The Symphony in C and Ratmansky premiere casting for the Met Season have appeared on the ABT website. It's going to be wonderful to see Veronika Part in the second movement, but the long and the short of it is that the finale with Paloma Herrera, Veronika Part, Xiomara Reyes, and Sarah Lane all trying to execute simultaneously has <2% chance of succeeding. The second cast with the Schmimports augmented with Misty Copeland and Simone Messmer has less. Simone will be fabulous. The first movement will be a big challenge for Misty. Hopefully she has had an opportunity to see Ana Sophia Scheller at NYCB in the role or perhaps will have the opportunity if Ana dances "C" in February. Misty has gotten a little off-track over the past couple of years. Instead of working hard to transform the upper body and port de bras into a more classical form, she seems to have signed on to imitate some of the more gross aspects of Osipova and Semionova with misplaced legs to the ear and over-split jumps that result in a dropped crotch look. A lot of people are praying that she gets back on track. Really praying.
It is astonishing to see that both Gillian Murphy and Stella Abrera have been locked out of Symphony in C when they along with Part and Messmer would have been a gold first cast that could deliver a first rate finale in addition to fabulous individual movements. Three of the four of these dancers could knock out any one of the four movements with extraordinary results.
The Kennedy Center Symphony in C casting hasn't appeared yet; so, maybe there's hope that McKenzie will get at least one right. But given his track record so far, nobody should hold their breath. In fact, there are even more ways it could get worse given what McKenzie has been promoting lately.
NYCB dances Symphony in C on February 7, 8, 9 (mat), and 10. Don't miss it. On February 8th, you can get Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH, too.
The importation of foreign guest dancers for principal opportunities continues unabated. Now, McKenzie is trying to sanitize his import business by calling it an exchange. The dancer he has imported from the Royal Danish Ballet, while expectedly wonderful in Bournonville, is nothing special in Petipa. There's enough video on YouTube to see that. The guy has major problems with floppy arms and wrists and is an inconsistent and unspectacular turner. The dancer who McKenzie has imported from the Royal Ballet is a smallish, clean technician who is deserving of the high respect that he gets from his home audience. But he's not any better than ABT's own Joe Gorak who McKenzie thinks he's doing a favor by holding back.
The Royal Ballet dancer comes with a Genée Gold Medal, the prestigious RAD prize. That's great. But how does ABT treat its own one and only Genée Gold Medal Winner? Like crap. Stella Abrera, who is ABT's only Genée gold medalist, hasn't been given the opportunity to develop any leading principal classical roles. In fact, she hasn't been allowed to dance one, single, solitary leading principal role in a classical full length ballet in her entire career. Not one. In fact, and this is particularly sad, McKenzie won't even allow her ABT biography to state that she has performed arguably the most difficult classical role of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty with another company to international rave reviews. She is one of the top classicists in the company right now, and McKenzie is just wasting her career, and CHEATING the audience out of opportunities to see her dance year after year after year while he imports garbage and tries to find the next "IT Girl" who the media will pick up on. It's disgusting. It's disgusting to see honest classicism replaced with pandering.
ABT claims now to be a presenter of the greatest dancers in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. The greatest interpreters of Balanchine are at NYCB. The greatest interpreters of Petipa are at the Mariinsky and Paris Opera Ballet. The Schmimports that McKenzie buys on sale aren't the best at anything -- not a damn thing. And yet, he bases entire seasons on them. It's disgusting.
People are paying a lot of attention to Matthew Golding who McKenzie made waste and wilt in the corps. Golding saw the writing on the wall and bolted. In the few years since leaving ABT, Golding has excelled internationally. He made great strides in his short time at the Corella Ballet, quickly rose to principal at Dutch National Ballet, has been honored to dance at the Mariinsky, and is a guest principal at the Royal Ballet where he also trained. This guy has always been fantastic, and yet for some reason, McKenzie couldn't make it work. Right now, he's repeating the same damn mistakes with Joe Gorak, Eric Tamm, Luis Ribagorda, Joe Phillips, and Roddy Doble.
When is ABT's Board going to wake up? People are tired of being CHEATED out of seeing ABT's own world class dancers.