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4 minutes ago, nanushka said:

This is one particular definition of what constitutes "top." I don't think it's necessarily the only possible definition. What's the justification for requiring "a school and a specific style"? Could there be alternate justifications for not making those a requirement?

A "company" may be constituted and conceived in multiple different, overlapping ways — e.g. the roster of dancers, the physical performances offered to the public in a given period, the school (if there is one), the cohesive style (if there is one), the institutional entity (structural, financial, etc.), the administration and coaching staff, etc. etc. It seems to me that different people will have different opinions as to how those should be weighed and factored in determining which companies are "top." Your definition is one particular response, reflecting one particular set of values.

Because a particular style and school makes the company unique and it usually will bring a specific repertoire. Otherwise it's just a hodgepodge of dancers and the quality of the company relies completely on the roster of dancers in that company at that particular moment. ABT was a "great" company when it had a strong roster of dancers. But it has no particular style or schooling and no repertoire that defines it as its own and no one else's company. 

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3 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I believe the company needs to include at least "Giselle" in its repertoire. And well versed, generally speaking, in the Petipa repertoire. ABT has always been a wonderful world class company. Just look at the array of stars who have been on it since the 40's. Quite unique. It is just that right now its looking very thin, technically speaking.

What??? Giselle is just one Romantic ballet. It's not the be-all and end-all of classical ballet. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Balletwannabe said:

If principal dancers aren't able to execute principal roles why are they pricipal dancers?  At what age is a dancers peak, physically?  Are these dancers too old?  I'm really asking- I'm a new ballet fan.

These are my thoughts on your three questions:

1) The most common reasons a principal dancer can't execute a principal role would be injury and/or age. Perhaps they were once able to execute a role well, but no longer can. There's a certain level of respect that's afforded to senior dancers, and they may be allowed to continue to dance one of their signature roles even after the technical requirements are a bit too much for them. It helps if you are a favorite with audiences or management (I'm thinking of dancers like Julie Kent and Alessandra Ferri). Also, as dancers approach the end of their careers, their artistry/interpretation is often at its height, while their technical abilities may be at their lowest. Sometimes it's possible to overlook the technical flaws when the artistry is superb (this would more often be the case in, say, Macmillan roles than in Petipa, where it's harder to hide technical deficiencies.) 

Also, it's possible a dancer was simply favored by management and was promoted to principal status even if he or she can't really carry off many of the roles. Many on these forums have argued that this is true of dancers like Hee Seo and Misty Copeland. The talent pipeline at ABT has been problematic for the past several years (this is a whole other discussion), so management may have had to promote sub-par dancers because they felt they didn't have any better options. 

2) There's no one answer for when a dancer peaks physically. However, I would say that most dancers who rise to principal rank have their technique together by their early to mid-20s, or even earlier in exceptional cases (like Paloma Herrera, who was a young phenom). Male dancers may need longer to master partnering. I would say that artistry takes longer to develop, and that may be fully developed by the time a dancer is 30 or so (again, there could be exceptional dancers who develop it earlier; I'm sure Ferri was one of them). So, if I had to make a generalization, I'd say most dancers' prime years are approximately age 25 to 35, and that's assuming an injury doesn't end their career prematurely. But there are many, many exceptions to this. Veronika Part comes to mind; I very much enjoyed her artistry from the time she joined ABT, but her technique didn't become consistent until very late -- maybe around age 35 -- after working through technical problems and what seemed to be stage jitters many years. 

3) Is a dancer too old? Sometimes. I think many would argue that Julie Kent (at ABT) and Darci Kistler (at NYCB) were allowed to dance for a few too many seasons before retiring. They simply didn't look good in their roles any longer. But some dancers look great in their early 40s. Roberto Bolle is a freak of nature and still looks great physically and dances beautifully. Nina Ananiashvili also danced superbly into her early 40s at ABT. So, it all depends.

 

I didn't attend last night's performance, but it sounds like the issues were a combination of age and injury. Any time a dancer has to switch legs screams "injury" to me. As has already been discussed in these forums, what would have been Stella's prime years were sacrificed due to a very serious injury (which sidelined her for a couple seasons) and then stagnation in the soloist rank for several years. Also, I don't think her technique was ever as reliable as someone like Murphy or Herrera. She's probably more in the Julie Kent mold, if I had to choose a dancer for comparison, though they are very different artists.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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57 minutes ago, canbelto said:

What??? Giselle is just one Romantic ballet. It's not the be-all and end-all of classical ballet. 

Yes, as I was saying: different priorities, different values, different answers to the question of what makes a top company. I don't mean to suggest it's all completely subjective (and personally I'm a lot closer in line with canbelto's criteria than with cubanmiamiboy's), but just to point out that a statement like "to be top 5, a company must have X and Y" is itself a value judgment, not a definitive and universally accepted rule.

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Just now, nanushka said:

Yes, as I was saying: different priorities, different values, different answers to the question of what makes a top company. I don't mean to suggest it's all completely subjective (and personally I'm a lot closer in line with canbelto's criteria than with cubanmiamiboy's), but just to point out that a statement like "to be top 5, a company must have X and Y" is itself a value judgment, not a definitive and universally accepted rule.

"Definitive and universally accepted" is not even the round earth theory as per today...😋

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I really do not think ABT can be counted among the top 5 ballet companies in the world anymore. Up until 10 years ago - absolutely. Maybe even 5 years ago, but definitely not now.

We can argue about whether a school and a company style are necessary to be counted among the top companies - but in addition to great ballets, great dancers are certainly required and right now ABT does not have the horses. 

Who remembers when ballerinas like Ferri and Annanishvili were regular company members, and ABT's male contingent was the envy of the ballet world? Remember when Carenno, Corella, Bocca, Stiefel, Gomes and Cornejo were all dancing with ABT? They were all great virtuosos, all exceptional artists and, with the exception of Cornejo they were all great partners. Great ballerinas came to ABT because they wanted to dance with them, especially with Stiefel, Bocca and Gomes. 

Now ABT can barely field 2-3 O/Os who can execute the 32 fouettees, let alone perform the white acts with the line, flow and musicality they require. And as we are seeing now they'd have to combine ballerina A's 1st act Giselle with ballerina B's second act to give us one completely satisfying Giselle. And after Cornejo and Simkin the male roster is no better. Who is dying to come to ABT to dance with Stearns or Whiteside?

Unfortunately, with just a couple of exceptions ABT's principle roster now is a study in mediocrity. They definitely are no longer in the top 5 in my book.

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33 minutes ago, nysusan said:

And as we are seeing now they'd have to combine ballerina A's 1st act Giselle with ballerina B's second act to give us one completely satisfying Giselle.

Unfortunately, with just a couple of exceptions ABT's principle roster now is a study in mediocrity. They definitely are no longer in the top 5 in my book.

IMHO, Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin did a completely satisfying Giselle at their Wednesday matinee performance.

I do agree with you that ABT's principal roster is a disaster right now. On the women's side, with Brandt, Trenary, and Hurlin in the wings, and maybe Ogawa and K. Williams, this may work itself out in time, hopefully sooner rather than later. On the men's side, I don't see much happening.

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Have to agree with NYSusan.   ABT is no longer a world class company.  With a few exceptions, they are a very mediocre roster of dancers. There were never half empty houses in the days of Carreno, Corella, Ananiashvilli and Ferri in her prime. 

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35 minutes ago, angelica said:

 On the men's side, I don't see much happening.

Maybe Aran Bell. Let’s see how his Romeo debut goes. 

28 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

Osipova is in the house. Things look good for tonight.

Oh yeah, baby!!  🥂 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, angelica said:

IMHO, Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin did a completely satisfying Giselle at their Wednesday matinee performance.

I do agree with you that ABT's principal roster is a disaster right now. On the women's side, with Brandt, Trenary, and Hurlin in the wings, and maybe Ogawa and K. Williams, this may work itself out in time, hopefully sooner rather than later. On the men's side, I don't see much happening.

Angelica,  I love Lane, I am a big supporter of hers and while I found her 1st act magnificent on Wednesday I was not as enthusiastic about her second act. It was good, certainly but I didn't think it was great and last year it was great. There've been numerous analyses here so I won't rehash it all again, I'll just say that while I thought she was mostly excellent from the waist down I had issues with her upper body.  Head and neck positioning but especially the romantic arm positions fell completely by the wayside. Don't get me wrong, her arms were lovely but they weren't in the romantic style and for the second act of Giselle that is a big no-no in my book. Plus something indefinable was missing.

Contrast that with Hee Seo - whose technique is nowhere near Lane's level - Seo's first act was just ok and while her second act had some issues (low arabesques and jumps) her epaulmant was textbook Romanticism and utterly gorgeous.  For act 2 Giselle I want Lane from the waist down and Seo from the waist up. These are the dilemmas we are faced with today at ABT.

Regarding the future, I have great hopes for Trenary but she will take time to develop. The other dancers you mentioned are all talented but its a long way from being a talented dancer to becoming a great artist and most talented dancers never make it that far.

Edited by nysusan
My apologies for turning Angelica into Angela, edited to correct!

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12 minutes ago, nysusan said:

  Head and neck positioning but especially the romantic arm positions fell completely by the wayside. Don't get me wrong, her arms were lovely but they weren't in the romantic style and for the second act of Giselle that is a big no-no in my book. Plus something indefinable was missing.

Sadly, yes, I noticed the lack of Romantic port de bras in Sarah's Act II (one word from Kolpakova and that is correctable), and yet I was still at the edge of my seat. What I love most about her is that she is small, but she dances large. The amount of space she covers with every step I find thrilling. I tend to prefer dancers with long legs, and yet Sarah's extensions are like an optical illusion, as they keep going higher and higher.

I'm completely with you, though, in your perception that ABT is no longer a world class company. 

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5 minutes ago, angelica said:

 What I love most about her is that she is small, but she dances large. The amount of space she covers with every step I find thrilling. I tend to prefer dancers with long legs, and yet Sarah's extensions are like an optical illusion, as they keep going higher and higher.

Agreed, I love the way she dances.

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Posted (edited)

I agree completely with nysusan. ABT had golden years, I remember seasons that I could barely skip a show, it was literally a star couple dancing  after the next. The level of mediocrity that has taken over the principal roster is frankly devastating, never in my life I thought I would witness such an awful time in this beloved company of mine.....Facts speak by themselves, Osipova/Hallberg's Giselle is being sold out for months, and tickets has been sold at skyrocketing prices...the rest of the shows, half empty house at their best......nothing else need to be said. 

I understand that having all imported star dancers impacts negatively the morale of the company, but going to the opposite extreme, not having even a single star invited for the whole season, especially at this time when the roster is at all-time bottom level of quality, is simple ridiculous. Its not only about the audience, its also about the  knowledge and inspiration that such experiences (dancing next to a world-class dancer) could this bring to the young and rising stars. It should all be about a balance....The casting offered by abt this season is simple at the level of a regional company, as sad as it sounds and there is a clear response from the audience to that. Personally, I have gone from attending 3-4 times a week for years, to barely attend anymore...I am afraid that the artistic direction has made a decision to take the company into this direction, sadly for all abt long time fans, and also for the new generation of ballet lovers. It may be a coincidence, but I have noticed all this took a dramatic change after Rachel Moore departed...... 

Luckily, we have a single world-class level show this year, I never thought it would happen but it did. I got my tickets and will be there tonight. The rest of the season, I ll attend a show here and there, but with little excitement overall. 

Edited by Classic_Ballet

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13 hours ago, angelica said:

From watching many performances of Giselle over the years, I believe that Katherine Williams sets the Gold Standard for bourrees.

Yes, it did. A successful debut. Btw, who did the peasant pdd? From the back of the orchestra, she did not looked like Trenary.

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22 minutes ago, Classic_Ballet said:

I agree completely with nysusan. ABT had golden years, I remember seasons that I could barely skip a show, it was literally a star couple dancing  after the next. The level of mediocrity that has taken over the principal roster is frankly devastating, never in my life I thought I would witness such an awful time in this beloved company of mine.....Facts speak by themselves, Osipova/Hallberg's Giselle is being sold out for months, and tickets has been sold at skyrocketing prices...the rest of the shows, half empty house at their best......nothing else need to be said. 

I understand that having all imported star dancers impacts negatively the morale of the company, but going to the opposite extreme, not having even a single star invited for the whole season, especially at this time when the roster is at all-time bottom level of quality, is simple ridiculous. Its not only about the audience, its also about the  knowledge and inspiration that such experiences (dancing next to a world-class dancer) could this bring to the young and rising stars. It should all be about a balance....The casting offered by abt this season is simple at the level of a regional company, as sad as it sounds and there is a clear response from the audience to that. Personally, I have gone from attending 3-4 times a week for years, to barely attend anymore...I am afraid that the artistic direction has made a decision to take the company into this direction, sadly for all abt long time fans, and also for the new generation of ballet lovers. It may be a coincidence, but I have noticed all this took a dramatic change after Rachel Moore departed...... 

Luckily, we have a single world-class level show this year, I never thought it would happen but it did. I got my tickets and will be there tonight. The rest of the season, I ll attend a show here and there, but with little excitement overall. 

During the golden years mentioned above, those stellar dancers were regular company members, not guest artists.  They were trained all over the world - Cuba, Spain, Russia and so on - but they all worked for ABT as full time principals.

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15 minutes ago, bingham said:

Yes, it did. A successful debut. Btw, who did the peasant pdd? From the back of the orchestra, she did not looked like Trenary.

I believe it was Skylar Brandt yesterday. 

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32 minutes ago, Classic_Ballet said:

Luckily, we have a single world-class level show this year, I never thought it would happen but it did. I got my tickets and will be there tonight. The rest of the season, I ll attend a show here and there, but with little excitement overall. 

I never thought it would happen either, but my gamble didn't pay off. The few remaining tickets for tonight are astronomically expensive and too far away from the stage for me to justify it. So, I will have to experience it vicariously through everyone's reviews (please!). At least I did see this cast in Giselle once a few years ago. 

I do agree that there is a lot of mediocrity being pushed right now, and without going on about it (as I think most of us have already hashed this out in other threads) I am concerned about what's going right now and what will happen in just a few years. Someone mentioned "balance" up thread, and I agree that the AD doesn't seem to understand what that is, in many ways.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, yukionna4869 said:

I believe it was Skylar Brandt yesterday. 

From afar , it did look like her. Thanks.

Edited by bingham

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1 hour ago, abatt said:

Have to agree with NYSusan.   ABT is no longer a world class company.  With a few exceptions, they are a very mediocre roster of dancers. There were never half empty houses in the days of Carreno, Corella, Ananiashvilli and Ferri in her prime. 

Ah the Golden years of Carreno, Corella, Ananiashvilli and Ferri, and might I add Reyes, Herrera, Kent, sure miss them around. I may be the minority here but I had hoped Waski was going to make her debut, I see a lot of potential based on the few times I have seen her dancing. She seems to have an elegant ethereal type of quality that translates well on stage. Wonder what had happened, one day she was listed and the next gone? I think someone from above thread mentioned injury? If so, I do wish her well and have another chance for us to catch her.

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15 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

I never thought it would happen either, but my gamble didn't pay off. The few remaining tickets for tonight are astronomically expensive and too far away from the stage for me to justify it. 

ABT Fan, did you consider standing room? I have had good luck with this. 

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the Peasant Pas de Deux on May 15 was Joseph Gorak and Skylar Brandt - there was a loud-speaker announcement but the chattering crowd largely talked over it.

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1 hour ago, bingham said:

Yes, it did. A successful debut. Btw, who did the peasant pdd? From the back of the orchestra, she did not looked like Trenary.

It was Skylar Brandt. She was splendid, as always.

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1 hour ago, nysusan said:

Angelica,  I love Lane, I am a big supporter of hers and while I found her 1st act magnificent on Wednesday I was not as enthusiastic about her second act. It was good, certainly but I didn't think it was great and last year it was great. cers never make it that far.

I was not able to catch Lane's performance this year. I saw her 2nd one last year (she subbed for Kochetkova) and agree it was great. One of the best I've seen. A problem, I believe, is that she is given so few performances in these roles. Every show takes on a huge importance to a ballet fan and, no doubt, to her. No matter what happens tonight with Osipova, whether she lives up to expectations or not,  she will (and should) be considered a great Giselle. One show won't do much for how she is viewed in the role one way or another.

 

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