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2011-2012 Roster changes.. whoa!

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A bloodbath, of sorts. Thank you, Figurante, for calling our attention to this. A few of my favorites are leaving, including Amanda Weingarten (promoted this year to soloist).

So far, the roster has 35 dancers (compared to 42 at the end of this season) plus 5 apprentices, down significantly from a few years ago.

Who will be dancing this July in Paris, I wonder?

Departures (Compared to those listed for Program IV this past month):

Principal: Haiyan Wu

Principal Soloist: Yang Zou (Wu's husband)

Soloists: Amanda Weingarten; Marc Spielberger

Corps: Michael Sean Breeden; Alexandre Ferreira; Cindy Huang; Neil Marshall; Stephen Satterfield.

Promotions and New Hires (also compared to Program IV):

Kleber Rebello to Soloist

Suzette Logue and new hire Shimon Ito to Corps.

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Wu's departure was somehow expected. I don't recall her in any major role ever, except for Bugaku-(didn't see her in Sonnambula)-so I suspected that she was being somewhat relegated-(just as Garcia-Rodriguez). Alas with Zou. I will certainly miss Spielberger-(I loved his character portrays)-and certainly Braden, who was always a happy, honest force onstage-(I really got to love Valse Fantaisie-1953 after I saw him on it). Oh well, Jeanette and Patty are still there, and so is Manning and the Esty Sisters, Zien and Rebello. We can still go ahead with Giselle.

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Ditto re Spielberger and Breeden.

Zou had a lovely lightness, with apparently effortless jumps and soft, plush landings. I'll always remember him in Valse Fantaisie.

Wu was a medal winner at the Jackson competition and seems to have become a principal rather quickly. She never seemed to fit into the Company's repertoire or style (speed, attack, intensity). MCB dancers are always engaged, always "on." These were not Wu's strengths, though she was often lovely in adagio.

Another difficulty may have been that she never found well-matched partner at MCB. This made her Giselle (with Penteado) and Juliet (with a much taller Trividic) less than they might have been.

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For those interested in MCB's ongoing personnel issues, I recommend Carol Pardo's perceptive overview of the 2010-11 season in DanceView (Spring 2011). (Not available online, unfortunately.)

Pardo's piece, written before the Romeo and Juliet production that ended the season, was written before this new story about numerous departures. But she does do into detail about departures from the Company last season:

... Deanna Seay, a dancer of rare intelligence and musicality, had just retired after 21 years on stage. But she left behind a blueprint of how to grow, thrive and survive at MCB. Then, after season's end, came the updated roster. Among the departed, in addition to Seay, were the Sarabias (Rolando and Daniel), Alex Wong, Daniel Baker, Allynne Noelle, Kristin D'Addario, Elizabeth Keller, Katie Gibson, and Chas Mezaros. Dancers leave companies, including this one, at the end of every season. But these departures loom large. [My emphasis] Rolando Sarabia was the company's adult danseur noble; his younger brother might have followed in his footsteps; both revealed an unexpected affinity for the Tharp works in the repertory. Daniel Baker was the go-to guy for Paul Taylor's works. Alex Wong, a dynamo who could do anything, preferably while airborne, thrilled the audience with an immediacy that no one else possessed. The deparatures of ... Noelle and ... D'Addario, coupled with that of Andrea Spridonakos a year previously, left the company with no one ready to take on the "tall girl" parts .... The soloist ranks were depleted. The company was left with two and a quarter male principals. Yan Trividic had been called out of retirement to guest in program III of the 2009-2010 season ....
To deal with the lack of men, Trividic was brought back as a full-time Principal, as was Isanusi Garcia-Rodgriguez. A new hire was veteran Reyneris Reyes.

Pardo shares my sense that this past season, the 25th, was a disappointment considering the promise of the few years before. Much of this has to do with staffing. For example, a Theme and Variations in which none of the dancing was up to serious international standards. Regarding T&V, Pardo refers to "the vulnerable state of the male contingent" and "unexpected weakness in the female ranks," especially considering the absences due to injury of Jeanette Delgado and Mary Carmen Catoya.

What seems most hopeful for the future? Pardo refers to the promise shown by Renan Cedeiro. She says that watching Jennifer Lauren in Scotch Symphony made her wish that she had seen her in Sonnambula. (I did see her in that and was very impressed.) But generally, Pardo is lukewarm in her estimation of the role played this season by both principals and soloists.

The company seems to be pinning its hopes for the future on a new source of talent, the Escola de Danca Alice Arja in Jacarepagua, Brazil. [...] The big hope is Renan Cerdeiro, a school apprentice in 2009, corps member in 2010 and soloists in 2011. At this rate he'll be a principal in 2013. With any luck these dancers will all actually stick around the grow, and the company with them. That is in the near (one hopes) future. But this silver anniversary season was an occasion for rebuilding rather than consolidation and celebration.

Two seasons in a row have ended with a more-than-usual number of departures. This kind of repeated exodus does, I think, "loom large," to use Pardo's phrase. The latest is just two months before MCB will be performing under an international spotlight for a three-week season at the Chatelet in Paris. That's 15 different ballets, danced in repertory (something MCB is not accustomed to).

I hope it works out well -- for the Company and also for the dancers who are now, for whatever reason, moving on.

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The thing is that this is a company with only one danseur noble...Carlos Guerra. Trividic and Reyes seems to be filling the gaps but it is obvious that their prime time is gone. Isanusi was never the princely type, and Panteado has his "moments"-(which is not always). Still, from the dancers that have left, only Sarabita could do justice to the Imperial roles-(and before him, Misha...Seay's hubby). It would have been hard for Wong, Wu, Baker and Sarabita Jr. to get there. Ditto with Rebello. He's the new Wong, but let's be honest. He's phenomenal, but he's too short to be presented as Siegfried or Albrecht...(although I hope someone will have enough sense to cast him as Franz in the upcoming run of Coppelia). I guess that the Delgado sisters are basically left with Trividic and Reyes for Giselle.

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Oregon Ballet Theatre has issued a press release (.pdf downloadable from this page and has issued an email blast to announce roster changes for next season, and the following ex-Miami City Ballet dancers will join the OBT roster next season:

Originally from China, new Principal Dancers, Haiyin Wu and Yang Zou, join the company after many years as leading dancers with the Miami City Ballet...

Joining OBT as Company Artists are...and Michael Breedon and Neil Marshall, both from Miami City Ballet.

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Delighted to hear this. Thanks, Helene, for the news. Wu and Zou dance well together, something that rarely happened at MCB. I hope they have the opportunity to work as a couple and to do more contemporary material. Wu, despite her precocity as a classicist, seems to have a potential for contemporary (ballet-based) roles taht I hope will be encouraged.

I notice that Michael Breeden and Neil Marshall of the MCB corps are also moving to OBT. They're good, and Breeden especially is delightful in light-hearted, fast-paced roles. I know they will be an asset to the company.

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