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September 08, 2017

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It does look to be a better opportunity for Simkin.

I'm just saddened that his partnership with Lane seemed to make a breakthrough this year and now that seems to be disappearing. He isn't cast with her this fall nor during the Nutcracker run this December. Will he remain her partner for Whipped Cream? I wouldn't get my hopes up for Spring if he only appears for 3 to 5 ballets.

Melponeme_k, the changeroo starts in the fall of 2018. My guess is that he'll definitely dance with Sarah in Whipped Cream this spring, especially if he wants to stay in Ratmansky's good graces for the new La Bayadere.

Maybe the Nutcracker casting is what finally made him "go nuclear" and push the button.

Seems to be a mass exodus at ABT. Daniil is going to Berlin, David Hallberg going to Royal as a guest artist...for now, Marcelo performing in Red Shoes, Craig Salstein taking a year off to perform on Carousel, Gabe is in Moscow (not sure why), and another high profile young corps guy possibly going to ENB (not yet confirmed). What's going on there?

Fine, I'd rather watch Sarah with Herman anyway.

@emily

I like watching Sarah with any of the partners she has had in the past few years, Simkin, Cornejo, Gorak now Bell, possibly Frenette.

But I also see a consistent development. Any time she creates a symbiosis within a successful working partnership with any of her partners, she is separated from them. Not only to her detriment but even more to her partners. It's hard to built trust and comfort.

Lets be honest, the heart of Ballet is the romance between the sexes. It celebrates how the sexes are different and how we complement one another. Creating a dance partnership, a mystique, a "romance" that fans can partake in is a rare but very magical event. Lane has a very rare gift that she can build this kind of aura with many of her partners. This should be celebrated not snuffed out.

How hurtful it is for professionals to see something killed prematurely, something that was good and professionally satisfying. There is no reason for this except for sheer spite. On the part of MANY people in the company leadership not just the AD.

It seems to me that many are being hamstrung in the ranks of this company just to celebrate a few chosen dancers.

@Hagland. Yes, the Nutcracker casting could very well be why Simkin washed his hands. He is a box office draw and he very well deserves the right to demand who he dances with on a regular basis. The writing was on the wall in regards to that matter. Very sad.

HI Haglund,
-Greetings from SFB. Perhaps Simkin is going to take his best pal with him to Europe, Kochetkova..Ahem...
- 2017 World Ballet Day is coming soon.
https://youtu.be/teqo_BJIu0o
- SFB has posted a few videos of their UNBOUND program on YouTube, you can watch us working with many choreographers. It's only rehearsals, so no costume yet.
- I would love to dance La Bayadère at SFB, we currently do not have it in our repertoire. After years and years of begging, our AD finally bring Sleeping Beauty back in Spring.
- I enjoy reading your blog. Happy dancing!
J.A.D

I would love to see more Lane/Cornejo. I LOVED them in Giselle.

However, I'm gonna guess that the Celebrina + Kochetkova will end up monopolizing Cornejo. I'm thinking Lane might end up with Cirio or Lendorf.

J.A.D. -- That could be a benefit of Simkin's departure if Kochetkova goes with him. I imagine that she might try to retain her ABT "principalness", too. With Daniil leaving, there is even less than no reason to allow her to clog up the roster.

I hadn't realized that SFB does not have a La Bayadere. Of course you should have a La Bayadere! Imagine Sarah Van Patten, Yuan Yuan Tan, and Mathilde Froustey as Nikiya. Oh lord, what a Gamzatti Sofiane Sylve would be!

J.A.D., get on it! You need La Bayadere out there.

Just when Simkin had finally learned to partner, just when he was making his mark with dancing other than acrobatics (e.g., the Lensky solo in Onegin), just when he was forming a promising partnership with the lovely Sarah Lane--whoops! He pulls the rug out and departs for greener pastures. Not that I blame him in the least. These days in the ballet world, and perhaps especially at ABT, it's every man (or woman) for himself (herself)! And Daniil obviously has higher aspirations than were possible at ABT.

I agree with Angelica above, but I admit my focus was pulled by the chilling prospect of losing Makarova's Bayadere—I simply love it. Dancers and balletomanes alike may just have to wash their hands of ABT until McKenzie is gone. There are so many obvious candidates to replace him.

There are many candidates who would restore ABT's classical integrity: Bocca, Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky, Corella, Ananiashvili. It's likely that McKenzie is trying to completely control the process of selecting his replacement. He wants someone just like him, dull/lifeless/inspirationless like him, someone who will continue on his path and prove that he was right, someone who he can continue to "advise" on how things should be run. What a tragic, tragic mistake that would be. He's made so many bad hires in recent years that it will take a big cleanout to start things rolling again. Chances are, the only thing McKenzie is thinking about these days is how he can persuade Makarova to let the fakerina lumber through Nikiya.

Apart from the ABT connection, this question is unrelated to the above, but can someone answer it? Saw the wonderful Wiseman doc Ballet yesterday (introduced at the Film Forum by Cynthia Harvey). In the first hour, a ballerina in a red and white outfit practices a variation, gliding on pointe across the studio (a la Odette), and the music has a sinuously Oriental quality. Does anyone know what this came from?

Couldn't agree with you more Haglund, it's quite concerning and I do feel for the dancers, especially in the corps :( There just doesn't seem to be many coaches available for them to grow, and I do wonder if Luckett will be the one, as in your thoughts, groomed to take over! Honestly in my years having watched the company, during the Baryshnikov years, Luckett never stood out as a dancer, so I wonder how good he is as a leader? And really who's left now? Selfishly, I would've loved to have seen Paloma, Julie and Xiomara stayed on as coaches too! I've turned my focus on NYCB these days but hope things will turn me around again one day.

Lord help us if Luckett is given any more responsibility. I remember him well before he even got into the ABT corps. He was never even in the top half of the corpsmen. I started covering my eyes whenever he appeared on stage to do Spanish in Swan Lake or anything else. I simply cannot believe that he is in a position of coaching anyone for anything, let alone as an assistant AD. I'm sure he's a very nice man who gets along with everyone and makes everyone feel safe and content. Who cares. That doesn't get us great dancing out of anyone.

I would not be surprised at all if McKenzie wasn't trying to persuade the board to hire Robert Hill or Susan Jaffe as his replacement. One would be just as awful as the other and would continue the absolute worst aspects of McKenzie's leadership style and quality.

Bocca, Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky, Corella, and Ananiashvili are who ABT needs to turn it around.

LOL! I concur Haglund and I'm sure he's currently involved in the coaching of a few of the principals or soloists?! Isn't that what Barbee did before? Indeed a scary thought :0

No consideration for Stiefel?

I really don't know what to think about him any more. He's so laid back that I wonder if he would have the push and commitment to move ABT to the forefront in the classics. He gives an impression of dabbling in a lot of different areas without any long-term intense focus. I wish that were not the case.

In his nineties, Frederick Franklin continued to dance the roles of the tutor in Swan Lake and the Priest in R&J, and he brought those characters to life with his strong stage presence and fine acting, After Franklin died, I saw Luckett do both those roles and he was totally nondescript, reminding me of the person I knew who was zoned out on Quaaludes. Then I saw him coaching in a studio rehearsal, and he had absolutely NOTHING helpful to say to the dancers, telling the Mercedes of the day to show more chest, more chest, more chest, when her upper body was already perfectly lovely and didn't need any exaggeration. I can't imagine him being a helpful coach or a good AD. The only thing I can think of is maybe his strength is that he has a photographic memory and an ability to learn all the roles in all the ballets. That skill can be very useful, but does not an AD make.

Thank you Angelica for this beautiful memory of the dear Fredrick Franklin! :) Indeed the golden era then alongside Georgina Parkinson. Back to current day leadership or lack there of...I wonder if that may be another reason for Daniil's departure (partial departure) I can't imagine such talent can sit there to watch this poor coaching and have to agree with it? Maybe that's why we're seeing so many talents skipping fall season to do their own creative work?

I'd consider Stiefel if it weren't for the fact that he created that clunker of an astronaut ballet - strike that...not ballet but a light show with movement -- ("Frontier") for the Washington Ballet this past May.

Ugh. Daniil grew SO much this past season as an artist and I believe that Sarah brought that out for him. They were magical together. I still get goosebumps thinking of their Giselle -- how impactful it was to me and to the people sitting in my region of the theater that day. So many gasps and "wows" were heard. I hope he finds what he's looking for and though I can't blame him for leaving such a dysfunctional company, I am very sad for Sarah. I hope Gorak rises to the occasion for her. I also think Hammoudi or Lendorf could be really great partners for her judging by the little snippets on her Instagram.

ABT definitely needs an AD that will strive for excellence and not look the other way at sloppy dancing (especially from Board favorites).

Also an AD must not ignore the Corps.

I was just watching a Paquita excerpt that is fairly standard in Russia for graduating ballet students. But it is rarely seen here in the States. It would be great to see it mounted for the up and coming Corps women and men. I'm sure they would enjoy it too.

There are so many opportunities for growth but the leadership is not there.

I agree, melponeme_k. The fall season seems like it could have been put together by Julia Koch in order to be able to schmooze with Natalie Portman at a gala party:

"Oh David, maybe if we do more dances by Ben - perhaps even honor him – we can get Natalie to our party. Think how grand it would be to have Natalie at our party, Dear. Please call Kevin and tell him you want him to load up the season with Ben's works."

I too would love to see Paquita return the repertoire, but given that none of the current corps were around when ABT last did it, it would be starting from scratch and require a good deal of coaching. And I bet ABT is too cheap to pay for it. As it is, I've been told that some ABT dancers (including principals) pay out of their own pockets for extracurricular coaching.

Golden Idol, I have also heard that ABT dancers pay for outside coaching, as they fear being put on stage ill prepared and under coached by in-house staff, for all the world to judge (sometimes quite harshly!). Coming from outside the dance world, I do wonder if this is common to other big companies?

Sophia,
Sometimes the coach that AD assigns is so under qualified (either he/she never danced the role before in their life, or just happened to be a bad coach). In rehearsals, out of respect, I as dancer, immediately sense something seriously wrong with the way my coach asks me to dance, but naturally I try my best not voice my concern. Perhaps I will say a little, but if it is too much I just dance it anyway. Then for my own artistic growth ( with the need to be better) I do seek coaching elsewhere, from another more qualified coach, and of course I must pay for it, considering it is for my own investment. On stage, I dance the correct way, completely disregard the bad instruction in company's rehearsals. Not sure if other dancers do the same, but in my case, YES.
J.A.D

Haglund!!! Completely unrelated to this post, but check out ABT's website. Kochetkova is gone, out, adios, finito, hasta la vista baby. This better not be a tech glitch. No announcement, so she was very likely "Semionova'd".

Thanks Silvie! I posted it above independently.

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