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ABT 2019 Met Season


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Swan Lake's Purple von Rothbart's have now been cast, and as a first, no principals. Long time corps dancer, Jose Sebastian, gets a debut (2 shows). The rest are split amongst Forster, Hammoudi, Royal.

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6 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

Swan Lake's Purple von Rothbart's have now been cast, and as a first, no principals. Long time corps dancer, Jose Sebastian, gets a debut (2 shows). The rest are split amongst Forster, Hammoudi, Royal.

After being quite impressed by Hammoudi's performance in On the Dnieper — and not having been impressed by the performances I've seen from him for a number of years now — I'll be curious to see how he handles his Act III solo.

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I wonder if the men are feeling a bit like it’s one long audition season. Clearly ABT needs more full time principal men and there is a bit of a bottleneck at the soloist level. 

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The soloist men at ABT don't really get the type of lead roles that one would associate with a test for promotion to principal.  Aran Bell, however,  seems to be the one to watch, as he is doing the lead in SL and SB this season.  He seems to be due for a promotion to soloist ASAP.   

 

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1 minute ago, abatt said:

The soloist men at ABT don't really get the type of lead roles that one would associate with a test for promotion to principal.  Aran Bell, however,  seems to be the one to watch, as he is doing the lead in SL and SB this season.  He seems to be due for a promotion to soloist ASAP. 

Yes, judging by casting, they seem to have decided that most of the current soloist men aren't going to move up (with Royal as the most likely exception), which means corps men will have to get two promotions before the male principal ranks start getting filled, at least from within the company. It's kind of baffling how this has all been handled over the past 5+ years.

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I guess that’s what I was trying to get at when I said there was a bottleneck. Corp members can’t leapfrog over the soloist position, but there are already plenty of male soloists. If none of them are promoted to principal then what happens? Can they just swell the ranks of male soloists for a few years?

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At a presentation/rehearsal for donors a few weeks ago, I'm told that McKenzie bragged that he gives people in the corps chances at lead roles.  While that's true, it's only because the company  has so few men in the middle and upper ranks who are entrusted with lead roles on a regular basis.   Mismanagement is nothing to brag about.

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In my opinion, soloist Joseph Gorak needs to leave ABT for HIS OWN SAKE.  He is being criminally wasted and neglected.  I personally think that Gorak would be a wonderful addition to the New York City Ballet roster - in the past NYCB poached Charles Askegard and Joaquin de Luz from ABT.   Gorak has two deficiencies that have obstructed his progress at ABT - lack of acting ability (and heroic stage presence) and weakness in partnering.  With the NYCB repertory there is little acting required for the majority of the repertory and he would have better coaching on partnering than what Keith Roberts has been able to give Gorak at ABT.  The other option for Gorak is to decamp for San Francisco Ballet where he also would be a good fit.

That would open up one soloist spot.

Wendy Whelan and Jonathan Stafford if you are reading this...   Give him a call.

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2 minutes ago, AB'sMom said:

I guess that’s what I was trying to get at when I said there was a bottleneck. Corp members can’t leapfrog over the soloist position, but there are already plenty of male soloists. If none of them are promoted to principal then what happens? Can they just swell the ranks of male soloists for a few years?

I've been thinking about that too, and, I agree that there's a huge bottleneck. I'm sure they can't afford to swell the soloist ranks with many more. The only soloist who might have principal potential (maybe) is Royal. My personal opinion is that Forster does, but he's not being given the right opportunities that would demonstrate management thinks so too (no leads in the classics). So, how are they going to get around this bottleneck? Just wait for the current ones to retire, which will take years? Or, are they going to not renew a contract, or two, to get a few out of the way?

Separately, I'd be shocked if Bell isn't promoted this year. I wonder what will happen to Shayer.

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Does anyone think that McKenzie is considering hiring Brooklyn Mack on a permanent basis? 

If Sterling Baca had stuck around, I bet he would be a leading contender for ABT principal.

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6 minutes ago, abatt said:

Does anyone think that McKenzie is considering hiring Brooklyn Mack on a permanent basis? 

If Sterling Baca had stuck around, I bet he would be a leading contender for ABT principal.

I think the AD hiring Mack is a strong possibility. 

I disagree regarding Baca. Given what I saw of him in PA Ballet's Swan Lake, he wouldn't make it past soloist. Forster, Hoven, Royal have more all-around goods than he does.

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20 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

I've been thinking about that too, and, I agree that there's a huge bottleneck. I'm sure they can't afford to swell the soloist ranks with many more. The only soloist who might have principal potential (maybe) is Royal. My personal opinion is that Forster does, but he's not being given the right opportunities that would demonstrate management thinks so too (no leads in the classics). So, how are they going to get around this bottleneck? Just wait for the current ones to retire, which will take years? Or, are they going to not renew a contract, or two, to get a few out of the way?

Separately, I'd be shocked if Bell isn't promoted this year. I wonder what will happen to Shayer.

Raymond Klein had an amazing debut as the Boy in Whipped Cream the other night, He is definitely,IMO, a potential soloist.

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Brooklyn Mack is a definite ABT Principal possibility, judging by his oeuvre in Washington, in recent years. He always had the "big guns" for bravura roles like Conrad and Ali but, more recently, developed a real classical finesse in roles like leads in Les Sylphides and The Dream. Of course, I'd also love to see current ABT soloists (Forster, Royal) or corps dancers (oh, he** - Aran Bell!) skip right on up to Principal status.

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1 hour ago, ABT Fan said:

I think the AD hiring Mack is a strong possibility. 

I disagree regarding Baca. Given what I saw of him in PA Ballet's Swan Lake, he wouldn't make it past soloist. Forster, Hoven, Royal have more all-around goods than he does.

Agreed about Mack. I never saw Baca and am lukewarm on Royal, but I love Forster and Hoven and don't see why they aren't given more shots--they've often wowed me and always have been at least solid and satisfactory.

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1 hour ago, FauxPas said:

Wendy Whelan and Jonathan Stafford if you are reading this...   Give him a call.

How tall is Gorak? My impression is that he's at best a medium. Given the bevvy of tall ballerinas - both at the principal level and further down in the ranks, wouldn't poaching a taller dancer make sense? (Ahem, like Forster.) That being said, yes, Gorak needs to find a company that is willing to invest in his development, because he is in many ways a beautiful dancer.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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15 hours ago, abatt said:

This might be old news that I missed, but Copeland is no longer listed for any performances of Corsaire.  

Now that you mention it, I don't remember seeing her listed in Corsaire for months.    Yes, it's in the old ABT brochure, but that's old.

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18 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

How tall is Gorak? My impression is that he's at best a medium. 

He's medium height and usually partners the shortest females - Lane, Boylston, Copeland, etc.

3 minutes ago, NinaFan said:

Now that you mention it, I don't remember seeing her listed in Corsaire for months.    Yes, it's in the old ABT brochure, but that's old.

Copeland replaced Murphy in Manon, once Murphy's pregnancy was announced, and I think I remember a bunch of other roles (for others, as well) getting switched around at about the same time. So, I wonder if her debut as Manon essentially "replaced" her Gulnare.

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2 hours ago, FauxPas said:

In my opinion, soloist Joseph Gorak needs to leave ABT for HIS OWN SAKE.  He is being criminally wasted and neglected.  I personally think that Gorak would be a wonderful addition to the New York City Ballet roster - in the past NYCB poached Charles Askegard and Joaquin de Luz from ABT.   Gorak has two deficiencies that have obstructed his progress at ABT - lack of acting ability (and heroic stage presence) and weakness in partnering.  With the NYCB repertory there is little acting required for the majority of the repertory and he would have better coaching on partnering than what Keith Roberts has been able to give Gorak at ABT.  The other option for Gorak is to decamp for San Francisco Ballet where he also would be a good fit.

That would open up one soloist spot.

Wendy Whelan and Jonathan Stafford if you are reading this...   Give him a call.

I think Gorak is fine in the soloist roles at ABT, but I don’t think he’s really a match for NYCB.   NYCB currently has an outstanding crop of men from the corps up through principal, so it’s probably unlikely they would hire him on the chance that he’d improve on the two deficiencies you’ve noted.

Askegard was a superb partner, and de Luz one of the rare gems who come along every so often.  And of course, let’s not forget the great Robert LaFosse.  All three dancers were obviously very successful in adapting to Balanchine’s style etc. 

Gorak is likely to remain a soloist if he stays at ABT.  That being said, I hope he continues to thrive and grow wherever he dances, and yes, perhaps San Francisco Ballet might be a good fit should he choose to leave ABT.

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2 hours ago, bingham said:

Raymond Klein had an amazing debut as the Boy in Whipped Cream the other night, He is definitely,IMO, a potential soloist.

I agree he was excellent!

I'd never seen him do much before except Neapolitan in SL.

FYI his name is Jonathan Klein.

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12 minutes ago, aurora said:

I agree he was excellent!

I'd never seen him do much before except Neapolitan in SL.

FYI his name is Jonathan Klein.

Oppsss...of course, it’s Jonathan. Sorry. Still it was an outstanding debut. Alexei must had a hand in giving him this role. He sure has an eye for new talent.

Edited by bingham
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53 minutes ago, bingham said:

Oppsss...of course, it’s Jonathan. Sorry. Still it was an outstanding debut. Alexei must had a hand in giving him this role. He sure has an eye for new talent.

I'm glad he finally got to dance it and that it went so well. He's been scheduled and had to pull out at least once before. (I'm pretty sure last summer at the Met.)

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9 hours ago, bingham said:

Oppsss...of course, it’s Jonathan. Sorry. Still it was an outstanding debut. Alexei must had a hand in giving him this role. He sure has an eye for new talent.

I agree, it was an excellent debut.  He has a vibrant energy, and wonderfully long legs, which looked amazing during the turns in second and the manege.  He was also lucky to have partnered Cassandra Trenary, who is probably the best actress in the company and really helped push his performance way over the footlights, adding goofy bits of business to her mime and forcing him to react in turn.  Hope to see him cast in some good soloist roles during the fall and next year.

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20 hours ago, FauxPas said:

In my opinion, soloist Joseph Gorak needs to leave ABT for HIS OWN SAKE.  He is being criminally wasted and neglected.  Gorak has two deficiencies that have obstructed his progress at ABT - lack of acting ability (and heroic stage presence) and weakness in partnering.

The other option for Gorak is to decamp for San Francisco Ballet where he also would be a good fit.

I question whether Gorak is being "criminally wasted" or "neglected". Of the three deficiencies you note, the first two -- acting ability and heroic stage presence -- aren't necessarily things that can be taught (heroic stage presence especially.) Regarding partnering, ABT has always had a small coaching staff. There's a limit to how much attention they can devote to any one dancer while still getting productions up-and-running.

San Francisco Ballet is thick with male talent right now so I don't know that they would have any need for Gorak. 

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A number of years ago Gorak partnered Xiomara Reyes.  She is a very small woman, but Gorak still had difficulty.  Hopefully he has improved since then, but I suspect that his partnering problems have been a major factor in why his career at ABT has not advanced. 

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