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Stella Abrera retires from ABT in June, 2020

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Company release:

STELLA ABRERA TO GIVE FAREWELL PERFORMANCE WITH AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE, SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 2020
AT THE METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE

ABRERA TO CONCLUDE 24-YEAR CAREER WITH A PERFORMANCE IN THE TITLE ROLE OF GISELLE

Stella Abrera, a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre since 2015, will give her farewell performance with the Company in the title role of Giselle on Saturday evening,
June 13, 2020 at the Metropolitan Opera House
.

Born in Manila, Philippines, Stella Abrera grew up in South Pasadena, California and began her ballet training with Philip and Charles Fuller and Cynthia Young at Le Studio in Pasadena. She continued her studies with Lorna Diamond and Patricia Hoffman at the West Coast Ballet Theatre in San Diego. For three years, she studied the Royal Academy of Dancing method with Joan and Monica Halliday at the Halliday Dance Centre in Sydney, Australia.

In 1995, Abrera received the Gold Medal at the Royal Academy of Dancing’s Adeline Genée Awards in London. She joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 1996 and was promoted to Soloist in 2001. In August 2015, she was appointed Principal Dancer. Her repertoire with ABT includes the Girl in Afternoon of a Faun, Calliope and Terpsichore in Apollo, Gamzatti and a Shade in La Bayadère, The Ballerina in The Bright Stream, Cinderella and Fairy Godmother in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Cinderella in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Aurora in Coppélia, Gulnare and an Odalisque in Le Corsaire, She Wore a Perfume in Dim Lustre, the woman in white in Diversion of Angels, Mercedes and the Driad Queen in Don Quixote, Helena in The Dream, the first passerby in Fancy Free, Lise in La Fille mal gardée, the Maiden in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, Giselle, Myrta and peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Queen of Shemakahn in The Golden Cockerel, Pierrette in Harlequinade, Blanche Ingram in Jane Eyre, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, Katia in A Month in the Country, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Queen in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, Clara the Princess in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Emilia in Othello, Tatiana in Onegin, the Ballerina in Petrouchka, Older Sister in Pillar of Fire, Juliet and Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, The Spirit of the Corn in The Seasons, Princess Aurora, the Lilac Fairy and Princess Florine in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de trois in Swan Lake, the violin in Symphonie Concertante, leading roles in Bach Partita, Ballet Imperial, Birthday Offering, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Her Notes, The Leaves Are Fading, Monotones I, Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Les Sylphides, Symphonic Variations, Symphony #9, Symphony in C and Thirteen Diversions, and featured roles in Airs, Baker’s Dozen, Black Tuesday, Deuce Coupe, Dream within a Dream (deferred), Gong, In the Upper Room, Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, Without Words and workwithinwork.

Abrera created the roles of His Memory and His Experiences in HereAfter, the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Fairy Violente (Temperament) in Ratmansky’s
The Sleeping Beauty, His Mistress in Weren’t We Fools, Princess Tea Flower in Whipped Cream and roles in After You, Garden Blue, Pretty Good Year and Seven Sonatas.

Abrera has performed as a Guest Principal with the Australian Ballet, The Washington Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and Ballet Philippines. In 2014, she founded the charity Steps Forward for the Philippines to benefit typhoon victims in the Philippine province of Guiuan. In April 2018, she directed and performed in a benefit gala at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Manila, Philippines to raise funds for the creation of the Stella Abrera Dance and Music Hall at the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education (CENTEX) in Batangas, Philippines. Abrera is the director of Pro-Studio/Stella Abrera®, a training and coaching initiative for professional dancers launched in 2019 at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park for Dance.

Abrera’s remaining performance for the Company’s 2019 Fall season at the David H. Koch Theater will be the role of The Spirit of the Corn in The Seasons on Tuesday, October 22.

Tickets for American Ballet Theatre’s 2019 Fall season at the David H. Koch Theater, priced from $30, are available online, by phone at 212-496-0600 or at the Koch Theater box office. The David H. Koch Theater is located at Lincoln Center, Broadway and 63rd Street in New York City.

Subscriptions for ABT’s 2020 Spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House are available online or by phone at 212-362-6000, beginning Wednesday, October 30 at 12 Noon. For more information, please visit ABT’s website at www.abt.org.

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Well, this made me gasp.

We all knew it was coming, but I hate the  thought of it. She hasn’t been cast much lately (not much this summer and fall and no Nutcracker) so I wondered if this could be her last year. Still, a shock.

Abrera is pure class, grace, and sophistication. I’ll be at her last Giselle with bells and tears. Wonder who her Albrecht will be? Whiteside? Will Murphy be her Myrta?

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Oh, I hope she does more than just Giselle for the spring season. And what a shame that her career as a principal has been so short. I just noticed on my program that it took 19 years for her to be promoted, I didn’t realize it had been quite so long.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/21/arts/dance/stella-abrera-retiring-from-ABT.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

 

Here is a related article in the NY Times on Stella's decision to retire.

Catch her as Spirit of the Corn tomorrow if you can.  Her interpretation and performance is very different from Boylston's interpretation of the same role.  No surprise there!

Edited by abatt

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I thought we'd see this soon. If anyone sees Giselle next year please report back! 

I wonder if this opens up a principal spot for a woman? As others on the form have mentioned, this would leave six female principals and three regular men. Hmmm...

(Off topic, but I'm still so surprised that Brooklyn Mack doesn't have a contract.)

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This is so bittersweet. Stella waited for so long to be promoted and now after only a few years she is retiring. She is one of the finest dancers in that company. I wish Marcelo could come back to dance with Stella in her farewell Giselle but I'm sure he'll be there to support her. Maybe even give her flowers. It'll probably be Whiteside though. This just became the not to miss performance of the season.

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8 minutes ago, Leah said:

Oh, I hope she does more than just Giselle for the spring season.

I’m sure she will, but probably not a lot. If they do Bayadere, I’d expect one Gamzatti opposite Murphy. And, if Harlequin returns again, she’ll do two Pierrette’s, a role she’s perfect in. 

3 minutes ago, Syzygy said:

I wonder if this opens up a principal spot for a woman? As others on the form have mentioned, this would leave six female principals and three regular men. Hmmm...

(Off topic, but I'm still so surprised that Brooklyn Mack doesn't have a contract.)

I would think so. When the Met season is announced this week along with preliminary casting we should have a pretty good idea which soloist that would be. A major debut in Giselle or SL? 

I’m betting Mack will return as a guest artist next summer. 

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If they do Don Q early in the season, Abrera will probably be Mercedes.  They don;'t announce that info until much closer to the performance date because it's a secondary role.

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The Times arcticle includes a nice reminiscence of her first Giselle:

Quote

“Giselle” is particularly meaningful to her. When she danced the lead in 2015, she was stepping in for an injured Polina Semionova. It happened to be the company’s alumni night. “About 200 ex-A.B.T. dancers were in the audience, so they all very much knew what was up,” she said. “I had to put all the fears aside and get on that stage and do what I had been dreaming of doing my whole life.”

In his review for The Times, Alastair Macaulay commended Ms. Abrera’s performance. “Some of her dancing was luminous, and all of it was stylish and heartfelt,” he wrote. Her work in Act II received special praise: “She made it clear that dance was a spiritual act.”

 

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That first Giselle, with Shkylarov, was exceptional.  It was much better technically than her Giselle two years later at Marcelo Gomes's 20th Anniversary.  I assume she will be paired with Whiteside, since he is partnering her in her Feb. 2020 D.C. Giselle performance.  I would like, however, to see her dance with Hallberg just once.

Edited by abatt

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41 minutes ago, abatt said:

That first Giselle, with Shkylarov, was exceptional.  It was much better technically than her Giselle two years later at Marcelo Gomes's 20th Anniversary.  I assume she will be paired with Whiteside, since he is partnering her in her Feb. 2020 D.C. Giselle performance.  I would like, however, to see her dance with Hallberg just once.

Abrera and Hallberg were divine and comical together in Ratmansky's Whipped Cream, in DC a year or two ago (as seen in this photo by Schiavone). I'll miss her very much.

American-Ballet-Theatre-Whipped-Cream-St

Edited by Roberta

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Abrera and Hallberg were also wonderful together in Harlequin the year it premiered. I too would love to see them in Giselle, though I think that’s very unlikely.

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Well she will be missed for sure. I loved her in a bunch of roles. Lise in Fille mal gardee, Lilac Fairy, Giselle. Really lovely, graceful dancer.

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1 minute ago, ABT Fan said:

Abrera and Hallberg were also wonderful together in Harlequin the year it premiered. I too would love to see them in Giselle, though I think that’s very unlikely.

I am in shock after learning of this, she will be missed 😥 Agree with Hallberg or even Marcelo to return for this!!! Feeling like the golden age of ABT is dwindling these days, just saw Hallberg at the Royal in Manon, so he is dancing.... just not here!

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Agree with all that is said above.  One less reason to attend performances at ABT.  

I was suspicious that perhaps Stella was pressured to retire but this public-facing Instagram post suggests otherwise:

 

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1 hour ago, abatt said:

  I would like, however, to see her dance with Hallberg just once.

This would be perfect since they were set to dance Giselle when she became injured. And frankly I think Hallberg owes it to his “home” company to honor her. 

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All my favorite lyrical ballerinas are disappearing:  first, Veronika Part, now Stella Abrera, and one day, Sarah Lane . . .   Athletic, speedy thrills seem to be de rigueur for success now; force over beauty, visceral power over art.  The rare dancer who combines both, like Herman Cornejo, offers aesthetic pleasure through virtuosity.  And like Stella, true artists are a rare breed.  When you experience the gifts they offer us, the earth often moves. 

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Sad news for lovers of ballet and ABT....though not entirely surprising. People often mention  Abrera's Lilac Fairy....one of my favorite Abrera performances was her Princess Florine in Ratmansky's (Petipa's) Sleeping Beauty -- The performance I attended, I found her dancing in that role and in that production about as close to perfection as it's possible to get.

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I really hope she ends up on the artistic/coaching staff at ABT, at least as part of her future work. She's so clearly and widely beloved among the dancers, and they could really use her.

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26 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I really hope she ends up on the artistic/coaching staff at ABT, at least as part of her future work. She's so clearly and widely beloved among the dancers, and they could really use her.

Our wishes might come true, let's hope, since it seems KM is keeping this all in the family, as he is one of the founders as listed on site: Founders: Gregory Cary • Kevin McKenzie • Bentley Roton • Martine van Hamel.

Edited by stuben

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I really hope she stays as a coach or something similar as well, for the same reasons mentioned above. 

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Doesn’t her husband run the studio company? I’m sure if she doesn’t get a place in ABT proper there would be a job for her either with him or at JKO.

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4 minutes ago, Leah said:

Doesn’t her husband run the studio company? I’m sure if she doesn’t get a place in ABT proper there would be a job for her either with him or at JKO.

Yes, Sasha runs the studio co. Of course, she could work with him but I’d personally rather see her teach/coach with the main company where I think the need is greatest. 

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