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Spring 2020 New York Season


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14 minutes ago, California said:

Stearns and Lane will be doing Swan Lake with the Richmond Ballet Feb 14-16! Replacing two dancers from the National Ballet of China. If I lived in DC, this would be worth the drive to see!

https://www.styleweekly.com/Studi/archives/2020/01/31/richmond-ballet-recasts-swan-lake-due-to-coronavirus-travel-advisory

Wow -- very cool. Maybe this will be the start of a nice new partnership. I seem to remember Lane saying nice things on Instagram about dancing with Stearns when she subbed for Seo (I think) in Other Dances

Edited by fondoffouettes
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3 hours ago, California said:

Stearns and Lane will be doing Swan Lake with the Richmond Ballet Feb 14-16! Replacing two dancers from the National Ballet of China. If I lived in DC, this would be worth the drive to see!

https://www.styleweekly.com/Studi/archives/2020/01/31/richmond-ballet-recasts-swan-lake-due-to-coronavirus-travel-advisory

Oh wow, thanks for the heads up! Exciting to see Lane receive the opportunities denied by her own company. I'm very excited by Lane's burgeoning partnership with Stearns. As I recall, they danced a T&V together ten years ago, then Lane stepped in for Nutcracker due to injury a few years ago, then again in Other Dances, and finally were actually cast together for Some Assembly Required last Fall. I heard great things about their recent Carmen as well. They do dance well together.

 

3 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Wow -- very cool. Maybe this will be the start of a nice new partnership. I seem to remember Lane saying nice things on Instagram about dancing with Stearns when she subbed for Seo (I think) in Other Dances

Likewise, I hope this is the start of a fruitful partnership. 

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17 hours ago, California said:

Stearns and Lane will be doing Swan Lake with the Richmond Ballet Feb 14-16! Replacing two dancers from the National Ballet of China. If I lived in DC, this would be worth the drive to see!

https://www.styleweekly.com/Studi/archives/2020/01/31/richmond-ballet-recasts-swan-lake-due-to-coronavirus-travel-advisory

Yeah, this is great. If McK is going to continue to snub her, perhaps she can start a great guest artist career and dance all the roles she should be dancing while in her prime!

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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/arts/skylar-brandt-giselle.html

Great article on how Brandt got her DC debut as Giselle.  It sheds a bright light on how McKenzie makes his decisions, and what a dancer has to do to get a lead role over at ABT.  I wish I could get to DC to see Brandt, but I doubt I will be able to attend.  Here's hoping that at least one NYC ballerina has to cancel her Giselle due to a schedule conflict.

Edited by abatt
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48 minutes ago, abatt said:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/arts/skylar-brandt-giselle.html

Great article on how Brandt got her DC debut as Giselle.  It sheds a bright light on how McKenzie makes his decisions, and what a dancer has to do to get a lead role over at ABT.  I wish I could get to DC to see Brandt, but I doubt I will be able to attend.  Here's hoping that at least one NYC ballerina has to cancel her Giselle due to a schedule conflict.

Interesting article and maybe it is just me but this seems to expose McKenzie and his dealings with his company. There is no mention of who is paying for the coaching but if it is her private funding than lucky for her, yet does this mean those who don't have the AD backing and without good funding will be left behind? Sad really that it has to happen like this, feels as if she is saying dancers are housed until they are needed, unless one is a flavor/favor of the season. Must be frustrating for her and others who might feel likewise. Plus I notice she mentioned 3 days to learn a lead last minute plus the lack of coaches? Is this a world class ballet company of local one, and that is not to put any local companies down. Just wondering.

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The story Brandt tells mirrors how Abrera got her Giselle years ago.  Abrera had performed the role in either Australia or New Zealand several months before the ABT season.  When Semionova cancelled, Abrera was ready to step in due to her own efforts in previously learning and performing the role of Giselle elsewhere.  It is a disgrace that this is how ABT works internally. 

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37 minutes ago, stuben said:

Interesting article and maybe it is just me but this seems to expose McKenzie and his dealings with his company. There is no mention of who is paying for the coaching but if it is her private funding than lucky for her, yet does this mean those who don't have the AD backing and without good funding will be left behind? Sad really that it has to happen like this, feels as if she is saying dancers are housed until they are needed, unless one is a flavor/favor of the season.

What does it "expose," exactly? Certainly it's long been known that ABT is understaffed when it comes to coaches. I don't think it's all that uncommon for dancers (and not only at ABT) to pay for supplemental coaching of a variety of sorts, and that of course is dependent on an individual's financial resources (unfair as that may seem).

This part at least doesn't seem surprising to me, in the context of a performing arts organization:

Quote

Each year, after Ballet Theater’s [sic] spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, Ms. Brandt meets with Mr. McKenzie to discuss what she might want to work on over the summer. This year she took a bold approach and flat-out asked him what she would be dancing the next year.

...and in fact seems to demonstrate healthy communication.

I'm not a fan of McKenzie, but I didn't find anything in the article to be particularly surprising or unsettling. (That said, I imagine there are truths about his leadership not revealed in the article that would make me feel surprised or unsettled.)

*shrug*  That's show business.

Edited by nanushka
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43 minutes ago, abatt said:

The story Brandt tells mirrors how Abrera got her Giselle years ago.  Abrera had performed the role in either Australia or New Zealand several months before the ABT season.  When Semionova cancelled, Abrera was ready to step in due to her own efforts in previously learning and performing the role of Giselle elsewhere.  It is a disgrace that this is how ABT works internally. 

My understanding was that McKenzie had coached Abrera for her Giselle in Australia, which was part of an exchange program, so he was perfectly comfortable casting her with ABT that fateful (in a good way) season.

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"But while she is happy that Mr. McKenzie trusts her enough to give her "three days' notice to learn a three-act ballet like 'Le Corsaire,' she said, she doesn't want to build a career that's dependent on her friends' getting sick or injured." 

"It would have been nice if I didn't have to go in and keep pushing, but I also understand that sometimes rats what you have to do to move forward." 

 

Those two quotes stood out the most to me, along with the mention of ABT's severe lack of coaching. 

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Why is her having only three days' notice to learn Corsaire remarkable? Wasn't she replacing an injured dancer? It sounds like she jumped at an opportunity when it arose. Sometimes there's a major injury and a company doesn't have someone at the ready. This is happening right now with NYCB and Siegfried.

As for having to go in and push, I always thought that's just how it often goes in performance companies (not just in ballet) — or, at the very least, that it's not a particularly remarkable way for things to work in some cases. Was I wrong to think that?

Edited by nanushka
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This is a pretty typical promotional piece for a ballerina done ahead of a big debut. It gives you a slight peak into company politics but mostly tells ppl to buy tickets. Theres nothing really remarkable about this article. 

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I thought the end of the article was the most interesting. Basically she says she’s starting to put herself out there and Is speaking up, but that if it doesn’t have the desired result, she may be open to leaving ABT. 

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11 hours ago, canbelto said:

This is a pretty typical promotional piece for a ballerina done ahead of a big debut. It gives you a slight peak into company politics but mostly tells ppl to buy tickets. Theres nothing really remarkable about this article. 

I don’t think it’s typical for a dancer to float possibilities of leaving a company in a promotional piece for her debut of an iconic role. This tells me a lot about McKenzie’s management style. Obviously, he has to balance casting between his principals and up and coming soloists. He told her to keep her eye on Giselle, she gets no help at company to do that, so she gets outside coaching, and then she basically has to plead for one show. That’s ridiculous. If she had not gotten outside coaching, she would not be performing that role most likely. She is obviously paying for this coaching, something that other dancers might not be able to do. What does that mean for less fortunate dancers? 
 

P.S. I am not putting her down in any way. She deserves the chance at this role. I would much rather watch her than some of the principal dancers. But I also would not blame her one bit for moving on. 

Edited by its the mom
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46 minutes ago, its the mom said:

He told her to keep her eye on Giselle, she gets no help at company to do that, so she gets outside coaching, and then she basically has to plead for one show. That’s ridiculous.

My read of the article is that McKenzie told her at the end of last Met season that Giselle was a possibility for the next year. (This was heading into the summer break, when she wouldn't be getting company coaching for anything; he was specifically responding to her query about what she might choose to work on independently.) He then seems to have decided that this would not be the year for it after all. Given limited coaching resources, why is it ridiculous that he wouldn't invest in her learning the role?

She didn't "have to" plead for one show. She obviously has tremendous drive and pretty substantial financial resources. (Instagram is full of posts documenting dancers' gatherings at the Brandts' Westchester estate, and her parents sit front row orchestra at virtually every Met performance she's in, whether for a leading role or not.) If she hadn't launched a major, sustained campaign (much commented on here on the board) for the role, the various Giselle runs would likely have gone on just fine without her. She obviously wasn't McKenzie's priority for the role (which is understandable — I personally think she'll be quite good in it, but even the article seems to acknowledge she's not an obvious fit), but she made it happen. Again, I don't see what's ridiculous in his actions.

I don't think McKenzie is a great (or even particularly good) leader for ABT; but I also don't think this particular article points to anything very terrible about his management.

Edited by nanushka
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I think what Brandt is experiencing at ABT is what a lot of dancers experience during their careers. It's a subjective art and ADs are super subjective -- sometimes a dancer is going to be in favor and sometimes, or for some dancers, most times,  they're not going to be the favorite, ever. I think Brandt shows a lot of character and grit by going after a role she wants and one that she thinks she can do well.  More power to her! I hope her performance goes so well that she gets more Giselle performances in the future. She's taking an active role in her professional and artistic growth and not passively sitting back waiting for the powers that be to grant her opportunities.  So many dancers end their careers deeply frustrated and resentful because they feel they didn't achieve their potential or weren't recognized for what they have to offer. No matter what, at least Brandt will know she stood up for herself. 

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I think Brandt is talented and all that but one thing about Giselle is that the role needs strong jumpers, and from what I've seen Brandt doesn't have much of a jump at all.

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2 hours ago, canbelto said:

I think Brandt is talented and all that but one thing about Giselle is that the role needs strong jumpers, and from what I've seen Brandt doesn't have much of a jump at all.

I think her jumps look good in the coaching videos on Instagram. Not every Giselle is an Osipova, and I'd definitely rather watch Brandt than Osipova.

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Brandt may have seriously considered seeking the role of Giselle following her performance in 2018 during the "Big Ballet" show on Russian TV and the enthusiastic feedback she received from the panel of Russian judges.  With her boss back home offering less encouragement than the Russians, I can understand why she might want to push herself to achieve this not-insurmountable goal.  I hope we get to see her Giselle in New York; I love her incredible dedication to her art.

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She danced an excerpt from Giselle (the 2nd act pas de deux) with Herman Cornejo at the recent Studio 5 (from City Center) program honoring Cornejo's 20 years with ABT, and even in that setting (no stage, no sets, bright lighting) I thought she was magical.  I really hope I get to see her do it.

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I also think that Brandt is now directly competing against Trenary and Hurlin for important role debuts.  Brandt knows that this is a zero sum game.  The next ABT promotions are likely to be focused on the men (Bell, Forster).

Edited by abatt
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The elephant in the room is money. Not everyone can afford the expensive coaching sessions Brandt gets on a regular basis. It's great that Brandt can and it appears to be paying off for her but many dancers don't have the means for the kind of coaching and advertising she can invest in herself. 

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5 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Not everyone can afford the expensive coaching sessions Brandt gets on a regular basis. It's great that Brandt can and it appears to be paying off for her but many dancers don't have the means for the kind of coaching and advertising she can invest in herself. 

That's obviously true, but what of it? Ballet is no different from any other part of life. Money brings advantages and opens up opportunities. In an ideal world maybe it wouldn't, but it does.

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I think she saw what has happened to Abrera and Lane — toiling away their “good” years as soloists and then being promoted to principal basically because the audience demanded it, not because McKenzie was a huge supporter. And now Abrera is retiring and Lane’s performances are getting few and far between (through no fault of her abilities). If Brandt is smart, she WILL go elsewhere before it’s too late. 

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