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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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MCB is participating in Ballet Across America at the Kennedy Center.  Tomorrow tickets go on sale for KC members.  So, I decided to look at the MCB roster and  saw that Simone Messmer is no longer there. Anybody know anything? Did I miss something?

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It seems we all missed something, but there has been no announcement from the MCB.

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21 hours ago, theo said:

MCB is participating in Ballet Across America at the Kennedy Center.  Tomorrow tickets go on sale for KC members.  So, I decided to look at the MCB roster and  saw that Simone Messmer is no longer there. Anybody know anything? Did I miss something?

 

She was featured on IG in rehearsal just last month:

 

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Disappointing  news. I hope she finds a new artistic home.

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I am saddened to hear it. She is a strong character and this quality shows in her dancing. It’s tragic that she seems unable to find the right environment where she could solely focus on developing her artistic gifts. It also bothers me that  she disappears from companies’ rosters (ABT, SFB and now MCB) without any announcement or wishes of farewell. 

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1 hour ago, Dreamer said:

I am saddened to hear it. She is a strong character and this quality shows in her dancing. It’s tragic that she seems unable to find the right environment where she could solely focus on developing her artistic gifts. It also bothers me that  she disappears from companies’ rosters (ABT, SFB and now MCB) without any announcement or wishes of farewell. 

This is a bummer for the audience, to be sure. But as time goes on, it becomes more clear that Messmer finds reasons to not be happy with her current situation. She has never struck me as a person who "takes things in stride". She may well rub many people the wrong way.
Of course, it may simply be a case of a person whose personality does not fit well in the stage arts environment. Maybe she needs a 9 to 5 (or 9 to 10!) corporate job with clear hierarchy in place.

Off Topic: it's interesting how small the Principal ranks are at MCB, though they have a Principal Soloist designation too. I wonder what the need for that intermediate step is?

Edited by pherank

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37 minutes ago, pherank said:

This is a bummer for the audience, to be sure. But as time goes on, it becomes more clear that Messmer finds reasons to not be happy with her current situation. She has never struck me as a person who "takes things in stride". She may well rub many people the wrong way.

What is the indication that she was unhappy with her situation?

Do we have any official information about why she is no longer at Miami besides the (unconfirmed but public) suggestion she was fired for objecting to a guest artist of questionable character?

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7 minutes ago, aurora said:

What is the indication that she was unhappy with her situation?

Do we have any official information about why she is no longer at Miami besides the (unconfirmed but public) suggestion she was fired for objecting to a guest artist of questionable character?

About MCB we don't know yet, but she's talked about previous experiences with ABT and SFB. And as Dreamer stated, "she disappears from companies’ rosters (ABT, SFB and now MCB) without any announcement or wishes of farewell". And these are companies that do celebrate their departing dancers.

Edited by pherank

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Just now, pherank said:

About MCB we don't know yet, but she's talked about previous experiences with ABT and SFB. And as Dreamer stated, "she disappears from companies’ rosters (ABT, SFB and now MCB) without any announcement or wishes of farewell". And these are companies that do celebrate their departing dancers.

Agreed, though ABT usually only acknowledges principals, which she was not.

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13 minutes ago, aurora said:

Agreed, though ABT usually only acknowledges principals, which she was not.

Going back to this Dance Magazine article on Simone Messmer, I do wonder if she sets herself up for disappointment:
https://www.dancemagazine.com/the-reinvention-of-simone-messmer-2306997186.html

She may have a particular idea of what ballet and life as a ballet dancer should be, and when actual companies don't match her blueprint, she gets unhappy. Anyone who is sociable and appreciative of the people around them is going to have a distinct advantage in the work world over someone who carries a set of expectations around. And life isn't fair - certainly not for everyone all at the same time.

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1 hour ago, pherank said:

This is a bummer for the audience, to be sure. But as time goes on, it becomes more clear that Messmer finds reasons to not be happy with her current situation. She has never struck me as a person who "takes things in stride". She may well rub many people the wrong way.
Of course, it may simply be a case of a person whose personality does not fit well in the stage arts environment. Maybe she needs a 9 to 5 (or 9 to 10!) corporate job with clear hierarchy in place.

Messmer is an interesting and distinctive ballerina--a genuine artist--why speculate she needs a 9-5 job?  She certainly has never said anything in an interview that suggests she yearns for corporate work or office life.  One might as well say, she might be happier spelunking in Luray Caverns. 

Messmer spent quite a number of years at ABT, made what looked to me from the outside a reasonable decision she wasn't getting enough opportunities there, had a very brief stint at San Francisco and longer stint (several years) with a number of great roles at Miami City Ballet; a period of time that arguably was quite a success for her career even if it hasn't lasted longer than 3 seasons. I agree that she may not have realistic expectations of what satisfaction she can find in a ballet company. (And it's not as if the world of classical ballet doesn't reward certain kinds of conformity; it rather obviously does.)

From my perspective, if she is having difficulties finding a ballet company to call home for a long career, then that's a loss for ballet and possibly a loss for her. No one (and no company) has to be to blamed or second guessed. And if it is her problem--well, she's paying for it. But I suspect that that may be too simple a way to look at her career. For example, other dancers and commentators and fans have spoken about some of the same things at ABT that seem to have influenced her departure. Fact is, dancers with talent and even dancers with clout sometimes don't find their way in the ballet world an entirely smooth one. (Heck even Alina Cojocaru departed the Royal Ballet at the height of her career on less than friendly terms.)

I was typing this when you wrote your second post @pherank  . I can't quite go so far as to imply that Messmer is "unappreciative" and for that matter rather suspect that some of her 'marching to the sound of her own drum' is part of what makes her an artist even if it hasn't helped her career.  Of course, I would love for her to have found a longer-lasting artistic home at Miami City Ballet--and she hasn't. That's too bad (or seems so to me), but from the outside looking in, I'm not inclined to assign blame to anyone -- including Lopez and including Messmer herself. I do hope there are good things in Messmer's future and preferably on the stage.

Edited by Drew

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57 minutes ago, pherank said:

About MCB we don't know yet, but she's talked about previous experiences with ABT and SFB. And as Dreamer stated, "she disappears from companies’ rosters (ABT, SFB and now MCB) without any announcement or wishes of farewell". And these are companies that do celebrate their departing dancers.

MCB has always been on pointe about quietly erasing dancers, either due to retirement, contracts unrenewed or else. The only farewell I know of was the one they did with Patricia Delgado, Justin Peck's fiancee.

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17 minutes ago, Drew said:

I do hope there are good things in Messmer's future and preferably on the stage.

Sadly, I am not that optimistic about Messmer’s future. There is not that many  medium-size regional ballet companies in the US which can afford adding to their roster a principal dancer who may not be committed to a long-term obligation. In Europe, she would have to compete against skinny, tall and  willowy Russian trained  ballerinas who have many advantages over her— one being in the proximity to a potential employer.

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