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July 13, 2010


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As an ardent ABT fan, I agree with your most of your assessment above, but I will plead the case for Alina Cojocaru's single guest appearance this season. She hasn't danced with ABT since 2003 and she danced a role that she is already famous unlike Osipova, who used ABT's resources to debut two roles that her home company hasn't seen fit to give her for whatever reason. There has to be a better way to balance guest artists- we should be seeing people like Cojocaru, Vishneva, and Osipova- with creating real stars within the company. Stella Abrera's sidelining is appalling. I have high hopes for Simone Messmer, but only time will tell.

i'm thinking it's also possible that angel withdrew from the performance himself, because he was disgusted over the way he was treated this season, and maybe because he thought, if ABT will not prioritize him, he might as well not give ABT his priority and just spend more time with his company.

i'm really saddened to realize that dancers have really short careers and that stella is more than halfway through hers! sascha too, i realized, is 32, and not "hot property" anymore, but really, he's a great dancer and a far better actor than some principals (hello ethan).

Rachel Marlene -

Excellent points regarding Cojocaru.

There has to be balance AND restraint when it comes to using guest artists. Furthermore, they should be used to build attendance during the weekday performances, not the Saturday performances that sell the best anyway.

-- Haglund

Michael, you could well be correct about Angel making the decision. Who would blame him?

With regard to someone not being hot property at 32 -- that's the age that they should BECOME their most hot -- when all aspects of their technique and artistry come together and are in balance. Radetsky still has great years left. Haglund hopes the company doesn't waste them.

so i was thinking, if guest artists like osipova and cojacaru, and as you say, bolle and vishneva, continue to bring in huge audiences (the osipova performance was sold out weeks in advance, whereas there were empty seats even in R&J's opening night with ABT's stars, marcelo and julie), then ABT will most likely continue to take in guest artists because they are running ABT like a business, and they need money and profit. it's a sad fact i guess. also even if a sizeable portion of ABT's funds are from donors, i guess it still better for ABT to show donors full houses with guest stars, rather than empty seats with house artists? or maybe pressure should come from donors to say, "hey, we want you to develop ABT's talent!"

I share these concerns about company dancers. Arron Scott, for example, dances with great integrity and technique- a better dancer, imo, than Simkin. Scott's Mercutio paired with Cornejo's Romeo in DC in JAN was magnificent. Renata Pavam could dance the proverbial phone book and I would watch. Grant DeLong should be in every ballet everywhere just to make sure it goes well. Christine Shevchenko, Joseph Gorak, Alex Hammoudi, Gemma Bond- they feed my soul.

I often wish ABT would change its structure to allow another level of soloist. The principle tier is looking thin- great dancers whom I love and support- but there is some concern

Hard to say, Michael. Though not packed, the house was pretty full for Monday night's R&J. There was a good crowd there for Wednesday night as well. On Saturday night, there were huge groups of teenarinas and pre-teenarinas in the upper decks which suggested deeply discounted or free tickets. They are usually the screamers, too. Scream-i-boppers I call them.

Hi gdc - you mentioned a half dozen dancers that Haglund trains his binocs on at every performance. The corps dancers MUST know by now that it doesn't matter whether they are in the back row or off to the far side, we not only see each one of them as individuals, but we seek them out and invest time in watching them exclusively. There are no unimportant performances.

i'm sorry to say this, but i actually benefit from the discount tickets as well, being a student, i get to sit in the orchestra area for less than full price. i'm always checking how good my chances are of getting a student ticket in performances, so while i'm happy i can get discount tickets, i'm disappointed that ballet's not as packed as opera. for opera, it was almost impossible, but for ballet, i get center area row M tickets even if i buy at 4:30pm. i did get my saturday night orchestra ticket for full price though, but only because i thought it would be angel corella, and because i thought it would be sold out (i was right). and in the performances where i am able to purchase student tickets, lots of the people around me are students too. when i was in the line to get tickets, a family of eight purchased wednesday R&J tickets and they got student discounts, because they had a kid with them. that's why at 8pm, the orchestra is full. but even in the orchestra, not everyone pays full price.

oh well, when i'm a millionaire already, i'll sponsor an ABT dancer (or five)!

oh so that's why sascha redetsky got a screaming ovation during the saturday night performance! he was in center stage, which the scream-i-boppers probably saw. :)

Great point, Haglund, about the scheduling of guest performances. Also, just wanted to say, I very much enjoy reading your blog and am grateful for your championing of the MacMillan rep. I wouldn't love Balanchine or Ashton nearly as much if MacMillan hadn't opened the doors for me, and I think it's a shame that we don't see more of his work in New York. You want "Mayerling"- I want "Song of the Earth"!!

I'm glad someone mentioned Gemma Bond- my eye always goes to her. I'd like to mention Leann Underwood as well as another corps dancer I'd love to see with more solo parts.

I think you bring up wonderful ideas. I slightly disagree about counting Vishneva (and somewhat Bolle) as guest artists. At least "techically" both Vishneva and Bolle are listed on the website and program as principal dancers while Cojocaru and Osipova are listed as guest artists are not listed on the website/program.

Vishneva and Bolle are guests in a way that they have other companies to which they belong. However, according to the original MET casting (prior to Bolle's withdrawal), both were very active and committed to this season- dancing almost every role, and featured in Camillias.

Actually it seems like Angel was cast as a "guest artist" this season because he was given so few performances. I was disappointed that his Romeo was removed at the last second. I believe that if he were given a more solid season, he probably wouldn't have dropped out of Romeo.

I'm also alarmed that the soloists are getting few chances to dance principal roles. This year, when both Bolle and Corella withdrew from their performances, Marcelo had to dance 3 Romeos in one week (Cory and David both had 2). This is taxing on the dancers' bodies and it's unfortunate that another dancer could not fill in.

The Awkward Swan agrees with Haglund about ABT's mismanagement. Mr. McKenzie should be looking to his own dancers, not the dancers of other companies.

Another problem with Mr. McKenzie is MISCASTING. The Awkward Swan desperately wanted to see Hee Seo in "Romeo and Juliet," and so in spite of reservations about Cory Stearns, she went. As it turns out, they were BOTH phenomenal (review possibly coming up soon). Better than the Reyes-Cornejo performance she saw last year. They were truly amazing, BOTH of them; wonderful chemistry, fabulous solo work and INCREDIBLE partnering (he's really a FANTASTIC partner).

Point being? Many ballet-goers have been turned off by Mr. Stearn's other roles, especially his disastrous James in "La Sylphide," and at this point they are unwilling to give him a chance in a ballet in which he truly excels. If Mr. McKenzie had left him in the incubator a little longer, given him ONLY Romeo, and had him dance more with Ms. Seo instead of other dancers that he doesn't work as well with...

The Awkward Swan believes that there are plenty of other good dancers in the company that have been treated in a similar way, pushed into roles that they are not ready for, or else shut out of roles they DO deserve, and using overly-hyped guest artists that aren't all they're cracked up to be is making it WORSE.

Haglund is very happy that The Awkward Swan stopped by and it's good to hear that you may be writing again soon. Haglund'eelers may want to check out The Awkward Swan at http://theawkwardswan.blogspot.com/

Haglund skipped Hee Seo's Juliet because he didn't want to see Stearns. It's good to hear that his performance as Romeo was better than many of his other efforts. He was, by the way, surprisingly successful in The Dream, which seemed to be just the right combination of technique and mime so as to keep him from fizzling out. He should have been given one or two roles to work on while he acquired stamina instead of being thrown into everything and torturing us.

Good to hear from you.

- Haglund

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