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Gala farewells for male dancers

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Inspired by the fact that Robert LaFosse seems to have simply disappeared - no muss, no fuss - from the New York City Ballet website, seemingly indicating the end of his dancing career, I've been wondering: are there ever gala farewells for male dancers?

I seem to recall reading that Peter Martins also simply disappeared from the stage after Balanchine died. What about Jacques d’Amboise, Eddie Villella, Arthur Mitchell, Mikhail Baryshnikov?

By contrast, there seem to be huge gala farewells planned for the most mediocre female principal dancers.

Any thoughts? Personally, I think the audience would enjoy having a chance to say goodbye to male dancers whose work they've enjoyed.

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I'd like to have gala farewells for all principal dancers regardless of their gender, too. And also I think that farewell performances of corps de ballet members should be a bit special too: even if it's in a small role, it should be noted on the cast list, and why not some special applauses or bouquets at the end (and also some warnings before so that the people whoi especially like that dancer can book seats for that day)? I always feel a bit sad when noticing that a dancer's name has disappeared from the POB listings without anything special.

Not many male POB principals have retired since I started paying attention to the company: only Jean-Yves Lormeau and Charles Jude (Patrick Dupond also left the company, but it was a bit different as there was a conflict between him and the direction). I don't remember in which conditions Lormeau retired, but for Jude his last performance was as Albrecht in "Giselle" (at 45- but he still looked very good, and now still performs from time to time in Bordeaux) and I think there were some special applauses and flowers. In general, the POB dancers don't have real "gala farewells", but for their last official performance they generally perform the main role in a full-length work (La Sylphide for Legrée and Platel, Juliet for Gaïda,

Giselle for De Vulpian, Ek's Giselle for Loudières) and there is a long ovation at the end with bouquets and confettis, and also sometimes a special poster of the dancer is included in the program. An exception was Carole Arbo's retirement two seasons ago: her last performance was in a Robbins' mixed bill, and she danced only "Other dances", which was in the middle of the program. I have some friends who attended it and said it was a very sad evening. :)

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rg is correct about Peter Martins' gala farewell, partnering Farrell, at the 1,000th performance of Balanchine's Nutcracker. The date was Dec. 6, 1983. But neither of Martins' great predecessors, Villella and d'Amboise, had gala farewells. Villella's last performance in particular was as un-gala as you can get. On November 14, 198l, he performed Afternoon of a Faun and Apollo with Heather Watts, stepping in for Gelsey Kirkland, at the University of Iowa. (No offense to Iowa.)

Both Martins and Villella came back to dance after their supposed "farewells" -- Martins with Farrell in Sophisticated Lady in 1988 (and again the following year at HER farewell), and Villella in Watermill at NYCB in 1990.

I think I remember Ib Andersen having a gala NYCB farewell, and perhaps Adam Luders, as well. I hope others remember more clearly. At any rate, yes, definitely -- male dancers should have gala farewells.

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Kay, you've brought up an interesting point re the male dancer's departures... It would seem to me that they would certainly deserve a send off in their final performance...and that the audience would certainly like to know about their leaving ahead of time, as well. Somehow it just seems so anticlimactic and rather sad. Granted, if someone were leaving because their contract were not renewed or because they felt frustrated and under appreciated, this could change the "gala" approach to their final performance.

So, are we to take it that in general there are no "galas" or final performances fro male principals or soloists? Is this true across the board in all countries?

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The Royal Danish Ballet, for decades and decades, would give their principals a 25th anniversary gala -- counting from the time they entered the company as apprentices at 16, so, at 41, it was virtually a farewell performance, although many of the stars stayed on dancing mime roles.

As recently as the 1970s, the star had an entire evening and chose what would be danced. In the 1990s, this tradition had begun to fade. If one wasn't in the good graces of the director, one didn't get a whole evening -- Arne Villumsen got only one act of "Onegin," with a very young debutante as Tatiana in 1993; Mette-Ida Kirk was given one pas de deux in a Neumeier ballet in 1995 -- both of these on regular triple bills. And when Lis Jeppesen hit 25, she told me, in an interview, "They said we have nothing for you. Then they offered me Coppelia" -- meaning they were only looking at what was in repertory that season and, of course, the director controls what is in repertory that season. (She ended up dancing "La Sylphide," with a partner new to her).

Now that the retirement age has been lowered to 40, I don't know what

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