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Guest Dancing in the Off-Season


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I'm curious how the many guest appearances that so many dancers participate in, usually between seasons, are arranged for. Obviously the well known dancers receive invites from all over, but is there a network in place soliciting for 'volunteers'? And how does that work? Are soloists expected to do a certain amount of out-of-house work, or is that entirely up to the individual dancer?

This happens to be the time of year for Nutcracker performances, and I see that a great many soloists circulating from country to country performing in regional ballet Nutcracker programs. How are these guest appearances organized?

As an example, the Festival Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker program has the following guest artists (lucky them), performing at least 4 shows each:

Maria Kochetkova – San Francisco Ballet
Tiit Helimets – San Francisco Ballet

Sara Mearns – New York City Ballet
Fabrice Calmels – Joffrey Ballet

Irina Dvorovenko – Former American Ballet Theatre Principal
Maxim Beloserkovsky – Former American Ballet Theatre Principal

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The most common scenario is that dancers go back to where they trained and dance the starring roles, usually the Sugar Plum Fairy/Cavalier Pas de Deux, in school productions. They usually bring their own partners or partner with fellow graduates or people from the area, like Lucien Postlewaite and Melody Mennite in the Bay Area.

Goh Ballet, which is primarily a student show choreographed by Anna Marie Holmes, has had terrific guests since it launched its new production about five years ago. Usually one couple is from Pacific Northwest Ballet, and one year I saw guests from Danish Royal Ballet. In 2011 ABT's Wiles and Stearns guested. In 2014,Chuanyan Yu and Hailing Zhang from China’s Liaoning Ballet danced Snow Queen and King, and Paloma Herrera danced Sugar Plum Fairy. (This article doesn't list her partner.)

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There are also websites that have freelance dancers listed that schools can contact when in need of guests. Sometimes as partners, sometimes for male dancers to partner their students. Also, my husband gets more invitations than he can accept each Nut season and will pass them off to friends that he has danced with over the years. A lot is word of mouth. As everyone knows, the ballet world is ver, very small. For instance, we are right now guesting in a very small town in the northwest and I ran into a friend I danced with 20 years ago in school! It's crazy how ballet is so connected. But to someone who never danced or never grew up in it, I'm sure like it seems like a puzzle how things work!

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San Francisco Ballet's Frances Chung and Carlos Quenedit are guesting in Goh Ballet's "Nutcracker." Chung is an alum of the Goh Ballet School. PNB's Noelani Pantastico and James Moore are the other guest pair.

http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/ballet+alumnus+frances+chung+returns+sugar+plum+fairy/11594493/story.html

Maybe it's just that I'm paying more attention now, but I'm noticing a crazy amount of dancers making international appearances, as well as within US/Canada during this Nutcracker season.

There are also websites that have freelance dancers listed that schools can contact when in need of guests. Sometimes as partners, sometimes for male dancers to partner their students. Also, my husband gets more invitations than he can accept each Nut season and will pass them off to friends that he has danced with over the years. A lot is word of mouth. As everyone knows, the ballet world is ver, very small. For instance, we are right now guesting in a very small town in the northwest and I ran into a friend I danced with 20 years ago in school! It's crazy how ballet is so connected. But to someone who never danced or never grew up in it, I'm sure like it seems like a puzzle how things work!

That's what I was wondering, Fraildove - if it was mainly word-of-mouth, or if there was an organzied network that was helping to distribute soloists to all the various events. Sounds like like things are still pretty much about "who you know". If a dancer isn't good at networking, it's probably more difficult for them to find opportunities - unless they have access to an agent.

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