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ABT 2015 Met season

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Last season the Royal Ballet gave something like 150 performances, the POB did about 170, the Bolshoi about 225, and the Mariinsky gave more than 300. By my count, ABT did 111 (63 at the Met), fewer than San Francisco Ballet's 128 and NYCB's 180 or so.

(I happened to be keeping track of this last season, out of curiosity.smile.png)

Thank you volcanohunter. I don't know much about the Russian companies (rep, how big they are, etc.) so I can't comment. NYCB - 180 performances and most of them rep, not full lengths offers a lot of dance roles. I think it can also be noted that in Balanchine full lengths he gave the corps real dancing. Contrast with ABT's 111 performances, most of them full lengths. There are some "story" ballets in the ABT rep that have little dancing for anyone but the principals.

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It's difficult to develop as a dancer with so few opportunities to tackle the big roles in multiple performances - because the process of learning in the rehearsal studio is different than the process of learning on stage through multiple performances...

The scenario Kent describes is very rare. The big companies follow a couple of different models. The POB and Royal Ballet will do longer runs of 15-20 performances, but the ballets aren't performed every season. For example, the POB has 14 performances of Swan Lake coming up. It will have been four years since they last performed it. Cozette, Albisson, Pagliero and Ould-Braham are scheduled to do three performances each, Dupont is slated for two. (This means that five female étoiles aren't scheduled for any performances of the ballet.) If you were to do the math, I suspect you'd find that ABT principals average more Swan Queens per year. Sometimes a POB or RB ballerina will end up doing 4 or 5 performances of a role during a run, but that would be as a result of an injury to someone else, which happens at ABT as well.

As Helene pointed out, except when on tour, Bolshoi and Mariinsky dancers usually won't get more than one performance of a role during a mini-run, though they may return to it a couple of times in the course of a season, and chances are the ballets will be performed every season. Between the beginning of 2010 and the end of 2014 the Bolshoi gave 73 performances of Giselle in two different productions, including 17 performances on tour. Over that five-year period, this is how many performances the lead dancers averaged per year. (Asterisks indicate that a dancer was not a member of the company for the entire duration.)


Antonicheva - 2.2

Zakharova - 1.8

Nikulina - 1.4

Lunkina - 1.2*

Krysanova - 1.2

Ryzhkina 1.2

Osipova - 1*

Kaptsova - 1

Kretova - 0.8*

Shipulina - 0.8 (recent debutant)

Obraztsova - 0.6*

Goryacheva - 0.6

Stashkevich - 0.4 (recent debutant)

Stepanenko - 0.2*

Vinogradova 0.2 (recent debutant)


Gudanov - 2.8

Skvortsov - 2.6

Ovcharenko - 1.4

Hallberg - 1.4*

Volchkov - 1.2

Tsiskaridze - 1.2*

Merkuriev - 0.8

Uvarov - 0.8*

Lobukhin - 0.8 (recent debutant)

Lantratov - 0.6

Vasiliev - 0.4*

Chudin - 0.2*

Lopatin - 0.2 (recent debutant)

Polunin - 0.2 (guest artist)

So they usually don't have the benefit of multiple performances either, though most return to the roles regularly, and I'm sure, as with all dancers, that interpretations are constantly percolating below the surface.

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Thank you again volcanohunter. interesting stuff. I don't follow Russian companies at all because I generally don't like the dancing, so this is revealing. So my question is do those Russian companies do a better job in developing talent than ABT or is it a similar situation?

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One of the big discussions in the Mariinsky forum and a thread in "Writings on Ballet" in response to an interview Yuri Fateev gave is that Fateev is not developing talent, but instead is letting superb Vaganova graduates leave, or they are left stagnating in the corps, with a few favorites pushed to the forefront. (This was particularly acute when three ballerinas were out on maternity leave.) One of the issues that had been brewing and then discussed actively after the attack on Filin was favoritism at the Bolshoi, not to mention five-to-an-apartment compensation for the corps.

Even in the best of times, it's not surprising that corps members languish in the biggest companies where full-lengths dominate:

Bolshoi: of the 218 dancers, (not including 10 "under contract", some of whom are character dancers) 157 are members of the corps (88 women and 69 men), or 72%. While there are four other ranks -- Principal, Lead Soloist, First Soloist, Soloist -- that can reflect growth through the repertoire, that's a large percentage of the company that is doing a lot of things like this, at least the 88 women, 40% of the company.

Mariinsky: of the 193 dancers, 125 members are member of the corps, or 65% and 25 are coryphees 13% or 78% in total. The 67 corps women (35%) and 16 coryphees (8%) comprise 43% of the company. There are three other ranks: Principal, First Soloist, and Second Soloist, and there is currently a Guest Soloist.

American Ballet Theatre: of the 90 dancers and apprentices, there are 59 corps and 6 apprentices, 72% of the company or, if the 8 guest artists are included, 66% of the company. The women, 36 corps and 4 apprentices, are 44% or 40% if the guest artists are included.

Female corps are a lower percentage in POB and SFB, which have a broader mix of rep. POB does plenty of full-lengths, but many are neoclassical or contemporary. They also have a system for promotions, which, in years when there are retirements, allows dancers to move up the ranks. There aren't any situations like at NYCB when there are a dozen promotions, though.

Paris Opera Ballet: of the 153 dancers, 43 (28%) are quadrilles and 38 (25%) are coryphees, or 53% of the company. The women are 21 quadrilles and 27 quadrilles, or 31% of the company.

San Francisco Ballet: of the 85 dancers plus apprentices, 46 are corps or apprentices, or 54% of the company. The women (22 of 40 corps and 4 of 6 apprentices) are 26, or 31% of the company.

The rep at NYCB is so broad with so many opportunities to feature dancers regardless of rank, that the numbers don't make as much of a difference as they do in the big Russian companies:

New York City Ballet: 55 of the 91 dancers are corps, or 61%. 34 are women, or 37%. I don't see the apprentices listed; they would increase the numbers and percentages.

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So my question is do those Russian companies do a better job in developing talent than ABT or is it a similar situation?

Despite the well-documented problems Helene mentioned, I'll grant the Bolshoi a couple of things. It hardly ever hires guest artists to perform its core repertoire. And role debuts take place there regularly. During 2014 the company's debutants included 1 Sylph, 1 James, 2 Giselles, 1 Albrecht, 2 Myrthas, 2 Kitris, 1 Basilio, 1 Aurora, 1 Lilac Fairy, 2 Siegfrieds, 3 Nutcracker Princes and 1 Marie, 2 Jean de Briennes, 1 Abderakhman, 1 Tatiana, 1 Onegin, 1 Olga and 1 Lensky, 1 Marco Spada and new interpreters of most of the lead roles in Ratmansky's Bright Stream, Flames of Paris and Lost Illusions. So yes, I do think it works on developing talent from within its own ranks, even if some feel there is a great deal of favoritism in deciding who will get the opportunities.

Unfortunately, the Mariinsky's archives aren't so easy to scour.

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I just looked at the casting for Giselle/Albrecht for San Francisco Ballet's upcoming Giselle. Of the eight performances, there are seven casts.

Maria Kochetkova and Vitor Luiz are cast for the opener and the last matinee. The other casts get one, with Tiit Helimets partnering two Giselles:

Frances Chung (debut) and Luke Ingham

Mathilde Froustey/Tiit Helimets

Vanessa Zahorian/Taras Domitro

Sarah Van Patten/Carlos Quenedit (debut)

Yuan Yuan Tan/Davit Karapetyan

Lorena Feijoo/Tiit Helimets.

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Initially I was too lazy to do it, but I realized that a better basis for comparison between ABT and the Bolshoi would be Swan Lake, since it's a work ABT performs every season. I wouldn't even attempt to do this for the Mariinsky; the number of performances would be mind-bogglingly high. For 2010-2014 I found records for 102 performances of Swan Lake by the Bolshoi, including 53 on tour. This is how many performances the leads averaged per year. Again, those marked with asterisks weren't dancing with the Bolshoi for the entire five-year period.


Krysanova - 3.8
Nikulina - 3.6
Zakharova - 3
Shipulina - 2.4
Allash - 2.2
Alexandrova - 1.4
Smirnova - 1.2*
Lunkina - 1*

Antonicheva - 0.8
Kretova - 0.6*
Gracheva - 0.2*
Esina - 0.2 (guest artist)


Skvortsov - 6
Chudin - 4.2*
Hallberg - 2.6*
Volchkov - 2.6
Ovcharenko - 1.6
Gudanov - 1.4
Rodkin - 1 (recent debutant)
Uvarov - 0.6*
Lantratov - 0.2 (recent debutant)
Shklyarov - 0.2 (guest artist)

Lantratov - 6.2
Baranov - 4.2
Belyakov - 3.4*
Tsiskaridze - 2.8*
Dmitrichenko - 2.4*
Rodkin - 1.2 (recent debutant)
Belogolovtsev - 0.2*

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(As excited as I am about Sleeping Beauty with a wide range of appealing casts including possible chances to see Lane's Aurora and Boylston's debut alongside Vishneva's or Murphy's Aurora, I must admit that my heart skipped a beat when I saw a Smirnova-Chudin Bayadere on the schedule.)

Well Smirnova is injured now and has had to pull out of some performances. June is a long ways away but I certainly hope she is healthy by then.

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Speaking of injuries, what's Osipova's status. Is she back or still being replaced at the RB?

Word has it that she is back for Oneign. Fingers crossed.

Wonder though if she'll dance the Acosta DQ again?.... She might well feel it and her are jinxed. Quite frankly I wouldn't blame her. It's far from my favourite version of this particular war-horse and I have come to .... how do you politely say ... 'dislike intensely .... the oh, so watered down orchestration. It's a great shame they are not doing Month in the Country in Chicago and Washington. She was - in the end - truly superb in the Ashton. It was a performance filled with extraordinary detail.

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(As excited as I am about Sleeping Beauty with a wide range of appealing casts including possible chances to see Lane's Aurora and Boylston's debut alongside Vishneva's or Murphy's Aurora, I must admit that my heart skipped a beat when I saw a Smirnova-Chudin Bayadere on the schedule.)

Well Smirnova is injured now and has had to pull out of some performances. June is a long ways away but I certainly hope she is healthy by then.

I have actually started to worry about this even if that seems absurdly premature. She has been out for a while which suggests a long term injury or trouble healing from an older one.

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Smirnova danced a Swan Lake at the Mariinsky in October, but she has not performed with the Bolshoi since the end of July. The Bolshoi had continued to schedule performances for her, only to replace her at the last minute. I suppose it's noteworthy that she has not been cast for anything in February. Perhaps this is an acknowledgement that she needs to stop for a proper period of convalescence, rather than continuing to rehearse and hoping that she'll finally be fit this week or next.

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Hallberg has now been replaced by Whiteside in Rodeo during the first week of the Met season. He is still scheduled to dance in Fancy Free during the same time. I expect many more "replacements" for Hallberg to trickle in as we get closer and closer to the season.

Whiteside has certainly become MVP #2. Hopefully he won't get injured with the enormous load he's been/will be carrying. Too bad they couldn't have given the Champion Roper to Forster or Royal. I think Royal would be fabulous in it and it would have been a great opportunity.

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