Haglund is not an eavesdropper. Even in crowds at events like the opera or ballet where people openly discuss their personal lives and others’ lives for all to hear, Haglund does not usually bend an ear to it. When he does, it just reminds him of what a boring little life he leads. So, when he sat down at Au Bon Pain before Wednesday night’s ABT performance at City Center to have a bite, he didn’t intend to listen to a nearby corps dancer complaining to an agent over coffee about the hierarchy in the corps at ABT and asking how she could get another job at another ballet company in Europe. But, you know, some things are just impossible to resist.
Dancers are often still in adolescence when they join a ballet company’s corps. They’ve never had to rely on real 9-5 jobs like the rest of us, and because they were so talented as children, were usually the priority of a lot of people’s lives – parents, teachers, coaches. Enter the corps of ABT – you’re nobody’s priority, you’re one of the less accomplished and talented, you’re worked six days a week, you’re invisible and tired all the time. You soldier on for years making the most of little parts thrown your way never fully expecting the proverbial big break. It’s a rather abrupt introduction to reality.
But this young woman, who has been in the corps not more than a couple of years, was sounding off about how demi-soloist opportunities were being denied her for the benefit of less talented individuals who possessed seniority. It wasn’t fair, she whined from under her long bangs. And so, it was with great interest and scrutiny that Haglund watched her performance on Thursday night. He concluded that it would be just fine with him if she left ABT.