Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Roles/promotions too early and it's effects

Recommended Posts

With the NY spring seasons coming up for ABT and NYCB a friend and I were talking about what corps members will become the focus of both media and company attentions.

Once upon a time in NYCB you remained in the corps for x amount of years before you were even allowed to do certain corps roles. The company gave you time to adjust to the schedule, the performing on stage and the last minute replacements in the Symphony in C that were almost inevitable.

A friend waited 4 years before being allowed to do Barocco and Square Dance. Now the young ones do it almost immediately.

Then there's the ingenue's. The ones singled out, given roles and you just hope they understand what they're dancing.

Ballet has always been competitive but I think it's the pushing of younger dancers that often puts their peers in the position of wanting to do more than they sometimes can do to get noticed.

But I wonder if the "push" of these young dancers, and in certain respects, choreographers, that cause the kind of ballet we're seeing now, which is a bit chaotic in a way.


Link to comment

Some very interesting theories here, Calliope. I think you have hit upon a couple of very important elements causing some of the problems in developing both performing artists and choreographers.

I have always felt that a lot of young dancers are pushed into too much too soon, not allowed to develop the performing experience and the artistry and maturity for some of the roles they do, but I had not thought of the reasons for some of the things we see from principals being caused by the early push and promotion of younger dancers. That makes sense.

Some companies have too often promoted people who seem to become "stars" before they have even grown up and become solid dancers and soloists. They may possess a strong technique, especially in the "tricks" department, but that does not make them ready to handle a major role in a full length ballet. Not coming up through the ranks and doing their time can hurt them in the long run, especially if they are very young and not handled well.

I think that sometimes young choreographers who show promise with their first work are pushed into churning out more and more works, often too fast and too many for any of them to have the quality and depth that might be there with less pressure and a chance to develop their skills. I have seen this happen with at least a couple of them.

Link to comment

Interesting question, Calliope. The issue of young dancers in Barocco seems to be a hot spot -- I've heard several dancers refer to that, worried because Barocco had always been cast with mature (not old, grown up!) dancers.

My theory on that bit of casting, and others like it, is that when a ballet stops being alive in the mind of the director, the casting is delegated and can become careless. I don't mean this as Martins bashing! Balanchine let Serenade and Swan Lake drift in the mid-70s. These weren't cast with very young dancers, but with older dancers who hadn't developed, but who still needed to have something to dance. (That's what it looked like, anyway.) At ABT, I watched "Theme and Variations" being demoted from a ballerina ballet to a soloist's ballet. The same attitude is what causes a ballet to have eight casts. When it's new, people (audience and the choreographer, I think) often expect to see THAT cast. But when it becomes last year's news, then anybody can do it, and anybody does.

As for the development of dancers, I think dancers have to be brought along, and the sink or swim method that has characterized American companies is not helpful to the dancers. It looks to me as though the regional companies are way ahead of the Big Guns on this one. The casting that I've seen in San Francisco Ballet and Miami City Ballet, especially, is excellent, striking a balance between giving young dancers a chance and giving them everything.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...