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ABT's Male Principal Problem


Promote From Within or Go On a Spending Spree?  

73 members have voted

  1. 1. To solve its looming shortage of male principals, should ABT:

    • Promote from within to fill the ranks
      45
    • Go out into the free market and hire male principals from outside the company
      28


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I have to respectfully disagree with some of the above statements. I don't think ABT "has a problem with their insistence on doing so many story ballets that have limited opportunities for the entire company." I think ABT has an identity - a longstanding identity as a classical ballet company that performs classical & full length story ballets. Like the Royal, Mariinsky, Bolshoi etc - their rep is built around full length story ballets. I'd love to see them add more 1 acts as well - things like Les Partineurs, Rhapsody, Jeune Homme, etc - but their bread & butter will always be full length ballets and box office names.

That hasn't been true for all of ABT's history, though. Even when I first went to ABT in the 1970's, the seasons at the New York State Theatre were a mix of full-length story ballets and the triple bills of works that were rich with performance history in the company -- many are masterworks -- which from the start featured a series of Tudor ballets, like "Jardin aux Lilacs", "Pillar of Fire", which was broadcast at least twice on TV, "Dark Elegies", "Dim Lustre", "Undertow", "Shadowplay", and "The Leaves Are Fading", "The Green Table", "Voluntaries", "Airs", Robbins' works for ABT like "Fancy Free" and "Other Dances", works by deMille like "Rodeo" and "Fall River Legend", "Le jeune homme et la Mort", the occasional Ashton, like "Les Patineurs", as well as "Theme and Variations", which Balanchine created for Ballet Theatre, and "Bouree Fantasque" and "Symphony Concertante", which NYCB stopped performing. Add in classical short works like "Les Sylphides" and "Le Spectre de la Rose" and there is an entire rep that is fading into the past.

When Boal said that the downside of presenting full-lengths was limited opportunities, he also spoke about the range of opportunities that triple bills provided, the ability to cast 12 or more leads vs. two-three in a single evening.

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So why the negative light here? There is no implication she is leaving ABT for NZ!

Why would it necessarily be negative if she did switch, especially since she'd more likely get greater opportunity there? Besides, New Zealand's a gorgeous place, much like the Pacific Northwest, and very convenient to Australia and southeast Asia. (Not that I think she is doing anything more than guesting, as you noted, like many ABT dancers do.)

I would have been equally snarky to describe Boal as having "poached" Carla Korbes -- easy for me to do, because I'm on the right side of that transaction, and I just rewatched "The Rules of the Game" -- and he sure wasn't able to do it with a pile of cash or more prestige; instead he gave Korbes better opportunities under a much more humane schedule, which for a dancer who had been prone to injury, is a great advantage. Miranda Weese lived across country from her long-time partner for the last few years of her career, as she said, in order to dance in a sane schedule.

BTW, Simkin and Lane are not that young - both 25 or 26.

Actually, Daniil is still quite young. He's 23, turning 24 in October. (Sarah Lane is 26 as you surmised.)

It feels like he's been a prominent dancer for at least a decade. No wonder we think he's older than he is.

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This is more about women than men, but part of the same problem -

Sarah Lane is really, really good in Theme and Variations, which is one of the most difficult ballets to pull off. I saw her twice and both were terrific and a friend saw her in DC and was dazzled. I also saw her Aurora and it thought it terrific. People quibbled with it here and there saying things like "she smiled too much," but she was new at it and her rose adagio was one of the best I've seen -- there were absolutely no technical difficulties in any part of the ballet. She got one Gamzatti, which was terrific. Yet, her opportunities have been sporadic at best. No more Auroras or Gamzattis. I'm not saying she is perfect in everything (Flames of Paris pas with Simkin not so hot) but there it a real talent there to be nurtured.

Look at Ricceto (not one of my favorites). If ABT wants to develop her please do so in a constructive way. She gets Giselle one year, the next year no Giselle but one Coppellia. She gets lots of things that she struggles in and some things that suit her, but it all seems helter skelter.

Developing dancers and partnership in a sensible way could go along with hiring imports. There seems to be no plan at ABT. I also believe that home grown talent can sell tickets - it's in the marketing. Look at NYCB's Romeo & Juliet (which I don't care for). No stars but sells out - marketing!

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So why the negative light here? There is no implication she is leaving ABT for NZ!

Why would it necessarily be negative if she did switch, especially since she'd more likely get greater opportunity there? Besides, New Zealand's a gorgeous place, much like the Pacific Northwest, and very convenient to Australia and southeast Asia. (Not that I think she is doing anything more than guesting, as you noted, like many ABT dancers do.)

I don't think it necessarily would be. I would be sorry for her to go, but if she would be happier there, then it would be a positive move for her, if a sad one for ABT.

I would have been equally snarky to describe Boal as having "poached" Carla Korbes

But as you noted, although it could be considered an accurate description, you didn't chose to do so. :)

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Another young and healthy and beautiful dancer is Conner Walsh with Houston. Although he probably would not come in as a principal, he would be one more to develop and have a long career. He is a few years younger than me and has many years (hopefully) of performing ahead of him!

I saw him a few seasons ago in "The Nutcracker", and he was ready to be a Principal then, in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen some great performances of Connor Walsh, but I find him to be an extremely inconsistent dancer. It's not so much that certain roles suit him better than others as it is his technique can just come and go as it pleases. I've seen him put in some great performances--Swan Lake (his best performance that I've seen), Carmina Burana before he was made principal, Diamonds, and the most recent Nutcracker. But he was downright awful in Stanton Welch's "Tutu" last fall, hardly impressionable in "Rubies," and has been less than stellar in previous "Nutcracker" runs. However, with ABT's limited roster of male soloists he could be a good pick. Although he is neither a brilliant actor nor a spectacular technician, he is an efficient, attractive dancer when on call and can carry a full-length ballet. In terms of whether he would be a soloist or principal, I would instantly say soloist but then I forget that Stearns is a principal, who I don't necessarily think is a better (or much better) dancer than Walsh. The advantage Stearns has had is his height, but Connor isn't a shrimp and could be partnered with some current principal women.

A dancer from Houston who ABT would be smarter to invest in IMO is Joe Walsh (not related to Connor), currently a soloist who has been with the Company since 2007. He is a polished, elegant performer who can also do lightning fast petite allegro and has such an interesting quality of moving. I've seen him dance very nicely in both classical and contemporary works, and I really feel he has more long-term potential than Connor.

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Throwing some names out there to prompt discussion. Most (if not all) may not be available for a whole host of reasons:

Stephane Bullion at the Paris Opera

Chase Finlay at City Ballet

Iain Mackay at the Birmingham Royal

Vadim Muntagirov at the English National (If not him, then someone else -- Wayne Eagling has a lot of male talent at ENB.)

Leonid Sarafanov at the Mikhailovsky

Just thinking out loud . . .

Vadim Muntagirov? He is tall and had received very good reviews from the British critics and bloggers.

Vadim Muntagirov is potentially brilliant. He's six foot one, with the turning capability of a short virtuoso dancer, incredible line and jump. He's forged a hugely successful partnership at ENB with Daria Klimentova a 40 year old ballerina and with her has become an exceedingly good actor. He's a very rare combination of danseur noble physique, with huge technical ability.

It's synonymous of Monica Mason's bizarre hiring policy that she didn't snap him up for the Royal Ballet, though I wouldn't be surprised if they're avidly trying to poach him. He's just turned 21 and is a first soloist, that principal status is inevitable isn't in question, ENB are no doubt terrified of losing him, he's really their star attraction. The fact that he will leave given ENB's bad financial state and reduced rep seems inevitable. ABT would be really really lucky to get him.

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Thanks everyone for the astute analysis. I would be interested to hear more thoughts about the women soloists. I've been baffled as to why Kristi Boone and Misty Copeland have gotten so few opportunities, and even those for Sarah Lane have been limited and sporadic. I certainly hope the newer soloists -- Seo, Messmer, and Boylston -- don't get similarly stuck and stalled. It would be so depressing to see them dancing the same roles three years from now.

As for the men, just a few seasons ago Eric Tamm was looking like a future David Hallberg. I don't know if he really hasn't developed since then, and/or just hasn't had the opportunities to shine.

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If i'm not mistaken Vadim graduated from the Royal Ballet School. It was a big surprise that Royal Ballet did not hire him. :huh:

Exactly, he did the majority of his training at Perm, then won a Prix de Lausanne Scholarship to finish his training at the RBS. Like you said why they didn't snap him up for the company is anyone's guess. He was the same year as Sergei Polunin, so possibly Mason felt two Russian trained dancers was too much, but how can you have too much of a good thing? Muntagirov is actually far more versatile than Polunin, he's taller too so can pretty much partner any ballerina within the company and also there's just something unnusual about him he has a slightly bizarre presence, if that makes sense? But like I said I wouldn't be surprised if Mason and the RB are avidly trying to poach him.

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What about Martin Harvey? Is he too old (not sure how old he is). Has he been away from classical ballet too long? He looked great with Kowroski in Wheeldon's pas de deux for the Met's Carmen. And he seems to be hanging around NY these days...

I also think Sarabita might be a good pick up.

The problem with promoting from within, as I see it, is that most of ABT's soloist men really don't seem ready for a move to principal. And some of their most talented men (Simkin, Phillips, Ilyin, Gorak) are too short to partner a lot of their ballerinas. ONE of these guys is likely to make it to principal in the next few years, but I don't see there being room for more than one of them at the principal level.

There are a lot of talented men at the corps and soloist level, and they definitely need development. I don't know the inner workings of ABT, but I suspect that coaching may be a problem. But then, you never know. Take Jared Matthews. I liked him when he was in the corps but he seemed to flounder once he was promoted to soloist. This season he's been fantastic. Maybe it just takes time.

I think ABT has a bigger problem with its female roster, and they really don't have a good track record when it comes to developing their female talent. Apologies to those who champion Riccetto, Boone, & Lane - but I don't see any one of them as a principal. Maybe Lane - but I'm not convinced & she still needs a lot of work. I agree that her T&V was great and her Sleeping Beauty showed a lot of promise but neither one was really a knockout. I'd also like to see her get another Beauty - I really don't understand why she hasn't, except that ABT only gives X number of performances of each ballet and they'd have to leave someone off the rotation to make room for her. Who should she replace this season? Part, Reyes, Murphy, Hererra, Dvorovenko, Osipova, Cojocaru? I'd love to see her Giselle - I'd prefer to see hers than Seo's or Abrera's, but that's my preference. Each dancer has her own fans and again, who should lose their Giselle to make room for Sarah? This season in addition to Seo's Giselle debut we had Vishneva (twice), Dvorovenko, Cojocaru, Herrera, Kent & Reyes. It's not so easy to make room for soloists to develop.

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Another male dancer I'd love to see at ABT: Fabrice Calmels. He might be too committed to the Joffrey to be persuaded, but maybe they could get him to guest. I've only seen him dance twice, but I've been very impressed with him. I'm not sure if he has real virtuoso technique but he has beautiful line, he's tall, handsome and a really great partner. Gomes can't do all the heavy lifting!

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If i'm not mistaken Vadim graduated from the Royal Ballet School. It was a big surprise that Royal Ballet did not hire him. :huh:

E But like I said I wouldn't be surprised if Mason and the RB are avidly trying to poach him.

Then Kevin Mc should fly to London as soon as the season is over to sign him... :FIREdevil:

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I just watched some videos of Vadm Muntagirov on YouTube. He seems to be very talented. It's not surprising he's developing a strong fanbase with ENB's audience. ABT would be very lucky to have him. But it does bring a thought in my head. I don't mind ABT inviting guest artist to perform a full season. But what would be the attitude of ballet companies across the world towards ABT if ABT start this massive shopping at scooping up other dancers from other companies? How would ABT be perceived by their company of peers? As a company who steals, or worst, a company that can't develop it's own natural talent in their own backyard? Either way it certainly wouldn't look all that favorable to ABT. In a way - without meaning too of course but with a cynical way at looking at things - they could be broadcasting to the ballet world their stable of dancers are rather weak. Something I don't think any ballet company wish to have as a reputation.

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when i read the bit about Marcelo teaching a class on partnering, i actually almost started laughing as I remember reading somewhere that he didn't start partnering until later in the schooling years (someone correct me if i'm wrong). That makes me wonder if Marcelo has a better understanding of partnering and is much more mentally engaged in what he does when dancing WITH someone b/c of his steeper learning curve. Marcelo is the most reliable male principal in the company if not the most in the world. He partners with so little effort but so much care that it makes everything the female he is dancing with effortless.

I totally agree that Marcelo is an amazing partner, but I think he's had a lot of experience! I happened to stumble upon this old interview with him from 2003, and I thought his answers were really illuminating:

http://www.balletalert.com/dancers/interviews/Gomes.html

One of the things that is so noticeable about your dancing is your partnering. Could you talk about that aspect?

I actually started partnering very early, in Brazil, when I could barely lift, so I have been trying to put girls on their feet for a very long time! We also had a lot of partnering work at Harid. Surprisingly, partnering wasn’t that important in Paris. They waited until the last year in the school to give partnering class, so I was really much more advanced than the other boys. When I got to ABT, I really developed a joy in presenting the ballerina. When you come on stage, she is the first thing you see, or if you do see her partner, he should match her perfectly. It is just such a beautiful thing to see. I try to make it work—there is nothing worse than an angry ballerina! I really like to look into someone’s eyes and feel like you are making a connection. That’s really much more exciting to me than seven thousand pirouettes.

To me, it seems that being a good partner is not just about height or strength, but a lot about attitude. I think Marcelo is a fantastic partner because he WANTS to be a fantastic partner, because he ENJOYS being a fantastic partner. And I'm not sure that is something you can really train, though that attitude can certainly be encouraged.

Going back to the original question, like many others, I probably vote for BOTH. Within the company, I would expect Simkin to eventually make principal. I could see Jared Matthews doing lead roles, but he's not yet a dancer that makes me excited to see him. Hammoudi is certainly tall and handsome, though I am a bit worried about his lack of consistency and his partnering mistakes. Eric Tamm is another corps dancer who routinely catches my eye--very well-centered pirouettes and nice extension--and he did a very admirable job of partnering Part in the very-athletic "Lady of the Camellias" lifts. I feel like I haven't seen enough of Hoven to have a strong opinion either way.

I'm not too familiar with dancers outside of ABT, but when I saw Chase Finlay in "Apollo" at NYCB, I did start to imagine what it would look like to see him as Siegfried or Albrecht. :sweatingbullets: I personally am not a fan of Vasiliev--a little too sloppy for my tastes--but I completely understand that he would pack the house. My concern there, however, is that he is rather short (though super-strong), so it doesn't help much if he can only partner Reyes and Osipova (and maybe Cojocaru?). I thoroughly enjoyed Sarabia in DQ, but I'm not sure how he would look in the other ballets (can he do the tragic roles?).

Is Polina Semionova's brother any good? All I know about Dmitry Semionov is that he's very tall and went to the Vaganova school and then the Mariinsky before joining her in Berlin. If he's good, it might be nice to have another tall guy around.

I'm starting to feel like one problem is that ABT's up-and-coming men tend to be on the shorter-to-medium height, while the female principals/soloists/guests are on the medium-to-tall side of the spectrum. Maybe ABT should bring more shorter guest ballerinas--like, say, Evgenia Obraztsova! I know this is a thread about the male dancers, but I would *love* to see her at ABT! (And maybe she can bring Ratmansky's "Cinderella" with her.) :wink:

As for the partnership issue that some posters have raised--I think Vishneva/Gomes are becoming a great one, though they aren't necessarily being publicized that way. And I think if ABT wants Vishneva to do more performances, then give her Gomes and some dramatic roles, and I think she would be here. If next season we have Onegin, Giselle, La Bayadere, Swan Lake, and R&J or Manon, I bet we'd see her more than we did this season. But, if management thinks Osipova or Semionova are better at filling the seats, then that's a different story...

I guess we shall see what transpires!

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A dancer from Houston who ABT would be smarter to invest in IMO is Joe Walsh (not related to Connor), currently a soloist who has been with the Company since 2007. He is a polished, elegant performer who can also do lightning fast petite allegro and has such an interesting quality of moving. I've seen him dance very nicely in both classical and contemporary works, and I really feel he has more long-term potential than Connor.

I was very impressed with Joseph Walsh, too, in the same performance -- he had beautiful line and articulation -- but he didn't have to do the intricate partnering that Connor Walsh did, so it was harder to judge overall whether he'd be Principal material.

I'm starting to feel like one problem is that ABT's up-and-coming men tend to be on the shorter-to-medium height, while the female principals/soloists/guests are on the medium-to-tall side of the spectrum. Maybe ABT should bring more shorter guest ballerinas--like, say, Evgenia Obraztsova! I know this is a thread about the male dancers, but I would *love* to see her at ABT! (And maybe she can bring Ratmansky's "Cinderella" with her.) :wink:

This is Boal's conundrum in Seattle: the men are relatively short, and he's got a stable of tall women who flocked to PNB because Ariana Lallone, at nearly 6' tall, set the precedent. (For example: if Kiyon Gaines were six inches taller, companies around the world would be having bidding wars over him.) Of the eight dancers leaving, three were tall and key partners for the women: Jeffrey Stanton, Olivier Wevers, and Stanko Milov.

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I just watched some videos of Vadm Muntagirov on YouTube. He seems to be very talented. It's not surprising he's developing a strong fanbase with ENB's audience. ABT would be very lucky to have him. But it does bring a thought in my head. I don't mind ABT inviting guest artist to perform a full season. But what would be the attitude of ballet companies across the world towards ABT if ABT start this massive shopping at scooping up other dancers from other companies? How would ABT be perceived by their company of peers? As a company who steals, or worst, a company that can't develop it's own natural talent in their own backyard? Either way it certainly wouldn't look all that favorable to ABT. In a way - without meaning too of course but with a cynical way at looking at things - they could be broadcasting to the ballet world their stable of dancers are rather weak. Something I don't think any ballet company wish to have as a reputation.

I agree--I don't think it's appropriate for ABT to cherry pick male principals from around the world (though I guess Kevin didn't care how this looked previously or it happened over a longer stretch so it was less noticeable). First of all, I think we can all agree ABT needs men who are able to make ABT their home--most of the candidates mentioned, I think (and perhaps I am presuming) would not do that, and why would they if they are a principal at the Bolshoi, for example, unless they truly wanted a dramatic change in their lives. The reason why Carreno, Ananiashvili, Ferri, and Bocca all felt like they were part of the home team though they were not homegrown is that they made ABT a priority...they toured with them, they danced in mixed bills at City Center, they were team players while retaining their foreign appeal.

If ABT is going to go on a world wide mission, they'd be best served by pursuing someone like Sarabia, who has no company ties OR they could go the route of Simkin and get a younger soloist who they can mold into a principal. This is riskier as obviously a lot of us are still reticent about Simkin being made a principal right now (or as with Veronika Part, she blossomed later than maybe was hoped for by everyone), but in this way they actually BECOME part of the company.

Moreover though, I agree with everyone who says Kevin is the biggest obstacle in making ABT and its dancers successful right now. He clearly has a taste for the most obvious flashy thing, and can't see much beyond that.

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Even though Stella and Sascha are good friends of Stiefel's, I really can't see them jumping ship, but I wouldn't be surprised if they guested and worked with Stiefel/NZ for better opportunities. Both of them have guested in productions across the country as well as the world, and I get the sense that both of them want to share what they love with the world and take these opportunities in stride. The two of them have stuck around at ABT this long already, I think it would take A LOT to keep them away.

That being said, in regards to Stella's status in ABT not being changed, that is a likely possibility since as every year passes that door closes more and more. However, she is the soloist (male OR female) who has shown that she is most ready for a promotion, and an opportunity like this one that could work in her favor...hopefully, Kevin pays attention this time around. Although with the number of corps to soloist promotions Kevin has made in the last 2 years...i'd like to think a promotion to principal is about happen, and most (both here at BA and around other blogs/sites) agree that it should be Stella (crossing my fingers!)...although this does nothing for the issue at hand, which is the male roster at ABT as a whole...

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I just watched some videos of Vadm Muntagirov on YouTube. He seems to be very talented. It's not surprising he's developing a strong fanbase with ENB's audience. ABT would be very lucky to have him. But it does bring a thought in my head. I don't mind ABT inviting guest artist to perform a full season. But what would be the attitude of ballet companies across the world towards ABT if ABT start this massive shopping at scooping up other dancers from other companies? How would ABT be perceived by their company of peers? As a company who steals, or worst, a company that can't develop it's own natural talent in their own backyard? Either way it certainly wouldn't look all that favorable to ABT. In a way - without meaning too of course but with a cynical way at looking at things - they could be broadcasting to the ballet world their stable of dancers are rather weak. Something I don't think any ballet company wish to have as a reputation.

GBF,

A good question and one which Monica Mason is most qualified to answer, as you've just summed up the Royal Ballet's artistic policy pretty succinctly.

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I just watched some videos of Vadm Muntagirov on YouTube. He seems to be very talented. It's not surprising he's developing a strong fanbase with ENB's audience. ABT would be very lucky to have him. But it does bring a thought in my head. I don't mind ABT inviting guest artist to perform a full season. But what would be the attitude of ballet companies across the world towards ABT if ABT start this massive shopping at scooping up other dancers from other companies? How would ABT be perceived by their company of peers? As a company who steals, or worst, a company that can't develop it's own natural talent in their own backyard? Either way it certainly wouldn't look all that favorable to ABT. In a way - without meaning too of course but with a cynical way at looking at things - they could be broadcasting to the ballet world their stable of dancers are rather weak. Something I don't think any ballet company wish to have as a reputation.

GBF,

A good question and one which Monica Mason is most qualified to answer, as you've just summed up the Royal Ballet's artistic policy pretty succinctly.

I agree. Having read this thread from the start ABT's male dancer problem reflects the RB situation exactly. Here in London the main stars Acosta and Kobborg won't be dancing for ever but the selection process is appalling with laughable imports. Mason has no eye for male dancers at all whereas over at ENB Wayne Eagling quickly recognized the outstanding talent of Vadim Muntagirov and has just added young virtuoso Yonah Acosta (nephew of you-know-who) to his impressive male contingent. The RB has one male dancer who could dance leading roles tomorrow: Brian Maloney (an American I think) with a couple of others looking interesting but not getting roles, a situation that reveals a shocking lack of discernment on Mason’s part.

As someone that only gets to watch ABT on their infrequent visits I adore Cornejo and was extremely taken by Cory Stearns. Take Muntagirov if you must, but leave him be for another couple of seasons please.

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my sense of the unwritten rules of one company's acquiring another's dancer(s) is that there is no out-and-out 'stealing' etc. that the former co. however much it might like another's talent waits for that talent to show an interest in leaving and/or comes to audition at which point a contract can be offered.

i don't suppose anyone ever really speaks on the record of this situation, though most companies seem to keep on fairly good terms with one another.

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That makes sense. In a way, most dancers that aren't civil servants and pretty much have guaranteed jobs until the mandatory retirement age, are perpetual free agents, because they are working on short, usually one-year contracts, so they have a right to make contact with other companies for their next year's employment and/or guest contracts.

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The Royal Ballet has a school and so does the New York City Ballet. American Ballet Theater has just started a school but it is too new and the students are too young to create a new generation of stars right now. The other oddity about the Royal Ballet for several decades now is that most of the star dancers are foreigners who trained elsewhere. Acosta (Cuba), Cojocaru (Romania/Kiev), Marianela Nunez (Argentina), Rojo (Spain) and all those Italians, Russians, Brazilians, etc. Former principal dancers Sylvie Guillem (poached from POB) and Alexandra Ansanelli (poached from NYCB). There are very few English dancers perpetuating the Ashton/de Valois English school of ballet who are products of the RB school. To my eyes, Darcey Bussell is the last and she was sort of an atypical English ballerina - more American in her physical attack and boldness. Where is the younger than 35 or 40 year old English ballerina with that kind of star power? Royal Ballet School needs to redress this.

However, compare the NYCB roster with ABT's - most of the principals are young, fresh and trained at SAB home-grown product. As for Chase Finlay - he ain't going nowhere, he is in the right place at the right time. As for comparisons with the ABT and NYCB roster - this has changed a lot in 20 years. I actually find that NYCB is crazy strong in superb ballerinas right now (Mearns, Scheller, Reichlen, Bouder, Fairchild, Peck and on and on) but the male contingent is functional but not brilliant. I like Gonzalo Garcia and De Luz. To my eyes neither Jonathan Stafford or either Angle brother can compare with the best dancers circa 1991 when I started attending ballet in NY.

When I started going to NYCB in the early 90's they had a better male roster than ABT. ABT had the young phenom Julio Bocca just coming into his own as an artist. The rest were functional (Wes Chapman, Ross Stretton), short-lived (Ricardo Bustamante) or veterans finishing up their dancing careers (Kevin McKenzie, Fernando Bujones, Johan Renvall, Danilo Radojevic). Guest stars were coming in, especially under Jane Herrmann, such as Andris Liepa and Faroukh Ruzimatov (the Soviet bloc was opening up thanks to Perestroika). Guillem guested and so did veteran Russians like Maximova and Vasiliev and the lovely Lyudmila Semenyaka. However, compared with the company 10 years before when young Bujones, Baryshnikov et al. ruled the stage, small potatoes.

In comparison, NYCB had the young Peter Boal, Damian Woetzel, Nicolae Hubbe (a few years later), Albert Evans, Jock Soto along with still excellent veterans like Adam Luders and up and comers like Philip Neal. From 1990 to 1995, NYCB had the best male principal roster, much better than ABT. Then Kevin McKenzie went on a spending spree and bought and brought in José Manuel Carreno, Vladimir Malakhov, Maxim Belotserkovsky, Angel Corella, Ethan Stiefel, Joaquin de Luz and added them to the still going strong Julio Bocca. Suddenly there was a killer superstar male contingent there. The female roster was not as quickly refreshed. Veteran prima ballerinas Susan Jaffe and Amanda McKerrow were revitalized and inspired by their partnerships with Carreno and Malakhov respectively. But Gillian Murphy was the big ballerina discovery from the ranks. Herrera was already on the rise and artistically plateaued. Ananiashvili was acquired as an established superstar. But McKenzie never had the eye for ballerinas that he did for male dancers and he has coasted on his "Born to Be Wild" contingent for too many years. Hallberg and Gomes are holding up the company as their successors but where are their successors?

That male principal star explosion was 16 years ago and time has taken its toll. Some like Malakhov were pushed out when they had too many outside commitments - Malakhov one season was only offered a matinee "Swan Lake" and that was it. Corella clearly has been receiving the same treatment from ABT management. Most have simply aged out and retired. Or aged out and didn't retire... De Luz moved to NYCB due to personal stresses and repercussions from his divorce from Carmen Corella.

Now there seems to be a lack of brilliant new male principals in both companies. Antonio Carmena and Chase Finlay are rising up and comers. Craig Hall is a very fine underutilized dancer. But Martins has a new scintillating crop of young ballerinas who can thrill in the entire repertory. Finding men who match their level of brilliance is difficult.

So it looks like superstar quality men are in short supply worldwide and there is more demand than supply.

Also, major international companies have always, always lured star dancers from the competition, it has been standard practice for decades. Even the Bolshoi and Kirov-Mariinsky have been known to snatch up good men from Kiev, Perm or wherever when their own conservatory product doesn't live up to expectations or proves inadequate.

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