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Colorado Ballet 2019-20 roster

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Few on this site know these dancers, but Colorado Ballet has updated their roster for the new season:

https://www.coloradoballet.org/company/dancers

Promotion to Principal: Francisco Estevez: He previously danced with Boston Ballet and Barcelona Ballet with Angel Corella. I was very glad to see this promotion. He has really "upped his game" in recent years and there's rehearsal tape on Facebook from last winter of mastering the Russian torchlift (with Asuka Sasaki), among other things.

Retirement from Principal: Dominico Luciano is now Academy Principal and teaches men's classes. The Academy is doing a superb job of nurturing young boys and men in special classes taught by John Gardner (this summer in their Intensive), Estevez, and Luciano. The company now has only one other male principal, Yosvani Ramos, who just turned 40 but is still in great shape (source: very active on social media).

Promotion from Apprentice to Corps: Francesca Martoccio, Leah McFadden, Sarah Vandervoort Thomas, Simon Zinabu Costello. (Thomas married Kevin Gael Thomas, a much-loved soloist, this summer. Kevin does a mean Revoltade 540.) 

Departures from Corps: Ariel Breitman, Alyssa Fazekas, Kevin Hale. I had high hopes for Breitman and Hale; they will be sorely missed.

New Apprentices: Liam Hogan, Alexander Roy, Alexandra Wilson

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On 7/15/2019 at 8:17 AM, California said:

Few on this site know these dancers, but Colorado Ballet has updated their roster for the new season:

https://www.coloradoballet.org/company/dancers

Promotion to Principal: Francisco Estevez: He previously danced with Boston Ballet and Barcelona Ballet with Angel Corella. I was very glad to see this promotion. He has really "upped his game" in recent years and there's rehearsal tape on Facebook from last winter of mastering the Russian torchlift (with Asuka Sasaki), among other things.

Retirement from Principal: Dominico Luciano is now Academy Principal and teaches men's classes. The Academy is doing a superb job of nurturing young boys and men in special classes taught by John Gardner (this summer in their Intensive), Estevez, and Luciano. The company now has only one other male principal, Yosvani Ramos, who just turned 40 but is still in great shape (source: very active on social media).

Promotion from Apprentice to Corps: Francesca Martoccio, Leah McFadden, Sarah Vandervoort Thomas, Simon Zinabu Costello. (Thomas married Kevin Gael Thomas, a much-loved soloist, this summer. Kevin does a mean Revoltade 540.) 

Departures from Corps: Ariel Breitman, Alyssa Fazekas, Kevin Hale. I had high hopes for Breitman and Hale; they will be sorely missed.

New Apprentices: Liam Hogan, Alexander Roy, Alexandra Wilson

Thanks for the updates, California! I grew up in CO but rarely get to see the company anymore aside from the occasional Nutcracker. So please let me know what, if anything, you end up seeing this year! 

It's nice to see Sarah Vandervoort Thomas in the corps. How long was she an apprentice? I remember it felt long, even by CO Ballet's typical pace.

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6 minutes ago, Syzygy said:

Thanks for the updates, California! I grew up in CO but rarely get to see the company anymore aside from the occasional Nutcracker. So please let me know what, if anything, you end up seeing this year! 

It's nice to see Sarah Vandervoort Thomas in the corps. How long was she an apprentice? I remember it felt long, even by CO Ballet's typical pace.

Looks like Sarah had been an apprentice since 2015: https://www.coloradoballet.org/company-dancers/sara-thomas

I go to all their performances and a few dress rehearsals along the way, although I only go to one Nutcracker (I can only take so much Nutcracker...).

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43 minutes ago, Syzygy said:

California, how was Don Q?

I saw all three casts the first weekend, but had to miss the second weekend due to a professional conference. They rented the ABT sets and costumes, so it was a first-rate production. It's such a treat for dancers to see the names written in their costumes -- Cornejo, even Baryshnikov. A sense of heritage that they must treasure. Live orchestra for all performances, which is so appreciated.

Asuka Sasaki and Francisco Estevez: opening night. They both sparkled. This was Asuka's role and I've never seen her better. Technique, acting, character were all just superb. Fran was just promoted to principal and has recovered from two forms of cancer, as has been publicized in various places on-line. Great pair. Last winter for Nutcracker, they nailed a wonderful torch lift. For this one, they did some nice technique variations. On the one-armed lift in Act I, Fran did have to steady her lower leg, but then held the lift for a long time and even went into an arabesque of his own. He's only 30 and has notably improved his technique in recent years, I expect great things from both. 

Yosvani Ramos and Dana Benton: He just turned 40 and is recovering from knee surgery in the past year, so his performance was all the more amazing. He just posted on Instagram, though, that he is retiring the role. She is recovering from shoulder surgery. Very comfortable, confident partnership despite all that.

Morgan Buchanan and Nicholas Pelletier: third cast for the Saturday matinee and school performances. She's a soloist with great potential. He is a corps member and was better as Espada; I wish he'd work on expressiveness and pushing the envelope on his presence. They were third cast a couple of years ago in Romeo and Juliet. She's developing nicely. I wish he would push himself more so he's not just doing steps.

Several soloists and advanced corps members got some nice opportunities. So many to note, but a few of my favorites:

  • Tracy Jones: Fran's wife, trained at the Royal Ballet, she was a spectacular Mercedes. Charisma, presence, glorious.
  • Fernanda Oliveira: a corps member with charisma, determination, grit. She was terrific both as Mercedes at one performance and Queen of the Dryads at another. She knocked out all the Italian fouettes - a little shaky, but they'll get better and I'm glad to see her try.
  • Kevin Gael Thomas: King of the Revoltade 540, he got to throw that in the gypsy sequence. I see rehearsal clips on Facebook where several of the men are working on this.

Some might remember Chandra Kuykendall, who celebrated her 20th anniversary with the company last year. I thought she'd retire, but nothing has been announced. She did Queen of the Dryads and that's all. I wasn't surprised that she didn't even try the Italian fouettes, substituting a much simple pique arabesque thing. A few years ago in Giselle, she didn't even try the hops on pointe and substituted an easier pique-step thing. 

Fouettes: I do wish everybody would just aim for 32 clean singles. Asuka did a few doubles at the beginning and travelled quite a bit, as did Dana.

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22 minutes ago, California said:

I saw all three casts the first weekend, but had to miss the second weekend due to a professional conference. They rented the ABT sets and costumes, so it was a first-rate production. It's such a treat for dancers to see the names written in their costumes -- Cornejo, even Baryshnikov. A sense of heritage that they must treasure. Live orchestra for all performances, which is so appreciated.

Asuka Sasaki and Francisco Estevez: opening night. They both sparkled. This was Asuka's role and I've never seen her better. Technique, acting, character were all just superb. Fran was just promoted to principal and has recovered from two forms of cancer, as has been publicized in various places on-line. Great pair. Last winter for Nutcracker, they nailed a wonderful torch lift. For this one, they did some nice technique variations. On the one-armed lift in Act I, Fran did have to steady her lower leg, but then held the lift for a long time and even went into an arabesque of his own. He's only 30 and has notably improved his technique in recent years, I expect great things from both. 

Yosvani Ramos and Dana Benton: He just turned 40 and is recovering from knee surgery in the past year, so his performance was all the more amazing. He just posted on Instagram, though, that he is retiring the role. She is recovering from shoulder surgery. Very comfortable, confident partnership despite all that.

Morgan Buchanan and Nicholas Pelletier: third cast for the Saturday matinee and school performances. She's a soloist with great potential. He is a corps member and was better as Espada; I wish he'd work on expressiveness and pushing the envelope on his presence. They were third cast a couple of years ago in Romeo and Juliet. She's developing nicely. I wish he would push himself more so he's not just doing steps.

Several soloists and advanced corps members got some nice opportunities. So many to note, but a few of my favorites:

  • Tracy Jones: Fran's wife, trained at the Royal Ballet, she was a spectacular Mercedes. Charisma, presence, glorious.
  • Fernanda Oliveira: a corps member with charisma, determination, grit. She was terrific both as Mercedes at one performance and Queen of the Dryads at another. She knocked out all the Italian fouettes - a little shaky, but they'll get better and I'm glad to see her try.
  • Kevin Gael Thomas: King of the Revoltade 540, he got to throw that in the gypsy sequence. I see rehearsal clips on Facebook where several of the men are working on this.

Some might remember Chandra Kuykendall, who celebrated her 20th anniversary with the company last year. I thought she'd retire, but nothing has been announced. She did Queen of the Dryads and that's all. I wasn't surprised that she didn't even try the Italian fouettes, substituting a much simple pique arabesque thing. A few years ago in Giselle, she didn't even try the hops on pointe and substituted an easier pique-step thing. 

Fouettes: I do wish everybody would just aim for 32 clean singles. Asuka did a few doubles at the beginning and travelled quite a bit, as did Dana.

Thanks for such a thoughtful report! I was sorry to miss this one as I've always liked the look of ABT's sets and costumes. I didn't do my research; were they doing 1983 Baryshnikov version that I've come to associate those costumes with? (Or I guess now we're saying "staged by Kevin McKenzie.") Either way, CO Ballet does a pretty decent job with their social media, but it's especially nice to hear your honest thoughts.

I've seen Morgan Buchanan in person maybe once. From a distance it was hard to see why she was cast over Tracy Jones, but it sounds like you're much more familiar with her dancing and enjoy it —which is great to hear. 

I was surprised to see Chandra Kuykendall cast as Queen of the Dryads. What was the pique arabesque thing? Like a diagonal? I have mixed feeling about changing choreography based on physical limitations. That said, I suppose modifying these Italian fouettes wouldn't irk me as much as subbing out the hops in Giselle... ouf. For the record I like her dancing just fine, I like that she's from the academy, cool that she's a mom etc., but I'll be curious to hear how the rest of the season goes for her. 

Asuka Saski and Francisco Estevez: Awesome. I saw the one-armed lift + arabesque online and it was fantastic — I can only imagine how fun it would have been to be in the audience. 

Fouettes: Yes. 32 clean singles would be a dream. Sigh.  

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48 minutes ago, Syzygy said:

 I was sorry to miss this one as I've always liked the look of ABT's sets and costumes. I didn't do my research; were they doing 1983 Baryshnikov version that I've come to associate those costumes with? (Or I guess now we're saying "staged by Kevin McKenzie.") 

I've seen Morgan Buchanan in person maybe once. From a distance it was hard to see why she was cast over Tracy Jones, but it sounds like you're much more familiar with her dancing and enjoy it —which is great to hear.  

The costumes are definitely the ones you see in the 1983 DVD with Cynthia Harvey, but this is a simpler set -- the back bridge is gone and now there's just a painted drop. I haven't seen the ABT version in recent years, so I don't know if that's what ABT uses now. In the 1978 premiere, Gelsey wore a purple dress in the first act and now everybody stays with red. Not sure when that changed.

Tracy is recovering from an injury, so perhaps there wasn't time to prepare. She seems to be too tall to partner with her husband. I'm not sure who would make a good partner for her.

I assumed Buchanan and Pelletier were being groomed for principal leadership. She seems worth the investment, but you saw my comments on Pelletier -- just wooden, blank, unconvincing as Basilio. 

The ABT site lists two versions -- Baryshnikov and McKenzie/Jones https://www.abt.org/explore/learn/repertory-archive/ballets/

So much of the choreography is "public domain" or standard, it's hard to differentiate. 

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4 minutes ago, California said:

I assumed Buchanan and Pelletier were being groomed for principal leadership. She seems worth the investment, but you saw my comments on Pelletier -- just wooden, blank, unconvincing as Basilio. 

Interesting. Basilio is a lot of acting. Sounds like that's not his strength. How is he in pieces that aren't so focused on plot?

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13 minutes ago, Syzygy said:

Interesting. Basilio is a lot of acting. Sounds like that's not his strength. How is he in pieces that aren't so focused on plot?

He was good as Espada -- but that's an aloof matador, so the stiffness worked! I suppose it's a bad sign that I can't remember him in anything else other than R&J, where he has the same issues.

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Colorado Ballet just announced four mid-season promotions. I don't remember them doing this in the past.

Nicolas Pelletier promoted from corps to soloist.

Sean Omadam, Emily Speed, and Melissa Zoebisch to a new rank of demi-soloist. (I'm glad to see this new rank as a way to recognize some of the more outstanding corps members.) 

https://www.coloradoballet.org/company/dancers

https://www.broadwayworld.com/denver/article/Colorado-Ballet-Announces-Mid-Season-Promotions-20191127

Edited by California

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Pacific Northwest Ballet has made mid-season promotion announcements in the past.  I think the strategy has as much to do with budgets as it does with casting decisions, but belts are being worn tighter in many places these days.

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7 hours ago, sandik said:

 I think the strategy has as much to do with budgets as it does with casting decisions, but belts are being worn tighter in many places these days.

That may be, although their Nutcracker (which opens Saturday) is doing exceptionally well. 15 of 26 performances are already sold out. I typically see discounted tickets on Goldstar and/or a 20% discount offer on Facebook -- none of those this year, which is a good sign, I think. 

 

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12 hours ago, California said:

That may be, although their Nutcracker (which opens Saturday) is doing exceptionally well. 15 of 26 performances are already sold out. I typically see discounted tickets on Goldstar and/or a 20% discount offer on Facebook -- none of those this year, which is a good sign, I think.

Always glad to hear that Nut is doing well -- it's the cornerstone of many earned income budgets.  Despite that, though, I've noticed some companies wait until mid-year to announce promotions and new hires.  Sometimes is just availability, sometimes it's casting (opening season with works that require smaller casts, and then there's Nut, which is all-hands-on-deck), sometimes it's money.

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