As Haglund prepares to depart for the Apple Store where he will stand outside calmly in a single file line with his fellow Applets (pronounced like cadets) watching the sunrise while waiting to buy the new iPhone, he wanted to pause to post a couple of more images of our own Stella Abrera in rehearsal for Giselle with Ballet Philippines. In a matter of minutes, she will take the stage a half-world away amid torrential rains in Manila to dance the role we all know she was destined to dance. Over the past decade, many of us have seen her in our minds dancing with the lilies, and we know what an extraordinary performance she will give.
From our H.H. reader, Meg, in the Philippines:
Awful weather right now in Manila, but worse last night and earlier today. I kind of wish Stella had been invited to dance during the *dry* part of the year (around January to May). But come hell or high water (literally about the water), the 8PM gala is pushing through, according to the Ballet Philippines twitter (https://twitter.com/balletph). Stella will dance!
Apparently some orchestra members are stranded, so probably canned music it is. BP president says people can come in any attire and wear boots if need be to brave the floods. :)
Stay calm and carry on.
Regardless of what one may think of Mayor de Blasio’s mayoral aptitude, he will get an A+ grade from many more New York City residents today in response to his announced New York City municipal ID program. One of the program's main objectives is to document illegal immigrants and help smooth their paths to productive lives within the boroughs by making it easier to enroll kids in school, open bank accounts, sign rental leases, get services, etc. But of course, any new program principally designed to identify and benefit illegal, undocumented workers will automatically carry a yucky stigma.
Today, Mayor de Blasio removed that stigma by stocking the New York City ID card full of free and prestigious cultural benefits and making it available to ALL New York City residents who happily won't leave home without it. He should call it the New York City Gold Card. His program will plow millions of dollars into New York City's cultural landscape and bring masses of new people into the cultural institutions to experience the best side of living in New York.
Thirty-three major cultural organizations in the city are going to give holders of the New York City municipal ID one-year memberships of the type they offer their regular patrons to use during all of 2015. Many of the organizations will mail out membership packets with cards, lists of benefits, etc. to NYC ID holders.
Applause for the New York City Ballet for participating in the program which, with the application of a little administrative and marketing elbow grease, will bring truly new audiences from every culture in the city into the world of ballet, as well as people who perhaps knew of ballet in their former countries but who could not gain access to it here or were fearful to try.
Applause for Carnegie Hall for participating in the program. Applause for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Bronx Zoo, American Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Met Museum, New York City Center, The Public Theater, and all of the other cultural organizations who are participating.
Look at this list of organizations and benefits! This is truly one of the most remarkable, generous, and brilliant efforts to leverage this city’s greatest attribute, its culture, to solve a problem that we have ever seen.
Many of us routinely join a few of these organizations each year to show our support for what we love. But to have the opportunity to join EVERY ONE of them for 2015 at no cost is incredible.
2015 is going to be The Year of New York City Culture.
NYCB opens its Fall Season this coming Tuesday, and there is lots to be excited about during just the first two weeks including:
Andrew Vyette has a very light schedule for the first two weeks. What's going on there? We still don’t have either Ana Sophia Scheller or Jennie Somogyi back yet.
2014-2015, here we go . . . .
On Thursday evening, our own Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews will jump into the spotlight at their new home company, Houston Ballet, when they lead the season's opening performance of Paquita. Word around the block is that they'll be dancing Giselle when HB visits Detroit in November, but we don't yet know which date.
The Houston Chronicle published a charming interview with them that included some non-dance photos by Marie D. De Jesus. Jared recounted how Yuriko repeatedly rejected his efforts to woo her when they first met. His persistence paid off, and they've been together for a decade and are engaged to be married.
Yuriko shared her story of how she arrived in the U.S.:
I'm Japanese, but when I was 10, I moved to China by myself to go to the National Ballet School in Shanghai. I didn't go because I wanted to dance. I went because my parents told me to. They said, 'Why don't you go for two months, get a cultural experience and come back?' They didn't send me to be a ballerina, but I ended up staying for six years. After that, I won the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland; and from there I went to the National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto. It's very close to New York, so I went with other dancers to audition for ABT.
We thought that we would bold-up that sentence "I went because my parents told me to" because it has such a cheery ring to it and is so contrary to what is popular in this country.
About 12 hours after Yuriko and Jared leave the audience standing and cheering from their Paquita, on the other side of the planet, our own Stella Abrera will make her full length debut in Giselle with Ballet Philippines in Manila. The country has gone a little nuts over the return of the Manila-born ballerina who not only is performing, but also teaching classes, and checking up on the construction of the new school which her charity is helping to support.
Ballet Philippines is celebrating its 45th Anniversary during 2014-2015 with the Blue Moon Series. A blue moon isn't actually blue. It's a term used when there is a third full moon in a season or a second full moon in a calender month.
Here is Stella's cover on StarWeek Magazine:
Little did the editors know how bull's eye accurate they were in writing about Stella's Giselle as Once in a Blue Moon – an event so rare as to be deemed impossible. We've got our fingers crossed for some photos or video from members of the H.H. Team 6 Ballet Activities Division (BAD) who are on the inside so-to-speak lurking in the shadows, but we'll just have to wait and see how Operation Stella goes.
The Royal New Zealand Ballet has tapped former La Scala dancer and director of MaggioDanza, Francesco Ventriglia, as its new artistic director to replace Ethan Stiefel who is coming home to the U.S. The 36-year-old, who is also an accomplished choreographer, will begin his appointment in November.
From the Wellington Scoop:
Francesco Ventriglia trained at the Ballet School of La Scala, Milan, joining the world-renowned ballet company of La Scala in 1997. During his dancing career he performed solo and principal roles in a wide range of repertoire including the Bronze Idol in Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadère, and Hilarion to Sylvie Guillem’s Giselle at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and at Covent Garden. As a choreographer, he has created works for leading dancers including Roberto Bolle, Ulyana Lopatkina and Svetlana Zakharova, and for prestigious venues including the Arena di Verona, the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg and the Venice Biennale, among others.
After retiring from the stage, at the age of 31, Francesco Ventriglia was appointed Director of MaggioDanza (Opera Dance Theatre) in Florence, Italy, in 2010. He guided the company to new success on the international stage, substantially increasing the number of performances at home and abroad, investing in education programmes, commissioning new works from Italian and international choreographers, and received acclaim from audiences and critics alike.
RNZB's 2015 previously planned season, which Ventriglia will oversee, is an ambitious one that includes a brand new production of A Midsummer Night's Dream by the Royal Ballet's Liam Scarlett.
The company will take its Stiefel/Kobborg production of Giselle to England and Scotland, and will tour New Zealand with Gary Harris' production of Don Quixote. Its 2015 rep program will consist of brand new contemporary works which take their inspiration from stories of New Zealand at war.
Wow, it seems like the RNZB is ready to take another leap forward along with another big shot of glam.
The H.H. Team 6 Ballet Activities Division (BAD) of lookouts around the world have been feeding Haglund reports of our Stella Abrera's activities in Manila as she prepares for her full length debut in Giselle. Between her hunts for dried mangoes and ube ice cream, she has been observed putting in significant rehearsal time with Ballet Philippines as the company prepares for its opening night of Giselle this coming Friday, September 19th.
After having to withdraw twice from her ABT Giselle debuts due to injury over the past decade, ABT hasn't given her another chance to dance the role that we all know she was destined to dance. They continually beat her up with countless secondary roles, but won't give us the opportunity to see her supreme artistry bloom as Giselle or Aurora or Odette/Odile. If anyone wonders why audiences are losing interest in ABT, you need look no further than its criminal waste of Stella Abrera.
An exhibit of dance costumes and fashion opens tomorrow at the Fashion Institute of Technology's museum at 7th Avenue and 27th Street in Manhattan and runs through January 3, 2015. Costumes from Balanchine's Jewels from 1967, Tharp's In the Upper Room, and Martha Graham productions are included in the exhibit of more than 100 costumes, some of which date back to the mid-1800s.
There is also an installation that includes a slow-motion video of Wendy Whelan.
Racked NY snuck in early and took some great photos including this beauty:
Actress Lea Thompson is one of the new contestants on Dancing With the Stars. She’s 5’3” and the youngest of five siblings. She grew up in Minnesota and lived with her family in a Starlight Motel where all of the children shared the same bedroom. Her parents divorced when she was six years old. Lea was a ballet prodigy who loved to dance since she was very young. She danced in children’s roles in a number of regional ballet companies and eventually ended up in ABT II. When she was age 20 and weighed a trim 98 pounds, AD Mikhail Baryshnikov told her that she was a lovely dancer but would not be invited to join ABT because she was too stocky. Her brother, Andrew, also a ballet dancer in Minnesota was extremely thin but also stocky.
Following her professional assessment by Baryshnikov, Lea quit ballet and suddenly found herself with an acting career. It’s hardly worth mentioning the story of Lea, who is white, except that it parallels to some extent Misty Copeland’s story which some think is unique because she is not white. Lea didn’t create a public relations campaign to convince anyone of her hard times in order to land a ballet job or demand that everybody else's standards needed to change in order to accommodate her.
While Misty continues her public media campaign to get herself promoted through the use of vague, baseless accusations of racism, it has recently come to our attention that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been considering the flip-side to Misty’s claims. Why the EEOC would be interested in alternative viewpoints of the fiction in Misty’s memoir can only be speculated, but it’s a government office that doesn’t launch investigations without being prompted by a complaint from someone claiming to be a victim of unfair treatment.
On May 30th of this year, again on June 12th, and again on August 18th, the EEOC came directly to this blog to read our review of Misty’s memoir in which we took exception to much of what she claimed. They accessed nothing else on the blog except for the entry and reader comments relating to the review of the memoir.
[click on image to enlarge and clarify]
Regardless of the outcome, a long, spun-out EEOC matter highlighted by Misty’s self-promotion in the media could be a costly distraction for ABT - a distraction that might be avoided by a negotiated agreement to give Misty a premature Swan Lake, which would entail denying more qualified, more deserving dancers the opportunity, and also help plump up her profile in the company - as if she hasn’t done enough of that herself.
These days when one views ABT’s social media, one sees nothing about Marcelo Gomes' upcoming debut in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. One sees no mention of the “Stella and Tom” video which was recently featured in TimeOut New York and which was created and performed by ABT dancers. One sees no mention of the short film, On a Grass Field, which was created through a collaboration of five of ABT's dancers and is now being presented at film festivals around the area. One sees no mention of Stella Abrera's charity to help the Philippines where she is starring in Giselle. One sees no mention of young corps dancer Lauren Post’s work as an official Wilhelmina Agency model. There seems to be a complete blackout on ABT’s social media about outside accomplishments by its artists – except when it comes to Misty Copeland. Misty Copeland’s books, Misty Copeland’s interviews, Misty Copeland’s UA billboard – which by the way is only half the size of the huge double billboard that featured two Martha Graham Company dancers for GNC and which hung by the prestigious Ernst & Young building in Midtown Manhattan for several months this past year – all seem to hold great importance on ABT’s social media. Why is there a blackout of the accomplishments of so many of ABT’s dancers with a corresponding promotion of Misty Copeland’s activities?
National Public Radio is the latest media outlet to help fuel Misty’s racism campaign by publicizing her claims without any checks or balances, without any appraisal of their truth, and without any concern for accuracy.
Misty says: "I don't think every African-American or Latino have the same body type, but yes, that's been one of the excuses ... saying that African-Americans are too muscular or just aren't lean enough. Usually they say, "Oh, they have flat feet so they just don't have the flexibility that it takes to create the line in a point shoe.””
In speaking about Raven Wilkinson in the 1950s, Misty asserts with supreme authority, "She experienced a lot more severe, life-threatening racism than other minorities experienced in the ballet world at this point.”
NPR should have asked Misty to elaborate on her personal knowledge of what “other minorities experienced in the ballet world” at that time. A good journalist would have asked.
NPR should have asked Misty who she was quoting, that is, who said African-Americans are too muscular or aren’t lean enough. A good journalist would have asked that.
NPR should have asked Misty who said, “Oh, they have flat feet so they just don’t have the flexibility that it takes to create the line in a point shoe.” A good journalist would have asked.
Who said this crap? WHO SAID IT? When? To whom? How did it negatively impact Misty’s career?
Misty is, herself, actively promoting stereotypes and racism in order to create an environment which she can then claim that she overcame. It is a hero syndrome of fueling and fanning a fire so that she can jump in as a hero and put it out. She has soared on the media’s blind willingness to allow her to make unchallenged, vague, unsubstantiated claims of racism by unnamed people. Don’t these people deserve an opportunity to admit, deny, or clarify whatever racism Misty is alluding to and using to propel her career and propel her public campaign to be promoted to principal over more qualified, more deserving colleagues?
Never mind that she’s dragging the art form through the mud; never mind that she’s dragging ABT through the mud; never mind that she’s being so disrespectful of her colleagues, some of whom are being shoved aside so that Misty can stand under the spotlight. I want what I want and I will run over whatever and whomever I want to get it seems to be her true tag line. For Misty, ballet is an individual sport where her own ranking is the priority.
Unfortunately, it’s beginning to look like it was our mistake to ever support this dancer. A couple of seasons ago during the Nutcracker coda, Misty took an unfortunate spill as she and her Nutcracker Sisters were exiting the stage. Moments later they returned to the stage for bows. We watched in horror as a visibly angry Misty turned to her colleague on stage and proceeded to trash her in front of everyone on stage and in front of a couple of thousand people in the audience in the most disgraceful, arrogant display of unprofessionalism we’d ever seen. At that time, we hoped that the aggressive behavior was just an aberration. In retrospect, we can’t help but now notice that the object of Misty’s aggression was a pretty, white, long limbed blond dancer who fits the description of those who Misty now loudly complains in her book are ballet’s race-based preference.
As Misty continues to try to advance her rank by making vague, unsubstantiated complaints about racism and attempting to take on the victimization of black artists who came before her, she dilutes the meaning and power of the word racism. Anne Benna Sims, Nora Kimball, Shelly Washington, Keith Lee, Carld Jonaissant, and Carlos Acosta are all black artists who arrived and excelled at ABT before either Misty or Kevin McKenzie arrived. That the first twenty years of McKenzie’s tenure failed to build on the progress by previous directors is not the fault of ballet, the art form.
Give dancers a little time off and they will frequently make productive use of it by – dancing, often in unique collaborations and in unorthodox places.
On Saturday, September 20th, the Golden Door International Film Festival in Jersey City will screen a short film entitled On a Grass Field which was produced by Eric Tamm, directed and scored by Luis Ribagorda, choreographed by Eric and Sarah Lane, and features additional artists Nicole Graniero and Sterling Baca. You probably recognize all of these names as HH-favored dancers with ABT.
On a Grass Field is a dance film "that takes you into the mind of a woman, whose thoughts and feelings are expressed through dancing. It emphasizes the struggle, excitement and beauty of relationships." The film was produced with funds awarded to Eric through the 2012 Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship and has been a year and a half in the making. The 17-minute film recently was screened at the Chain NYC Film Festival in Long Island City and will be seen again at 1:00 PM on Saturday, Sept. 20th as part of the Golden Door International Film Festival's Express Yourself Block of short films being screened at the Westin Hotel Jersey City, 479 Washington Blvd. It's ten bucks to see On a Grass Field and three other short films. Tickets are available here: http://goldendoorfilmfestival.org/schedule Click on the 9/20 date in the upper left corner of the page.
A little more in the spirit of spur of the moment characterizes NYCB's Emily Kikta's video entitled W 75. Emily described to Curbed NY how after clearing out of her apartment for an end of the month move, she and her NYCB pals (Peter Walker, Jackie Bologna, and Preston Chamblee) decided to use the last couple of days on her lease to create a dance video that incorporated the uniqueness of the empty lofted studio into the choreography. Check out Emily's W 75 video here on YouTube.
Emily, as you may know, is also a HH-favored dancer, but as you may not know, she is quite the talented videographer. Her video entitled Beginnings & Ends which features Daniel Ulbricht, Peter Walker and Harrison Coll who performed the video's music as composed by Coll, is worth two minutes of most everyone's time.
The 2014-2015 Indianapolis City Ballet's Master Class sessions are in full swing, but there's plenty of time to sign up and get yourselves to Indy for a unique opportunity. These classes are always on Sunday and are taught by a superb faculty of master teachers who train the best of the best in New York, San Francisco, and Canada.
Tomorrow, Max Beloserkovsky will be putting the students through their paces. In the coming weeks, Alessandra Ferri, Darci Kistler, Gillian Murphy, Patrick Armand, Mavis Staines, Edward Ellison, Franco DeVita, and Martin Van Hamel will all travel to Indianapolis to teach master classes. This is an outstanding opportunity for students to absorb a broad range of teaching styles which will help them decide for which professional schools to aim. Observers are welcome, too, for a small fee.
These Master Classes precede the Indianapolis International Ballet Competition next June where several members of the master faculty will serve as judges and coaches along side such greats as Angel Corella and Greta Hodgkinson.
The Monterrey International Ballet Gala is happening this weekend with an incredible array of performances. Fabrice Calmels and Victoria Jaini from the Joffrey Ballet, Daniel Ulbricht and Sterling Hyltin from New York City Ballet, Rocío Alemán and Ludovico Pace from the Stuttgart Ballet, international guest artists Adiarys Almeida and Joseph Gatti, Katia Carranza and Jonhal Fernández from Ballet de Monterrey, Pablo Fermani from Compañía Nacional de Danza Contemporánea de Argentina, Manuel Vignoulle and Isaies Santamaria from Manuel Vignoulle Dance will all be performing at the beautiful Teatro de la Cuidad in Monterrey.
The 2014 MTYIBG Award will be presented to Carlos Lopez, the 77-year-old master teacher, jurist, choreographer, director, and international soloist, who was the first Mexican dancer to graduate from the Royal Academy of Dancing in London.
The development of the new $400 million 1,000 seat Performing Arts Center (PAC) at the World Trade Center site has hit another snag that might actually be an indication that it's moving in the right direction. The People-in-Charge (PIC-of-the-PAC) just fired starchitect Frank Gehry from the project. He was hired about ten years ago to come up with a design, but his vision was not to the PIC-of-the-PAC's liking.
It was supposed to look something like this:
That just doesn't jibe with our brand new Calatrava-designed flying dinosaur bird that is adjacent to the PAC site and will soon open as the PATH Station and transit hub. It was supposed to look something like this before the builders started substituting cheaper materials like wax and chewing gum:
Anyway, back to the PIC-of-the-PAC: They've re-organized, seem ready to announce some new board members and fundraising efforts, and are ready to tackle the project once again with a new architect who will be named soon.
A 1,000 seat venue is just about perfect for dance. We need to get our lobbying act together and make sure that it will be suited to our needs before those MB Fashion Week peeps run down there and start trying to control everything so they have a cushy place to go after they get booted out of Lincoln Center. Boy, what a mess they're making of Lincoln Center at this very moment. This is how it always starts – Fashion rolls in on the back of a dirty flatbed truck from Indiana and it's all downhill from there.
Not to bore everyone by repeating ourselves, but let's get a lobbying effort going so that the new WTC PAC will be a super-duper dance venue.
It's totally true.
As we reported on the blog on August 30th, Frederick Wiseman is indeed working on a ballet based on Titicut Follies, his 1967 documentary about the conditions at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. His choreographer is none other than James Sewell, the former Eliot Feld Ballets/NY dancer who moved to the Twin Cities decades ago with his then-wife Sally Rousse to develop the James Sewell Ballet, one of the most inventive and ecclectic chamber ensembles functioning in the realm of contemporary ballet today.
Wiseman is going to visit Sewell in Minneapolis this month, says the Star-Tribune, to engage in some exploratory improvisation. The ballet, which may retain the title of the documentary and utilize some of its music and film footage, will probably receive its premiere in Minneapolis in about two years.
If anybody can pull this off with artistic seriousness and skill, it's James Sewell. We're looking forward to seeing that piece.
Angel Corella has hired Cubans Mayara Pieiro and Etienne Diaz for the Pennsylvania Ballet's corps de ballet. Both dancers spent the last few seasons with the Milwaukee Ballet. Angel also hired Olivia Hartzell, most recently of the Royal Ballet of Flanders.
Who else will make the jump to Philly? Let's hope that some of the big talents who can't seem to get deserved opportunities at ABT will leap at the chance to work with Angel.
Here is our own Maria Riccetto as Kitri in Julio Bocca's Ballet Nacional Sodre's production of Don Quijote which premiered last night in Montevideo, Uruguay. More than 18,000 tickets have been sold to this Don Q run. Maria's Basilo is Ciro Tamayo, graduate of the Royal Ballet School, who Julio has been mentoring since his early days at BNS.
Julio nominated Alessandra Ferri for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. As usual, she dunked herself with supreme style.
This may be a joke. Maybe not. We know it's a partial joke. But news services have picked this up everywhere and are reporting it seriously. It's way too intriguing for us to ignore.
Frederick Wiseman, the 84-year-old filmmaker who has produced several documentaries on the subject of dance, was recently in Venice to collect the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award. During an interview, he said that he had received a small grant to work with a choreographer to create a ballet based on Titicut Follies, which was Wiseman's 1967 documentary on the conditions at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Wiseman joked that he only agreed to do it if he could dance the lead role. So, how much of it is a joke?
Angel Corella has reorganized Pennsylvania Ballet's artistic and administrative staff with cuts and additions, and has revamped the upcoming October rep to include Balanchine's Allegro Brilliante while scrapping the piece set on Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Now we just have to decide whether to go to Philly that weekend or to Montreal for Paris Opera Ballet's Paquita. Will the wallet or the id decide this one....