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I have no doubt you are right about the give-away and deep-discount tickets, though it's played as giving disadvantaged populations a chance to gain exposure to ballet. But it is still true that if you asked your average non-ballet person on the street to name a current American ballerina, they probably could name one, Misty, and they couldn't have named anyone a few years earlier. That's overall good for ballet. Those new ballet viewers generally can't tell if she simplifies the steps (yet) although I think almost anyone who buys a SL ticket knows to count to 32... ABT as we know imports big star names to sell tickets at the expense of its own talent. Combine that with pushing the most "popular" American dancers into the best slots and you'll end up with some of the finest dancing the company has to offer at matinees! Some of my long-time favorites should be getting those Saturday-night audiences. They've earned it.
Haglund et al, I understand your frustration about the pairings - but from a business perspective, not an artistic one, ABT's actions make some sense. Copeland, Boyleston, Whiteside and others have outsize personalities and are skilled in the arts of self-promotion. They have huge social media followings and frankly, they sell tickets. Pairing these folks with each other would - as you already know - run the risk of highlighting their technical or artistic weaknesses, which can be masked with a superb partner. And also "waste" their abilities as box-office draws. Tourists have heard of them and are more likely to buy seats for SL. Young dancers all over the country are huge fans of these media-savvy dancers, and other youngsters who aren't ballet fans have added them to their IG feeds. Their parents buy them tickets. My take on Misty is that I've enjoyed her very much in certain roles, but she's not principal-level material. Yet she's brought huge numbers of young fans, especially outside traditional patterns, to awareness about the ballet. And maybe these quieter stronger partners in these pairings will get new fans and name recognition from their pairing, and thus more casting in great roles. ABT's dancer-publicity operation is weak, so your Lanes and Abreras get little formal promotion and other dancers are doing it for themselves. Running a ballet company is business and until we get government funding for the arts - hah - they have to make the best of it. (Also, please don't respond to me citing NYCB because it destroys my whole argument... LOL)
Haglund, the joy and love for the dancing of this review has made my day. The high from a magnificent night of dancing at the highest levels of artistry is one of the things that makes life worth the living for. I now live thousands of miles away and wanted to say thanks for your writing that makes me see the program in my mind's eye. (Also, if anyone has seen a clip of Tiler's dancing in Symphony in 3M online anywhere, please share. Please.)
Farewell, Craig. I was a real fan. I hope he moves on to more opportunities. I can't help but agree that that ABT is losing top talent in its prime due to its own actions. But welcome back to Luis!
Here's hoping that Sarah knocks it out of the park! I bet she will. I'm hearing that last night's Odile only managed 19 fouettes. I'm sure Sarah will do better technically and to my preferences, artistically as well.
@zoot Good point. There should be an award invented for Marcelo - "Finest Partner of Our Generation"- and at the gala event performance every ballerina he's pulled an outstanding performance out of should perform in Les Sylphides as a sylph to his Poet. Hundreds of them crowding the aisles, like at the cast-reunion perfomance of "One" when A Chorus Line set the record for longest Broadway run. I'd buy a ticket to that!
I'm disappointed in the lack of new-opportunity casting too. For those who have seen Hee Seo's SL, I'm sure she is a lovely lyrical Odette but is she able to pull off a strong Odile? I enjoy her dancing but the few times I saw her in technically-demanding roles she wasn't at ease. Has she worked up to the level of mastery to create a strong Odile?
I like Misty's dancing, always have. I at first thought that she was being good for ballet with all her publicity. Then she was promoted to principal, I thought before she was ready, but again good for promoting the art. I've since changed my mind. I now think she is far too opportunist and with all her other projects going on, will not ever put in the focus to develop her technique to justify her position or acclaim. I read this NYT "puff piece" and was thoroughly dismayed - and that was before learning the author had her own personal reasons to push Misty. Feh.
Chiming in to support the comments posted. I haven't seen enough Peck to have an opinion, but feel Wheeldon and Ratmansky are extraordinarily talented and would prefer to see their works over almost anything by Martins. However, their ballets can't compare to a strong Balanchine on a mixed bill. Agree also on churning out new works. Balanchine was so prolific that maybe today's choreographers feel he set the standard they should match, or maybe the economics of today's commissioned ballets mean too many works are being produced without enough time for development and refinement. I think a choreographer might be better remembered by a couple of masterworks of supreme effort than a dozens of lesser works (Peter Martins).
Is it just me, or has has Stella actually become more lovely over the last few years? I haven't seen her dance in a bit due to my being overseas, and she looks exquisitely light in this clip. Second question, would someone please tell me why Sarah Lane is not a principal yet? I admit I'm out of the loop these days, but it doesn't make sense even based only on internet clips of her current dancing.
Couldn't agree more. Devon Teuscher has beautiful control and clarity. She is going to be an extraordinary swan queen.
Simone Messmer has extraordinary quality of movement, fluidity and musicality. I thought for sure she would be made principal at ABT. I'm sorry they (and NYC) lost her, but happy she is dancing the leading roles I think she deserves.
I'm actually sorry to hear that Millepied didn't rise to the occasion. I'd always thought personally that he was overhyped, especially as a choreographer, but with his appointment at POB I thought maybe I had misjudged him and he had more substance than everything I'd seen and heard so far. Genna, I believe Lefevre autocorrected to Leftover in your post. :-)
Having seen both ABT and NYCB on a brief visit to NY, I completely agree that NYCB is having a peak time in talent. There wasn't a single featured dancer who didn't sparkle. And let's say it again, they groom and coach their in-company talent. I have no interest in seeing yet another super-pliable Russian at ABT, lovely as they may be. There's only so many roles in a season and the many guest artists take opportunities away from the best talent ABT has to offer.
I do know how publicity machines take on a life of their own - artists can lose control of their own story - but one of Misty's advantages as African American dancer is that she is not so dark-skinned she distracts visually onstage from white dancers. She is quite light. The darkening face make-up (that missed her neck) to make her appear more "black" is too much. She certainly has control over what makeup goes on her face. Misty needs to say no to that kind of stunt.
I too am happy for both of them - and excited for Forster as well. I don't mind Misty's publicity and exposure at all. It's great for her and great for ballet, and I do have the confidence that she will continue to grow as a principal. She may never be their finest classicist but she is a helluva dancer. I feel both of these dancers will outshine Isabella as principals in the years to come (I'm not a Boylston fan, especially of her upper line and shoulders, and her tendency to mug to the audience.) I hope Sarah Lane stays on and fights the good fight. I want to see her make it. And yes, I also wish they hadn't brought in Kochetkova.
How I wish I could have seen Xiomara's last Giselle! I've always loved her, never flashy dancer but always a delight. Of all the Giselles, her and Herman's (I saw their second together, evening, performance) was the most moving and emotional I've ever seen. Also, I would pay ticket money to see Osipova in many big classic roles (and I was pleasantly surprised by her efforts in the cinemacast Royal Ballet Swan Lake) but Giselle is probably the last I'd choose. Not that she'll be poor in any way, but I prefer the artistry of other top-level dancers much more in that role.