[[Template core/front/global/favico is throwing an error. This theme may be out of date. Run the support tool in the AdminCP to restore the default theme.]] Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Next Artistic Director for ABT


miliosr

Next Artistic Director for ABT  

69 members have voted

  1. 1. Who Should Be the Next Artistic Director of ABT?

    • Ardani Management
      1
    • Ballet Alert Message Board Posters Collective
      0
    • Mikhail Baryshnikov
      2
    • Julio Bocca
      6
    • John Gardner and Amanda McKerrow
      4
    • Susan Jaffe
      3
    • Gelsey Kirkland
      2
    • Alexei Ratmansky
      17
    • Ethan Steifel
      26
    • Other - Please Specify
      8


Recommended Posts

Is the problem really Kevin McKenzie? Is he imposing this "glass ceiling" on ballerinas? Or, is the glass ceiling imposed by the audience? Which shows sell out? The ones with specific stars (nearly always Russian) and more recently the shows with the self promoting soloist (Misty Copeland). Maybe the real problem is the lack of effective marketing at ABT to "sell" American ballerinas to the audience?

NYC is a strange place, full of immigrants from other lands, who will (sometimes) support their own tribe at the ballet. But are the Russians (and Ukranians) supporting Veronika Part, even though she was a soloist at Mariinsky? Are the Phillipinos supporting Stella Abrera in droves? There is something to the box office and "star" part of the business and we need to examine it further.

Link to post

Regardless of the box office, and what is much more disturbing to me in regards to McKenzie, is the lack of coaching he is giving to the company, by not hiring and fostering the relationships the coaches build with the dancers they work with. I think in many, not all, but many it is impossible to compare the soloists and some principals with their Russian/ European counterpart, simply due to the lack of growth and coaching in the Petipa rep. It is a much more level playing field in modern or contemporary works and especially Balanchine, but when you look at Swan Lake, or Bayadere, or Giselle, the lack of being able to develop a role and really develop an interpretation of that role is being denied to most of the ABT dancers. If an audience member is given the choice of seeing a technically brilliant dancer like Tereshkina, or the fireworks of Osipova, or the stupendous artistry of Cojocaru, or the choice of seeing a Hee Seo who is beautiful but technically insecure, or Boylston who is still trying to establish herself as a leading ballerina to name two dancers who seem to being cast a lot right now at ABT, can you blame an audience member for wanting to take a sure thing over a maybe? Until ABT starts to nurture the dancers they are employing, and truly give them opportunities to hone their craft and grow, ABT will not change.

Link to post

I think Kevin McKenzie hasn't really changed. He's been AD of ABT since 1992. The difference was, for many years, his "system" worked because ABT had a roster of stars, with the occasional guest flown in. That's been his system, and to be honest, that's always been the ABT system (except maybe during the Baryshinikov era). What happened in the last few years though is that his roster of stars has retired (Ananiashvilli, Corella, Ferri, Stiefel, Bocca, now Kent), suffered severe injuries that have limited performance (Cornejo, Hallberg), and his new crop of handpicked favorites haven't developed artistically or technically the way the old-generation of ABT dancers did (Boylston, Seo, Stearns, Simkin). Whether that's due to lack of coaching, lack of rehearsal, or just general weakness is anyone's guess. Also, while Diana Vishneva and Roberto Bolle have proved to be pretty stalwart in their commitment to an ABT season, some of the other guest artists for whatever reason have not proved to be that reliable (Osipova, Vasiliev).

Link to post

Is the problem really Kevin McKenzie? Is he imposing this "glass ceiling" on ballerinas? Or, is the glass ceiling imposed by the audience? Which shows sell out? The ones with specific stars (nearly always Russian) and more recently the shows with the self promoting soloist (Misty Copeland). Maybe the real problem is the lack of effective marketing at ABT to "sell" American ballerinas to the audience?

NYC is a strange place, full of immigrants from other lands, who will (sometimes) support their own tribe at the ballet. But are the Russians (and Ukranians) supporting Veronika Part, even though she was a soloist at Mariinsky? Are the Phillipinos supporting Stella Abrera in droves? There is something to the box office and "star" part of the business and we need to examine it further.

Marketing, coaching. All costs money. Perhaps executive management needs also to be put into this picture. McKenzie may only be able to do what the budget allows. Boards, Executive Directors, major donors, etc. All have to be on the same page in order for change to occur. Sometimes it isn't just the Artistic Director who can make change happen.

Link to post

Meanwhile, this Sleeping Beauty seems a wonderful thing... What will Ratmansky revive next? Does McKenzie get no credit for shepherding it?

He does with me! I finally saw it tonight and loved it!

Link to post

I think Kevin McKenzie hasn't really changed. He's been AD of ABT since 1992. The difference was, for many years, his "system" worked because ABT had a roster of stars, with the occasional guest flown in. That's been his system, and to be honest, that's always been the ABT system (except maybe during the Baryshinikov era). What happened in the last few years though is that his roster of stars has retired (Ananiashvilli, Corella, Ferri, Stiefel, Bocca, now Kent), suffered severe injuries that have limited performance (Cornejo, Hallberg), and his new crop of handpicked favorites haven't developed artistically or technically the way the old-generation of ABT dancers did (Boylston, Seo, Stearns, Simkin). Whether that's due to lack of coaching, lack of rehearsal, or just general weakness is anyone's guess. Also, while Diana Vishneva and Roberto Bolle have proved to be pretty stalwart in their commitment to an ABT season, some of the other guest artists for whatever reason have not proved to be that reliable (Osipova, Vasiliev).

Those are really good points. I'd also add Carreno to that retired roster of stars. McKenzie's only handpicked favorite who is currently a star (and who dances regularly) in my opinion, is Gomes. He's about 35 so we probably won't have him around more than another 10 years max. It's bad enough with the retirements of Kent/Herrera/Reyes, but when Gomes retires and if there aren't major newbee's who have sprung up to take his place (hopefully Gorak will be one; I think he will be), they'll have to rely even more on flying in guests. Hopefully, we'll have another roster of stars someday soon (and not just guests flown in for one or two performances), but it's definitely a dry season right now for I'm sure a whole host of reasons. And, that's happened elsewhere too (NYCB), not just at ABT.

Link to post

Those are really good points. I'd also add Carreno to that retired roster of stars. McKenzie's only handpicked favorite who is currently a star (and who dances regularly) in my opinion, is Gomes. He's about 35 so we probably won't have him around more than another 10 years max. It's bad enough with the retirements of Kent/Herrera/Reyes, but when Gomes retires and if there aren't major newbee's who have sprung up to take his place (hopefully Gorak will be one; I think he will be), they'll have to rely even more on flying in guests. Hopefully, we'll have another roster of stars someday soon (and not just guests flown in for one or two performances), but it's definitely a dry season right now for I'm sure a whole host of reasons. And, that's happened elsewhere too (NYCB), not just at ABT.

Forgot Carreno in the list of retired stars.

I'll add another category to the list: aging stars who aren't going to be dancing forever: Gomes, Murphy, Vishneva, Bolle.

Anyway my point is 10 years ago there were the same problems in place, but the audience didn't really notice because hey, Julio Bocca was dancing with Alessandra Ferri. But now McKenzie has the exact same system in place with far fewer returns.

NYCB had an awful dry spell maybe 10 years ago. I remember the days when fans groaned when yet another performance was given to Yvonne Borree, Nilas Martin, Darci Kistler, etc. Peter Martins however cleaned house pretty ruthlessly -- by 2010 most of those dancers (including his wife Darci Kistler) were gone. But the difference is Martins invested wisely in the younger crop of dancers: Tiler Peck, Ashley Bouder, Teresa Reichlen, Sterling Hyltin, Andrew Veyette, Robert Fairchild, etc. So right now even with the retirement of Wendy Whelan and a steady stream on departures (Janie Taylor), side projects (the Fairchilds) and injuries the company isn't crippled the way ABT is.

Link to post

From everything I've read here and from the handful of performances I've seen over the last five years, in terms of stars and up-and-coming stars, NYCB is an embarrassment of riches.

Link to post

From everything I've read here and from the handful of performances I've seen over the last five years, in terms of stars and up-and-coming stars, NYCB is an embarrassment of riches.

One sign of the depth of NYCB's bench is the fact that a number of principals and soloists have effectively been off the roster for a variety of reasons -- star turns in musicals, injuries, maternity leave -- and the casting palette has paradoxically seemed the richer for it. (And I mean no disrespect to the dancers who have been out; they all have roles in which they shine.) NYCB's repertory is an advantage here -- the whole program doesn't fall apart if someone doesn't work out as one of the mixed bill leads, but a barely adequate Giselle or Aurora can make the evening unendurable. Ditto the scale of the Theater Formerly Known as State vs the Met's: it's relatively easier for a young or as yet untried dancer to project in the former, but It takes a real star to fill up the latter. I sometimes convince myself that half of ABT's problems would vanish if it could decamp to a more congenial venue for at least part of its long NYC spring / summer season.

Link to post

I feel a little timid saying this since I know I am an outlier, but the only time Abrera has strongly made the kind of 'ballerina-material' impression on me she regularly makes on her many admirers was when I saw her dance Queen of the Wilis in the Roosevelt auditorium in Chicago. A few weeks later, in the same role at the Met, she did well but (in my eyes) didn't make anything like the same impression....so I tend to agree: The Met is great for grand productions and can be an exciting place to watch ballet, but it seems to have some disadvantages for developing dancers and/or needs principals who can project like so-called stars.

Link to post

I feel a little timid saying this since I know I am an outlier, but the only time Abrera has strongly made the kind of 'ballerina-material' impression on me she regularly makes on her many admirers was when I saw her dance Queen of the Wilis in the Roosevelt auditorium in Chicago. A few weeks later, in the same role at the Met, she did well but (in my eyes) didn't make anything like the same impression....so I tend to agree: The Met is great for grand productions and can be an exciting place to watch ballet, but it seems to have some disadvantages for developing dancers and/or needs principals who can project like so-called stars.

I also sometimes think that if Stella and Sarah were promoted to principal and danced Swan Lake etc season after season their most hardcore fans would forget about them and find another stuck-in-the-soloist-ranks sob story to focus on. ABT audiences are so focused on stars (and who they think should be getting the star treatment) that once the star is promoted to principal, all of a sudden they can't do anything right and it's another soloist who should be getting all the roles. I saw it happen with Michele Wiles -- when she was a soloist people wanted nothing more than for her to be principal. Then when she was principal she had a stiff neck, stiff torso, was uninteresting, etc.

Link to post

One sign of the depth of NYCB's bench is the fact that a number of principals and soloists have effectively been off the roster for a variety of reasons -- star turns in musicals, injuries, maternity leave -- and the casting palette has paradoxically seemed the richer for it. (And I mean no disrespect to the dancers who have been out; they all have roles in which they shine.) NYCB's repertory is an advantage here -- the whole program doesn't fall apart if someone doesn't work out as one of the mixed bill leads, but a barely adequate Giselle or Aurora can make the evening unendurable. Ditto the scale of the Theater Formerly Known as State vs the Met's: it's relatively easier for a young or as yet untried dancer to project in the former, but It takes a real star to fill up the latter. I sometimes convince myself that half of ABT's problems would vanish if it could decamp to a more congenial venue for at least part of its long NYC spring / summer season.

I agree with this. The NYCB rep is much more conducive to a variety of types of dancers with varying degrees of talent in differnt types of roles. The ABT rep of full length warhorses require stars, and ABT's top ranks are so thin that every principal dancer is now required to do almost every type of role - modern, romantic, Petipa classical . That is why the weaknesses of some of ABT's principals become so immediately apparent and exposed. It's also why audience members become angry when dancer X replaces dancer Y on short notice. It is unbearable to watch a dancer you cannot stand for an entire evening of a warhorse ballet. There are many principals at NYCB who would never make it to principal at ABT. And there are some principals at ABT who make you wonder how and why they attained that rank.

Link to post

Is it perhaps due to ABT's financial structure as opposed to NYCB's? NYCB nurtures dances up through SAB and has always done so... ABT now has a school and is training some nice dancers (I'm watching Calvin Royale's career with much interest), but can ABT's international star headliner system accommodate the bridge from unknown to new star? Is it an executive management problem more than an artistic one? Are McKenzie's hands tied by the institution's business plan?

People give Misty Copeland a hard time for her impressive self marketing campaign, but isn't she just taking on the celebrity fostering necessary for an artist to headline ABT? A campaign that ABT seems unable to engage in for its own dancers?

How did Hallberg manage to float to the top? Technique & artistry, of course, he is a treasure! But did something else help? ( honest question)

Link to post

Is it perhaps due to ABT's financial structure as opposed to NYCB's? NYCB nurtures dances up through SAB and has always done so... ABT now has a school and is training some nice dancers (I'm watching Calvin Royale's career with much interest), but can ABT's international star headliner system accommodate the bridge from unknown to new star? Is it an executive management problem more than an artistic one? Are McKenzie's hands tied by the institution's business plan?

People give Misty Copeland a hard time for her impressive self marketing campaign, but isn't she just taking on the celebrity fostering necessary for an artist to headline ABT? A campaign that ABT seems unable to engage in for its own dancers?

How did Hallberg manage to float to the top? Technique & artistry, of course, he is a treasure! But did something else help? ( honest question)

I agree here in many respects. The schooling at SAB for future dancers at NYCB is superior to what ABT has. (at least right now). Rep. on any given night at NYCB can encourage" newbies" to shine, and also allows us, the audience to follow their path upward. (Anthony Huxley and Lauren Lovette are but two recent examples). The Met is too large for many dancers to hold our interest for an entire ballet, and I totally agree that a better venue would be beneficial for all. Sadly, NYC doesn't have such a place that is available while NYCB is also holding down the STate Theater. The Fall Season at the State always shows the ABT dancers to better advantage. And also the rep is more varied there. As to the other question about whether executive management could be a part of the issue, not much is known on that front. (or at least written about here). I would suspect that McKenzie does not operate in a total vacuum.

Not sure about this timing, but didn't Hallberg come to our greater attention when he was dancing with Osipova a few years ago? Of course, we noticed and applauded him before, but that partnership really made him a bigger star. And also the fact that he went to the Bolshoi gave him a greater presence in the media. There were interviews and photos everywhere. Rather like what we're experiencing with Misty. (different reasons, same media build up).

Link to post

For me, the barometer of when Hallberg came to general attention of the public (as opposed to balletomanes who had followed him for years) was when he joined the Bolshoi. There was extensive media coverage regarding that in the mainstream press. My brother, who would never be caught dead at a ballet performance and couldn't care less about the arts in general, asked me if I had heard of Hallberg or seen Hallberg perform after he saw something in the press or a TV news snippet about Hallberg and the Bolshoi.

Link to post

I always have said on this board that, other than diehard ABT fans, a plethora of people aren't going to see dancers like Seo, Boylston, Abrera, Lane, Stearns, etc because people have no idea who they are. Also, dancers like Vishneva or Osipova not only had proper time to grow and coaching, but I can go to Youtube, Amazon.com, Netflix (or other illegal sources...) and see a variety of their performances without leaving my house. I watched a lovely documentary that Vishneva was in called Ballerina on Netflix a few months back. They have a lot of exposure compared to the nil home grown ABT dancers get. And that's not even taking into account things like live broadcasts they're now doing. Hallberg (and on a smaller scale Gomes) would have been in the same boat as them if not for exposure from the Bolshoi. Same with Misty. If not for her media appearances no one would go see her dance.

Link to post

As others have noted, the abysmal PR and marketing plays none too small a role in the company's woes. The late adoption of video (most of which now feels as if it could be a segment on Charlie Rose) and even of certain social media campaigns, the next-to-nil effort to promote homegrown dancers (here, a comparison with NYCB is especially useful), the unchanging design of season brochures (I'd wager that with dancers' names obscured, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish between a brochure released yesterday and one released 10 years ago) contribute to a sense for the uninformed that ABT is staid, stodgy, and unchanging, with the only excitement to come from a star from abroad.

I understand if there may be worries about alienating the core audience base, but ABT's output offstage is embarrassing.

Link to post

I always have said on this board that, other than diehard ABT fans, a plethora of people aren't going to see dancers like Seo, Boylston, Abrera, Lane, Stearns, etc because people have no idea who they are. Also, dancers like Vishneva or Osipova not only had proper time to grow and coaching, but I can go to Youtube, Amazon.com, Netflix (or other illegal sources...) and see a variety of their performances without leaving my house. I watched a lovely documentary that Vishneva was in called Ballerina on Netflix a few months back. They have a lot of exposure compared to the nil home grown ABT dancers get. And that's not even taking into account things like live broadcasts they're now doing. Hallberg (and on a smaller scale Gomes) would have been in the same boat as them if not for exposure from the Bolshoi. Same with Misty. If not for her media appearances no one would go see her dance.

Not many people here know who Obratsova is, but they came out in large numbers to see her Juliet at ABT.

Link to post

If they don't know Obraztsova from her other NY appearances,YouTube,etc., they know she has a Russian last name and is a guest artist. The NY Russian audience certainly knows who she is.

Many people judge quality by t ranking in the program. I'd be rich if I got a nickel each time I heard an audience member cross-reference the program to a roster and express dismay that "She's just a soloist" or "He's only in the corps."

Link to post

To my recollection, Obratsova's only appearance in New York in a lead role was one performance of Little Humpbacked Horse at a Wednesday matinee when the Mariinsky came to NYC several years ago.

Link to post

She has also appeared in galas. She is well known in the NY Russian community, who tend to fill the theater for Russian performers.

She was beautiful in the "Little Humpbacked Horse."

Link to post

To my recollection, Obratsova's only appearance in New York in a lead role was one performance of Little Humpbacked Horse at a Wednesday matinee when the Mariinsky came to NYC several years ago.

I believe she was also in Symphony in C during that tour. I don't remember which movement she danced in, but she was definitely dancing with the other female principals at the end.

Link to post

I believe she was also in Symphony in C during that tour. I don't remember which movement she danced in, but she was definitely dancing with the other female principals at the end.

Yes, that's right. Obraztsova danced in the third movement of Symphony in C two different nights. Those are the only times I have seen her live. I had a companion who loved her in it, but I did not think she was well-suited to the choreography and she seemed to dance behind the music at times (especially the first night). But I do not doubt--based on video, reports/reviews and even just how she looked on stage in Symphony in C--that in the right repertory, I would very much enjoy and admire her dancing. I can picture her in the Ratmansky Sleeping Beauty and hope to see her dance whatever repertory in the future whether with the Bolshoi, the Royal, or ABT.

Link to post

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...