The former arts editor of the The Australian for ten years was in New York for Stella Abrera's ABT debut as Giselle. Deborah Jones witnessed Stella's debut with the Australian Ballet in the same role a couple of months ago. Here is an excerpt of what she published today:
IF this had been The Australian Ballet, this is what would have happened. During the curtain calls the artistic director would have come on to the stage, microphone in hand, and elevated the evening’s Giselle to the rank of principal. But it was American Ballet Theatre, and although AD Kevin McKenzie was in the house – he made a pre-performance announcement – he did not right what many observers think is a long-standing wrong. Soloist Stella Abrera remained unpromoted. It was, in fact, only injury to another dancer that delivered Abrera her New York premiere as Giselle (last month she danced the role with the AB in Sydney and has also danced it in the Philippines).
ABT principal artist Polina Semionova was to have danced on Saturday night but was announced as injured on May 18. Abrera therefore got the nod at fairly short notice that she would finally be appearing as Giselle before her home crowd, and would do so with starry Mariinsky guest artist Vladimir Shklyarov.
Abrera’s New York debut was a triumphant occasion, made even more special by the presence in the house of about 200 former ABT dancers, who were to attend a party after the performance as part of the company’s 75th anniversary celebrations (that was the reason McKenzie stepped before the curtains: to ask us to applaud the contribution of the alumni). There’s nothing like an incredibly knowledgeable and supportive audience to ramp up the excitement level.
Come curtain-call time, no amount of partisanship could have accounted for the tumultuous reception, which went on after the house lights came up. Shklyarov, who had been such a responsive partner as well as dancing with extraordinary clarity and beauty, repeatedly kissed Abrera’s hand and knelt to her. The house went wild.
We couldn't agree more with international opinion. It's time to do right by Stella Abrera. It's past time. It's time to put sleazy, unethical, corrupt, racially-motivated politics aside and do what is right. Promote this extraordinary artist to principal ballerina and allow her audience more opportunities to experience her beautiful artistry. Do it today.
MIRA's incredible image: