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Roster Changes at ABT


bingham

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Oh - I apologize for that, I should have checkeed up uopn that - that's the risk when you post old news.
But apart from that I'm truly sorry to hear that. It must be a great disappointment for him.

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According to the Philadelphia Inquirer story discussing the firing of numerous Pennsylvania Ballet dancers (see the thread in the Pennsylvania Ballet forum), Sterling Baca will leave ABT to become a principal dancer at Pennsylvania Ballet.

That's a big loss for ABT because they were grooming him to move up in the hierarchy. But Baca must have felt the wait would be too long given that Forster, Gorak and Hammoudi are ahead of him in the promotional line.

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According to the Philadelphia Inquirer story discussing the firing of numerous Pennsylvania Ballet dancers (see the thread in the Pennsylvania Ballet forum), Sterling Baca will leave ABT to become a principal dancer at Pennsylvania Ballet.

That's a big loss for ABT because they were grooming him to move up in the hierarchy. But Baca must have felt the wait would be too long given that Forster, Gorak and Hammoudi are ahead of him in the promotional line.

Agreed miliosr about the wait, if the process is soloist to principal then the wait might have to be quite a few years, seeing that Forster, Gorak and Hammoudi are already soloists, and it took them quite a while. Plus I have noticed recently quite a few PR pushes for Royal, so that might be another factor. That kind of offer has to be hard to give up! I know many moons ago, if I was given a GM position with other company when I was just at a desk job I would have jumped for it, so I can't blame him for taking the leap! A loss for ABT indeed and best of luck to this young man!, I read the article and since they have let go 40% of their current crew, I do wonder whom at ABT might follow suit? Other than Royal and Shayer, it seems that a few young talent, my grand daughter and I have come to love, are not listed to do any major roles this season as we had expected. Just hope we don't loose the likes of Waski to PA as well! :(

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Agreed miliosr about the wait, if the process is soloist to principal then the wait might have to be quite a few years, seeing that Forster, Gorak and Hammoudi are already soloists, and it took them quite a while. Plus I have noticed recently quite a few PR pushes for Royal, so that might be another factor. That kind of offer has to be hard to give up! I know many moons ago, if I was given a GM position with other company when I was just at a desk job I would have jumped for it, so I can't blame him for taking the leap! A loss for ABT indeed and best of luck to this young man!, I read the article and since they have let go 40% of their current crew, I do wonder whom at ABT might follow suit? Other than Royal and Shayer, it seems that a few young talent, my grand daughter and I have come to love, are not listed to do any major roles this season as we had expected. Just hope we don't loose the likes of Waski to PA as well! :(

I think it's very possible ABT could lose other dancers, not just to Pennsylvania, but to other companies. I sight one fairly recent example. Nicole Graniero is a beautiful dancer; one that one would think could go far with ABT. But after several years in the corps and not being moved up, she jumped to Washington Ballet. This Season she was given the ballerina role in "Theme and Variations". I think we will be seeing a lot from her in the future! One could sight Sarah Lane as one who didn't jump soon enough. It's now debatable if she will ever be a Principle at ABT, and as someone a bit older now, she may not be able to find an appropriate position elsewhere. Other examples of dancers who left are Ashley Ellis (now Principle at Boston) and Simone Messmer (now at Miami). A dancer's life is short. One has to take opportunities when they can.

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One of ABT's biggest blunders was not promoting DeLuz, who jumped ship to NYCB. He has had a great career at NYCB and we New Yorkers are lucky that he stayed in New York.

One could also say that McKenzie missed the boat on Mathew Golding, now a principal at the Royal.

And let's not forget Yuriko and Jared.

Yes, a lot of talent has slipped through ABT's hands under McKenzie.

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I wrote this on a different online site, so I'm quoting myself, but it seems completely relevant to this thread: It seems that the ABT corps de ballet is becoming a finishing school of sorts: it prepares you for soloist or principal status at other companies; or it finishes your career altogether.

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I wrote this on a different online site, so I'm quoting myself, but it seems completely relevant to this thread: It seems that the ABT corps de ballet is becoming a finishing school of sorts: it prepares you for soloist or principal status at other companies; or it finishes your career altogether.

Actually, that's a compliment. There are only so many spaces within a company for principals and soloists. Not every corps member, even if they are talented enough, can be promoted when they wish. Finishes your career altogether? Do you mean dancers quitting to go on to do something else? There are all sorts of reasons for that, not simply because they do not get promoted.

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In terms of "the ones who got away," Jared Matthews was probably the biggest mistake.

I'm not so certain that Golding was a mistake in the sense that, when he was in the corps, there wasn't much upward mobility to be had. You had Beloserkovsky, Bocca, Carreno, Corella, Cornejo, Gomes, Malakhov and Steifel at the top. And Hallberg may have still been a soloist when Golding was in the corps! McKenzie's made his share of mistakes but I think he takes a bum rap sometimes in terms of promotions because there's a limit to how many spaces there will ever be in the principal ranks given the nature of ABT's repertory.

In any event, I really do think losing Baca is a big deal. ABT is approaching a crunch period where they'll be losing some of their tall principal ballerinos. Bolle is over 40, Gomes is nearing 40 and who knows when (or if) Hallberg will be returning, Stearns and Whiteside are carrying a big portion of the load in terms of the taller ballerinas but Hammoudi has been inconsistent and Forster is unproven. When you look at the more senior ranks of the corps, Baca, who has only been a corps member since 2011, is actually in the Top 10 in terms of seniority and he would have been the next most likely candidate from the upper ranks of the corps to inherit the primo ballerino parts. Has to be frustrating for the ABT staff because they really were nurturing him along.

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Actually, that's a compliment. There are only so many spaces within a company for principals and soloists. Not every corps member, even if they are talented enough, can be promoted when they wish. Finishes your career altogether? Do you mean dancers quitting to go on to do something else? There are all sorts of reasons for that, not simply because they do not get promoted.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three current male ABT principal slots that would have been better filled by corps men who were hired and promoted by other companies.

Yes, I do mean finishing your career as a dancer. I know of one beautiful dancer who simply grew tired of spending 7 hours a day, after company class, rehearsing for performances. He said that they made you do the same things over and over again. Now he is teaching ballet and pursuing a new career. Tom Forster and Aaron Scott made the point in a Spotlight Seminar that as soloists they suddenly have so much more time to do other things--maybe cross-train, take other classes, recover, whatever.

I believe that many of the decisions regarding dancers made in the last several years have been huge mistakes on the part of the AD, whose focus was too much on the present and not sufficiently on the future.

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One more point: When you look at the length of tenure for each male corps member, there's a hardy group from the first half of the 00s. There's also a huge group of very young corps dancers who have joined in the last 5 years. Where there's a big void is in the second half of the 00s. The only person in the corps from that era is Gray Davis. ABT might be feeling the dropoff from that period because now would be the time that most of those guys would be hitting their prime -- if they were still around.

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Off the top of my head, I can think of three current male ABT principal slots that would have been better filled by corps men who were hired and promoted by other companies.

Yes, I do mean finishing your career as a dancer. I know of one beautiful dancer who simply grew tired of spending 7 hours a day, after company class, rehearsing for performances. He said that they made you do the same things over and over again. Now he is teaching ballet and pursuing a new career. Tom Forster and Aaron Scott made the point in a Spotlight Seminar that as soloists they suddenly have so much more time to do other things--maybe cross-train, take other classes, recover, whatever.

I believe that many of the decisions regarding dancers made in the last several years have been huge mistakes on the part of the AD, whose focus was too much on the present and not sufficiently on the future.

It is a shame that the dancer you mention did not go and look elsewhere if he was so unhappy.

I am hoping that decisions regarding dancers over the last several years were, in part, due to the star/guest artist hiring that was so rampant. It appears that in this Met season there is not an emphasis on that. Perhaps with the departure of Rachel Moore, who may have been the impetus behind that whole era, Mr. MacKenzie can develop his current crop of dancers. I realize that ticket sales for "stars" are always better, but there are certainly a number of soloists and corps members that can be "brought along" now and take on roles that would have otherwise gone to those guest artists.

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One more point: When you look at the length of tenure for each male corps member, there's a hardy group from the first half of the 00s. There's also a huge group of very young corps dancers who have joined in the last 5 years. Where there's a big void is in the second half of the 00s. The only person in the corps from that era is Gray Davis. ABT might be feeling the dropoff from that period because now would be the time that most of those guys would be hitting their prime -- if they were still around.

I may be wrong about dates but I believe Patrick Ogle joined in 2002 and maybe a hand full joining the Davis era? Even though Gomes and Bolle are incredible for their age, I do wonder if age does catch up to their stamina! For that reason, I would think ABT would do better in nurturing young talent vs letting them have the down time to wait ... till they are so frustrated that they leave .... possibly as in Baca's case? Based on all BA observations, I am just surprised they did not counter offer for someone like him to remain, or maybe it was just too good an offer to turn down?

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I am just surprised they did not counter offer for someone like him to remain, or maybe it was just too good an offer to turn down?

I don't know what ABT could have offered to Baca in comparison to what Corella could (and did) offer him -- which is to be a principal RIGHT NOW. I do think Baca was on the principal track at ABT and he was getting opportunities but reaching principal status would have taken time given who is/was ahead of him. That's life in a big company like ABT compared to a mid-sized company like Pennsylvania Ballet (especially given how Corella is clearing house at Pennsylvania Ballet.)

The other inducement for Baca may have been that Corella was willing to take on his girlfriend, who is a dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Just on a personal level, their lives will be a lot easier working at the same company rather than trying to juggle the schedules of two different companies.

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I may be wrong about dates but I believe Patrick Ogle joined in 2002 and maybe a hand full joining the Davis era? Even though Gomes and Bolle are incredible for their age, I do wonder if age does catch up to their stamina! For that reason, I would think ABT would do better in nurturing young talent vs letting them have the down time to wait ... till they are so frustrated that they leave .... possibly as in Baca's case? Based on all BA observations, I am just surprised they did not counter offer for someone like him to remain, or maybe it was just too good an offer to turn down?

Both Blaine Hoven and Daniel Mantei are sort of from that time. Both could be used more. But the fact that ABT couldn't use (and thus lost) dancers such as Joseph Phillips, Eric Tamm and Luis Ribagorda is not encouraging. I understand that sometimes dancers simply want to move on, either to other dancing gigs or simply to other things in life. Still, it would have been wonderful to have seen any one of these men given more opportunity when they were at ABT. And the loss of Jared is a biggy!

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I don't know what ABT could have offered to Baca in comparison to what Corella could (and did) offer him -- which is to be a principal RIGHT NOW. I do think Baca was on the principal track at ABT and he was getting opportunities but reaching principal status would have taken time given who is/was ahead of him.

The other inducement for Baca may have been that Corella was willing to take on his girlfriend, who is a dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Just on a personal level, their lives will be a lot easier working at the same company rather than trying to juggle the schedules of two different companies.

I'll chime in with miliosr on this one. Baca wasn't a tragically-ignored figure: he was clearly on a gradual track to principal. I suspect the opportunity to have a real life with his girlfriend Nayara Lopes was the main draw.

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Baca wasn't a tragically-ignored figure: he was clearly on a gradual track to principal.

And if you search on YouTube, there are several videos available of him partnering the company's ballerinas outside of the New York seasons. He partnered Misty and Gillian in The Nutcracker and he partnered Stella in a Swan Lake extract at a Kaatsbaan gala. So, in some respects, he had already worked his way into the inner circle. It's just bad luck for ABT that what's happening at Pennsylvania Ballet is happening when it is in terms of Baca's career development.

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And if you search on YouTube, there are several videos available of him partnering the company's ballerinas outside of the New York seasons. He partnered Misty and Gillian in The Nutcracker and he partnered Stella in a Swan Lake extract at a Kaatsbaan gala. So, in some respects, he had already worked his way into the inner circle. It's just bad luck for ABT that what's happening at Pennsylvania Ballet is happening when it is in terms of Baca's career development.

I know this is just my opinion. While I think Baca is a strong partner, very handsome, and has great potential, I don't believe he is "there" in terms of his solo work. Much of dance is being in the right place at the right time. I think it's a win for him, in reality. He will go to PA Ballet and be coached by Angel, who hopefully will truly develop him as a principal dancer. Is it a loss for ABT? Possibly. But ABT will always attract talent. Who knows? Maybe he will go and "get finished" at PA Ballet and come back to ABT.

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