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ABT 2015 Season, Continued


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Lots of craziness happened while I was at work. Like everyone else, I'm really disappointed with the casting changes.

I'm still going to keep my Bayadere ticket, even though I'm not so keen at seeing Seo as Nikiya. But Murphy and Kim will hopefully be enough to make it worth it.

I'm not surprised about Osipova pulling out of Sleeping Beauty. I don't think it's related to injury, as I saw her live in London performing Lise in Fille and she looked fantastic. I honestly don't care that she pulled out, as I'm happy seeing the Lane and Murphy casts.

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Boy, am I glad I still have not bought a single ticket for this season. With Seo replacing Semionova I would have been furious now.

I also find it very amusing that we now have two major ballerinas refusing to participate in Ratmansky's SB.

It sure promises to be a very interesting season.

Interesting to be watched from the sidelines, that is:)

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One of the two ballerinas, Herrera, performed the role in California. She did not want her farewell performance to be in the role. There is no official word on why Osipova is not performing it.

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Boy, am I glad I still have not bought a single ticket for this season. With Seo replacing Semionova I would have been furious now.

I also find it very amusing that we now have two major ballerinas refusing to participate in Ratmansky's SB.

Edited to add: I wrote this when Helene was typing and missed her comments. I have slightly modified my language accordingly.

But notably, no-one who works or will be working with the company has withdrawn. It is not like Murphy has "refused" to dance it or canceled a performance. Herrera is about to retire and Osipova is a fly in/fly out guest. She is also preparing Nikiya for the week before and that is not a role she has danced before in Makarova's production, as far as I know at least, or much at all.

God knows the company needs more major ballerinas.

Lopatkina supposedly refused to dance Lilac Fairy in the Mariinsky reconstructed Beauty, and perhaps there will always be some dancers who don't buy the 'return to origins' approach. I am super looking forward to seeing it, but am not at all sure what I am going to think.

My NY ABT visit plans are set and, for various reasons, can't and won't be rearranged... but all the cast changes are dismaying. And of course, one fears that is not the end of it. That said, Bayadere is one of the company's better productions of a classic and I am super interested in the new Sleeping Beauty which qualifies as a genuine 'event' in the ballet world. I am looking forward to seeing multiple casts in both of them.

Still... the best laid plans of mice and balletomanes...

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As many have said, these cast changes are mind boggling. It would have been one thing if it were say Murphy who was filling in for all of those performances (a super strong and capable principal), but even for her that kind of work load is dangerous. I can't imagine Seo handling all of that, and without getting injured. Does McKenzie think if he works her like a dog, she'll finally get stronger? Or does he see no fault with her and thinks we all feel the same? It's a terrible shame that a few soloists (and even Boylston) aren't given some of these opportunities. I'm just glad I haven't bought any tickets yet....

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Well, let's see - guess I'm up for the chump of the year award since I booked non refundable plane tix and a hotel prepay (great bargain on Hotwire) to see Herrera's retirement on June 9 and Osipova in SB on June 10. Fortunately I hadn't bought the June 9 tix and substituted Broadway, but did buy the June 10th one. So, now I will attend neither of the things I wanted, while taking time off work mid week in order to now see a ballerina I felt was not ready to be promoted to principal. Sigh ... not the first time this has happened, but it is demoralizing. As was said earlier, we understand injuries, but that doesn't explain the rescheduling of Herrera and who knows what the story is with Osipova. I've been had .... again.

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I'm quite excited to see the Ratmansky SB, despite all the changes to the casting. I have tix for the Saturday night, and am thrilled that Joseph Gorak will be dancing.

Reading the boards, I guess I'm a lone fan of Hee Seo's? I wish she would take better care of herself, but I find her dancing and acting very moving. She does lyrical and fragile very well, which suits roles like Giselle and Juliet. (Maybe not an act, then? :) ) Her feet are gorgeous.

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Osipova is a fly in/fly out guest. She is also preparing Nikiya for the week before and that is not a role she has danced before in Makarova's production, as far as I know at least, or much at all.

Osipova was scheduled to do Bayadere on May 28, 2012, with Cojocaru and Cornejo. But she cancelled and Boylston replaced her. She was also scheduled to do Bayadere with Vishneva and Gomes on May 25, but this review doesn't mention her. It appears Vishneva cancelled but Osipova performed, at least according to a long blog posting. (Sorry, can't find another source on that.) So Osipova has a little experience with the Makarova version, but that was three years ago.

Osipova was back on Wednesday, May 30 to do Bright Stream and I have no idea what the injury/illness was on the 28th.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/arts/dance/american-ballet-theaters-production-of-la-bayadere.html?_r=0

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Clearly, bait and switch.

And incur this much wrath from ticket buyers? I'm more inclined to think that ABT was hoping until the bitter end that Osipova would appear as advertised.

I've been had .... again.

But I do feel your pain.

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Osipova was scheduled to do Bayadere on May 28, 2012, with Cojocaru and Cornejo. But she cancelled and Boylston replaced her. She was also scheduled to do Bayadere with Vishneva and Gomes on May 25, but this review doesn't mention her. It appears Vishneva cancelled but Osipova performed, at least according to a long blog posting. (Sorry, can't find another source on that.) So Osipova has a little experience with the Makarova version, but that was three years ago.

Osipova was back on Wednesday, May 30 to do Bright Stream and I have no idea what the injury/illness was on the 28th.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/arts/dance/american-ballet-theaters-production-of-la-bayadere.html?_r=0

You are right that she has danced in this production, though not Nikiya, at least not at ABT. I have seen some footage of her as Nikiya, not sure of production, but I assume Bolshoi. She certainly has not done the role much.

At ABT, as you note, she did dance at least one Gamzatti during the season you mention. I saw that performance and thought it was fabulous. Part replaced Vishneva that evening.

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Drew - correct!. Osipova did dance Gamzatti in 2012 on the night Vishneva cancelled and was filled in by Part as Nikiya. I was there, backstage, as I had paid for a "Mastercard Priceless" experience to be a "guest stage manager" for the night. My report on that is still somewhere on the forum and it was, truly, a VERY special experience in my life. I tend to focus on the women, but seeing Gomes that night was amazing - such a magnificent partner, always - witnessing Part/Gomes hugging in a dark corner offstage after all the curtain calls was an incrediblly intimate view into this world I admire, but don't inhabit. Who has a job where you make a connection like that?

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Drew - correct!. Osipova did dance Gamzatti in 2012 on the night Vishneva cancelled and was filled in by Part as Nikiya. I was there, backstage, as I had paid for a "Mastercard Priceless" experience to be a "guest stage manager" for the night. My report on that is still somewhere on the forum and it was, truly, a VERY special experience in my life. I tend to focus on the women, but seeing Gomes that night was amazing - such a magnificent partner, always - witnessing Part/Gomes hugging in a dark corner offstage after all the curtain calls was an incrediblly intimate view into this world I admire, but don't inhabit. Who has a job where you make a connection like that?

I remember your report. The evening sounded (and sounds) like a wonderful experience. I have never watched from backstage...

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One thing in all of this casting stuff is that I have never been able to figure out KM's taste in dancers. Perhaps others are more astute than I.

Clearly he doesn't care for Lane as demonstrated by what he doesn't cast her in. Also he doesn't seem to care if he miscasts her. I'm thinking of times he put her with Simkin in Flames of Paris pas and Stars & Stripes pas. Both I believe were to show off Simkin's virtuosity but she, being a lyrical dancer, was just fodder.

A few years ago, before she left for another company, Maria Riccetto was a soloist being given a lot - several performances of Duo Concertant, Giselle, Mozartiana, Coppiela etc. I didn't get that at all.

Now Hee Seo is thrown on again and again. In terms of ticket sales I would think that a debut would sell a bit better than another performance by Hee Seo. If she is injured I hope KM has a back up plan.

My personal opinion is that things are a mess at ABT.

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All this handwringing over cast changes kind of shows that ABT kind of isn't a real company anymore. I feel like with real companies, you can buy a ticket and even if there are cast changes, you'd still want to see the company. I buy all my NYCB tickets well before the season starts, and I do the same with the Bolshoi or Mariinsky even when i know how, uh, flexible their casting is. I think ABT's repertory is so stale or it's become such a star-driven company where people only follow favorite pet dancers that any sense of them as a company worth watching just to watch them as a company has dissipated.

As for Hee Seo and her now insanely busy schedule, it's weird that Kevin McKenzie hasn't learned from David Hallberg. I remember when Hallberg was dancing nearly every night. But the injuries piled up to the point where right now it's uncertain when he'll come back.

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All this handwringing over cast changes kind of shows that ABT kind of isn't a real company anymore. I feel like with real companies, you can buy a ticket and even if there are cast changes, you'd still want to see the company. I buy all my NYCB tickets well before the season starts, and I do the same with the Bolshoi or Mariinsky even when i know how, uh, flexible their casting is. I think ABT's repertory is so stale or it's become such a star-driven company where people only follow favorite pet dancers that any sense of them as a company worth watching just to watch them as a company has dissipated.

As for Hee Seo and her now insanely busy schedule, it's weird that Kevin McKenzie hasn't learned from David Hallberg. I remember when Hallberg was dancing nearly every night. But the injuries piled up to the point where right now it's uncertain when he'll come back.

ABT has such a raggedy, under rehearsed corp. Atleast with companies like the Mariinsky or NYCB if the leads aren't your cup of tea you can enjoy the rest of the cast. Unfortunately that is not the case with ABT right now. If the cast gets changed to some of the less than proficient principals on the roster, not only will you have to sit through that but have to watch a struggling corp and at times under rehearsed soloists as well... If I remember correctly, when ABT was on tour in Japan a few years ago KM in a round about way said ABT was a star company. Many ABT fans don't like it but I think what ABT is now is exactly what KM and the board envision it to be. And will be for quite some time since his contract got renewed...

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All this handwringing over cast changes kind of shows that ABT kind of isn't a real company anymore. I feel like with real companies, you can buy a ticket and even if there are cast changes, you'd still want to see the company. I buy all my NYCB tickets well before the season starts, and I do the same with the Bolshoi or Mariinsky even when i know how, uh, flexible their casting is. I think ABT's repertory is so stale or it's become such a star-driven company where people only follow favorite pet dancers that any sense of them as a company worth watching just to watch them as a company has dissipated.

As for Hee Seo and her now insanely busy schedule, it's weird that Kevin McKenzie hasn't learned from David Hallberg. I remember when Hallberg was dancing nearly every night. But the injuries piled up to the point where right now it's uncertain when he'll come back.

I was pretty displeased when the Bolshoi changed casts on me last minute a few years ago and I didn't get to see Osipova in Corsaire, and I'd be horrified with a lot of Mariinsky casts but I guess your mileage may vary. Maybe you love Somova and her ilk.

Quite frankly it is really a bore to read anything about ABT on here now. The handwringing is so over the top.

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ABT has such a raggedy, under rehearsed corp.

Maybe due to their breakneck spring schedule? How many other companies perform that many full lengths in successive weeks with similar numbers in the corps?

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All this handwringing over cast changes kind of shows that ABT kind of isn't a real company anymore. I feel like with real companies, you can buy a ticket and even if there are cast changes, you'd still want to see the company. I buy all my NYCB tickets well before the season starts, and I do the same with the Bolshoi or Mariinsky even when i know how, uh, flexible their casting is. I think ABT's repertory is so stale or it's become such a star-driven company where people only follow favorite pet dancers that any sense of them as a company worth watching just to watch them as a company has dissipated.

As for Hee Seo and her now insanely busy schedule, it's weird that Kevin McKenzie hasn't learned from David Hallberg. I remember when Hallberg was dancing nearly every night. But the injuries piled up to the point where right now it's uncertain when he'll come back.

Wonderful points canbelto. I too buy tickets for NYCB well in advance based on the rep and, because the talent is so deep, I trust the casting. At ABT there are ballets I just don't want to see. When there's a ballet I want to see I know there is not much dancing for anyone except the leads so I am very picky about casting.

The problem for ABT right now is that "guest stars" don't sell like they used to. Just importing a person is not going to generate ticket sales but they keep bringing people in.

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I was pretty displeased when the Bolshoi changed casts on me last minute a few years ago and I didn't get to see Osipova in Corsaire, and I'd be horrified with a lot of Mariinsky casts but I guess your mileage may vary. Maybe you love Somova and her ilk.

Quite frankly it is really a bore to read anything about ABT on here now. The handwringing is so over the top.

Don't make assumptions. I distinctly remember traveling by Chinatown bus to D.C. and the bus being delayed and getting to Kennedy Center late and finding out that Osipova and Vasiliev had cancelled and I was left with a rather mediocre Shipulina. But my point was I didn't feel completely dejected, as I loved the production, the corps, and some of the soloists. I'd feel the same way about the Mariinsky or the NYCB if there was a big cast change. I'd be disappointed that Dancer X wasn't dancing, but I'd still be able to enjoy the performances. At the NYCB I trust that there will be enough worthwhile stuff onstage that even if, say, Ashley Bouder cancelled Stars and Stripes ('Im just thinking of one dancer and one ballet where I distinctly buy a ticket just to see that dancer in that ballet) whoever is Liberty Girl will also be good.

But with ABT, it's like if Dancer X or Y isn't dancing (or is dancing), it's like the worst thing in the world and people are just absolutely distraught and can't go on. That part is what separates ABT from other companies. I mean I like Stella Abrera as much as anyone else but say Stella for some reason couldn't dance the Giselle she's scheduled for. In a real company, that shouldn't cause a massive meltdown. You should trust that there's enough depth in the company that her replacement will be worthwhile as well.

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Don't make assumptions. I distinctly remember traveling by Chinatown bus to D.C. and the bus being delayed and getting to Kennedy Center late and finding out that Osipova and Vasiliev had cancelled and I was left with a rather mediocre Shipulina. But my point was I didn't feel completely dejected, as I loved the production, the corps, and some of the soloists. I'd feel the same way about the Mariinsky or the NYCB if there was a big cast change. I'd be disappointed that Dancer X wasn't dancing, but I'd still be able to enjoy the performances. At the NYCB I trust that there will be enough worthwhile stuff onstage that even if, say, Ashley Bouder cancelled Stars and Stripes ('Im just thinking of one dancer and one ballet where I distinctly buy a ticket just to see that dancer in that ballet) whoever is Liberty Girl will also be good.

But with ABT, it's like if Dancer X or Y isn't dancing (or is dancing), it's like the worst thing in the world and people are just absolutely distraught and can't go on. That part is what separates ABT from other companies. I mean I like Stella Abrera as much as anyone else but say Stella for some reason couldn't dance the Giselle she's scheduled for. In a real company, that shouldn't cause a massive meltdown. You should trust that there's enough depth in the company that her replacement will be worthwhile as well.

I wasn't, I wasn't seriously suggesting you love Somova.

I also got stuck with Shipulina and while I was glad to see the production, as a broke grad student who paid for a bus and a hotel, I'd say I was just as disappointed as everyone is on here about ABT I just didn't complain as much.

I'm going to stop before I am discussing the discussion but I think it is more to do with some people being way over the top/emotionally invested in this, than the actual situation at ABT. If one really thinks it is a grand conspiracy, I think maybe it is time to step away (this is NOT directed at you Canbelto). Basta.

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But with ABT, it's like if Dancer X or Y isn't dancing (or is dancing), it's like the worst thing in the world and people are just absolutely distraught and can't go on. That part is what separates ABT from other companies.

Well, people are sounding off in the immediate wake of the news and of their disappointment, but I think it's selling the company short to assume that there aren't plenty of pleasures to be found in the dancing of many of their soloists and sometimes of their corps as well...and selling their fans short to think they don't realize that and take pleasure in it. I have seen ABT's corps dance "raggedy" (as mentioned by someone above) and I've seen them dance beautifully.

At the same time, I don't think anyone needs to apologize for being a keen fan of this or that ballerina and wanting to see her (whether Osipova or Seo, Murphy or Copeland). Ditto for favorite male dancers. Ballet Alert is one of the few places I can express disappointment about this sort of thing to people who understand the feeling even if they think I'm delusional in my choice of favorites.

Other than depth of talent one other advantage NYCB has casting-wise is that the best dancers dance very frequently. Without knowing casts, I'm almost willing to bet that when I buy tickets for three-four performances over a weekend, I will see most, if not all, of the dancers I most want to see. It's a different animal than ABT because the repertory allows for that. Comparisons to the Mariinksy or Bolshoi seem more appropriate...and if the Mariinsky (for example) were not a visiting company in the U.S. but came and performed a yearly 8 week season in NY, then people might be less easy-going about casting changes in their full-length works even with the company's often spectacular corps de ballet and superb schooling up and down the ranks. (I am not equating the overall level at ABT in full-length classics with the overall level at the Mariinsky in that rep--just saying it's easier to "enjoy" whatever a visiting company has to offer, even when one is disappointed with some casting changes, because it's on offer much more rarely.)

Not saying ABT doesn't have problems, just trying to balance things out a bit in thinking about it. (Aurora weighed in with her last post just as I was typing this.)

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