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March 14, 2018

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Right on, Haglund.

I was disappointed to see that Cassie wasn't cast as opening cast for Harlequinade. Given the promotional photos, etc., and Ratmansky's affinity for her, I thought she'd be a shoe-in.

I look forward to Sarah's matinee Giselle, Devon's Odette/Odile, and a few other casts in a couple of other ballets, but this is the least I am looking forward to an ABT spring season in a decade. That Sarah and Herman's Don Q is a Saturday matinee is a travesty. And add Christine's pairing with Alban in Don Q to your list of pairing grand with not worthy.

Also, despite having been a subscriber for the same period, the gods in charge of seating keep insisting on assigning me crappy seats and hoping I don't notice. The seat behind the conductor, which is obstructed view (especially for a hobbit like myself), should not be passed off as prime orchestra. This is sloppy. I do realize this is a bit of a 1% problem, but the first couple rows of the theater should not be sold for the same price as those a reasonable distance back. The Opera House is a terrible venue for ballet, but the management should do some work to price the seats fairly.

All but one of the Harlequinade casts contain at least one “undesirable.” That’s why I’ll be attending only the Lane/Cirio/Abrera/Forster cast. I hope that McKenzie doesn’t play switcheroo between now & then. The biggest abomination is to cast a totally charmless dancer as first-night Columbine, no matter the dancer’s tech capabilities. Columbine is the ultimate cute & adorable role. Think Patricia McBride back in the day.

Why the same dancers get opening nights when their dancing isn't particularly attractive nor garners notice is just mind boggling. Common sense should dictate if they haven't garnered a steady fan base after a few years of being onstage, they never will have one.

Most of the performances I will be seeing will be Lane's. Giving her and Simkin a Wednesday afternoon performance after the raves they received last year for their debuts is heinous. But the dancer nobody notices gets opening night.

As of now it looks as if I will be skipping Swan Lake. I do like Teuscher but I'm not fond of Stearns. I can't make Shevchenko's debut because I'm already taking off for the Lane/Simkin Giselle. If I do see SL, it make be the Murphy performance.

This company needs an overhaul from top to bottom. The Board needs to be cleaned out. The executive level, the AD and assistants. The dance company from Corps to Principal levels need to be culled. There is so much to be done, I'm not sure if it can be done now.

Jeannette, that opening night casting of Harlequinade is nothing short of pandering to Macaulay's odd and uninformed preferences in order to get a good review. How disappointing to see Ratmansky go along with this. How further disappointing to see that Skylar Brandt was left out of the Harlequinade principal casting in favor of Boylston and Copeland, neither of whom will appeal to most anyone who actually buys his/her own ticket.

Hagland, your "pox party" pairings forgot Seo with Bolle.

Haglund et al, I understand your frustration about the pairings - but from a business perspective, not an artistic one, ABT's actions make some sense. Copeland, Boyleston, Whiteside and others have outsize personalities and are skilled in the arts of self-promotion. They have huge social media followings and frankly, they sell tickets. Pairing these folks with each other would - as you already know - run the risk of highlighting their technical or artistic weaknesses, which can be masked with a superb partner. And also "waste" their abilities as box-office draws. Tourists have heard of them and are more likely to buy seats for SL. Young dancers all over the country are huge fans of these media-savvy dancers, and other youngsters who aren't ballet fans have added them to their IG feeds. Their parents buy them tickets.

My take on Misty is that I've enjoyed her very much in certain roles, but she's not principal-level material. Yet she's brought huge numbers of young fans, especially outside traditional patterns, to awareness about the ballet. And maybe these quieter stronger partners in these pairings will get new fans and name recognition from their pairing, and thus more casting in great roles.

ABT's dancer-publicity operation is weak, so your Lanes and Abreras get little formal promotion and other dancers are doing it for themselves. Running a ballet company is business and until we get government funding for the arts - hah - they have to make the best of it. (Also, please don't respond to me citing NYCB because it destroys my whole argument... LOL)

Thanks elfantgirl. All good points, but the only point you are missing is that Copeland's "box office appeal" has always been mostly free ticket and deep-discount ticket giveaways arranged by her agent who also continually feeds the media outlets bullshit stories about Copeland's level of dancing. ABT allows the ticket giveaways, because it knows that it will never be able to sell them.

Everything that Copeland has been able to coerce people to give her came from an effort that was launched from a platform of dishonesty, a platform of lies, a platform of feigned victimization, a platform of Misty-before-everyone-else. This grandiose sense of self-entitlement arose early in her career, and it has repeatedly marked her many performances in which she doesn't believe that she has to do the steps in order to be entitled to be on stage. These are the lessons that her young fans are learning. To many people, every time her name appears in a cast is a good reason not to buy a ticket.

I have no doubt you are right about the give-away and deep-discount tickets, though it's played as giving disadvantaged populations a chance to gain exposure to ballet. But it is still true that if you asked your average non-ballet person on the street to name a current American ballerina, they probably could name one, Misty, and they couldn't have named anyone a few years earlier. That's overall good for ballet.
Those new ballet viewers generally can't tell if she simplifies the steps (yet) although I think almost anyone who buys a SL ticket knows to count to 32...

ABT as we know imports big star names to sell tickets at the expense of its own talent. Combine that with pushing the most "popular" American dancers into the best slots and you'll end up with some of the finest dancing the company has to offer at matinees! Some of my long-time favorites should be getting those Saturday-night audiences. They've earned it.

Whiteside sells tickets? In what universe? I don’t know a single ballet fan in NY who wants to go anywhere near a performance of his. Thanks for the laugh.

Hi elfantgirl.

With regard to your comment that the public's ability to name Misty is overall good for ballet -- how so? Where's the proof? Certainly the Misty Media Machine has been good for Misty, which is the whole point of it, but good for all of ballet? Where's the proof? There were actually highly skilled ballet dancers who saturated the media before her and were household names: Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Makarova, and even Kirkland was well-known enough at the time to get on the front of Time Magazine. Trinette Singleton was on the front of Time Magazine. How was any of that good for all of ballet? It may have inspired some to study dance, but that's not being good for all of ballet.

Ellen, I agree with you on Whiteside. Ditto with Boylston. Where's the proof that their social media campaigns are translating into more full-price tickets being bought? ABT thinks that making sloppy, unattractive dancers who continually behave like obnoxious adolescents as the center of its media image is good business. Where's the proof, as in $$$ ?

Interesting to see that both Boylston and Lane have posted coaching sessions with Kolpakova on IG lately. In Boylston’s, Kolpakova is clearly unhappy and VERY frustrated (for a role which Boylston has danced many times prior), and in Lane’s we hear nothing but excitement and praise. What a shame that ABT management refuses to recognize what everyone else — including it’s coaches — can see.

Hi, Melissa.

This new clip of Sarah and Herman working on La Bayadere is nothing short of stunning. The clarity and song in her line is absolutely beautiful.
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgbp5d8lvrf/?taken-by=sarahlaneps103

Speaking of Nikiya, specifically a Nikiya who we should be seeing this year but are not, here is a clip that just showed up on YouTube of Stella Abrera in the Dawn variation from Coppelia:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHSWx_XegWI&t=0s

It is simply criminal that Boylston's clumsy goop is being foisted on the Met audience in La Bayadere while we are denied the gifts of this true classical ballerina.

I think people admire Boylston's attack. As a modern ballet dancer, she wouldn't be bad. But she does not belong in a classical company.

Her recent SL rehearsal with Simkin on IG looks particularly messy. He even looks dubious. She seems to have no concept of her body moving through space or how it relates to her partner. The ongoing theme of the pas de deux is that she is being touched by another human being for the first time in many years and she is frightened. That in turn inspires the male partner to protect her. But I don't get that impression from her that she needs protection or love. The upper body is extremely stiff and the arms crooked. She continually pushes up her chin that breaks the line of her neck to shoulders. Who taught her to do that? It looks painful.

This is not work that should be rewarded with an SL performance. It doesn't matter that she can chomp out the Black Swan steps if everything else looks unpolished.

Boylston's head is very large and when she doesn't use it correctly, it has a huge impact on her overall appearance. Add to that an unattractive facial expression -- no matter what the effort to express -- and you have problems that overshadow any of her minimally positive attributes. There's simply too much unprettiness and ineptness in her movement to justify buying a ticket to her classical ballet performances.

One of the things that I don’t understand is why someone does not work with Bolyston to correct her placement on her supporting foot. She has very long, mobile limbs, and her feet are very clearly hypermobile. While this gives a gorgeous line in the working leg, she constantly stands with the toes aligned under the heel with a hyperextended arch, instead of toes aligned with the midline of the leg and ankle. Biomechanically, this means that a smooth roll-down from pointe is nearly impossible, because her weight is in the wrong place when she releases her toes. It’s part of why she looks clunky and uncontrolled in classical movement. She has enormous physical capacity, it is just not well-developed or refined enough to justify her casting in these roles when there are others who can dance them so beautifully.

I'm staying home (can't stand the idea of Cornejo with Copeland much less witness it). I'm the one doing the eye roll.

I noticed on ABT's new website that they're using a photo of Stella & David for R&J despite not casting them together. It's clear they know this is what the public wants, yet they're just gonna go ahead and withhold it.

http://www.abt.org/wp-content/uploads/Performances/Spring-Season/2979_CFZ_ABT_12i_SHOT13_ROMEO_JULIET_197_GRACOL.jpg

True yukionna. Now ABT is loading its website up with FAKE performance pictures. It's all part of the Copeland-inspired trend of faking what you can't do -- or in this instant what you won't allow to happen. "Just make a pretty picture and tell everyone how great it was even though it never happened," their message says. It's McKenzie's way of Making ABT Great Again.

ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww after Boylston had the nerve to post that if we want to see fouettes we should stay home and watch you tube i've decided to take her up on her offer. I will never see another performance of hers again -- not even with a give away. who are these brats?!

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