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Simone Messmer

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For Messmer’s sake I hope she is happy at MCB as she seems to hold the same type of grievances against both ABT and SFB. I personally don’t see that working with López she has become much better artistically. But at least she seems to be dancing more. And she is a principal.

On the lack of roles and insufficient rehearsals time at ABT (from her 2013 interview to Time Out New  York): 

”But it’s just not enough for me, and that soloist rank right now is such a difficult and unhappy place to be. We all want more. It’s the hardest place to be in a ballet company. So what do you do? You ask for more and you don’t get it”.

”I think our coaches at ABT put in everything they can, but there are a lot of ballerinas and a lot of guest artists. They’re working from noon to 7pm, every day. They can only do so much with the time they’re given, and I need more of a process than that”.  

After leaving SFB (from her 2015 interview to Dance Magazine):

In leaving ABT, a company in which she felt she had little room to grow, her aim was obvious: more meaty dancing roles. When that didn’t seem to be happening in San Francisco, Messmer told artistic director Helgi Tomasson that the company wasn’t the right fit. According to Messmer, she asked him if he wanted her to remain for the Paris tour, and he told her that he was planning on having her dance Choleric in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. Yet she never got to dance it. “I was never called to a rehearsal,” she says. After the Paris season, she left. “Very quickly.”

“But in general I was floating on the ether because I wasn’t a focus of the staff, therefore my rehearsals were almost nonexistent”.

Edited by Dreamer

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2 hours ago, pherank said:

I have no memory of this - must have been on Twitter if it happened at all. It would be really out-of-character for Kochetkova to make any remarks of this sort online. Her postings tend to be a public relations dream - virtually no personal comments or opinions offered. Just photos with bare minimum descriptors. It may have been all on Messmer's side of things. But if anyone can discover the date that this occurred on...

I don’t seem to be the only one who heard about it. Quiggin mentioned it in her/his post as well. As I said earlier,  I don’t recall all the details of that incident.  It may have been that Kochetkova made a comment in private but it didn’t sit well with Messmer who decided to address it in public. 

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38 minutes ago, Dreamer said:

I don’t seem to be the only one who heard about it. Quiggin mentioned it in her/his post as well. As I said earlier,  I don’t recall all the details of that incident.  It may have been that Kochetkova made a comment in private but it didn’t sit well with Messmer who decided to address it in public. 

I believe you, Dreamer, I just don't recall the incident myself (even though I have far too much knowledge of Kochetkova's postings(!)). So I have a feeling that only Messmer posted an online 'reaction' to some conversation that had taken place at SFB.

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I remember the tone of the facebook argument fairly well, and the posts quickly disappeared, thank God. Having heard Kochetkova speak in real life, it seemed as though someone else, with a good command of English vocabulary and grammar,  was posting longish retorts in her stead.  It was not just a single comment by Simone Messmer by any means. 

I saw Messmer three times with SFB, and she was exceptional.  I was disappointed that she left. She joined the company the same year that Mathilde Froustey joined and Mathilde danced everything. 

Everyone has moved on. 

Edited by Josette

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From what I can remember, the tone of Kochetkova's comments was not at all personal. It was an observation on the comparative salaries of dancers and stage crews, implying dancers were underpaid. Messmer took exception and defended IATSE rates. It was unusual that new soloist Messmer should have debated the issue with popular principal Kochetkova in public.

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6 hours ago, Josette said:

I saw Messmer three times with SFB, and she was exceptional.  I was disappointed that she left. She joined the company the same year that Mathilde Froustey joined and Mathilde danced everything.

Messmer mentions Froustey in the Ballet Review interview:

BR: Do you want to discuss why things soured in San Francisco? You've stated that Helgi promised you Choleric in Four T's, but then you were never cast for their engagement in Paris.

Messmer: I wasn't the only upper echelon dancer that was hired that year. They hired Mathilde Froustey from the Paris Opera. We knew each other. I felt that I asked the necessary questions in my first meeting with Helgi about how the season might go if I joined and what my trajectory might be and I think some things were conveniently left out of that conversation.

I have mixed feelings about Messmer after reading the interview. She's definitely a "good read" and it's refreshing to not have to read the typical BS that dancers regurgitate about how "I love all my co-workers" and "we're a company united" and "my artistic director is like a father to me". On the other hand, she's opinionated in the extreme, which doesn't make for the easiest of co-workers.

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I find it really weird that Messmer says she refuses to socialize with co-workers. In general ballet companies do tend to be close-knit crews and good relationships with co-workers are important. Even at super-competitive places like the Mariinsky, Bolshoi et al. I've seen dancers socialize on tour. i once saw a Mariinsky contingent at NYCB on an "off night" of a tour to NYC. 

You don't have to be besties with anyone, but in a workplace where you have to spend SO much time together I would think having close relationships with colleagues would make a very punishing, tough profession just a little easier.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

...but in a workplace where you have to spend SO much time together...

Well for some that could be precisely the motivation — the desire to have a personal life somewhat separate from one's otherwise so consuming work life.

Even if it's not the choice that many make, I don't see it as really weird. To me, it seems quite understandable, even if not professionally advisable.

(Her stated desire for a clear division between her professional and personal lives would, in many other professions, be considered quite professionally advisable. Perhaps not in the dance world, though.)

Edited by nanushka

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I did watch Messmer in rehearsal at SFB and she was showing two younger dancers a part she knew – just a few feet away from me – with great verve. I don't know who initiated it but the person next to me pointed it out to me approvingly. Also I remember someone who had once been at Smuin Ballet told me he never dated fellow dancers – you're together all day and do you really want to make it a 24 hour thing he said. He had lots of other non-dance interests to pursue with other friends. Anyway Kochetkova apparently was no paragon of fellow-citizen socialbility. Does everyone have to be? – perhaps we have emphasized togetherness and keeping in touch a bit too much, along with other cute things like dog and cat pictures.

Edited by Quiggin

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Many workplaces discourage fraternization, but not necessarily socializing. In fact, you can be hurt professionally at some offices and in some professions for not fitting in socially or not being social enough.

It’s certainly possible not to socialize after hours with your co-workers and also be a good team member. Ballet companies seem to be generally conformist places where you can be hurt by not fitting in or speaking out, particularly if you are female. That said, Messmer’s less-than-sympathetic co-workers may well have their own side, which of course we haven’t heard and aren’t likely to hear.

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Froustey joined the company as a Principal so I can see why she would get more roles than Messmer. There was also, probably, a desire on Tomasson’s part to keep Froustey beyond the one year of sabbatical leave she took from POB.  Inititally, I wasn’t swept off my feet by Froustey but she keeps getting better with every passing year. Messmer, on the other hand, is no longer a stand-out for me. There is some sort of disengagement in her dancing. But since I rarely get to see her maybe I simply caught her on her “bad” nights.

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