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July 01, 2017

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Haglund, I am usually in awe of your opinions, but I must totally disagree with you about Veronika. She is beautiful to look at, stunning lines, lovely face, etc...but she is so boring to watch. I was at Friday's Dress, she danced Mozartina with Blane. I feel asleep during the piece and I really tried to stay awake to appreciate the piece. As they began to run it again, I thought "how can I sit through this again?" Well with David and Christine, it is a lovely piece! Now I understand that Veronika had even less impetus to dance with passion on Friday, but how do we explain all the other subdued performances in seasons past? I wish her well where ever she goes and I wish her wild passion to wake her up! If she could find that within herself, she'd be amazing. Until then, I'm happy that the will be an empty spot for some of the great talent we've seen this season to get promoted (Saha, Christine, Devon)

I'm bringing a bag of old shoes.

And aren't we "celebrating" the 25th anniversary of the most despised director in all of ballet in the fall season? 20 years doesn't do justice to the "crimes and misdemeanors" he has perpetrated--on the company, the dancers, and the audiences.

Hello Haglund,

This news is a massive bummer. I saw Part's Swan Lake 2 weeks ago. She was exquisite and even surpassed herself in the Swan I saw with Cory Stearns. I was annoyed and sad that this performance did not get even one review. She dances with her whole body and soul and has been dynamic in every ballet I've seen her in. As for the partners she's had to dance with, I found Stearns flat and cold. Whiteside, whom I'd seen many times in Boston, simply is not "there"--no affect. Has this person actually mocked her? Often I felt that Part was dancing alone. I can't imagine where in the U.S. she would want to go or where her art could flourish. Thank you, Haglund, for your thoughts.

Hi Whitney. I'm afraid I haven't seen Veronika give any subdued performances. To the contrary, when she is assigned an unfortunate partner, she seems to dig down within herself even more deeply to find an imaginative partner with whom to communicate on stage. She could be dancing with a little yellow emoji Siegfried and still bring the house down. But the people who have to pay out far more than any ABT performance is ever worth deserve more than just her half of a partnership.

Right, Angelica. Celebrating McKenzie's 25th anniversary for what reason? Should we scream "hooray" because the fall season is 13 performances with 10 pieces including a freaking student piece for which patrons have to pay full New York professional prices to see? Ten years ago the fall season was 16 performances with 11 pieces. Eleven years ago the fall season was 20 performances with 15 pieces. Are we seeing improvement here?

McKenzie seems to think that presenting fewer performances with fewer dances most of which are lower quality and all at higher prices is a legacy worth crowing about. We're supposed to celebrate that? We're supposed to celebrate the devastating loss of talent over the years because McKenzie preferred putting guest artists on ABT's stage instead of ABT's own dancers? I can't stop thinking about how great an institution ABT would be today if it had in fact merged with the Joffrey 25 years ago as its board was considering. What a mistake to hire McKenzie. The 24 years of mistakes and poor judgement that followed are inexcusable. He's never been held accountable for ABT's failure to attain premiere status in international ballet. Today ABT is little more than a regional company that is struggling to keep its artistic head above water. ABT's board members should be nothing less than ashamed and embarrassed for what has happened on their watch – and more so for the accomplishment that has not happened.

I purchased a ticket for the July 8 matinee specifically to see Veronika perform with Blaine Hoven. While Mozartiana is not the Swan Lake teaming I would have preferred, I still think their pairing was a terrific one, and have been looking forward to seeing more of them together. Now I find that this will be the last one. I'm still glad I'll be there to see it, but it will be a rather bittersweet moment now, rather than the aesthetically successful one I was hoping for. No matter why her departure will be so downbeat, I still hope she knows how many of us will miss her and her magnificent stage presence, and I hope the future holds only good things for her.

Seems like many of ABT's dancers despise McKenzie. I remember Paloma Herrera's farewell performance and how she couldn't even bring herself to look at him.

I think the dancers are thanking the lord that Alexei is there because otherwise many of those longtime corps and soloists would be out the door.

I'm so sorry now that I wasn't able to buy a ticket for what was Part's last performance in Swan Lake. I saw her dance it last year and she was so beautiful, so different a Swan from other interpretations. At that time I hated Whiteside as her partner. She gave so much and he was blank face. Many times she almost slipped out of his hands because he stood so far away from her, as if he was afraid of her.

Then I saw her dance in Monotones with Stearns and Foster. Stearns was another blank face. But Foster and Part looked so good together. She seemed so relaxed in his arms. And I thought, wow, they need to throw Foster into the deep end and make him Siegfried to her Odette. That will never happen now.

Truthfully I think the blame for the company's decline must be equally shared between McKenzie and the Board. The Board let McKenzie run riot because it hid their own interference. No sitting member of the board should ever have been allowed to be a patron to current dancers in the company. NONE. That is such pure corruption and conflict of interest. They should never have allowed the company marketing department to be represented by the manager of a dancer in the company. They should not have stopped support of the company dancers and pushed guest artists. It took 20 something years to destroy the reputation of this company. It will take even longer to rebuild it.

ITA about Forster. He and Blaine have been badly needed but held back. All one has to do is look at the brief video of Forster and Hamrick working their ways through the Swan Lake Act II pdd for the first time in 2014 at a minor gala to see the incredible promise of both of these dancers. But that was the year that McKenzie only had eyes for Matvienko, Kochetkova, Cojocaru, Muntagirov, Smirnova, Semionova, Tereshkina, Shklyarov, Vasiliev and somebody named Amy Watson. What a way to kill the future of the company.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuwTwykSvsM

As a NYCB devotee (since the mid 1970's), I don't attend ABT nearly as often (maybe once a week instead of 3-4 times a week for NYCB). However, I buy a ticket -- as I had already done (thankfully) -- as soon as Veronika's name appears on the casting list. Suffice to say I am brokenhearted about this "retirement." By comparison, look at how a tall (and fellow "senior") ballerina like Maria Kowroski is treated by NYCB -- she is partnered with care, precision, pride, respect (everyone loves Maria) and even joy by not only tall dancers, but by shorter ones, too. Veronika deserved at least this much. Here's hoping that Veronika joins (or guests) at the Royal Ballet (as I'm in London often), the Mariinsky, or some other company that regularly comes to the US.

True, Deb. Veronika would do well at ENB, too, where Aaron Robison just joined. Imagine those two together! She would also be an asset to Aussie Ballet and Natl Ballet of Canada -- all of which have directors with better reputations than McKenzie.

What a sad day day for ABT, and how tragic that Part is not treated the way she deserves to be -- this would ruin the spirit of any dancer, let alone one so gifted who is watching the clock tick on her career. PLEASE let us see her come to the National Ballet of Canada, where Karen Kain knows what it is like to be a gifted, taller ballerina who needs solid partners. We will love and appreciate Veronika up here!!!

Mahadywilton, back in the day of Karen Kain, the danseurs typically, if not universally, could partner ballerinas who were inches taller than they were without crumbling under the task.

Veronika was a young star and a huge sensation in 1998 when she became a soloist at Mariinski. I always sort of wished she stayed there; who knows what might have been. Her height would definitely be more appreciated in Russia as our prima ballerinas tend to be on the taller side. Veronika has arguably been the best Odette/Odile at ABT, but her star never really got to shine here as much as it should have. I hope she moves on to bigger and better things.

Unfortunately, Veronika was very depressed in Russia after the death of her mentor and "2nd mother" Zubkovskaya. She left the Mariinsky for opportunities & happiness. Even though she returned as a guest a couple of times recently, including a chance as Giselle (much criticized for being out of her emploi), I don't think that she would do well returning to Russia permanently as a performer. My greatest hope is that she may have worked something out to join a US or Canadian company that has a tall, strong male star to be her regular partner, e.g., Fabrice at the Joffrey? I'd travel to Chicago in a flash to see them.

My hope is that something can be worked out so that Veronika and a worthy partner perform here in at least Swan Lake and La Bayadere next year. I don't know why McKenzie has such a bug up his butt about bringing in Fabrice Calmels for Veronika when he didn't hesitate to bring in the tank-like Lendorf to hoist up Boylston and Copeland and try to make them look more gracefully ballerina-ish - a quite impossible task.

I agree with Whitney; Veronika has several qualities which I like, but even after seeing her in some of her signature roles (O/O, Nikiya, Lilac, Medora) I have yet to feel much from her. I would even argue she had more opportunity to dance than her tall counterpart at the Royal, Zenaida Yanowsky, although that's not saying much. That said, it is a travesty Kevin would award Misty two Swan Lakes at the MET while Veronika had one. Veronika is superior to Misty in every way, but there's no such thing as "color-blind" casting at ABT.

Haglund, I'm so happy that I found your block. Regarding Veronika, we plan to write petition "Let ABT know that we want Veronika Part to continue dancing with the company". Just started, it may be ready tomorrow. Also plan to write a letter and ask people to sign. She is not leaving, ABT pushes her to leave. Thus, we, the people who adore her dancing, plan to take an action, and keep her dancing. You are welcome to join us!!!!

I am torn in shreds by this news, Haglund. Seeing her dance tomorrow night is going to kill me. I'm not sure I can even bring myself to go on Saturday; I haven't decided yet. I've been reading some old reviews and articles on her today, including Laura Jacobs' "Assoluta" piece and thinking about all the superb performances she Veronika has given –– and all those she's been denied. I'm so angry and frustrated but most of all just sad. I hope she lands somewhere in a great situation, doing whatever she most wants to be doing at this point. (I learned that she recently became a U.S. citizen, so if she wants to stay here that potentially helps.) I'd love to see her dance more and perhaps even get some late performances preserved on video –– though I know that's asking a lot!

Victoriya, please keep us informed about your petition, letter, etc. I know many readers would appreciate being able to sign it electronically.

Nanushka, I'm torn, too, but at the same time I understand that there is a point when a person has to say "enough is enough" and insist that an employer treat him/her as he/she should be treated or be willing to walk away with some self-respect. ABT has completely gone off the rails and no longer considers presenting expertly danced classical ballet as any kind of a priority, which I think we can safely say is at odds with Veronika's priorities. Basically, these days the company is simply whoring itself out for one celebrina. Veronika Part, the company's premiere Odette/Odile, gets relegated to a minor matinee spot while the celebrina who cannot do the steps is handed two performances on silver platter and the houses are papered for her. It is unjustifiable under any circumstances. It is unjustifiable that Veronika is not given worthy partners and sufficient performance dates to keep a career going. But, hey, this kind of treatment by McKenzie isn't new. He did the exact same thing to Dvorovenko.

When Veronika does leave, perhaps she will do us all a favor and write a little memoir to bring to light the ugly details of what goes on in the ABT sausage factory, if you get my drift. She could even write it in Russian, and I'd bet it would sell a big bundle of copies.

I've been reading some very dire news about why this is occurring. And I'm not happy. If anyone shouldn't have their contract renewed, I know of at least 3 other dancers in that company that should be thanked and sent on their way. Unfortunately, they are favorites.

I hope Veronica can find a company that will appreciate her and give her opportunities to experience before she must retire. In my opinion, she has at least a few years left for a vigorous dance schedule. Maybe Corella at PA Ballet?

As much as I would like further information on this car crash of a company, I'm sure all the dancers are on a non-disclosure contract.

Right now, I'm trying to see if I can pull together some funds for Part's last performance. It's devastating. And a few days ago, I was so happy because it looked like the company was starting to turn around and turn over a new leaf.

I'm really depressed by this whole situation, Haglund. I can't believe McKenzie is forcing her out. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised, though. At this point all I can do is hope for her future happiness. I just hope she knows how much she is appreciated by all of us.

This is just a guess, but it's possible the reason we haven't heard about any promotions yet is that McKenzie will want to use them to try to help blow over his mistreatment of Veronika.

This story really needs to end with his resignation or ouster.

What's particularly sad about ABT exploiting the celebrina's "fame" is that they're not thinking about long term benefits. Sure, the celebrina may be bringing new people to watch a ballet performance, but we all know most of them are not ballet fans and are not there for the art (a lot of them don't even pay anyway). ABT doesn't realize that if at any moment the celebrina gets a better offer elsewhere (I know, I know, crazy thoughts) or for whatever reason decides to say "toodaloo Kev, thanks for letting me be the puppet master for a while", all of those "fans" will be gone too. They're not there for the ballet, so they won't STAY for the ballet. A few will, sure, but most won't.

We've stuck around for a long time to watch beautiful ballet and will continue to do so as long as we're treated to beautiful performances. 15 years from now when the celebrina is long gone, all those fake ballet fans will be gone too. Perhaps so will we, because I'm beginning to get a little/very fed up with ABT. At some point I'll stop promoting the company if they continue rewarding undeserving dancers instead of hardworking ones who have been ignored for way too long.

So sad to see Veronika go. She's not my favorite at ABT, but she is one of the best Odettes I've seen in a long time and I wouldn't mind if she stayed for a few more years even if only to perform the roles she can and would do justice (unlike other current "principals"). I knew this day would come sooner or later because ballet careers don't last very long, but she deserves better. She deserves a proper farewell, and so do her loyal fans.

Sorry for my rant. I just had to say it.

Can't Ratmansky help? Or maybe he's outside the HR decision-making process?

Correct me if this isn't a good comparison, but Part's exit seems like Ashley Tuttle all over again. She also had a very unceremonious departure.

Alissa makes some good points about the celebrina's fans. Now that the order of ballets has switched for the Saturday matinee, with the celebrina's ballet (AfterEffect) coming first & Part's Mozartiana coming last, one would hope that the celebrina's fans may stick around for the entire quadruple bill. Maybe they can learn to appreciate the differences...you'd think?

Don't know about Ratmansky's involvement. As much as I hate to think so, I assume that he is on-board with whatever McKenzie is doing - or perhaps, just bought into McKenzie's reasoning. The only thing I do know is that no one is giving the public all the facts. This nonsense talk being spread elsewhere that ABT would not accept Veronika's sponsor's money is simply crazy. ABT would sift a dirty nickel out of a cat's litter box if it saw one. They don't turn down money from anyone and don't ask questions when it's offered.

With regard to the celebrina's paper fans, I don't think that a single one of them would ever be able to appreciate either Veronika's talents or the brilliance of the Balanchine choreography. I hope they leave at intermission.

Haglund thank you so much for sharing this sad information with us. Veronica will indeed be missed.

How did you find out that she would be leaving ABT? I cannot find any other info inline about it.

Elizabeth, there is substantial information online about her leaving, plus I learned about it from a very close source.

It's only a matter of a year or two before Cekebrina starts eyeing Hollywood and leaves ballet in the dust.

Let's hope that the offer to be back-up weather girl at the CBS affiliate in Podunk Junction comes through soon. "...and we'll have Misty Breeze Copeland with the weather right after the commercial."

Regarding the sponsorship issue, there was originally a comment from Veronika herself on this Facebook account (in the Whipped Cream thread) in which she brought up the issue of sponsorship. That comment has been deleted, though the others from her in that thread remain intact. It was something to the effect of "even sponsorship has been offered."

https://www.facebook.com/nevkusya

Thanks FoF.

It's interesting how they are letting go the oldest principal ballerina who is the best in several of their most important ballets just months shy of her 40th birthday when she would have then qualified to file an age discrimination complaint.

Now things are becoming a bit more clearer. I hope she gets a good lawyer, because it appears that ABT may have actually conspired to discriminate against her because of her age but knew it had to get it all done before she turned 40.

Oh, this is becoming more and more interesting. I really hope she gets a good lawyer.

Forgot to mention she said something like "And ABT needs the money." Lol...so your sentiments about ABT needing to sift for coinage wherever it can find it is very apt!

Thanks for the link, fondoffouettes. Also, it looks like Veronika herself has also confirmed the ID of the dancer described by Mr. Haglund at the very end of this blog post. The owner of the FB account mentioned two principals as potential suspects, but she only stood up for one of them. That's very telling.

Allisa, she shouldn't stand up for him.

Please remember, there are two sides to every story. Veronika's height has little to do with the men not wanting to dance with her. A dancer's level of talent is often deemed irrelevant if they are rude and disrespectful to those with whom they work.

The petition: https://www.change.org/p/abt-american-ballet-theater-let-abt-know-that-we-want-veronika-part-to-continue-dancing-with-the-company/share?after_sign_exp=default&just_signed=true

Thanks, LKR, I've moved the information up to the top of the blog.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/arts/dance/veronika-part-american-ballet-theater-announces-her-retirement.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=1&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F07%2F03%2Farts%2Fdance%2Fveronika-part-american-ballet-theater-announces-her-retirement.html&eventName=Watching-article-click

Thank you for the link, Arlane. NYT almost immediately revised the title of the article which was originally "Veronika Part Announces Her Retirement" which, of course, was FAKE NEWS, because the announcement WAS NOT being made by Veronika, who does not want to leave, but was being made by McKenzie, who is pushing her out.

In fact, the fake news title is still embedded in the html permalink to the article.

Yes, Haglund that is correct. I found the original headline elsewhere.

http://arts.newsbelow.com/veronika-part-of-american-ballet-theater-announces-her-retirement-18662/

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