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Metropolitan Opera Ballet

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Googling didn't answer this, so lots of people will know. I've seen 'them' plenty of times, but do they come from different companies, are some or all of them always dancing for the Met operas themselves, or what? I think I used to hear about them more often as such, but they can't be the same kind of thing as the Paris Opera Ballet is all I know now. Nobody goes to a performance of 'The Metropolitan Opera Ballet'. Anyway, the only thing I found was a single sentence "the Metropolitan Opera Ballet is the resident ballet company of the Metropolitan Opera House. They are based at Lincoln Center.'

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The Metropolitan Opera Ballet is distinctly second (or maybe even third) to the singers who perform at the Met. An effort was made in the 1960s to ramp up their profile, by appointing Dame Alicia Markova as the director of the company, and for a few seasons they presented freestanding programs, but that practice faded out. They did a not-bad "La Ventana", as I recall. They are mostly frequently used to be the leaders of the supers when there's no ballet in the opera the company sings. (In "Pagliacci", they're frequently the donkey-wranglers)

They're not bad dancers, but the Met is not really committed to supporting ballet in its own company. You frequently find the dancers doing pick-up work, as the opera season is usually cast in bronze, and they have plenty of opportunity to do supplemental work.

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Are the dancers who perform dance within the opera MET Opera company members today or do they subcontract this work out as needed?

I attended a Met Opera dress rehearsal last Fall and met a lovely woman who told me should was a ballet dancer who used to work with the Met Opera as a dancer. I assumed the Met had their own dancers, but I missed the opportunity to learn how this works from her.

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The Metropolitan Opera has its own in house ballet and then for shows which require more dancers (i.e. "The Rite of Spring" on the Stravinsky Triple Bill or the "Samson et Dalila" orgy) they will hire extra dancers. The Met also has resident staff supers but gets supplements for big shows like "Turandot" or "Aida". They also have special supers for specific tasks (the executioner in "Turandot", the Countess of Aremberg in "Don Carlo" and Andromache in "Les Troyens").

The ballet only has had solo turns as a stand alone performer in these special events like "The Rite of Spring" and "The Nightingale" (which had Damian Woetzel and Julie Kent later Amanda McKerrow as guest stars). I think when they did "Parade" there was a ballet segment too. Ballet stars sometimes guest with them as in the "Nightingale" mentioned above. Angel Corella danced in the "Dance of the Hours" ballet in "La Gioconda" and Bujones and Cynthia Harvey used to drop into the ballet divertissement that Zeffirelli put in his previous "La Traviata" production (not the dancing cows show done now).

BTW: Griff Braun and Eric Otto former corps men of ABT are now in the Metropolitan Opera Ballet.

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Fascinating information. Thank you, all.

During Act I of The First Emperor, last season, a line of ritual drummers was seatead in front of the chorus. While the Yin-Yan Master sang and danced, he suddenly removed a blank mask from his costume and stuck it on the head of one of the drummers. The young man seemed horrified as the mask covered his face but then became possessed by its spirit. Glancing at a program, I find that this exceptional dancer was Dou Dou Huang, listed as "Principal Dancer."

The story of "dance" at the Met does indeed seem to be complicated. I noticed, on the web page linked by Mel, 12 choreographers, 16 "dancers" (7 with biographies), and a mind-boggling 82 "extra dancers."

Any other Met dance stories to keep an eye out for?

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Thanks Mel, and all. Most interesting, all of this and I will look forward to taking a long look at Mel's link when I have some time. I knew someone who described herself 'in the Metropolitan Opera Ballet', but that was ages ago, and then it seems I never knew anyone else again. Now some of the business of the supers comes back, because I knew a kid who did that for awhile (who was not a dancer.)

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I knew someone who described herself 'in the Metropolitan Opera Ballet', but that was ages ago, and then it seems I never knew anyone else again.

My first ballet teacher was a dancer and choreographer for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. In fact, that's how we found him. My mother took me to Manhattan (we lived in Queens) to audition for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School (which was the school of both the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and American Ballet Theater at the time). After the audition, Margaret Craske (director of the school) made an announcement that one of their dancers was opening his own ballet school on Long Island and was looking for students. She encouraged those of us who lived on the Island to enroll at his new school.

This new school was started by Karl Klauser. He was the main teacher and as his enrollment grew, he hired Metropolitan Opera Ballet colleagues to teach there. My first backstage stories about the life of ballet dancers were all about the dancers of the Metropolitan Opera and American Ballet Theater. A great thrill was when Mr. Klauser invited Sallie Wilson (then dancing with Ballet Theater) to guest-teach a class. I was in awe of her feet -- they were as strong as steel. Her tendus were amazing! Other dancer/teachers who taught at the Dance Academy of Rockville Center included Marie Adair and Alice Greene.

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