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Roster in Review - 2016 Edition


miliosr

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Since the individual 2016 Met production discussions are featuring a lot of discussion about the company's ranks, I've created a separate thread to discuss just that.

I've carried over this thought from the Romeo & Juliet thread:

For many dancers soloist is the destination and they know it.

I would agree although even making soloist is probably an illusory hope for many of them. For the male corps dancers, I've read posts this Met season lobbying for Sterling Baca, Gray Davis, Blaine Hoven, Daniel Mantei, Cameron McCune, Calvin Royal III, Gabe Stone Shayer, Sean Stewart and Marshall Whiteley to be given more to do/promoted to soloist. (You also have the case of Simon Wexler, who left Texas Ballet Theater as a principal to join the corps at ABT. Who knows what promises have been made to him?) They all can't make soloist. Oddly enough (given that he's leaving at the end of the season), Baca's long-term chances were very high given the situation with David Hallberg (who knows if he'll be back?) and Marcelo Gomes (aging and retiring roles).

In any event, I hope I can prevail on our fellow board member, Faux Pas, to do another one of Faux's superb "roster-in-review" overviews at the end of the 2016 Met season!!!

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I would agree although even making soloist is probably an illusory hope for many of them. For the male corps dancers, I've read posts this Met season lobbying for Sterling Baca, Gray Davis, Blaine Hoven, Daniel Mantei, Cameron McCune, Calvin Royal III, Gabe Stone Shayer, Sean Stewart and Marshall Whiteley to be given more to do/promoted to soloist. (You also have the case of Simon Wexler, who left Texas Ballet Theater as a principal to join the corps at ABT. Who knows what promises have been made to him?) They all can't make soloist. Oddly enough (given that he's leaving at the end of the season), Baca's long-term chances were very high given the situation with David Hallberg (who knows it he'll be back?) and Marcelo Gomes (aging and retiring roles).

In any event, I hope I can prevail on our fellow board member, Faux Pas, to do another one of Faux's superb "roster-in-review" overviews at the end of the 2016 Met season!!!

Nice topic (not just saying that because of where you got the idea!).

I agree that even making soloist is sadly not going to happen for many, although you never know. Roman Zhurbin seemed to me one of those dancers who would do featured character roles (and very occasionally dancing ones) and never be rewarded with soloist status.

Of the male soloists I see 3 groups: Terminal Soloists, Probable Principals and Unclear

TS:

  • Zhurbin
  • Salstein
  • Scott* (less sure on Scott but I see him taking over many of Salstein's roles. Short and w/o the extra something to make him necessary as principal)

PP:

  • Gorak (next to make principal)
  • Cirio

U:

  • Hammoudi--has been given many principal roles, but does not seem up to them. Probably belongs in PP, but having seen him in Swan Lake this season hope he is not promoted
  • Forster (only been soloist a year--too soon to tell)

It is much harder to say on the female soloist side as most of them are relatively new to the rank except for Sarah Lane. At this stage I'd say none are ready for promotion except Lane but I don't think it is going to happen. The only woman in the soloist category that seems to be a clear terminal soloist is Luciana Paris who has done many featured roles for years and was finally rewarded last year with soloist status. I don't foresee her becoming principal at this point.

Of the dancers you brought up in the corps: Blaine Hoven has been doing many soloist roles for years and is in good form. I would expect him (at this age) to be a terminal soloist but he deserves the rank and I hope he gets it. Calvin Royal and Gabe Stone Shayer have also been doing a lot of soloist parts the last few seasons and I think they do as well. I'd like to see some of the others do more but they are doing the work and excelling it in, I'd like them to get the credit (as it were).

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Hammoudi--has been given many principal roles, but does not seem up to them.

I feel like management really wants to make him a principal but Hammoudi never quite digs in and makes the case for himself.

Blaine Hoven has been doing many soloist roles for years and is in good form. I would expect him (at this age) to be a terminal soloist but he deserves the rank and I hope he gets it.

There was a big push with Hoven about a half dozen years ago and I thought he was on track to becoming a soloist. But then the reports came in about inconsistency on stage and he fell back with the pack. But this season, he's back again and doing principal roles. I expect him to make soloist and then probably have a John Gardner kind of career for the rest of his time at ABT.

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At this point, the male solo bravura rep seems well covered (Scott, Simkin, Cirio, Gorak, Salstein, and Cornejo). As they have Mercutios/Bluebirds/Alis for days, I can't imagine McKenzie promoting any man at this point who isn't a demonstrably good, *consistent* partner (regardless of his height or dramatic prowess).

Despite their heights, Cirio and Shayer are the only up-and-comers I've heard praised recently in that respect. (Hoven was consistently solid, as a partner when I saw him in the fall... but I haven't seen him this spring.)

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Don't forget about Lendorf! He's a better partner than any dancers (Scott, Simkin, Salstein, etc) mentioned above and can dance the bravura roles very well. He can actually partner up with Murphy so she will finally get a partner who is as good as she... other than Marcelo of course.

Also he's still 26-27. I just hope that his inclusion to ABT is still permanent after his injury break.

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I forgot to mention Brandt and Teauscher who performed wonderfully throughout this season. Teauscher in particular has been very consistent this season. I really enjoyed her as flower girl and Gulnare. Neither dancers are that great at acting just yet but I'm sure they will make some improvements once they get more experience on stage and proper coaching.

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A problem with ABT and giving opportunities to dancers, is the number of full length ballets they do. At NYCB many performances are rep of 3 or 4 ballets. In one performance you see maybe 6 to 8 principals, a number of soloists and corps member thrown into this or that. At ABT if you put promising corps members in Swan Lake pas de trois you are taking the opportunity from soloists desperate to dance. Then once those corps members have that opportunity where does it take them? I've know many dancers who've moved to "lesser" companies for the opportunity to dance. If you can go elsewhere and do Balachine, Forsythe, etc. and just dance more, why would you stay at ABT? SFB, PNB, Boston Ballet would all be more attractive to a lot of dancers than ABT. Think about the weeks of Romeo and Juliet and The Golden Cockerel - how many people really dance?

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A problem with ABT and giving opportunities to dancers, is the number of full length ballets they do. At NYCB many performances are rep of 3 or 4 ballets. In one performance you see maybe 6 to 8 principals, a number of soloists and corps member thrown into this or that. At ABT if you put promising corps members in Swan Lake pas de trois you are taking the opportunity from soloists desperate to dance. Then once those corps members have that opportunity where does it take them? I've know many dancers who've moved to "lesser" companies for the opportunity to dance. If you can go elsewhere and do Balachine, Forsythe, etc. and just dance more, why would you stay at ABT? SFB, PNB, Boston Ballet would all be more attractive to a lot of dancers than ABT. Think about the weeks of Romeo and Juliet and The Golden Cockerel - how many people really dance?

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This gets close to the heart of the issue. The other companies mentioned all have close ties to Balanchine and City Ballet. Their structure is completely different than ABT's. But there is a place for ABT precisely because of these differences -- and I say that as someone more in the City Ballet camp. ABT's Spring season full length classical rep provides a valuable contribution to the domestic scene. I think the problem is more a fall off in quality. They have relied on imported stars for years and if they are going to stop that practice there is going to have to be a difficult transitional period. Personally I felt the stars also made a valuable contribution to the domestic scene. Others disagree, I know. I'm not saying that is the only problem this season or with the company from an institutional perspective. It will be interesting to see what the company does next spring, and also how Ratmansky's role evolves.

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If you can go elsewhere and do Balanchine, Forsythe, etc. and just dance more, why would you stay at ABT? SFB, PNB, Boston Ballet would all be more attractive to a lot of dancers than ABT.

It isn't everyone's dream to dance Balanchine or Forsythe (or Wheeldon or Peck or Scarlett or McGregor.) There are plenty of people who want to dance the great multi-act classics on a big stage (literally and figuratively.) That most of the dreamers won't make principal doesn't make the dream any less legitimate or worth attempting.

Also, it isn't a one way street between ABT and the other companies, at least on the male side. Ethan Steifel left the New York City Ballet to dance the classics at ABT. More recently, James Whiteside left a principal position at Boston Ballet in 2012 to become a soloist at ABT. (He would become a principal one year later.) This past summer, Jeffrey Cirio left a principal position at Boston Ballet to become a soloist at ABT and Simon Wexler left a principal position at Texas Ballet Theater to become part of the corps (!). Perhaps part of the attraction to ABT is precisely because the competition to make principal is so intense?

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It isn't everyone's dream to dance Balanchine or Forsythe (or Wheeldon or Peck or Scarlett or McGregor.) There are plenty of people who want to dance the great multi-act classics on a big stage (literally and figuratively.) That most of the dreamers won't make principal doesn't make the dream any less legitimate or worth attempting.

Also, it isn't a one way street between ABT and the other companies, at least on the male side. Ethan Steifel left the New York City Ballet to dance the classics at ABT. More recently, James Whiteside left a principal position at Boston Ballet in 2012 to become a soloist at ABT. (He would become a principal one year later.) This past summer, Jeffrey Cirio left a principal position at Boston Ballet to become a soloist at ABT and Simon Wexler left a principal position at Texas Ballet Theater to become part of the corps (!). Perhaps part of the attraction to ABT is precisely because the competition to make principal is so intense?

I believe there all different reasons for people making changes in their careers. As for Simon Wexler, TBT is an unranked company. Yes, he was dancing principal roles, but I think the chance of a "title" makes going to a ranked company more attractive. As for Whiteside, if you go back to one of his initial interviews with ABT, he said he had the best of both worlds, having danced Forsythe, Kylian, Balanchine, etc. at Boston, and going to ABT to dance the classics. He also states that ABT was always a dream of his. I think it might be similar for Cirio, in addition to getting too comfortable:

http://pointemagazine.com/inside-pt/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go/

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Something we should also remember is that ABT dancers, even corps members, likely make more money than dancers at many other companies (just like NYCB dancers). Also, the allure of living in NYC, a great arts city, is probably very great, as well as being able to travel on bigger international tours and national tours. Many long standing corps members may feel those perks outweigh other regional companies, even if they may have more access to principal roles at them.

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There are so many reasons why a particular dancer might or might not want to dance at ABT, including the options available to him or her. I wonder though, whether other companies with a lot of full lengths also feature so many of the same dancers in so many of the productions. My occasional glance at Russian company schedules suggests to me that some of the principals, even the major ones, may not dance quite as often in them. Is that correct?

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My point being that perhaps some of the principals could dance the leads in fewer ballets which would give some of the up and comings more opportunity. It would be a departure but it might actually also increase ticket sales. The original Ratmansky ballets in ABT's rep, as opposed to his revivals, also tend to have a good number of major roles. They are of course more on the mixed bill model.

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There are so many reasons why a particular dancer might or might not want to dance at ABT, including the options available to him or her. I wonder though, whether other companies with a lot of full lengths also feature so many of the same dancers in so many of the productions. My occasional glance at Russian company schedules suggests to me that some of the principals, even the major ones, may not dance quite as often in them. Is that correct?

This seems to be an issue in many companies, no matter the repertory. At Pacific Northwest Ballet, the standard run for a rep show is seven performances. (there's often a school matinee as well, but not always). I hesitate to generalize, since the reality of casting is often all over the map, but if you've got 3 casts, two of them get two turns, and one gets three. (or often, two of them get three turns, and one gets only one). If this is a ballet that they've done before, one (or maybe two) of those casts will be coming back to the parts and getting a chance to build on what they already know about the work, while the others will get their first go at it. And often they'll teach a ballet to a cast who isn't scheduled to perform at all, thinking that the next time the work comes around, those dancers will already have a head start.

But when you're talking about a ballet like Swan Lake or Giselle, with a complex emotional arc as well as significant technical challenges, this is barely enough time to scratch the surface.

But even in a company like PNB, with a smaller roster than SFB or ABT, you've got conflicting needs. You want to showcase people who are at the top of their skills, while you nurture the next generations. You need to sort out who you have, what they're really suited for, and how that fits what you need at the time (not to mention what you think you'll need in the future).

At PNB, we've had a couple years with several principal and solo dancers taking maternity leave and/or on hiatus because of injury, which has meant that a number of dancers have had opportunities to step into roles they might otherwise have had to wait a bit for. They have almost all done really well, and would be expected to want to keep moving along, even though the dancers on hiatus have been returning -- casting all of them, and finding performances for all of them must be an even bigger than normal challenge.

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ABT at one time had both longer tours and more rep nights (yes I am old). That combination naturally gave more opportunities to up and coming dancers. Having more rep didn't mean ties to Balanchine, as is sometimes suggested. I remember seeing works by Tudor, Ailey, DeMille, Feld, Tetley, Lubovitch, Ashton, Lichine and others. Often there would be a splashy pas de deus thrown into an evening. I'm not saying it was perfect or that everything was great, just that the company has moved to more story ballets and less rep while having a reduced tour schedule, and this presents difficulty in terms of developing dancers.

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ABT at one time had both longer tours and more rep nights (yes I am old). That combination naturally gave more opportunities to up and coming dancers. Having more rep didn't mean ties to Balanchine, as is sometimes suggested. I remember seeing works by Tudor, Ailey, DeMille, Feld, Tetley, Lubovitch, Ashton, Lichine and others. Often there would be a splashy pas de deus thrown into an evening. I'm not saying it was perfect or that everything was great, just that the company has moved to more story ballets and less rep while having a reduced tour schedule, and this presents difficulty in terms of developing dancers.

I too remember those years. It's one of the reasons I started watching ABT. Yes, not all the ballets offered were stupendous, but because there was so much diversity, the dancers became so well rounded in terms of having so many choreographers' works to dance. And more dancers got to show their "stuff". Now we may see a "Rodeo" now and again. "Fancy Free" shows up also, as does the occasional Tudor. But with so few performances a slight few get to dance the roles and then these ballets disappear again for several years (or forever). There's no continuity to build on and get better. Dancing a role once, maybe twice, doesn't allow for growth, either technically or emotionally. One just doesn't "pick up where one left off" and dance a credible Tudor ballet. It takes time. I too love many of the story ballets, and I am also grateful for any offering of Ashton's work that ABT gives us. But I do wish that ABT weren't so reliant on the "biggies" for monetary benefit. And I wish it didn't have to play the Met. I sometimes wonder if NYCB had had to dance at the Met all these years instead of the wonderful State Theater, it would look as great as it does. I think, at times, having to give the rep it has to give at the Met is a real downer for the ABT. Sadly, NYC doesn't seem to be able to offer a better alternative.

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From Calvin Royal's Instagram:

"It's my last week of shows in NYC for the 2016 Spring Season with ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House. Looking back on so many incredible moments onstage and off. I'll carry them with me into the next chapter of performances on new stages in the near future. Exciting things to come!"

I hope those last few sentences aren't a suggestion that he's leaving ABT!

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From Calvin Royal's Instagram:

"It's my last week of shows in NYC for the 2016 Spring Season with ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House. Looking back on so many incredible moments onstage and off. I'll carry them with me into the next chapter of performances on new stages in the near future. Exciting things to come!"

I hope those last few sentences aren't a suggestion that he's leaving ABT!

That would be very sad, as he is, in my opinion, poised for a promotion.

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Oh no, it appears from those words quoted above that Calvin is leaving. To me, the words "next chapter" indicate a departure. How awful. I hope we are all misreading his meaning. However, a friend did notice that Royal had tears in his eyes at the curtain calls of an R&J this week. With the departures of Baca and (perhaps) Royal, the folly of McKenzie's policies are coming to fruition. How do you leave so many talented people to rot in the corps for so long? I guess this potentially improves Blain Hoven's chance to move up to soloist.

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Oh no, it appears that Calvin is leaving. How awful. With the departures of Baca and Royal, the folly of McKenzie's policies are coming to fruition. How do you leave so many talented people to rot in the corps for so long? I guess this potentially improves Blain Hoven's chance to move up to soloist.

It could be that he means performing as a guest this summer. I know he is going to Vail. And the company will be going to Paris. Perhaps he is referring to those?

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From Calvin Royal's Instagram:

"It's my last week of shows in NYC for the 2016 Spring Season with ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House. Looking back on so many incredible moments onstage and off. I'll carry them with me into the next chapter of performances on new stages in the near future. Exciting things to come!"

I hope those last few sentences aren't a suggestion that he's leaving ABT!

I don't think this means he is leaving. He does a decent amount of guesting (Daniil Simkin's Intensio, Gemma Bond's pick up company, Vail, others) so I think he's alluding to a full summer of performing in new places, including ABT on tour. (I don't know if Intensio and Bond's troupes will be touring this summer and that he'll be with them; I'm just stating the other troupes that he's performed with recently, other than ABT.)

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From Calvin Royal's Instagram:

"It's my last week of shows in NYC for the 2016 Spring Season with ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House. Looking back on so many incredible moments onstage and off. I'll carry them with me into the next chapter of performances on new stages in the near future. Exciting things to come!"

I hope those last few sentences aren't a suggestion that he's leaving ABT!

Wow. Sad...unless he may be coming here to DC! :)

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