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Spring 2015: Romeo and Juliet


Helene

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I'm not one of the incensed over cast changes, though (except for the invitation to Cojucaru, because at that point, they DID have time to teach that role to an in house ballerina).

One of the casting changes (which was unfortunately due to injury) allowed me to see one of the most exquisite Giselles I've ever seen.

I really love ABT, and I just think it's a shame that the loyal soloists and corps members (who work their butt off for the company, day in and day out) are not rewarded the way they should be. No disrespect intended for the guest artists who are wonderful dancers.

Generally we are in agreement on all that, and I really was trying to make it clear that I didn't think *you* were intentionally implying she was just willy nilly withdrawing. Lets just all hope she doesn't have to withdraw from the R&Js. Merde to Osipova for a quick recovery!!

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I made it extremely clear that what you said was the "truth." I just pointed out there was a way to very easily express that at least in the case of Bayadere and any possible further withdrawals, there was a clear and unfortunate reason for it. Given how incensed people have been over changes to casting, using 2 extra words to make that explicit would just be a nice thing to do.

There are many comments in this sub-forum and the other ABT sub-forums about ABT's casting changes and its management and my impression is that people are not incensed as much as they are disappointed. I mentioned this in the La Bayadere sub-forum; it seems the company is in a state of disorganization, disarray, whatever, if it won't cast some of its talent (referring to the Sarah Lane situation), but overcasts others (Hee Seo).

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Hopefully Osipova doesn't have to withdraw due to injury. If she does, at least her partner is Gomes and he can partner anyone (heck, they could slap a dress on a giraffe and he could still make it the most seamless and romantic performance). I could see it going to Vishneva. That would be most logical. Or "heck" could freeze over twice in one Met season and they could give it to Lane, making it the second much awaited debut by one of their long time soloists.

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Hopefully Osipova doesn't have to withdraw due to injury. If she does, at least her partner is Gomes and he can partner anyone (heck, they could slap a dress on a giraffe and he could still make it the most seamless and romantic performance).

rofl.GIF

I'd probably go to see what Gomes could make of a Romeo and Giraffe

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I'm not faulting Osipova by saying she "withdraws"

You don't see the Mariinsky calling around the outside world when one of their stars get injured.

The Mariinsky is over twice the size of ABT and regularly fields performances of full length classics at home and on tour at the same time. And there were still bitter complaints the year they brought in outsider-to-the-company (though not to the school) Esina as a 'guest principal.' And indeed moderate complaints about their hiring of Shapran and Bondareva as prominent soloists when they had not risen through the ranks etc.

And if you want to read opinions of people who think (rightly or wrongly) that lesser talent is being over-cast and major talent being left to wither on the vine, you can do no no better than check out the internet chatter about the Mariinsky (including at times on this site) whose director gets as much figurative vitriol thrown in his face as the director of the Bolshoi got literal ...

As far as companies in disarray go: the Mariinsky announced three major new revivals at the beginning of the year all of which are now on hold. ABT has just premiered an important new production of a major classic, that is of interest to ballet fans all over the world. Too soon to know how successful it is, but in my judgement no ABT Sleeping Beauty has ever been of this much interest as a production to this many people across the ballet spectrum. And Sleeping Beauty is not just any old ballet. It is THE definitive Petipa ballet.

Of course,I am not saying ABT is 'better' than the Mariinsky, a company whose greatness seems to transcend all kinds of disarray and is incomparable in certain ballets. I just want to clarify that you can hear analogous complaints about the Mariinsky as about ABT.

ABT has something of a ballerina crisis--at least I think they do, though I am hardly the last word and I will have a better sense after I have seen more of Seo and Boylston in the next few weeks (as I hope). A ballerina crisis is not a trivial thing, but a decade ago people were saying the same thing about NYCB (and not without exaggeration in that case either). People thought Martins was a disaster and obviously to blame. Well what do they think now when the company is offering great ballerina performances right and left?

Regarding ABT making money...it is well to remember that even when they make money, they are, in fact, not making the money needed to cover the costs of being a major ballet company or they would not need donors. And there is a limit to how much they can afford to lose and still be ABT.

The company has real problems; I don't doubt it. For myself, I also wish the repertory at the Met were more varied (something I believe is partly a money issue as well)... I infer that their dancers could often use more coaching etc. Anyway, we will see how changes in personnel shake out in the next couple of seasons.

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ABT has something of a ballerina crisis--at least I think they do, though I am hardly the last word and I will have a better sense after I have seen more of Seo and Boylston in the next few weeks (as I hope). A ballerina crisis is not a trivial thing, but a decade ago people were saying the same thing about NYCB (and not without exaggeration in that case either). People thought Martins was a disaster and obviously to blame. Well what do they think now when the company is offering great ballerina performances right and left?

The ballerina crisis at ABT is real, but I think would be readily resolved if (1) Part had been given a couple of Semionova's performances instead of piling them (almost) all on Seo; (2) using Part in more performances in general, now that she is in the prime of her career; (3) promoting Abrera and Lane to Principal status, which I believe they could sustain; and (4) whooshing Skylar Brandt to Soloist and then Principal in a matter of minutes. Christine Shevchenko and Devon Teuscher are also potential Principals and should be given a shot at the infamous Wednesday matinee of Giselle (Shevchenko was gorgeous as Moyna), which seems to be the first step on the Principal trajectory, although in years when Giselle isn't being performed, some other Wednesday matinee. It's not that ABT lacks talent. In recent years there has been something of a logjam, with not enough really fine dancers learning the leading roles.

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The ballerina crisis at ABT is real, but I think would be readily resolved if (1) Part had been given a couple of Semionova's performances instead of piling them (almost) all on Seo; (2) using Part in more performances in general, now that she is in the prime of her career; (3) promoting Abrera and Lane to Principal status, which I believe they could sustain; and (4) whooshing Skylar Brandt to Soloist and then Principal in a matter of minutes. Christine Shevchenko and Devon Teuscher are also potential Principals and should be given a shot at the infamous Wednesday matinee of Giselle (Shevchenko was gorgeous as Moyna), which seems to be the first step on the Principal trajectory, although in years when Giselle isn't being performed, some other Wednesday matinee. It's not that ABT lacks talent. In recent years there has been something of a logjam, with not enough really fine dancers learning the leading roles.

Hear hear!

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A ballerina crisis is not a trivial thing, but a decade ago people were saying the same thing about NYCB (and not without exaggeration in that case either). People thought Martins was a disaster and obviously to blame. Well what do they think now when the company is offering great ballerina performances right and left?

Totally agreed.

Setting aside any casting conflicts and partner height and language requirements which might also support the use of Seo, there's one other reason why McKenzie might have chosen her: he thinks that a promising but incomplete artist would benefit from a heavy dose of stage time in these roles at this early point in her career. He's not favoring her: he's sending her to bootcamp.

After all, the retiring ABT ballerinas specifically mentioned the difficulty of improving in roles that one performs only once a year in the Washington Post article mentioned in other threads. It may be less-than-ideal for us in the audience, but McKenzie has few other ways to foster his artists. There's no substitute for stage time.

It's easy to forget that one reason the current generation of NYCB ballerinas is so good is that many gained an disproportionate amount of stage time at a key point in their careers in the wake of a huge talent drain in the mid-to-late '00s (Meunier, Korbes, Ansanelli, Sylve, Weese). As good as Sterling Hyltin looks in many roles now, it took every minute of six years after reaching principal status for her to begin commanding the stage (and she was dancing the cream of the repertory the entire time). Likewise, as much as I love Maria Kowroski, I don't want to see her in anything in which she hasn't logged at least two seasons: would she be as good as she has become in much of the Farrell repertory if she had been sharing the roles with more dancers? Even a quick study like Ashley Bouder is routinely criticized for being too harshly energetic in her first performances in NYCB's full-length productions (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty) whenever they swing into the repertory--all of which is equally routinely smoothed away by her second performance. What would her performances be like if she had only one per season?

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Totally agreed.

Setting aside any casting conflicts and partner height and language requirements which might also support the use of Seo, there's one other reason why McKenzie might have chosen her: he thinks that a promising but incomplete artist would benefit from a heavy dose of stage time in these roles at this early point in her career. He's not favoring her: he's sending her to bootcamp.

After all, the retiring ABT ballerinas specifically mentioned the difficulty of improving in roles that one performs only once a year in the Washington Post article mentioned in other threads. It may be less-than-ideal for us in the audience, but McKenzie has few other ways to foster his artists. There's no substitute for stage time.

It's easy to forget that one reason the current generation of NYCB ballerinas is so good is that many gained an disproportionate amount of stage time at a key point in their careers in the wake of a huge talent drain in the mid-to-late '00s (Meunier, Korbes, Ansanelli, Sylve, Weese). As good as Sterling Hyltin looks in many roles now, it took every minute of six years after reaching principal status for her to begin commanding the stage (and she was dancing the cream of the repertory the entire time). Likewise, as much as I love Maria Kowroski, I don't want to see her in anything in which she hasn't logged at least two seasons: would she be as good as she has become in much of the Farrell repertory if she had been sharing the roles with more dancers? Even a quick study like Ashley Bouder is routinely criticized for being too harshly energetic in her first performances in NYCB's full-length productions (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty) whenever they swing into the repertory--all of which is equally routinely smoothed away by her second performance. What would her performances be like if she had only one per season?

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Sorry---my reply to choriamb did not get into my post. Still getting the hang of how to do this. What I wanted to say is that I agree with choriamb about the NYCB dancers. They start out with terrific talent-- all the basics and each brings her own grace and style-- but frequent performing of that role seasons and deepens the artistry of their performance. Case in point: a few years ago Sterling Hyltin was an inexpressive Juliet and Odette/Odile. I felt as if I were watching a school production with her carrying these ballets. And yet.....I knew the germ of a mature interpretation was in there when she would grow into the role. Now IMO she is a strong interpreter of both roles--and so many more roles as many of you have pointed out this season. Time and opportunity to perform each role can bring a dancer to his or her potential if she/he has the goods to begin with. So should we give KM the benefit of the doubt with Hee Seo as choriamb suggests? Throw her into the same role over and over to deepen her artistry? I think the jury's still out on that one.

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It's easy to forget that one reason the current generation of NYCB ballerinas is so good is that many gained an disproportionate amount of stage time at a key point in their careers in the wake of a huge talent drain in the mid-to-late '00s (Meunier, Korbes, Ansanelli, Sylve, Weese). As good as Sterling Hyltin looks in many roles now, it took every minute of six years after reaching principal status for her to begin commanding the stage (and she was dancing the cream of the repertory the entire time). Likewise, as much as I love Maria Kowroski, I don't want to see her in anything in which she hasn't logged at least two seasons: would she be as good as she has become in much of the Farrell repertory if she had been sharing the roles with more dancers? Even a quick study like Ashley Bouder is routinely criticized for being too harshly energetic in her first performances in NYCB's full-length productions (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty) whenever they swing into the repertory--all of which is equally routinely smoothed away by her second performance. What would her performances be like if she had only one per season?

As someone with two left feet who has never danced a day in their life (or at least only when I've had a few drinks and no one is watching me), can you more knowledgeable folks answer a question for me?

In the case of someone like Seo, can we expect after dancing for many years for her technique to still improve if given more to dance? I would fully expect artistry to develop with additional performances, but in my non-dancer's brain, I would expect technique to be present at that point and that additional performances won't necessarily improve that (at least in most cases).

To me, Seo's artistry is beautiful, it's her technique that is at times lacking.

Is that wrong of me to assume this?

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Surprisingly, technique can be hard to acquire once a dancer becomes professional. Ballet students in the pre-professional schools spend many hours a day in ballet classes: 1.5 hour technique class followed by 1 hour (or 45 min.) pointe class followed by a variations class followed by rehearsals is quite common 5 or 6 days a week. Sometimes rep and character classes are interchanged (or maybe pointe and variations), but suffice it to say that ballet students spend far more time perfecting their technique than do ballet professionals. Additionally, they spend that time under the watchful eyes of their teachers who constantly feed individual and group corrections.

By the time dancers are in a ballet company, they are expected to be fully formed technically, or at least very close to it. It is expected that they will, throughout the rest of their career, continue towards mastery, but their technique needs to be solid enough for that to happen. What I've seen is that all too often (in the last 15 years or so) a young phenomenal but not yet fully matured ballet student - perhaps due to beautiful feet or line or high extensions - is hired by a ballet company. But the dancer is really a good year or perhaps more away from being able to study on her/his own without the intensity of a full training program. And they seem to then get stuck at that level, not developing to the level of their potential. I always want these students to spend that extra year or so in training: WHAT a difference when they do!

I feel that way about Hee Seo. I've always felt that way about Paloma Hererra (I'll probably get vilified for saying so), but for different reasons. They each need more of the other's talent. I don't think either was "finished" as a ballet studentwhen they became a professional dancer . Certainly, Paloma was rushed into ABT. I feel that, had she had another year or two, she would have developed more of the artistry - the upper body development - she's always lacked. But she was a phenom and ABT wanted to cash in on saying they hired a 15 year old.

I feel that way about SO many dancers. In my tenure as a "ballet mom" to a ballet dancer at a pre-pro school who later danced professionally for 8 years, I've watched some amazingly talented, but not yet "finished" dancers get hired and then never grow much, whereas while at the ballet school, their technique and artistry continued to develop. Some professional dancers - the most conscientious perhaps - recognize this in themselves and set about to get more training, successfully doing so. But in fairness to those who don't, that is very hard to do with the kind of schedule a ballet company maintains. Ballet class is the warm-up, working on rep is the job. Ballet masters and mistresses do their best, but funding and time is limited. I had many conversations with a former ABT ballet mistress who spoke strongly about how much they all would have loved to spend more time with certain dancers because they knew exactly what needed to be worked on, but there was no time or money to pay them.

So I'm all in favor of the slow boil.

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Thanks, vagansmom, that is what I suspected. That is why the whole "lets give Hee Seo more performances so she can get better" doesn't fly with me. (Again, no offence to Seo, I do enjoy her dancing). More performances might make one more nuanced and better artistically, but it isn't going to necessarily fix the technical deficiencies (especially if they have been dancing the role for years).

I think this is pretty much true of most professions. I'm a physician and while I'm better at the art of medicine now than I was when I finished residency and took my specialty boards, all of the minutia I memorized is now gone from my brain. The smartest (book smarts anyway) I ever felt was when I first finished training, so in my brain I kind of pictured that to be true with the technical aspect of dancing.

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I don't think Hee Seo is being given all these assignments to improve her technique (tough love). I think McKenzie is now between a rock and a hard place in terms of casting, and Hee Seo probably would never say no to these outlandish demands regarding her schedule. By the way, R&J is a good role for Hee Seo, based on what I saw a few years ago.

I get the feeling that if McKenzie asked some other members of the ABT team to undertake this killer schedule, they would probably tell him where to go.

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Either in her memoir or in her "Striking a Balance" interview Lynn Seymour said she was weak technically when she joined the touring company, where almost all young dancers from the school performed at the time; the exceptions like Sibley, who went directly into the company, were rare. This was a trial by fire, doing lead roles while on tour. I believe it was Christopher Gable who described how she made lemonade out of lemons: unable to keep the balances well in the Rose Adagio, she turned it into a theatrical moment: "Oh, I like you. But oh, I like you better!" to explain the precipitous grab of the next suitor's hand. By the end of the experience she was stronger technically and knew how to work in a professional vs. school setting.

Female dancers, especially the ones in companies with extended seasons, more typically describe the transition from corps to soloist as a much harder one, unless they are one of the few that are being fast-tracked and go from dancing hard in the corps and soloists roles to dancing hard in soloist and principal roles (In smaller companies that perform one or two weekends in each rep, the male corps is typically not so regularly challenged.) Going from school to corps is a big shift, but the female corps members are often quite busy. When they move to soloist and aren't in two of three ballets a performance, but are waiting for, if they are lucky, a handful of roles in a performance week, that is when it is harder to maintain technique through company class and a limited rehearsal schedule. Principals who aren't rehearsing and performing frequently are in a similar boat, with the added challenges of having few opportunities to pace and develop interpretation.

Also, many dancers in podcasts and Q&A's have remarked that it's more fun to work on what they're good at than what they're weaker at. They have years of muscle memory that might be blocking further development -- dancers often remark that coming back from injury is an opportunity to learn things correctly, since they're starting from dancer scratch -- or being typecast and told that they can't do something or they're not right for this and that. For example, Carla Korbes spoke about how she was classified as someone who couldn't jump, and she internalized this until relatively recently.

Hee Seo is being given a rare opportunity at ABT to do a lot in a short period of time. It may get her over a technical/pacing hump that the typical hurry-up-and-wait approach does not.

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If Osipova can't perform her Juliet, I would not be surprised if McKenzie attempted to poach another RB ballerina for the role. The company will be in the US already anyway.

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If Osipova can't perform her Juliet, I would not be surprised if McKenzie attempted to poach another RB ballerina for the role. The company will be in the US already anyway.

what RB ballerina has he "poached."

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Osipova, Nunez.

Osipova, Nunez.

Poaching has a connotation. Since Osipova danced with ABT before dancing with Royal it is impossible he "poached" her from them.

I also think it is not the same to invite a guest and to poach a dancer which implies trying to steal them, but your mileage may vary.

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We can split hairs about the definition of the verb poach, but it seems clear that one of McKenzie's strategies is to use established stars from other companies, including the RB, for the Met season, most likely with the permission of the RB. Good evening.happy.png

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We can split hairs about the definition of the verb poach, but it seems clear that one of McKenzie's strategies is to use established stars from other companies, including the RB, for the Met season, most likely with the permission of the RB. Good evening.happy.png

Since poaching as you were using it is defined as "to take without permission and use as one's own:

to poach ideas; a staff poached from other companies."

I would say that is not splitting hairs and is a pretty nasty accusation. Obviously ABT uses guests. But you put a very nasty spin on it. Calling you on a very incorrect use of language is perfectly legitimate since that is not what ABT is doing.
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Evgenia Obraztsova just posted a picture of her at the Metropolitan so she is in town rehearsing presumably for R&J.

Has she danced this before? I know not with ABT but with Royal or La Scala? I'm quite excited to see her in it...

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