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Sarah Lane


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After reading this interview, I conclude that we still have no idea of the whole story. The only thing that seems clear to me is that the partnership between Lane and Cornejo broke down for some reason that remains unknown, and for the audience that was very unfortunate because they were great together.  Also I conclude that she had an illustrious career that could have been even more successful but was mismanaged, probably both by herself (i.e., refusing to dance with the company's main star) and by management. I loved the fleetness and delicacy of her dancing but found myself often distracted by her being too smiley, as vipa noted above, and/or with a flat and frozen facial expression, like the feedback she says she got. She says she took that feedback "to heart." Does that mean she understood the issue and worked on it? Or that she rejected the feedback? I find myself dubious about other implications she makes. Was the offer of a final performance of R&J really connected with the promise that she not speak publicly about her departure from the company? Ultimately, I just agree with canbelto. 

On 5/28/2021 at 12:34 PM, canbelto said:

I saw many beautiful performances with Lane and Cornejo together. I guess I'm sad that offstage things broke down between them so badly.

 

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She was definitely a nervous dancer. You could sort of tell some nights her body language was just off and she'd give a rather tense, frozen performances with a bobble here and there to give the impression she wasn't sure. She could also be incandescent. 

Like her Aurora -- I saw her fall off pointe in the very first balance and struggle through an entire Sleeping Beauty, and also saw an Aurora so harmonic and musical that it was like she was born to dance the role. 

She always seemed to dance better with Cornejo -- she was short enough for him to partner, and their relationship onstage was so beautiful that I'm sad to read that behind the scenes their relationship was not good. I guess that's why it's called acting.

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I'm a huge and avid fan of Sarah's dancing (her port de bras is exquisite) and her artistry; when she's "on", she's magical. I am terribly sorry she is gone from ABT. I wish she hadn't said some things in this interview because the impression may hurt, not help, her chances for future employment.

Cobweb, I also wonder about that R&J offer. Sarah says she "tried" to file a formal complaint; she doesn't say she did. She says she was offered a Juliet as a final performance and then says she felt, "it's important to be honest and keep my own voice rather than keep quiet and do this performance." But she was indeed scheduled to debut her Juliet with ABT last May 28th - it was canceled, along with everything else that season. One possible explanation that comes to mind is that she took the offered deal, but didn't get to dance her Juliet, so now is presenting ABT as trying to silence her and herself as having been too principled to accept such a deal. All that might not be appealing to the management of companies thinking of hiring her.

In the interview I reacted to her "respectfully" asking to not dance with her partner "ever again," as thinking that must not be the whole story. I can understand requesting not to be paired with him while injured, if it was endangering or seriously compromising her, but for forever for any reason is a big ask for an AD; let alone a temporary reason such as injury. Once AD's start allowing dancers to choose which partners they will dance with, casting would quickly become untenable. Again, that might not be appealing to the management of companies thinking of hiring her.

Sarah mentions her work ethic has kept her from injury. But getting injured does not have to be a personal failing brought on by negligence. Sarah saying that the partner was "never in class" felt like something added only to give the impression this (seriously injured) partner, struggling through their rehearsals, wasn't being serious about their dancing. Whatever went wrong with her partnership with Cornejo, lack of dedication to his art is probably not the problem. Dancers nursing injuries may not want to take company class, and companies have allowed some dancers to oversee their own conditioning. Dancers with long careers have worn, older bodies and accumulated injuries and may not be best served by daily company class. Whether or not they're in company class isn't relevant to Sarah's rehearsal time; it's her judging that the injuries come from not enough work ethic. Again, if I were management of a company wanting to hire her, these comments would be a bit of a red flag.

Many of her grievances are widely know to be valid, including the guest-star era holding back career development, insufficient coaching and stage rehearsal time, and of course being expected to pretend Natalie Portman did her own dancing. It's been a hard road, and I can wholeheartedly support her in speaking up about those issues!

 

 

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Quote

Cobweb, I also wonder about that R&J offer. Sarah says she "tried" to file a formal complaint; she doesn't say she did. She says she was offered a Juliet as a final performance and then says she felt, "it's important to be honest and keep my own voice rather than keep quiet and do this performance." But she was indeed scheduled to debut her Juliet with ABT last May 28th - it was canceled, along with everything else that season. One possible explanation that comes to mind is that she took the offered deal, but didn't get to dance her Juliet, so now is presenting ABT as trying to silence her and herself as having been too principled to accept such a deal. All that might not be appealing to the management of companies thinking of hiring her.

My interpretation was that she was offered the consolation Juliet after the 2020 Met season had already been cancelled (she was cast in two other ballets that season, after all), and around the time of her mysterious departure, with the expectation that she would dance it in the subsequent Met season as a sort of farewell, perhaps as a "guest artist" after having been taken off the company roster. 

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, JuliaJ said:

My interpretation was that she was offered the consolation Juliet after the 2020 Met season had already been cancelled (she was cast in two other ballets that season, after all), and around the time of her mysterious departure, with the expectation that she would dance it in the subsequent Met season as a sort of farewell, perhaps as a "guest artist" after having been taken off the company roster. 

That was my interpretation as well, based on these passages:

Quote

Lane and ABT parted ways last summer, although no announcement was made; rather, in September, her name was quietly taken off the roster.

...

After the 2019 season ended, for the first time in my career I asked Kevin very respectfully to not pair me with one particular partner ever again. He was consistently injured and calling out of rehearsals, and never in class. It made it hard for me to perform my best.

Soon afterwards, my casting changed—I only had three shows for the following Met season. 

...

Why wasn't there an announcement about your departure?

Initially I asked them not to make one, because I was trying to find a new home. Then I tried to file a formal complaint, because I felt I was being punished for speaking up. In the process, they asked me to not say anything and offered me a final performance of Romeo and Juliet, which also would have been my premiere.

The implied timeline suggests to me that the offered R&J was for sometime after the 2020 Met season (presumably whenever the work would next be performed).

Edited by nanushka
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If I understand this correctly now, the R&J on the schedule was one of the three she mentions, and because it was cancelled, any subsequent performance would have been her debut in the role.  That is what she turned down.

 

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On 5/27/2021 at 9:43 PM, Drew said:

I very much admire Lane for speaking here about her eating disorder and more generally directing some of her remarks at young dancers.

It surprised me to learn that she had specifically requested not to dance with one of her main partners, and I was struck that in her own account of life at ABT that decision seemed to mark a (negative) turning point. Since it's easy enough to connect the dots and realize who it must be--one is left wondering what she thought might happen when she refused to dance with a)one of the very few dancers in the company for whose height she is perfectly matched  and who is also b)one of the company's most widely admired stars. The reasons she gives are understandable and yet, taking those two things into account, the decision--at least as she explains it in this interview--still seems surprising to me.  

I had the same thought, especially since Lane notes sensibly later in the interview that you have to pick your battles. That was a very risky one to pick, and I can only think that she was trying to convey to McKenzie in a drastic way that she needed support.

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10 hours ago, JuliaJ said:

My interpretation was that she was offered the consolation Juliet after the 2020 Met season had already been cancelled (she was cast in two other ballets that season, after all), and around the time of her mysterious departure, with the expectation that she would dance it in the subsequent Met season as a sort of farewell, perhaps as a "guest artist" after having been taken off the company roster. 

I didn't get that impression, but I'm also a bit confused over parts of her interview. It seems like either some necessary details were either omitted or the vagueness of some sections are the problem (or the editing was poor). If she was referring to her Juliet during the 2020 season as being her final performance, that doesn't make sense since that was scheduled for May 28 and she still had Giselle and Aurora to dance in the following weeks. Unless, she knew her Giselle/Aurora were going to be canceled. I wish she had been specific. I'm a bit surprised that she didn't mention never getting her own SL yet subbing for it once and being relegated to Copeland's black swan understudy and the morale-buster that must have been (or, perhaps she knew that speaking publicly about that would only invite a firestorm of criticism). 

I agree with cobweb that we don't have the whole story. Regardless, it's unbelievably sad that Lane's career (at least with ABT) has ended this way. I think she's 35 or 36 (?) and companies are not getting back to the full swing of things till next year really, so I think the likelihood of her joining another company are slim - and won't that mean leaving her husband behind, something she didn't want to do for SF? Part of me wishes she had taken that principal contract, she could possibly have had a much more fulfilling career and been treated a heck of a lot better, but then selfishly I'd never have seen her Giselle and so many other extraordinary performances of hers. Corella has always been a big fan of hers, and she danced with his company in Spain a few times, so maybe PA Ballet is a possibility. And, it's only an hour train ride to NYC to see her husband.

Her partnership with Cornejo was rare and magical. What a shame that it unraveled. I can't fathom going to ABT and not seeing her on stage (it's not like she retired). Is she going to be in the audience to support her husband? 

It's just awful.

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The more I read here, and the more I think about it i agree that there is a lot missing. I wonder how her conversation about the unwanted partner evolved? It's hard to believe she marched in and said - I never want to dance with him, ever again. It would be interesting to know the progression that conversation took. On the other hand, she must have known that she has never been a Kevin M favorite. Making demands at all was risky. Obviously a risk she was willing to take.

I agree with others that Sarah Lane is a rare talent. Yes, streaky in that sometimes her nerves get the better of her, but her port de bras, radiance and loveliness, when combined with technique (on her on shows) are magical.  There are dancers who, deliver the goods no matter what, but who will never take you to another place. 

 

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On 5/29/2021 at 10:33 PM, cobweb said:

After reading this interview, I conclude that we still have no idea of the whole story. The only thing that seems clear to me is that the partnership between Lane and Cornejo broke down for some reason that remains unknown, and for the audience that was very unfortunate because they were great together.  Also I conclude that she had an illustrious career that could have been even more successful but was mismanaged, probably both by herself (i.e., refusing to dance with the company's main star) and by management. I loved the fleetness and delicacy of her dancing but found myself often distracted by her being too smiley, as vipa noted above, and/or with a flat and frozen facial expression, like the feedback she says she got. She says she took that feedback "to heart." Does that mean she understood the issue and worked on it? Or that she rejected the feedback? I find myself dubious about other implications she makes. Was the offer of a final performance of R&J really connected with the promise that she not speak publicly about her departure from the company? Ultimately, I just agree with canbelto. 

 

I feel sad that I'll probably never see Lane dance again.  The departure of Veronika Part, while very different, was equally sad.  Those who aren't in KM's magic circle don't  last at ABT.  I think there are holes in the interview too, and don't expect to be enlightened unless Lane writes an autobiography. In the final analysis it was Lane against KM.  She was never favored by him and that was never going to change.  Her request to not be partnered with Cornejo was a surprise to me.  I thought their parting was connected to his not choosing her to be in his anniversary performance.  Ultimately I also agree with canbelto.

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I think this goes to show that at the end of the day dancers are actors. We never know what a relationship is like just looking from the outside. Lane and Cornejo always seemed to be in-sync in their many beautiful performances together. You would never have guessed that offstage their relationship was so bad. 

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Dancers spend far, far more time working offstage than onstage.  What she describes are legitimate professional grieveances about the offstage working conditions..  What she describes is a breaking point over which they were important enough to risk her career, as she knew going into the discussion her partner was more important to McKenzie than she was. 

It's rare that dancers take that risk.  However, sad as it is that we don't get to see them dance, they don't owe us anything, especially to sacrifice on our behalf.

 

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