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Corps de Ballet promotions


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I cannot believe Tamm is still in the corps - he should be promoted asap simply based on how well he's done in the numerous soloist roles he's been dancing for the past couple of seasons.

In terms of pure talent I would say Gorak, but he's still young so they may not be ready to promote him. Among the men I really like Thomas Forster. He's a big, tall guy with great technique, beautiful line and a quality that just makes you want to watch him. Joseph Phillips is another one who may be ready for a promotion.

Among the women - Shevchenko did well stepping in for Murphy but I'm still not convinced plus she hasn't had many featured roles. I love Underwood, but she's just back from a long injury so it may be too soon for her. We'll have to see how her Lilac Fairy goes. Other than that, there are lots of lovely dancers in the corps like Gemma Bond, Devon Teuscher, Katherine Williams and Renata Pavam - but none of them really jump out at me as being ready for a soloist spot.

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[Admin beanie on]

When there is official news about the comings, goings, and promotions of dancers, it can be published here. Until then, do not post speculation, and that includes about who those dancers are if there's official news about x number of promotions/comings/goings. That's what PM is for.

It is perfectly fine to discuss whom you think deserves a promotion or will be based on casting, excellence, etc.

As always, if you have a problem with a post, that's what the "Report" button is for.

[Admin beanie off]

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ABT dancers definitely have all kind of union benefits, including pension benefits. That certainly does impact all kinds of decisions that dancers make, including whether to look for employment elsewhere, and whether and when to retire. I don't know the specifics about how many years of service you have to have before your pension fully vests.

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Has there ever been a time in ABT's history when the company was so top heavy with foreign / visiting guest artists? I know the legendary 1970's included Martine Van Hamel (Dutch-Canadian), Mikhail Baryshnakov (USSR), Natalia Makarova (USSR) and a few others. But the company still had many Americans.

Simone Messmer may be explaining her own truth - how she has experienced ABT. But I doubt we'll ever get Kevin McKenzie's side of the story. He, after all, was an American who was promoted through the ranks of ABT.

How much of this is determined by money? The nights with Ms Osipova and Ms Cojucaru seem to be sell outs. But are they selling out for Julie Kent or Gillian Murphy? Maybe the problem is the lack of good marketing for American dancers, to make them stars in their own countries?

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Has there ever been a time in ABT's history when the company was so top heavy with foreign / visiting guest artists? I know the legendary 1970's included Martine Van Hamel (Dutch-Canadian), Mikhail Baryshnakov (USSR), Natalia Makarova (USSR) and a few others. But the company still had many Americans.

In the early '70's, the two biggest draw couples in the classical sweepstakes at ABT were Carla Fracci/Erik Bruhn and Natalia Makarova/Ivan Nagy.

ABT was dominated by foreign Principals in the '90's and '00's:

  • Bocca (1986-2006)
  • Carreno (1995-2011)
  • Corella (1996-2012)
  • Dvorovenko (1996-2013)
  • Ferri (1985-2007)
  • Graffin (1988-2005)
  • Malakhov (1995-2008)
  • Ananiashvili (1993-2009)

Wikipedia is not exhaustive -- they left out Nagy for Pete's sake -- but once the company went big in full-length classics, there have been many foreign-born stars at ABT, and few of them rose through the ranks.

From an article in the LA Times about Marianna Tcherkassky's impending retirement:

Early in her career, she danced more in part because the financially stronger company toured more, guaranteed its dancers 40 weeks of work a year (compared to 26 today) and had a more diverse repertory, rather than staging, as it does these days, lots of crowd-pleasing full-length works.

Tcherkassky looks back with special fondness to the years when Mikhail Baryshnikov dominated ABT, first as star dancer in the '70s, and after 1980 as artistic director. He provided "lots of opportunities for me," she said, including casting her as the original Clara in his "Nutcracker" and selecting her as his partner for her long-dreamed-of first "Giselle."

"The fact that he believed in me made me feel there wasn't anything I couldn't do," she said.

If Baryshnikov tended to promote in-house talent, other artistic directors have sought to boost sales by importing new faces.

According to McKenzie's ABT bio:

Kevin McKenzie was a leading dancer with both The Joffrey Ballet and the National Ballet of Washington before joining American Ballet Theatre as a Soloist in March 1979. He was appointed a Principal Dancer the following December and danced with the company until 1991.

He did not work his way up the ranks at ABT as an American dancer. From the wording, I can't tell if he was promoted to Principal Dancer in December 1979 (under Lucia Chase) or in December 1980, under Baryshnikov.

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The only American principals who are coming to mind during the time frame at issue are McKerrow, Jaffe, Steifel, Hallberg, Wiles, Roberts, Tuttle (briefly). Any Americans I've forgotten?

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The Tcherkassky interview mentions Baryshnikov and he did promote a lot of American dancers who rose through ranks--Jaffe, Yeager, and Mckerrow spring to mind--not all of them equally compelling. He also brought in French born Magali Messac as a principal. Johann Renvall (Sweden) and Danilo Radojevic (Australian) played a big role around that time as well. Renvall was an especially impressive talent. (Baryshnikov also got rid of Godunov; Kirkland was a special case and doesn't exactly fit this discussion.)

To return to more recent times: I think American/non-American is a slightly different issue than rise-through-ranks or invited outsider--though I guess an overlapping one. Some of the non-Americans mentioned in posts above also rose through the ranks. Even Herrera was only 17 or so when she joined the company and I thought she was in the corps, though very briefly. Others, though they did not rise through the ranks exactly, became real company "members" not guest artists. And even among guest artists there are shades of 'guestiness.'

I am an unabashed admirer of many of the great leading dancers Mckenzie imports: given the company's repertory (with which I DO take issue) I think ABT seasons would be artistically less interesting without them. That is, I don't think it's just a financial question. The issue seems to be how to integrate outside talent and guest artists into the life of the company and have a little less 'guestiness.' And how, at the same time, to develop and promote talent from within.

As Abatt mentioned above there are also American (and non American) stars and principals that have developed from within the company in the last 20 years, and Mckenzie has some American dancers he is promoting now (Stearns, Boylston). They may not be everyone's top choice--but that's a different debate. He has certainly pushed them forward.

(I actually think it might be great for ALL ABT "regulars" if the company could wink a little at fans getting some youtube video up online...though I assume the copyright/residuals problems are intractable.)

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The only American principals who are coming to mind during the time frame at issue are McKerrow, Jaffe, Steifel, Hallberg, Wiles, Roberts, Tuttle (briefly). Any Americans I've forgotten?

Was Cynthia Harvey at that time?

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The only American principals who are coming to mind during the time frame at issue are McKerrow, Jaffe, Steifel, Hallberg, Wiles, Roberts, Tuttle (briefly). Any Americans I've forgotten?

Was Cynthia Harvey at that time?

Cheryl Yeager

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