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Atlanta Ballet: half the company will be gone

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That's a big change, on multiple levels.  Aside from the new Nut next year, I wonder how this will affect their rep for the 17-18 season.

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I suppose Gennadi is having his Corella moment. Being new to management, he's not going to know all about ways to avoid p.r. and personnel mishaps. It's going to be hard in the beginning.

I find it interesting that the dancers characterize the changes as being very "traditional" classical ballet - Atlanta doesn't do traditional! - or something like that.

"…we were versatile enough to go from contemporary to classical. This turn to pure classical is not what we were told would happen" - I have to wonder what this "pure" classicism could be. My guess at what is really happening is that the Board and Nedvigin are visualizing a company in the mold of MCB, or SFB and ABT. They are thinking big (and I hope they have the funds to actually make a go of it). And the current "versatile" dancers are not deemed to be of the necessary technical and artistic level - 'poetry and personality' aside.

 

EDIT: regarding Sandik's question - the one thing Gennadi has, is many friends at SFB. At the very least I think he could bring in guests to fill roles for short periods of time, and that would at least give Atlanta a sense of the type of dancers he is looking for (and the audience could see some top-tier performers).

Edited by pherank

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Following the travails of Pennsylvania Ballet last year, I had rather been dreading this moment, which I assumed was coming in some form.  If I understand correctly, too, one difference from the situation at Pennsylvania ballet is that all the leading dancers who are departing seem to be doing so under their own steam (that is, they weren't fired). As I understand, they are departing because of their dismay at the direction the company is taking under Nedvigin's leadership. It's an indication of the tensions created by this transitional time in the company's history.

 

 I should add that no-one, including dancers loyal to McFall, denies that McFall made similarly dramatic changes to the company repertory and culture when he came to the Atlanta Ballet.

 

For me, of the dancers who have chosen to leave, Christian Clark and, especially, Alessa Rogers are the most viscerally painful departures. At the time of Mcfall's retirement, Rogers published a warm tribute to him that showed how important he had been to her development and how profoundly she connected with his approach -- I gather she is going to join the Ballet Du Rhin.  Rogers is not simply my favorite ballerina at the Atlanta Ballet, but one of my favorite ballerinas....period.  After this season, I doubt I will see her dance again which--as you can imagine--saddens me. But if I'm ever in Alsace for sure I will be looking up that company!

 

For my taste Kiara Felder's departure is another notable loss...Tara Lee, though leaving, will still be creating a ballet for the company next season.

 

I have long wanted Atlanta to have a more ballet based repertory, but honestly always pictured this as meaning more (neo)classical mixed bills--rather like the upcoming program of Balanchine, Possokhov, and Kylian--not Don Quixote and Act III of Swan Lake, which are currently planned for next year, and which, to be candid, are not terribly exciting to me as Atlanta Ballet offerings.  (I have to admit that I have opportunities to see nineteenth-century repertory with much larger, stronger classical companies outside of Atlanta.  I recognize that not everyone can do that. And presumably the goal is to build Atlanta ballet to be a stronger classical company. Which only happens if you dance the classics.) On the other hand I probably prefer even a struggling Don Quixote to Dracula et. al. which never interested me at all.  

 

In fact, I've taken a pass on some Atlanta Ballet programming over the years and found McFalls's cavalier or, I'm tempted to say, antagonistic relation to the company's Balanchine heritage mystifying. But what these recent changes mean for the wonderful dancers who flourished and grew as artists under McFall's direction is quite different from what they mean to me as one fussy, opinionated ballet fan who happened to land in Atlanta, and it's distressing to read about the pain involved for the dancers.  I hope wonderful futures await all of them. 

 

I should think the situation is even more painful for the dancers whose contracts have not been renewed  -- I wish the best of luck and great careers to all of them.  I had only written a few weeks ago about how much I enjoyed Laura Morton (an apprentice who has not been renewed) in Gemma Bond's Denouement.

 

 

Edited by Drew

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This kind of transition is difficult in the best of situations, and situations are rarely "best."  PNB had a fairly sanguine first couple of years after Peter Boal came in -- luckily for him, there was an increased flurry of donations, so that he could bring in some dancers without having to lay others off.  Over time, there were some stresses, and people left for various reasons, but nothing as dramatic as the situation in Philadelphia or, apparently, Atlanta.

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

For me, of the dancers who have chosen to leave, Christian Clark and, especially, Alessa Rogers are the most viscerally painful departures. At the time of Mcfall's retirement, Rogers published a warm tribute to him that showed how important he had been to her development and how profoundly she connected with his approach -- I gather she is going to join the Ballet Du Rhin.  Rogers is not simply my favorite ballerina at the Atlanta Ballet, but one of my favorite ballerinas....period.  After this season, I doubt I will see her dance again which--as you can imagine--saddens me. But if I'm ever in Alsace for sure I will be looking up that company!

 

If it's any consolation, the Ballet du Rhin pops up on Culturebox from time to time. Perhaps you'll still be able to watch Rogers on film. Granted, I don't know exactly what sort of future awaits that company now that AD Ivan Cavallari is taking over in Montreal. Hopefully the telecasts from Alsace will continue.

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

I should think the situation is even more painful for the dancers whose contracts have not been renewed  -- I wish the best of luck and great careers to all of them.  I had only written a few weeks ago about how much I enjoyed Laura Morton (an apprentice who has not been renewed) in Gemma Bond's Denouement.

 

 

Agreed - it's a difficult job climate for dancers. I'm not as sympathetic towards the "stars" who have chosen to walk away rather than make an attempt to learn new and different things. I have to think they are feeling way outside their comfort zone to make that kind of decision.

 

"I have long wanted Atlanta to have a more ballet based repertory, but honestly always pictured this as meaning more (neo)classical mixed bills--rather like the upcoming program of Balanchine, Possokhov, and Kylian--not Don Quixote and Act III of Swan Lake, which are currently planned for next year, and which, to be candid, are not terribly exciting to me as Atlanta Ballet offerings"

>> I would be very surprised if Gennadi did not offer primarily a mix of neo-classical and contemporary works. Swan Lake acts as a kind of litmus test for a ballet company - the dancers either have the training, techniques and aptitude to dance that kind of work, or they don't. I have to think that he felt the company could pull it off (before the contract announcements even took place). But now he will have to work twice as hard to create a team of soloists for next year. Good luck to Gennadi, and best of luck to all the dancers leaving for other opportunities (we hope).

Edited by pherank

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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

 

If it's any consolation, the Ballet du Rhin pops up on Culturebox from time to time. Perhaps you'll still be able to watch Rogers on film. Granted, I don't know exactly what sort of future awaits that company now that AD Ivan Cavallari is taking over in Montreal. Hopefully the telecasts from Alsace will continue.

 

Thank you -- I had no idea and it is a potential consolation. Earlier this evening I looked up the company's website and their listed programs for the current season seem more like the mix Rogers has been dancing at Atlanta Ballet. Of course that's based on my reading of a website so--take it for what it's worth.

 

I assume another reason for her departure was disappointment at the "suspension" of Wabi Sabi just as she was supposed to take it over from the retiring John Welker. Wabi Sabi is a  summer venture in which Atlanta Ballet dancers organize performances of smaller scale new works throughout the city and in outdoor settings...the botanical gardens and the like.

 

I infer Rogers is committed to contemporary dance, but I feel compelled to add that of all the soloists I saw dance in Nedvigin's staging of the very classical Paquita she (and Nadia Mara who is not leaving) seemed the most successful to me. I loved the musical, gently flowing way Rogers inhabited her variation, the way she built up its phrases so her dancing followed an arc, as if she were telling you a story -- if only the story of a mood. And I don't think this was just "poetry and personality" (a phrase Pherank used above), as she showed a real control throughout which not all of the other dancers could muster.  (My scan of youtube discussions of various Paquita variations suggests Rogers danced one of the variations to music from Le Roi Candaule. But I'm a little out of my depth on such matters.)

 

Whatever Rogers dances she's just a very graceful, authentic dancer.

 

Incidentally, Kiara Felder is going to Les Grands Ballets Canadiens (Cavallari's new company) . . .

Edited by Drew

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Perhaps Rogers should have given the new regime more of a chance, but emotions have to be running high, and people tend to make impetuous decisions under those circumstances. It's good to show respect and loyalty for your teachers and leaders, but those positions always change over time, and it's unfair to blow off the new and incoming programs and assume the worst. It could be that Rogers just does not enjoy classical ballet and is a champion of new contemporary works and wants to spend as much of her remaining career as possible working with contemporary choreographers. It could be nothing more than that.

 

FYI: the "poetry and personality" reference was alluding to this line:

'Dancers have often said McFall viewed them as “visual poets” with their own individual artistry, and he gave them permission to experiment and even bring their own personalities into their performances.'

 

I seriously doubt that Nedvigin does not think of dancers as artists (he is, after all, a dancer himself), but it probably isn't his style to address dancers in the manner described above. And at the larger companies, the ability of dancers to express personality and "experiment" with performances is controlled as much by the choreographers as it is by the Artistic Director. For example, as a hypothetical situation, if a soloist spent time arguing with Yuri Possokhov about how she should be able to "interpret" and "experiment" with the Firebird role to her liking, that may not go over well - especially if the dancer had not proven herself to Possokhov. (I don't think that Possokhov is known for being especially rigid or uncompromising). It isn't good form to argue openly with respected choreographers, or for that matter, mediocre ones, unless they are truly making your life hell. I doubt that Atlanta Ballet is even dealing with that kind of situation right now, but they ARE being presented with some new and different works and situations. Let's hope people will rise to the occasion.

 

EDIT:

I was just adding a comment on a different thread about the Goh Ballet Academy, and I mentioned that SFB's Frances Chung had trained there. This interview with Chung provides an interesting contrast in dancer attitudes -

[A couple of years ago I saw Justin Peck’s Everywhere We Go at New York City Ballet. It was in combination with some other ballets. Very American. It opened my eyes. I know the company is different now than it was ten years ago. Between the dancers and what I observed in terms of dynamic dancing - I’d never seen anything like it. Every Balanchine ballet I approach now is so different than the way I would have even just several years ago. I go on YouTube, I try to do as much research as possible before I dance something. I used to look waist-down a lot more than I do now. For me, what’s more important is waist-up. Generally, we work in class everyday on waist-down - and granted, co-ordination and port de bras [carriage of the arms] is very important. But after class and before going into rehearsals and performances - by the time I’m onstage, I only think about waist-up.”

I asked Frances about the advice she would give an aspiring ballerina today. The hidden challenges that go with ‘you have to give up this if you want to be that’. Or learning how to negotiate with various people if you want to stay on stage and how to deal with a whole lot of temperament.

“You just said it all! I think I’d have advice for one day and something else the next. These days, because I’m here from 9:30 in the morning until 9:30 at night - I have to remind myself ‘it’s just ballet’ and there are a lot of frustrations that come with putting something onstage. Other days, I see young dancers and I see myself when I was young. I specifically remember seeing balletmasters or choreographers at the front of the room telling me I had to get out of my skin and dance as though my life were depending on it. Those things come with experience. But seeing the kids now - it’s that thing of wishing you knew then what you know now.”

...At this point in my career, it’s not too hard to see the end. I think the idea that I can’t do this forever and that I should really enjoy each moment - because I know I’m going to miss it. Helgi came to class one morning and announced that Gennadi was leaving. It was such a shock, I just started balling. Another factor is just knowing that people I’m dancing with, that I have special connections with onstage - that’s not going to last forever either.]

 

Edited by pherank

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I somehow missed this statement on the Atlanta Ballet Website which went up about a day after the departures/non-renewals were announced:

 

https://www.atlantaballet.com/news/the-artistic-vision-of-atlanta-ballet

 

The initial focus is on the company's continued commitment to a varied repertory, followed by mention of departing dancers in particular: 

 

"Each dancer who has shared his or her gift on-stage with Atlanta Ballet has contributed to its legacy, and that gift is irreplaceable. Even though we will miss seeing some of our beloved and well-known dancers’ faces on-stage in future seasons, we respect the decisions of those dancers who have chosen to retire from the profession or express their artistic energy either in a new way or to new audiences in Atlanta and around the world. While it is sad to see any of our dancers go, we appreciate their time with Atlanta Ballet and look forward to following each dancer’s journey after his or her final bow on-stage with the Company."

 

And finally:

 

"Change is an expected and natural reality for any organization  [. . .] Particularly in this industry, the artistic interests of a dancer and the artistic vision of his or her Company must mutually align. Under the direction of Gennadi Nedvigin, Atlanta Ballet’s artistic vision embodies a balanced mix of classical, neoclassical, and contemporary repertoire, which will require versatile dancers who are not only able to perform a variety of works, but who also share the passion and have the desire to perfect their technique in those various dance styles. Even though Atlanta Ballet’s vision for the Company may not perfectly align with some of the current dancers’ creative interests, we wish them all of the best as they transition into their respective next chapters."

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From Drew's link (thank you, Drew).

Quote

Welker said Atlanta Ballet used to be more collaborative. That empowered him to create Wabi-Sabi. Now, he said, the organization is more top-down. He argued that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it's typical in the industry.

 

I can see why dancers who see which way the wind is blowing might choose to leave. Not necessarily because they're refusing to adapt, but maybe it's better to determine your own fate rather than have some new AD announce he had to can you because you don't fit in with His Vision.

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Not a good thing when so much institutional knowledge is lost at once ... Following Robert Gottlieb's characterization of the Joffrey, maybe San Francisco, Joffrey and Atlanta Ballets will share similar repetoire and dancers and aethetic. (As opposed to NYCB/Miami/PNB?)

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22 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

Not a good thing when so much institutional knowledge is lost at once ... Following Robert Gottlieb's characterization of the Joffrey, maybe San Francisco, Joffrey and Atlanta Ballets will share similar repetoire and dancers and aethetic. (As opposed to NYCB/Miami/PNB?)

 

My guess has been that the Atlanta Ballet board is wanting to compete at the level of MCB, as that company has the strongest organization and repertoire in that part of the country, and generally to follow an ABT/SFB type of model in which traditional classical ballets can be performed on a high level, while bringing in the the best of modern and contemporary ballets (and hopefully have new works created on them by leading choreographers). But this approach requires money, money and more money. Atlanta is one southern city with lots of wealth and growth potential - that's the good part. Can the Atlanta Ballet board really raise the necessary funds consistently?

I mentioned previously that Nedvigin may be able to leverage some of his goodwill with SFB - there may even be a few mid-level or Corps-level dancers that would be willing to relocate, who knows? I don't know that it would be so difficult to find 4 principal dancers, as long as they are paid a decent amount (that's the real catch).

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But why create a San Francisco Ballet II with the same dancers and choreographers and programming rather than something unique (:part of Gottlieb's critique of the Joffrey)? Maybe as Sarasota Ballet has done. That said, I've never seen the Atlanta Ballet – though I did enjoy viewing their videos on rehearsing Ratmansky's "Seven Sonatas" – so I don't know their pre-Nedvigin strengths and am just speculating here... It'd be interesting to see a map of US ballet companies with a flow chart of their current influences, similarities and differences. 

 

 

Edited by Quiggin

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To pick up on questions raised above: I think the first pertinent comparison for Atlanta ballet and what it will be is ... what it has been. The homogenization of American companies may be a concern for observers who care about ballet  -- but I think this is likely to be experienced rather differently by people who actually live in a particular city and are concerned with what they can see on a regular basis. And not on DVD. 

 

Of course in its early history, Atlanta Ballet was a Balanchine satellite. Mcfall changed that--and advertized on the company website he had changed that!--and part of what he changed that into was Moulin Rouge, Dracula, The Great Gatsby etc. Even if one cares about that repertory (I don't) much of it did not originate in Atlanta. I have no idea what issues and behind the scenes budget concerns he was facing, but there you have it. 

 

Things got decidedly more interesting in (very) recent years, but a great deal of that energy was directed at contemporary and modern dance (Lopez-Ochoa, Heginbotham, Elo, Pickett, Naharin) though we did get a Tharp premier and one work by Maillot and one by Ratmansky. I suspect from things the company management has said that they heard from a number of fans wanting more of that kind of programming. That is, ballet-based.

 

I will add that this past weekend we saw Atlanta Ballet dance Balanchine for the first time in over a decade: Allegro Brillante -- well staged, enjoyably performed. I hope ballet fans can forgive me if, as someone who actually attends performances in Atlanta, this seems like a very good thing to me, even if the performance wouldn't count as important or impressive in the hometown of New York City Ballet. Or does not represent a unique Atlanta brand.

 

(I do think the company is not unconcerned with the latter issue and the premiers Nedvigin has commissioned so far include works from the company's ballerina-choreographer, Tara Lee, and from choreographers who have not been doing a lot, or anything, in the States; these could be interesting though certainly are not without risk.)

Edited by Drew

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1 hour ago, Quiggin said:

Following Robert Gottlieb's characterization of the Joffrey, maybe San Francisco, Joffrey and Atlanta Ballets will share similar repetoire and dancers and aethetic. (As opposed to NYCB/Miami/PNB?)

I appreciate Gottlieb's concern, but the one element overlooked in these discussions is the typical audience. How many people who attend regional companies have the means and the time to see other companies on a regular basis? There is very little touring nowadays, thanks to the demise of NEA support from earlier decades, and precious little on PBS. Yes, DVDs exist in abundance, but to see a dance company live in the theater is special. I don't know if the data exist, but I have to wonder how many audience members in cities like Kansas City or Denver or Atlanta or...anything other than New York...have ever seen or will ever see NYCB or ABT or international companies visiting NYC and the Kennedy Center. A few people (including many on this board!) are fortunate to be able to jump on airplanes several times a year to see other companies, but what percentage of the national audience is that? Miniscule, I'd guess. I'd much prefer that these audiences around the country see a little Petipa, a little Balanchine, something contemporary, something experimental - than worry about regional companies having a unique and special identity that would make the NYC critics happy!

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1 hour ago, Quiggin said:

But why create a San Francisco Ballet II with the same dancers and choreographers and programming rather than something unique (:part of Gottlieb's critique of the Joffrey)? Maybe as Sarasota Ballet has done.

 

 

 

I'm not suggesting that they should 'recreate' MCB or SFB, but that they are likely to follow the same model for repertoire and organizational style. Even if 2 dancers left SFB and went to Atlanta, that would not in any way be a recreation of the SFB experience. It would still be something new and different, for better or worse.

 

14 minutes ago, California said:

I appreciate Gottlieb's concern, but the one element overlooked in these discussions is the typical audience. How many people who attend regional companies have the means and the time to see other companies on a regular basis? There is very little touring nowadays, thanks to the demise of NEA support from earlier decades, and precious little on PBS. Yes, DVDs exist in abundance, but to see a dance company live in the theater is special. I don't know if the data exist, but I have to wonder how many audience members in cities like Kansas City or Denver or Atlanta or...anything other than New York...have ever seen or will ever see NYCB or ABT or international companies visiting NYC and the Kennedy Center. A few people (including many on this board!) are fortunate to be able to jump on airplanes several times a year to see other companies, but what percentage of the national audience is that? Miniscule, I'd guess. I'd much prefer that these audiences around the country see a little Petipa, a little Balanchine, something contemporary, something experimental - than worry about regional companies having a unique and special identity that would make the NYC critics happy!

 

I agree, California - each of these companies has some responsibility in presenting the audience with the idea of what ballet is, and can be. And ballet is one art form where tradition and history are ultra-important, and actually are part of the fun, if not used to turn a company into a "museum piece". By all means, show the people of Georgia some Petipa, Ballet Russes, Balanchine, Robbins, Cunningham, Martha Graham, AND Pite, Peck, Tharp, Kylian, Bausch, etc.

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5 minutes ago, California said:

I appreciate Gottlieb's concern, but the one element overlooked in these discussions is the typical audience. How many people who attend regional companies have the means and the time to see other companies on a regular basis? ...

 

As someone who doesn't have the means to travel much these days, I can understand that.  I trying to think of a way to encourage differences between company philosophies so that everything doesn't begin to look like everything else. Whether in cooking or literature or art it's good to have regional differences even if each of us doesn't get to sample all of them.

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19 minutes ago, pherank said:

 

I'm not suggesting that they should 'recreate' MCB or SFB, but that they are likely to follow the same model for repertoire and organizational style. Even if 2 dancers left SFB and went to Atlanta, that would not in any way be a recreation of the SFB experience. It would still be something new and different, for better or worse.

 

I meant that overall situation with artistic director, some dancers and choreographer – structurally parallels that which Gottlieb pointed out about the Joffrey –

 

Quote

The Joffrey’s artistic director is the British Ashley Wheater, another graduate of the San Francisco Ballet, where he was ballet master, then assistant artistic director. So it’s no surprise that the Joffrey repertory echoes San Francisco’s, with its somewhat old-fashioned Euro-slant and the overall unexciting uniformity of its dancers—only without San Francisco’s occasional starry presences.

 

What was exciting about Miami, San Francisco and PNB fiften years ago was that you could see three different regional inflections of Balanchine/Robbins works – Villella's jazzy take, Tomasson's purity (Croce said his grasp of style had "an almost moral tenacity"), and Kent Stowell and Francia Russell's cool crisp version. And it still is in the case of Ratmansky done by ABT and SFB (with Simone Mesmer in both versions of Shostakovitch Triology) and next year with SFB doing Peck's Rodeo.

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On the repertory front, I think it is way too early to assume that we won't see a balance of the familiar and distinctive--or as the company's website says the "local, regional, and international" from Nedvigin's leadership -- with the difference that he is more committed to ballet tradition as the 'baseline' for the company than McFall was and also, I infer, less drawn to the "pop" ballets that always seemed to me the culinary equivalent of fast food rather than regional cuisine. I do completely agree with the point made above by Pherank that to do what Nedvigin and the board seem to want to do will require generous, far-sighted donors.
 

The question of stylistic inflection is more complex and I can't speak to it in this context except maybe to add how exciting it was for me to see Farrell's Company dance Balanchine this past fall--definitely distinctive and really exciting.  So I very much appreciate that interest in different approaches/philosophies. But Atlanta Ballet has been dancing a great deal more modern choreography and a great deal less classical choreography than the companies mentioned. There will be a number of new dancers next season too...we will see what emerges. My first point of comparison is not likely to be other companies, but how Atlanta Ballet has been dancing in past seasons.

 

Perhaps worth saying the obvious: I'm one audience member. When we have a thread about San Francisco ballet...well, lots of people participate who have been watching them for years and, as the saying goes, mileages vary. 

 

And...on the subject of mileages varying: Gottlieb's dismissiveness towards San Francisco Ballet's repertory and dancers may be vintage Gottlieb, but I don't see it as the last word on that subject. 

Edited by Drew

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22 minutes ago, Drew said:

And...on the subject of mileages varying: Gottlieb's dismissiveness towards San Francisco Ballet's repertory and dancers may be vintage Gottlieb, but I don't see it as the last word on that subject. 

 

Sadly (only) for Misters Gottlieb and Macaulay, it never will be. ;)

 

A regional ballet 'aesthetic' is going to be a very difficult thing to control or 'implement'. At the same time, I'm not sure it's something that can be worried about, because, like culture, it just develops around a group of humans. Taking three previously mentioned companies as an example - does anyone really get confused as to whether they are watching MCB or ABT or SFB? Each company manages to be distinct in look and feel.

 

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5 hours ago, Quiggin said:

 It'd be interesting to see a map of US ballet companies with a flow chart of their current influences, similarities and differences. 

 

 

That would indeed be interesting -- a good idea for a new thread.

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On ‎4‎/‎16‎/‎2017 at 7:01 PM, Quiggin said:

But why create a San Francisco Ballet II with the same dancers and choreographers and programming rather than something unique (:part of Gottlieb's critique of the Joffrey)? Maybe as Sarasota Ballet has done.

 

On ‎4‎/‎16‎/‎2017 at 7:51 PM, California said:

I'd much prefer that these audiences around the country see a little Petipa, a little Balanchine, something contemporary, something experimental - than worry about regional companies having a unique and special identity that would make the NYC critics happy!

 

On ‎4‎/‎16‎/‎2017 at 8:15 PM, pherank said:

By all means, show the people of Georgia some Petipa, Ballet Russes, Balanchine, Robbins, Cunningham, Martha Graham, AND Pite, Peck, Tharp, Kylian, Bausch, etc.

I think both things can be true: That the guys (and they're mostly guys) running these companies are coalescing too much around the same mean (Ratmansky and Wheeldon and Scarlett and Peck and Millepied) but your typical regional audience won't know that they're seeing a very pinched idea of what dance can be. That to me was the implication of Robert Gottlieb's criticism of Ashley Wheater's stewardship of the Joffrey Ballet: namely, that he's turned his back on the very unique repertory that Robert Joffrey brought to the company. (I'm talking now of the Joffrey that used to perform, say, Massine's Le Tricorne and Ashton's Monotones.) That repertory is what made the Joffrey unique. Now, it's just another company performing largely the same repertory as everybody else.

 

What makes Sarasota Ballet such an exciting story is that they've focused in on one particular thing: Frederick Ashton. Who would have ever dreamed that a revival of the Ashton repertory and performing style would occur in Sarasota, Florida in the 21st century? (To a lesser extent, you can say the same thing about Suzanne Farrell programming Maurice Bejart as a counterpoint to her main focus on George Balanchine or even Helgi Tomasson programming Serge Lifar's Suite en blanc several seasons ago.)

Edited by miliosr

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I think Ashton is putting Sarasota on the map, but they do other things as well. They have done Ballets Russes programming, Balanchine, Robbins, De Valois, Tudor, highlighted one of their own dancer's choreography, etc.

 

But, yes, Ashton does seem to be what is getting them "buzz" around the nation (and possibly world), and I have enjoyed the Ashton ballets I have seen there. I think Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri care deeply about Ashton and strive to do justice to his ballets.

 

I am not sure putting all your eggs in one basket usually works, and that is why companies try to have a variety. I think specializing in one area but also doing other ballets is the "safe" thing to do.

 

 

 

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