some of us can't get to the city during the year and Saratoga is all we have plus so many dancers are given major opportunities in Saratoga and such many have been promoted after or during the Saratoga season. I just hope Megan comes through this with flying colors to prove that she isn't expendible and that she can handle this and proves to the company, herself and the lucky audiences that get to see her that she is a force to be reckond with. :-D

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Megan did just fine in both the afternoon and evening performances! The only scary moment occured when Austin Laurent slipped during his solo as the acrobat automaton. He managed to sit through the remaining 15-20 minutes of the act, but was clearly hurt and did not reappear in the third act. I hope his OK, as I've always admired his gorgeous splits in that solo.

I suspect that Borree has not recovered enough from her injury (that kept her out for most of the spring season) to dance a full length ballet. It may also have been more complicated than is obvious to have Ringer dance in Coppelia. She has also had an injury recently, plus having her dance may have required Askegard to dance Franz, given Ringer's height. Also, there could have been issues with costumes, rehearsal time and casting in other ballets. I certainly was nervous with having Fairchild do two performances in one day, but feel uncomfortable criticizing the casting decision without knowing all the details.


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Whatever the problems were, I think it is quite fair to question, or at least

comment on the issue of having a single, very young and phenomenally talented

dancer do 2 Coppelia's in one day. There were of course options--ballets have

been cancelled before because there was no one to dance, so The Show Must Go On

is not a reason to possibly endanger a dancer's career. Especially considering

the recent history of wonderfully talented young dancers who have been pushed into

parts and who vanish for months with injuries. I remember seeing Fairchild in

the SAB performance doing Divertimento 15 and thinking, well we will be seeing

her in principal roles in a couple of years, and then she will probably disapper--

burnout or injuries, or back to the corps. I just hope the second thought

is wrong, but given the track record, I wouldn't be surprised if it does happen.

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I'll second that, Cargill. One of yesterday's performances should have been pulled.

Yes, Megan got through both Swanildas without major problems. Actually without minor problems. If anything she became more comfortable in the role with each performance. More comfortable, yes, but not stronger. Many that I talked with commented that she seemed fatigued by the end of the ballet. It is a most demanding role.

Far be it from me to suggest that someone else who isn't at 100%--such as an injured Jenifer Ringer-- be forced to dance such an arduous ballet. Instead, a repertory program should have been substituted for one of yesterday's Coppelias. The programs are always subject to change and it has been done before.

The issues, as I see them, are:

1. We have all seen this disturbing pattern before, and it is distressing to think that it will continue to happen.

2. Principals and even soloists can say "no". A young corps kid who is eager to please her boss and get ahead (and probably loves to dance so much that she wouldn't consider it) cannot turn down an opportunity. It is up to the administration to avoid stretching the employee to the breaking point.

3. The fact that Megan was able to get through yesterday without incident is immaterial. It should not have happened, and I feel perfectly comfortable saying so. She still has another performance tomorrow. The cumulative effect of this type of overwork is what troubles me. At some point it is likely to catch up and overtake her.

Oh yes--that was truly a terrifying moment when Laurent slipped. His split jumps had been absolutely incredible.

And I must say a word about Eva Natanya's Prayer in the matinee. She made me cry. Dana Hanson and Dena Abergel both danced the part beautifully--Dana with serenity and Dena with radiance...but I have never seen Eva dance with such purity and spirituality.

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Certainly must congratulate Miss Fairchild on her fete yesterday. Taking on such a challenge, while be it foolish and dangerous to demand from the administration's part, is admirable.

It does make one wonder just what made them choose Fairchild. I know we've all seen it before. And I'm not discrediting Fairchild's capabilities... but why not Ashley Bouder (I think she most readily comes to mind when the aforementioned discussion of young, impressive corps dancers hitting it big, then burning out/becoming injured, only to completely disappear back into the corps), or however many senior corps dancers, etc etc.

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I really don't want to beat this topic to death, but on the subject of Ashley Bouder--she has not appeared here at all. Disappointing, because after her successes in spring season I was looking forward to another opportunity to see her.

Megan Fairchild was a wonderful choice for Swanilda, very likely the best possible choice at this time, but someone else should also have learned the role. Amanda Edge comes to my mind--she is looking spectacular here. She has a beautiful jump and very clear technique. She was far and away the standout in Chaconne, where Darcey and Nilas were muddled and sloppy (yes the old Nilas was back!), Amanda was a piece of crystal and they were a plain old rock. I'd like to see a softer port de bras and less upper body tension from Amanda, but she has come a long way since the last I saw her.

Another small dancer who could be a lovely Swanilda is Lindy Madrijieff. I was not happy with the last few times I saw her (memorably and not for a good reason, I made a trip to NY to see Prism, and she was--umm-not good), but she has improved tremendously and I am eager to see more work from her.

So there are other possibilities, but at this point, no one else knew it and was able to do it.

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While I agree with everyone who said that it's not ideal to put a young dancer on for two performances of a full-length ballet in a day, it can also happen that a company has three dancers prepared for a role and two of them just can't go on. I'm not privy to their reasoning for doing this, but one could be that an audience that's bought tickets to Coppelia is not going to be happy with a triple bill. I wouldn't want them to say "You're it!" to someone at 10 in the morning and have them learn the role in a day, either. It's a ballet that needs preparation. I'd also say that it's not a corps part; it's a ballerina role. (Not that I don't think Fairchild might be up to it; I've only seen her in two small parts, but she immediately went on my Most Promising list, but I don't think I'd want to see six corps dancers trotted out in it either.)

Reading these threads made me think of the way ABT started on what to me was a wayward, downhill path in the late 1970s. Doing a steady diet of full length ballets means that you have to change the way you train and cast people. Stamina counts more than speed, say. In ABT, people were thrown on without any preparation -- one of the worst I can remember was when Basil went down in the third act and someone threw a tambourine to Peter Fonseca and said, "do it." Or something of that nature. And he got to do Basil's solo and the coda. OOn other occasions, you had Harvey in the 1st act of Don Q, Tcherkassky in the 2nd, and Someone Else in the 3rd act -- they had a hard time getting through Don Q, much less 4 of them in a weekend. The Swan Lake where D'Antuono did the third act without a Siegfried was also a high point.

The next step was demoting Swanhilda and Franz to corps parts and the entire triple-bill rep -- Theme, Billy, Fancy Free, Miss Julie, ballets made for stars -- to soloist parts as though they were consolation prizes. You aren't good enough for Aurora, dear, but you can do Theme.

I make this point only because, as one who (not out of choice!) studies the history of ballet companies from a structural point of view, this may be an aberration, or it may be the Dawn of a New Day. Watch this space :)

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I just wanted to say that I saw Megan today and she did a wonderful job I was very proud of her. She's not only adorable but a beautiful and very strong dancer. She also did a corps role in Western Symphony tonight and even pulled that off although i'm sure she was just begging for the night to end and this week to end, they did pull her from a corps role in Symphony in 3 Mvts, tongiht which was good and not a role she absolutely needed to dance. But kudos to the little Megan (I say little and we're the same age ha ha) She was beautiful, I really look foward to seeing more of her. Oh and Ashley Bouder took over in Western Symphony for Alexandra tonight and did as good a job if not better then Alexandra so I'm happy for her as well :-D

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Like Amanda, my eyes perked up when I saw mention of Ashley Bouder. Belepoelle5, could you please add a little more detail about her Second Movement Western? Did she do it deadpan? Or did she take the "silly smile" approach the way Alexandra did? Were her bourrees smooth?

Also, Rkoretzky, when you say that Bouder didn't appear at all in Saratoga, do you mean in a featured role, or was she not even spotted in the corps?

I've had such high hopes for Bouder since she did an exhilarating Liberty Bell in Stars & Stripes at her SAB graduation, but her career just hasn't seemed to "take off" the way I expected. She seemed to have so much raw talent. I just hope her story doesn't turn out like Monique's.

But I'm so glad Megan Fairchild has had success as Swanhilda.

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i have a feeling this isn't the right place for this, but just one short question. Bobbi, you just mentioned it, and i saw someone do it the other day, for those of us who weren't paying much attention over the past few years, what IS monique meunir's (sp?) story?

in reference to "I just hope her story doesn't turn out like Monique's."

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I again had a senior moment and couldn't recall seeing Bouder at all before the third week, so I checked the program and saw that she was listed in the corps of Glass Pieces. Honestly I don't recall picking her out in that piece, but for me part of the appeal of Glass is that the corps is rather amorphous, so I don't look carefully at faces, but more at what the figures are doing.

As for her Western--very very deadpan. No grin or smile. I thought her bourees were very smooth and light.

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Well like I said before I thought Ashley did a really great job, very strong and althought I know that Rkoretzky was watching closely, I have to say that I disagree I was watching Ashley through binoculars and she appeared to be smiling and very flirty with Tewsely through the entire piece. I don't really remember her bourees but she was strong and a pleasure to watch. She performed very well and saying again i thought she did as good if not better then Alexandra would've. But it was good to see her do something. And I did spot her in Glass pieces but there's not a lot to the corps roles in that piece just a lot of walking.

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