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nanushka

ABT 2017 Onegin

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I don't disagree that the current ABT principal roster has its weaknesses, and I completely understand how people who have been following this company for many years (especially those that lived through the golden era of the 80's to early 2000's) feel those weaknesses much more than I would.   But the way out of this is not through short term one night only guest artists every night, as a few folks on this board seem to yearn for (though I'm not against having one or two per season.)

 

Why would any young talent want to go to a company where they know the chances of promotion are so slim and that outside artists will dance all of the coveted roles? Think of how much ABT has lost from this policy (Jared Matthews, Simone Messmer, Yuriko Kajiya, Sterling Baca, Maria Riccetto to name a few).  No other company in the world operates in such a manner (with guest artists dancing almost more than their own dancers).  And while I understand, as a balletomane, why it was awesome to see these world superstars in NY on a nightly basis, I strongly believe it is one of the reasons why some might see the company as "struggling" right now.  ABT needs to go through some growing pains to get back on track.  

 

I believe I have made my opinion known, so I'll stop posting about it and let it go.  Besides, I'm veering us off topic.

Edited by Kaysta

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57 minutes ago, Kaysta said:

I don't disagree that the current ABT principal roster has its weaknesses, and I completely understand how people who have been following this company for many years (especially those that lived through the golden era of the 80's to early 2000's) feel those weaknesses much more than I would.   But the way out of this is not through short term one night only guest artists every night, as a few folks on this board seem to yearn for (though I'm not against having one or two per season.)

 

Why would any young talent want to go to a company where they know the chances of promotion are so slim and that outside artists will dance all of the coveted roles? Think of how much ABT has lost from this policy (Jared Matthews, Simone Messmer, Yuriko Kajiya, Sterling Baca, Maria Riccetto to name a few).  No other company in the world operates in such a manner (with guest artists dancing almost more than their own dancers).  And while I understand, as a balletomane, why it was awesome to see these world superstars in NY on a nightly basis, I strongly believe it is one of the reasons why some might see the company as "struggling" right now.  ABT needs to go through some growing pains to get back on track.  

 

I believe I have made my opinion known, so I'll stop posting about it and let it go.  Besides, I'm veering us off topic.

I am only going to say this.  Agreed.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

 

Swan Lake is not really representative of what NYCB does. It's always been an awkward fit for the company. If you were to judge NYCB, I'd judge them by their all-Balanchine/Robbins programs.

I so agree canbelto. NYCB at the moment has some of the finest ballerinas in the world - Mearns, Peck, Bouder, Reichlin, Hyltin. BTW Hyltin did the fouettes in the SL that I saw but the main point is that it is not a company priority and full length ballets are not what they are known for. ABT hangs it's hat on traditional, full length story ballet. It's a different animal.

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I know it's off topic but I've always felt that the most "swan like" dancer at NYCB is Ashley Laracey, who in my opinion is better suited for classical rep. Maybe that's why she's been relegated to the soloist roles after all these years. 

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3 hours ago, California said:

That's such a demanding role, does anybody really look like they're near-death? 

 

I think it requires finer calibration than may be immediately apparent. For example, when I saw the National Ballet of Canada's Greta Hodgkinson, she came off the boat looking so decrepit that it was hard to believe she'd make it to the end of the scene, let alone to the end of the act. The requisite technique was there unmistakably, but she'd painted herself into an interpretive corner by appearing too wretched too soon.

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If ABT is going to bring guests, do they all have to be from foreign companies? 

 

Maybe ABT should not have a guest contract with Maria Kotchekova, but with SFB /Joffrey / PNB to bring in a dancer who is healthy and the best match for one of their own dancers?  

 

Imagine if Sarah Van Patten were guesting? Or Carla Korbes?  Or Fabrice Calmels?  

 

The Queensland Ballet has been more successful bringing in guests but only if they suit a company principal as a partner. 

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2 minutes ago, Jayne said:

If ABT is going to bring guests, do they all have to be from foreign companies? 

ABT had Andrew Veyette from NYCB as a guest for Theme and Variations. He brought his A game and was outstanding. Not much press or notice though. Well - there were probably a lot of dancers in the wings. If a dancer from another country had flown in and done as well, I suspect more attention would have been paid.

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3 hours ago, Kaysta said:

I don't disagree that the current ABT principal roster has its weaknesses, and I completely understand how people who have been following this company for many years (especially those that lived through the golden era of the 80's to early 2000's) feel those weaknesses much more than I would.  

:offtopic:From a ballerina point of view I vote for the 70's...(including Kirkland, Makarova, Gregory, Van Hamel, Tcherkassky...go back early enough in the decade and Fracci too). But this perhaps is simply to betray my age.  Still, I couldn't resist saying it...In particular, I loved Kirkland beyond anything I could ever put into words. (I guess she made it into the 80's too, but those were rocky years in her career.)

 

In any number of respects I think the company is in better shape now than it was then. In particular, I think Ratmansky makes ABT interesting in a way it hasn't been for decades.

Edited by Drew

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2 minutes ago, Drew said:

 I loved Kirkland beyond anything I could ever put into words.

 

I really REALLY wish there were more good video of her. I cherish and download everything I've found.

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Patrick Frenette has been quite a prolific and often excellent backstage photographer this year. It's been great to see his work scattered across various IG accounts.

 

He's also really grown as a dancer in just a few years. When he started with the corps he sometimes stood out in the wrong way, and now he almost always stands out in the right way.

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53 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Patrick Frenette has been quite a prolific and often excellent backstage photographer this year. It's been great to see his work scattered across various IG accounts.

 

He's also really grown as a dancer in just a few years. When he started with the corps he sometimes stood out in the wrong way, and now he almost always stands out in the right way.

 

I agree completely! His photos are beautiful and are captured at the perfect moment.

 

I loved him as Wilfred in Giselle. That can really be a throw-away role, but he brought so much depth to it I was continually drawn to him. He has a great presence on stage and fine technique. Hopefully, he'll continue to grow and get better roles.

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1 hour ago, ABT Fan said:

I loved him as Wilfred in Giselle. That can really be a throw-away role, but he brought so much depth to it I was continually drawn to him.

 

I agree -- we've had some really effective Wilfrid's at Pacific Northwest Ballet (William Lin Yee and James Moore, among others) that brought a wonderful sense of pathos to the role, which made their confrontations with Albrecht even more nuanced.

 

Back to the ABT discussion...

Edited by sandik

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21 hours ago, vipa said:

ABT had Andrew Veyette from NYCB as a guest for Theme and Variations. He brought his A game and was outstanding. Not much press or notice though. Well - there were probably a lot of dancers in the wings. If a dancer from another country had flown in and done as well, I suspect more attention would have been paid.

Bringing in Veyette to replace an injured Cory Stearns in Theme was every bit as controversial in its way as the decision to turn American Ballet Theatre into Ardani Ballet Theatre was. Stearns went down weeks before Theme was set to go on. By bringing in Veyette when there was plenty of time to cast and rehearse a ranking soloist (i.e. Jared Mathews), McKenzie was, in effect, saying to his male soloists and corps members that he had no confidence in them. Lo and behold, It was right around this time that Mathews announced he was leaving for Houston Ballet. I can't prove the two events were connected as Mathews' decision to leave may have already been in the works when the Theme decision was made. But I absolutely believe that said decision must have confirmed for Mathews that he was making the right decision. (And then, to add insult to injury, McKenzie gave him that token Giselle w/ Reyes when he had one ballet slipper out the door.)

 

The guest star business is a tricky one because it can have all sorts of consequences independent of how good the incoming guest may be.

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27 minutes ago, miliosr said:

Bringing in Veyette to replace an injured Cory Stearns in Theme was every bit as controversial in its way as the decision to turn American Ballet Theatre into Ardani Ballet Theatre was. Stearns went down weeks before Theme was set to go on. By bringing in Veyette when there was plenty of time to cast and rehearse a ranking soloist (i.e. Jared Mathews), McKenzie was, in effect, saying to his male soloists and corps members that he had no confidence in them. Lo and behold, It was right around this time that Mathews announced he was leaving for Houston Ballet. I can't prove the two events were connected as Mathews' decision to leave may have already been in the works when the Theme decision was made. But I absolutely believe that said decision must have confirmed for Mathews that he was making the right decision. (And then, to add insult to injury, McKenzie gave him that token Giselle w/ Reyes when he had one ballet slipper out the door.)

 

The guest star business is a tricky one because it can have all sorts of consequences independent of how good the incoming guest may be.

 

That was indeed a particularly galling example, I remember. It's one thing to bring in a guest whom otherwise New Yorkers would not have a chance to see or to see in a particular role. It's quite another to bring in one from the other big NYC company to dance a role he already regularly dances (in the context of Tchaikovsky Suite 3) right next door.

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47 minutes ago, miliosr said:

By bringing in Veyette when there was plenty of time to cast and rehearse a ranking soloist (i.e. Jared Mathews), McKenzie was, in effect, saying to his male soloists and corps members that he had no confidence in them. Lo and behold, It was right around this time that Mathews announced he was leaving for Houston Ballet. I can't prove the two events were connected as Mathews' decision to leave may have already been in the works when the Theme decision was made. But I absolutely believe that said decision must have confirmed for Mathews that he was making the right decision. (And then, to add insult to injury, McKenzie gave him that token Giselle w/ Reyes when he had one ballet slipper out the door.)

 

The fact Jared Matthews is from Houston and that he and Yuriko Kajiya (who I also miss) could both be guaranteed to be principal dancers surely had more to do with their choice to move than bringing in Veyette. Matthews was actually getting cast a lot but I think it less likely (though I would have liked it) that Kajiya was going to be made principal at that time...

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9 minutes ago, aurora said:

 

The fact Jared Matthews is from Houston and that he and Yuriko Kajiya (who I also miss) could both be guaranteed to be principal dancers surely had more to do with their choice to move than bringing in Veyette. Matthews was actually getting cast a lot but I think it less likely (though I would have liked it) that Kajiya was going to be made principal at that time...

As I wrote, Mathews' decision to leave may very well have been in train before the Veyette casting was made. But the rightness of the decision had to have been self-evident once McKenzie ignored his own leading soloist(s) in favor of a dancer from the company acress the square.

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Interesting that Sterling Hyltin could do the fouettes in SL easily, and this in a company that doesn't have a lot of them going on in their rep.   (when does she need to practice them?)  But at ABT where they do so many ballets that include fouettes and for a few of the ladies to not be able to accomplish them easily, it seems that something is lacking in the training.  

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17 minutes ago, mimsyb said:

Interesting that Sterling Hyltin could do the fouettes in SL easily, and this in a company that doesn't have a lot of them going on in their rep.   (when does she need to practice them?)  But at ABT where they do so many ballets that include fouettes and for a few of the ladies to not be able to accomplish them easily, it seems that something is lacking in the training.  

My guess is that a lot of women at ABT can do them. The trick is doing them when you're the lead in a full length, along with all the other dancing. In SL you've done the pas, variations and coda in the white act and then pas and variations in the black act before you hit the fouettes. Practice in pacing is needed. One reason I was willing to give Sarah Lane a pass on not completing the fouettes was because she was put in at the last minute, and hadn't done it before. She couldn't have had enough rehearsal time to develop pacing.

 

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Practicing fouettes in a classroom is different from performing them on stage, due to the lighting and spatial awareness, particularly an awareness of the audience out there in the dark auditorium.  You can predict that a problem will arise if the dancer's weight is back, as it is very hard for a dancer en pointe to correct this while turning (I saw this with Skorik in Black Swan a few years ago.)  The darkness of the auditorium can push your weight back and so you need to practice fouettes on stage.  

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On 6/25/2017 at 2:12 PM, Kaysta said:

I'm not trying to be disrespectful here, just trying to understand...

 

If you've been going for many years and have not liked what you've seen, why do you still attend?  Wouldn't it be better to not give money to companies that you think are putting on subpar work?  

 

Good point, I don't plan to attend current in-house principal's performances any more. I was at least trying (actually quite hard this season) given that Vishneva is leaving and I live in NYC.

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2 hours ago, miliosr said:

As I wrote, Mathews' decision to leave may very well have been in train before the Veyette casting was made. But the rightness of the decision had to have been self-evident once McKenzie ignored his own leading soloist(s) in favor of a dancer from the company acress the square.

If Matthews was already planning to leave, then Mckenzie may have seen no point in setting aside rehearsal time so Matthews could learn the role given that the company could get a more or less guaranteed strong lead in Veyette. Not saying that's how it happened--or how it should have happened--just that the situation allows of multiple perspectives. (I leave aside the fact that no-one knows exactly what led to Mckenzie's decision. Well, presumably someone does know--but I certainly don't.)

 

Of course, much better for ABT to hire and develop all the talent it needs...when providence allows at least.

 

 

Edited by Drew

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Agree that fouettes can be totally different in class than on stage.  But if one does practice them in class (a lot), one at least gains stamina for them, and one can come to understand the' mechanics'  of the step. When I was dancing I did them always in class and also every chance I got whenever I could grab a corner of a stage.  While I never had to do them in a ballet, when I got to B'way, I did have to do them there.  Sometimes being really prepared can take the fear out of doing them.    But I also agree that they are even more daunting coming as they do in the coda of "SL".  A lot has come before.  But there is a reason they are in the coda and not at the start of the pas de deux.  It is the supreme test of a ballerina's skills and presentation.  While we may give a "pass" to dancer 'A' or dancer 'B' for whatever reason, still we come away thrilled when they are accomplished  and rightfully so.   

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Dont know if this was already posted but heres a lovely video of Diana's last days with ABT:

 

 

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