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ABT 2008 Met season


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In Sunday's NY times's article about the upcoming ballet season, Alastair Macaulay touches on the 2008 Met season:

While touching on causes for dismay, I must mention Ballet Theater’s repertory from December to July. Other than the double bill featuring Ms. Tharp’s Elfman premiere, only evening-length works are announced. New York gets “La Bayadère,” “The Merry Widow,” “Don Quixote,” “Le Corsaire,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake” and “Giselle” next spring. Has any major ballet company since the fall of the Berlin Wall ever had repertory more completely unadventurous?
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In Sunday's NY times's article about the upcoming ballet season, Alastair Macaulay touches on the 2008 Met season:
While touching on causes for dismay, I must mention Ballet Theater’s repertory from December to July. Other than the double bill featuring Ms. Tharp’s Elfman premiere, only evening-length works are announced. New York gets “La Bayadère,” “The Merry Widow,” “Don Quixote,” “Le Corsaire,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake” and “Giselle” next spring. Has any major ballet company since the fall of the Berlin Wall ever had repertory more completely unadventurous?

so I can see we can expect more nasty reviews all spring season. I think I won't bother reading them. I'll give him a shot with the fall season, otherwise i'll read him for NYCB.

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In Sunday's NY times's article about the upcoming ballet season, Alastair Macaulay touches on the 2008 Met season:
While touching on causes for dismay, I must mention Ballet Theater’s repertory from December to July. Other than the double bill featuring Ms. Tharp’s Elfman premiere, only evening-length works are announced. New York gets “La Bayadère,” “The Merry Widow,” “Don Quixote,” “Le Corsaire,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake” and “Giselle” next spring. Has any major ballet company since the fall of the Berlin Wall ever had repertory more completely unadventurous?

so I can see we can expect more nasty reviews all spring season. I think I won't bother reading them. I'll give him a shot with the fall season, otherwise i'll read him for NYCB.

What is "Ms. Tharp's Elfman premiere"?

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Doesn't get what?

He doesn't get what the Met season is all about or why ABT audiences fill the house to the rafters for productions like SL, Corsaire, Giselle and yes even Sleeping Beauty.

I'm reminded of the NY Sun's Jay Nordlinger's comment last year in defense of The Met's traditional productions of grand opera such as La Giaconda. All of the hype for the season had been around Anthony Minghella's new production of Madame Butterfly which received less than enthusiastic reviews. Minghella had said "I don't want to produce 'grand opera' - but the opposite." Nordlinger's response - "If this is to be the new Met, what a waste and a tragic one. Any little company in a black turtleneck and a beret can do the opposite of grand opera." He said that no house can do grand opera better than The Met.

So, to Mr. Macaulay: -- Any little company in a black turtleneck and a beret can do "adventurous". Nobody puts together an eight week season of grand full length classics as well as ABT. Why waste the vast production benefits of The Met and the superb classical capabilities of the artists in order to produce what every little Podunk Ballet around the corner can do? Adventuresome and innovation were supposed to be what the ABT City Center season was all about. Has anyone out there yet heard why the adventurous and innovation season was cut back from 3 weeks to 2?

If the 2008 Met season is as Macauly reports, we Petipaphiles are in for a treat. It will be ballet at its grandest which doesn't mean that the performances won't also be adventurous.

It would be a benefit to everyone if Macauly would concentrate on writing informative and insightful performance reviews instead of trying to influence artistic managment decisions by beginning to slam a season eight months before it starts and driving audiences away from performances. If ever there was a critic with an agenda, it's Macaulay.

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If the 2008 Met season is as Macaulay reports, we Petipaphiles are in for a treat. It will be ballet at its grandest which doesn't mean that the performances won't also be adventurous.

I'm not sure I could label either ABT's Swan Lake or its Beauty as Petipa, nor grand. I think ABT could better defend itself from Macaulay's (I think rather apt) jabs if their decent production of Giselle was the weakest of their classic productions rather than the strongest. If the company is going to be conservative, could it at least give conservatism a good name and do top quality versions of the classics instead of the fourth rate ones it does?

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... if their decent production of Giselle was the weakest of their classic productions rather than the strongest...

I agree Giselle was their strongest old ballet, but weren't the sets and costumes in dire condition the last go 'round? Will it come back new and improved like Swamp Lake and Aurora's Nightmare in order to justify the fund-raising?

Ms. Tharp’s Elfman premiere

Can't unravel this, but is has prospects: Could ABT's AD have commissioned a work by Ms. Tharp to honor Boris Eifman, much as NYCB's Chief honored George Balanchine by commissioning that ballet by Mr. Eifman? But I surely side with Mr. Macaulay regarding the lack of any other multiple bill, especially with time being spent on Merry Widow. The plus here is more $'s to spend on spring NYCB tickets, as they recover from this winter's programming...

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Sorry it was from at NY Times preview of Sunday's section, which isn't up yet. Here's the earlier article mention of the new Tharp ballet:

"Meanwhile Ms. Tharp is also at work with Danny Elfman (12 Tim Burton films, “Desperate Housewives” and much else) on a ballet to be performed by American Ballet Theater in May. The costumes, as with many previous Tharp works, will be by the fashion designer Norma Kamali. This ballet will be part of a double bill. (The other work is yet to be announced.)"

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If the company is going to be conservative, could it at least give conservatism a good name and do top quality versions of the classics instead of the fourth rate ones it does?

I wouldn't call it conservatism in any form. If anything, it's ambitious -- unless, of course, we can tick off the names of a half dozen other major companies who can present eight weeks of full lengths. It's ambitious and it's doing on a grand scale what they do very well. I certainly wouldn't rate their Petipa productions as fourth rate. We may not be happy with certain aspects of them, but fourth rate? Nuh uh.

The risk of the 2008 season will be Tharp. Given what she has and has not done in the past decade, you have to worry about how gimmicky the new piece will be. Everyone hopes for the best, of course, along with some fresh ideas from her.

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We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. As far as I'm concerned for a major company purporting to specialize in the classics they have the bottom-of-the-barrel Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker *and* Swan Lake. Not a good record at all. I can't call Merry Widow a top-flight classical production either. It doesn't leave a lot, except dancers better than the ballets they dance in.

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If the company is going to be conservative, could it at least give conservatism a good name and do top quality versions of the classics instead of the fourth rate ones it does?

I wouldn't call it conservatism in any form. If anything, it's ambitious -- unless, of course, we can tick off the names of a half dozen other major companies who can present eight weeks of full lengths. It's ambitious and it's doing on a grand scale what they do very well. I certainly wouldn't rate their Petipa productions as fourth rate. We may not be happy with certain aspects of them, but fourth rate? Nuh uh.

The risk of the 2008 season will be Tharp. Given what she has and has not done in the past decade, you have to worry about how gimmicky the new piece will be. Everyone hopes for the best, of course, along with some fresh ideas from her.

I would tend to agree with Haglund.For all the socalled "faults" of ABT's classical productions,they are generally entertaining and seemed to please the general audience.Should a company prepare thier seasons to please thier regular audience or newspaper critics ?

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Y'know, if they just wanted to sell tickets they could do Riverdance, or maybe Swan Lake on Ice. :speechless-smiley-003: Sorry to sound so out of the mainstream, but I think one of the points of Ballet Talk is to insist upon the highest standards for the health and good of the form. If that's not ABT's purpose, so much the poorer.

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one of the points of Ballet Talk is to insist upon the highest standards for the health and good of the form. If that's not ABT's purpose, so much the poorer.

Standards schmandards. Whose standards? It truly floors me to hear anyone refer to ABT's Swan Lake as the bottom of the barrel given the gobbledygook of the other version that appears at Lincoln Center where seemingly there are no standards for anything.

It's an unhappy fact that a lot more than just historical consideration has to be taken into account when preparing and presenting a Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty and that major compromises are made in order to finally get the product onto a stage. Sometimes great reasoning may not appear to prevail at ABT, but usually it does. The present Swan Lake production may have shortcomings, but for the most part, it works very well and we're pretty darn lucky to have it for a full week at a time most years.

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I'm on the fine-if-you--have-the-classics-but-they-have-to-be-better side of this one :speechless-smiley-003: I think for the past decade, at least, ABT's productions of the 19th century repertory have been substandard -- which standard? Haglund's is a fair question, and I guess the answer is: the standard of that repertory in its glory Ballet Boom Days when the Royal, the Kirov, the Bolshoi of that period set a very high standard. If you want to be a great international company, that's the standard you have to meet, and I don't think the current ABT productions even come close.

I think that people like what they're used to, and if one has been going to ABT (or NYCB, or name a company) for the past 10 or 15 years, and like what you're seeing, then the idea that there's something missing or amiss is unpleasant, but Macaulay's is not an off-the-wall position, and there are those who are very glad someone is finally blowing the whistle. ABT has some wonderful dancers, often dreadfully miscast, dancing mostly second-rate productions. It's something that's fixable and we might very well enjoy those old classics more if they were better.

The "more adventurous repertory" is another question. What? Some nice Wayne MacGregor? I'd prefer ABT to stage more of THEIR core repertory. I remember reading an interview with several ABT dancers in the early '80s -- they were upset that the company was getting more and more Russian classics, and said the reason they'd wanted to join was, as one put it, "that treasure trove rep." But "Jardin Aux Lilas" et al are swallowed alive by the Met, and, as others have noted, it takes an opera house production to fill an opera house.

Which brings us back to those productions....

Edited by Alexandra
fixing typos and killing a sentence fragment!
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one of the points of Ballet Talk is to insist upon the highest standards for the health and good of the form. If that's not ABT's purpose, so much the poorer.

Standards schmandards. Whose standards? It truly floors me to hear anyone refer to ABT's Swan Lake as the bottom of the barrel given the gobbledygook of the other version that appears at Lincoln Center where seemingly there are no standards for anything.

I don't think Leigh's point is to compare the standards of ABT classic productions to the standards of NYCB productions of the classics. I think his point is that the ABT bar is too low.

The standards are not only worldwide standards, they span the entire history of each ballet. But if you just take current standards, both Kirov Sleeping Beauty's are miles ahead of ABT's when you evaluate the raison d'etre of classical ballet: the use of the corps, the classical line, the consistent style, the attention to details in sets and costumes, the use of mime, just to start the list. You may prefer ABT's version to the Kirov Reconstruction, and argue that it is more entertaining and appealing to a modern, New York-based autidence, but, yes, there are standards that ABT's version does not meet.

It's an unhappy fact that a lot more than just historical consideration has to be taken into account when preparing and presenting a Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty and that major compromises are made in order to finally get the product onto a stage.
If you could elaborate on how you think this affects the ABT classic productions, it would be helpful.
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This discussion tracks somewhat with the 'What Do ABT Fans Wants To See' discussion over at the ABT thread so I thought I would add my two cents.

From the discussion, it would appear that the ABT artistic staff faces three problems/criticisms when they program the Met seasons:

1) The programming is too conservative -- too many warhorses from yesteryear (the Macaulay charge)

2) The current productions of the great classics are substandard by international standards (raised on this board and an opinion probably shared by Macaulay)

3) The Met is too big for most ballets other than the classics (raised by Alexandra and others)

So, what is the way out of the impasse?

In regard to # 1, Macaulay praised ABT in his spring wrap-up for programming Symphonie Concertante and The Dream together. But he himself admitted in the article that this foray out-of-the-norm sold poorly. So, what potential mixed bills exist out there that would (a) draw an audience, and (b) hold their own in that cavernous space?

Fixing # 2 doesn't necessarily make # 1 any less true if you believe programming the classics all-the-time is too conservative.

# 3 seems to work against the very ballets -- the Lilac Gardens -- that people associate most strongly with ABT. So, you're right back to the problem of conservative programming again.

The fourth thing that occurs to me is the nature of the ABT audience itself. Is it crying out for less conservative programming at the Met? You could argue that that is precisely what an artistic director should do -- audience preferences be damned. But I have to ask the list members (since I wasn't there) -- what was the reaction to all the changes the Baryshnikov regime made in the 1980s? Not just, as Alexandra has pointed out, downplaying core ballets of the past but also bringing in so many "moderns" -- Cunningham, Taylor, Tharp, Morris, etc. -- to freshen the repertory. What was the reaction from the "average viewer"?

OK, this is starting to ramble so over and out for now!

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Not at all rambling, miliosr. I think every point you raise is crucial.

1. Programming the classics -- I'm sure there are many people (especially critics) who want more "adventurous programming." Even the Kirov is now doing Neumeier, Forsythe and Eifman. For years and years and YEARS people chastised ABT for not having a house choreographer, even though the company really truly tried (it seemed, at least) to encourage new works by company members, other young choreographers (never forgetting what seemed like dozens of ballets by Glen Tetley :speechless-smiley-003: ) When the company moved into the Met -- a very double-edged sword, for many reasons (problems filling the house, problems in erosion of classical style, especially diminution of linking steps and other classical niceties, because such niceties don't "read" in that house), there was a big push to find ANY full-length ballet. That's when what I call the faux classics ("Merry Widow," "Snow Maiden," etc.) came in.

2. Re today's substandard classics. Rewind tape. When the board brought in Baryshnikov, one of the specific charges they made to him was to raise the standards of classical dancing, and the classical repertory, which, I would argue, he did. I didn't love the stripped down "Nutcracker" and what was often called the Broadway "Don Q," but -- especially in retrospect! -- they were honest productions. And the "Sleeping Beauty" (MacMillan), and his "Giselle" (which is pretty much what the company has today) and "Swan Lake" were serious productions. Then Baryshnikov left and pulled his productions -- and several of the Kirovians on staff -- the new Artistic Director was a nondancer -- an impresario -- and the situation changed.

miliosr asked how people viewed Baryshnikov's programming of modern dance works. Mixed. They weren't sell-outs. Many critics raved -- he was saving ballet,l which had become old and stale and really really boring, and needed to be shaken up (not an untrue statement, but some argued that the shaking up, in the past, had always come from within the classical tradition.) Some complained that he was getting things he wanted to dance, rather than building a repertory. I felt that ABT had become a bifurcated company. When the company toured, at least, it would dance triple bills during the week, always danced by the same very small group of dancers, and then do The Weekend Rep (always a full-length ballet) over the weekend. This produced a bifurcated audience, too. Baryshnikov said in his Charlie Rose interview last spring that he brought in these ballets because he realized the company didn't have a School. Good point. I don't remember it being made at the time. I remember more how ballet was dead and had to turn to modern dance for choreographers.

When ABT started its City Center seasons, one of the early announcements said that a reason for this was so that the company could dance its core repertory (the Tudor, Robbins, DeMille, early Feld, etc. pieces) and a few are programmed each year, but that hasn't been the focus.

As for what the audience wants -- really truly, if first-rate productions of the classics were substituted for what is there now, would people complain? If they were truly fine productions, brilliantly cast and staged? I doubt it.

The eye and taste of an audience can be educated. Balanchine did that. I'll end THIS long post with a story. A year or two ago, the Kirov brought what I thought was a truly terrible "Giselle." very miscast (a long-legged danseur noble in the peasant pas de deux; two very young dancers who apparently had never been told "Giselle's" story in the leading roles, etc.) The audience seemed to love it -- lots of screams whenever the guy jumped high. which was about every six seconds. "Whoa! Whoa! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH." I spoke to a Russian friend at intermission. She looked glum. "This is a roadshow cast," she said. "The Russian audience wouldn't stand for this."

Arlene Croce's famous "ballet is only good when it is great," is not a bad mantra :)

Where does this lead ABT? Fix the classics. Then worry about the adventurous part.

I'd like to comment on Helene's excellent point about the importance of the corps -- not as a group of junior medal winners, but as a CORPS with a SCHOOL -- but that will have to wait until later :)

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Personally I'm all for innovation and introducing new elements into the classics. Ballets should represent the time in which they are presented. However when that innovation becomes more paramount to the essence at what made the classic so great in the first place we get into trouble. The innovations should honor the classics - not take over.

SWAN LAKE

Overall I believe Kevin McKenzie succeeded at blending the tradition with the modern. I enjoy the prelude in which we see how Odette is captured and transformed into a swan by Von Rothbart. I like how McKenzie split the role of Von Rothbart for two dancers (the seductive Baron and the Creature from the Black Lagoon :speechless-smiley-003: ) I enjoy how McKenzie have only four princesses instead of the standard six who are candidates for Siegfried to marry and I like how McKenzie made the divertissements more clearly representing the nationality of the four princesses - how he had the Master of Ceremonies escort each princess to seat close by Siegfried and the Queen Mother just before a divertissement is perform in a matter that shows this is the folk dance of her country.

My only major problem with the production is that it should have been a THREE act ballet instead of a TWO act ballet. Blending the first two acts makes perfect sense to me. But for me the blending the third and fourth act created a problem. By doing that it seemed that everything in the fourth act was too rushed. I never got the sense of the depth of feelings that Odette felt at realizing that she was doomed to be forever a swan thanks to Siegfried's betrayal and I also don't get the depth of feelings of Siegfried's remorse for betraying Odette. Her forgiveness also seemed to be an after thought in order for our lovers to quickly kill themselves and end the evening.

I like McKenzie's Swan Lake. He streamlined things in the ballet that deserved to be cut - IMO - and added touches that made the ballet interesting and new while maintaining the essence of the original source. If he would have simply kept the third and fourth acts separate, I think instead of his Swan Lake being very good, it could have been near flawless.

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY

What can I say about this??? :)

I think this is a perfect example in which innovation clearly took over the classic. The innovations didn't help this classical ballet - it simply hurt it. From the sets, costumes, staging, casting, the things that was taken out and the things that was unnecessarily added simply - once again IMO - didn't help the ballet at all. There was so much wrong for me that I can't even begin to explain the several problems I personally had with the ballet.

The sad thing is that I have a great deal of anticipation. For the ten years that I've been going to ABT, I've been hoping for a new production of this ballet. So when it was announce that a new production was in the making I was overly excited! Perhaps too overly excited as it turned out to be. I had great expectation and this production did not come up to my imaginery standard. It didn't help that before I saw the production at the Met I purchase the Paris Opera Ballet DVD version of Rudolf Nureyev's staging of the ballet and oh my God!! Talk about a production that was lavish, brilliantly staged, with innovations that remain respectful to the original source. After seeing that on DVD, how in the world could ABT compete with that???

Innovations should respect the original production of the classics. When it does - it works out beautifully. When it doesn't - it doesn't always achieve the desire ending the many in the audience had hope for.

On a sidenote I wish McKenzie would replace The Merry Widow ( a ballet I personally don't care for - it really isn't all that good) with Frederick Ashton's La Fille mal gardee - a wonderful ballet that I would love to see Herman Cornejo and Sarah Lane dance the lead roles. I think they would be adorable.

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I was going to add to the chorus of complainers, but then I realized that Macaulay didn't mention R&J or Manon. What? Can it be? A MacMillan-less ABT season? :) If so, that's one step in the right direction! :speechless-smiley-003:

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I think there are a couple of issues that GeorgeB fan's post raise: how much modern influence can or should a production of a classic take before it ceases to be that classic, and does the audience have the context of the original to which to compare an updated version to make any comparative judgement?

For example, I thought that James Kudelka's presentation of the visiting princesses as women sold to the highest royal bidder was thought-provoking, but it wasn't Swan Lake, no matter how traditional the White Swan Pas de Deux was danced in the production. If it was my only exposure to Swan Lake, I might have thought that this is what Swan Lake (or classical ballet) was.

American Ballet Theatre presents the most number of classics in New York City. It is the only major company that has presented itself as a classical, as opposed to neoclassical, company. This is very far from the mission of its founding. So I went to the ABT website to find its current mission statement. What I found was:

When American Ballet Theatre was launched in 1939, the aim was to develop a repertoire of the best ballets from the past and to encourage the creation of new works by gifted young choreographers, wherever they might be found.

in the company history page, and

ABT isn't just a company. It's a collaboration. Dedicated, passionate people who come together to make sure that our commitment to the best in dance and movement is upheld, and available to all who seek it out.

from its Inside ABT page.

I'm aware of the Tudor, deMille, and Balanchine ballets that were performed in the early years of the Company, but I thought that the big productions of the classics were a late 60's/early 70's phenomenon, and I can't find any other online history of the company.

In any case, there is nothing in these two statements that suggests a vigorous approach to classical ballet or any mission statement to become the classical standard, although that is assumption about the company, based on its rep, and I would argue the reputations of Fracci, Bruhn, Makarova, and Baryshikov from the "glory years."

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In any case, there is nothing in these two statements that suggests a vigorous approach to classical ballet or any mission statement to become the classical standard, although that is assumption about the company, based on its rep, and I would argue the reputations of Fracci, Bruhn, Makarova, and Baryshikov from the "glory years."

Just read a bit further.

As a result, the Company's repertoire, perhaps unmatched in the history of ballet, includes all of the great full-length ballets of the nineteenth century, the finest works from the early part of this century, and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces.

ABT produced its first full length Swan Lake in 1967.

Returning to the old "glory" days, whatever one perceives them to be, isn't the answer. Gone are the days when a week-night ballet audience is going to sit through a four and a half hour classic with every piece of mime and story line possible. To suggest that ABT aspire to the level of conformity or consistency at the Kirov or Bolshoi isn't exactly the best idea - unless I've been missing all those black, brown and golden dancers in the Kirov or Bolshoi and unless we recommend implementing the rigid homogenization process that would automatically deselect someone like Sarah Lane or Herman Cornejo or Misty Copeland or Carlos Acosta. That type of homogenization is integral to producing the oldest classical idea of consistency. The next time we get to see the Kirov here (in Washington DC in 2008) we should take a look to see if the type of dancers that American companies employ are excluded from their corps. As far as aspiring to the level of the Royal Ballet, complaints are everywhere about the effects of international dancers on the company and the ultimate loss of a Royal Ballet consistent style.

I'm not going to try to explain ABT's latest Sleeping Beauty, but I will defend most of its current Swan Lake, including the consistency of the corps work, its line and attention to style including shape of foot, legs, fingers, wrists, hands, elbows, and heads. Granted, I have the opportunity to see the production at its best in the Met Opera House on a regular basis, and no, I don't care for the cuts made to Act IV, but I can very easily live with and totally enjoy the whole package. So if people are complaining about the corps' style, what are the specifics (e.g. last night five corps girls had splayed fingers or ghastly winged feet. Or, they couldn't keep a straight line in such and such.)? My memories of the Blair and Baryshnikov productions seen in other parts of the country are favorable, but to suggest that the old glory days produced a better corps than what we see right now is revisionist thinking. Everyone's first Swan Lake is their favorite and most memorable, isn't it? Mine was teenaged Cynthia Gregory's first perfomance as Odette/Odile during a season when Toni Lander was pregnant. Nothing will ever surpass my memory of that. I won't let it.

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No one's calling for "four and a half hour versions". Of course classics are updated -- the Kirov productions are much changed from the original. The old Royal Ballet production, which was such a yardstick for so long, had many later interpolations. But all were done by people who understood the original productions and their rules.

I don't know why one would assume that "black, brown and golden" dancers would not be valued members of a classical company. Look at the Cuban Ballet, which was -- I think it's less so now -- the most racially integrated company I've ever seen (and would there were more examples.) Homogenization is by having a coherent, consistent style.

ABT did "Giselle" and "Coppelia" in their early days. The company started moving from a triple-bill rep to a 19th century classical repertory in the mid-1960s and one of the reasons -- rightly or wrongly; many argued vigorously that the way to maintain a high standard was to keep doing what ABT did best, the Tudor-Robbins-DeMille, etc. rep -- was to "compete internationally." There were several full-length ballets in the early and mid-1970s, and the landmark staging by Makarova of The Kingdom of the Shades scene from "La Bayadere." The company expanded in size and concentrated on the 19th century rep in the Baryshnikov era, as well as doing a lot of experimental work, as has been noted -- and reviving quite a few interesting ballets that hadn't been in repertory (and that were popular) such as Petit's "Carmen" and quite a few Balanchine ballets that weren't (for the most part) danced often by NYCB at that time.

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Just read a bit further.
As a result, the Company's repertoire, perhaps unmatched in the history of ballet, includes all of the great full-length ballets of the nineteenth century, the finest works from the early part of this century, and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces.

Yes, but that tells me they want to do everything, not that they aspire to be the benchmark for classical ballet.

ABT produced its first full length Swan Lake in 1967.

That's what I thought. Thank you for the information.

To suggest that ABT aspire to the level of conformity or consistency at the Kirov or Bolshoi isn't exactly the best idea - unless I've been missing all those black, brown and golden dancers in the Kirov or Bolshoi and unless we recommend implementing the rigid homogenization process that would automatically deselect someone like Sarah Lane or Herman Cornejo or Misty Copeland or Carlos Acosta.

From what I can see from Royal Ballet reviews, Carlos Acosta hasn't had any trouble being cast in princely roles in the classics. I've read numerous complaints on this board that Misty Copeland and Sarah Lane and Herman Cornejo are not cast in classical roles. I would never argue that ABT should do only classical ballet -- on the contrary, I think their (once) strength and (buried) legacy is their Tudor/deMille rep. The argument is the quality and performance of their classical repertoire.

My memories of the Blair and Baryshnikov productions seen in other parts of the country are favorable, but to suggest that the old glory days produced a better corps than what we see right now is revisionist thinking.
I would never suggest that the corps I saw in the 70's (until Baryshnikov made it a point to focus on the corps in the 80's) was better then than now. Better is comparative, and doesn't address standards of consistent style. Given that no classical academy exists anywhere in the US or Canada to feed into a major classical company with the big classical rep, I would say that inconsistency of style is a problem outside major European companies, that train almost all of its company members since they were children.

I put "glory years" in quotes, because those were times when it was very difficult for a non-foreign-born dancer to be accepted in the classics, and the emphasis was on the leading roles, not on the corps.

Everyone's first Swan Lake is their favorite and most memorable, isn't it?

For me, not even close. Markarova's Odette/Odile from 1971 has been surpassed many times, once by the underestimated, in my opinion, Marguerite Porter of the Royal Ballet, and most notably by Carla Korbes last year.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I've seen a Prince dance with the elegance and modesty of Ivan Nagy.

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