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Turnover at Boston Ballet


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Nissinen takes his first steps by letting go six dancers

Mikko Nissinen won't arrive in town for good until April, but the Boston Ballet's incoming artistic director is already working to put his team in place. Nissinen has let go of six of the company's 43 dancers and decided not to renew contracts for three of its four instructors. The fourth, chief ballet master Jorden Morris, will leave for another company.

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I'm a long time Boston Ballet fan and supporter, though not a real insider. With regard to Nissinen's coming, the people I've talked to are still pleased and looking forward to having him on board full time. Changes in dancers and staff are to be expected so are not surprising. Even without a change in leadership some dancers leave every year, for various reasons, and it is contract review/renewal season. The teaching staff changes represent, I think, an attempt to shift the company from its current strong emphasis on Russian training to some other style(s) and enhance abilities for modern/contemporary choreography.

Losing Jorden Morris is unfortunate but not surprising given his strengths and Nissinen's need to be the company leader, and probably Morris' interest in being in a lead role somewhere. Again, my assumption about events.

So in general, while some of the changes may be sad, change is inevitable and expected. Nowhere near as shocking as some of the changes Guilguid made last year.

By the way, we just finished seeing Maina Guilguid's Giselle. She evidently had a good experience working with the dancers and staff at Boston despite last year's troubles. The produciton was well received by audiences and positively reviewed in the papers. We saw it several times and it was beautiful

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Let's see--general feeling from my perspective has been positive. Despite a lot of changes things seem to be really looking up. With the dismissal of the Russian contingent it will be interesting to see what happens to the school next year--I am wondering when it will trickle down to there. I must say some of the dancers released are favorites personality-wise of the students--it's always sad to say goodbye to nice people. I do remember reading speculation about Morris leaving--because he's been so good that's hard but certainly understandable.

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I'd be interested in hearing comments about Hervé Courtain: he's a POB soloist who took a one-year leave to join the Boston Ballet. How is he doing? He was one of my favorite POB soloists, and I regret not being able to see him this season, but probably he needed some "fresh air"... Has he been cast in interesting roles?

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From what I hear, the company members are not so much postive as they are hopeful that the new artistic staff will be as good as the one they have come to respect and to whom many feel a great sense of attachment.

Jorden Morris was a tremendous stabilizing influence and is highly regarded by many of the dancers. Tatiana Terekhova and Sergei Berejnoi are adored by many of the dancers. It's not possible to speak for everyone, but replacing every member of the artistic staff was clearly not something many of the dancers expected.

There are still important unkowns at Boston Ballet, both the rep and the artistic staff, so it's not really possible to know what to think, yet. Some of the dancers have understandably expressed reluctance to sign their contracts without knowing this information.

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I have personally met Mr. Nissinen. He is a very nice man, and he's very knowledgeable. He danced as a principle dancer with San Francisco for a while. I think Boston will benefit from having Mr.Nissinen as the director.


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