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June 26, 2019


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Well that’s one way to avoid video proof that someone can’t do a fouetté....

In (I believe) 2008, Irina Dvorovenko oddly stepped into the role of Odette for a performance in which Julie Kent (scheduled to dance both) ended up only dancing Odile.

NOOOOOOOO! I mean, HUZZAH for Sarah, but I am so sad to have missed this, although I cannot imagine how I ever would have arrived at this performance given I would never have had tickets in the first place.......

Did Misty dance Acts II and IV?

Perhaps The World will soon stop making excuses for Misty Copeland's inabilities and oversized ego. She has never in her entire career been able to pull off a performance of Odile without botching the hard steps or completely skipping them. Now she's skipping the entire role.

She's got a doctor who presumably clears her to dance, and ABT presumably also clears her medically to dance. It would be a tremendous liability if they didn't.

She's stopped taking company class, according to her outside coach. Are we supposed to think it's because of some injury? She doesn't want to be in a class where literally everyone dances levels above her and where she will be humiliated as the affirmative action principal who never had the ability to do much in the first place.

Last night she bailed or was removed against her will from Odile in which she routinely does pique turns instead of fouettes. It can only mean one of three things, either: 1) She can't even do piques anymore when they require her to perch on the leg opposite the one which would have taken the stress of fouettes, or 2) McMoron finally decided that it was more important for ABT to present outstanding dancing than it was to present Misty, or 3) Misty is tired of enduring the humiliation of presenting herself on stage in a role for which she is unqualified.

As of this moment, Misty has publicly shown no grace toward and given no thanks to Sarah Lane for stepping in at the last moment to lift the heavy weight for her. It's not surprising. Nor will it be a surprise when she blames someone else for last night -- or blames it all on racism.

Methinks Misty's body is fast deteriorating. She didn't dance any Ratmansky this season either. Overjoyed for Sarah but she deserves to actually be cast in the role months in advance. Shame on McKenzie for using her as a reliable sub.

I did a deep dive on Instagram and saw someone in the audience that had met Misty last night mentioned that Misty was "battling the flu". I don't believe that for a second. If she truly had the flu, she would have pulled out of the entire performance. She can't do the choreography anymore, plain and simple.

If she's battling the flu, why was she permitted around the other dancers and particularly Herman? Didn't she care that she might infect him or others? Didn't she get a flu shot? It sounds like she's desperate to set up a scenario that will allow her to come out and do her little pique turns in Act III Saturday night with Hallberg when she's "fully recovered."

What an insult to David that would be.

David is nothing more than a notch in Misty's belt. That they are completely unsuited as Siegfried and Odette/maybe-Odile is the understatement of the year.

I suspect the answer is no, but did anyone on this site see Sarah's Odile last night? I haven't seen any coverage, beyond Haglund's picture of the Playbill insert and an IG post from Sarah in her Odile tutu commenting on the unexpected nature of her performance.

Haglund - you'd probably know best off the top of your head - who has been the most frequent ballerina filling Gillian's performances this season? I ask because Friday night's performance was supposed to be Murphy/Hallberg, and I am a little surprised that Misty was subbed in for Gillian.

Update (of sorts): I see that ABT at least had the decency to allow both ballerinas to take bows last night.

I don't know who has been filling in the most for Gillian. I threw out my first brochure for the season and cannot recall what she was initially cast for.

I understand from a source close to Sarah & Luis that their performances went well. Luis was debuting (I think) as Benno.

That Misty was subbed into Hallberg's performance says a lot about the declining interest by the public in his performances. Too bad Shevchenko didn't get the chance.

Yes, as Benno with Betsy McBride making her debut in the peasant pas as well.

Sarah hasn't posted anything about it on her instagram when usually she's pretty vocal post-show. I wonder if she's miffed that she was called in to be the substitute teacher for one act when she can dance circles around Misty. I'm sure to a certain degree it's demoralizing. At least they brought her out for bows, though I doubt Herman would have let her be hidden away anyway.

Sarah has stories on IG, everyone quick, go watch!! She seems bitter about it, as is extremely appropriate. This whole thing is so shockingly horrible I'm having a cross-Atlantic multi-social-media text meltdown with an equally horrified friend.

One of two things happened here. Either Copeland straight up didn't feel like doing Odile because she can't so it, or McKenzie pressured her into doing at least Odette while very ill because he thinks it's the best way to preserve his sales for future Misty performances. I suspect some of both. Any of these possibilities is mind bogglingly appalling.

If any good comes out of this, I hope it's that Lane finally gets to do Swan Lake next year. Twice.

Misty's Insta said that she danced with the flu...suuuuuuure.

I appreciate the significance that Misty holds for many. However, with each embarrassment like this, the pride/hope from seeing a black principal diminishes. You hate to see it.

We've now had years of excuses about Odette/Odile. Anyone with a shred of dignity wouldn't place themselves in the position to continuously take a role that they know they can never dance. It's stealing opportunity from those who can and it's a true insult to Sarah.

Misty should retire. She can save face by turning to Hollywood.

She just posted this on her Instagram: "Thank you @hermancornejo my unbelievable partner, for holding me up when my legs were weak, dancing with the flu. And to @sarahlaneofficial for saving me and dancing my third act last night in #swanlake Love you fam!" Did she read the comments here?

When Misty bailed on her Swan Lake in Washington DC a few years back, it was due to a thought-provoked injury that appeared right after Devon Teuscher knocked it out of the park with her own debut that included incredibly sizzling turns. This week she has had to witness not only Devon's legitimately star-quality performance but also Shevchenko's, and then also witness the humiliation of Seo's downfall in Act III. Misty needed a way out. She likely was feeling sick to her stomach from the idea that she would have to go out and perform her pathetic, amateurish version of Odile. Thought-provoked flu symptoms -- it's the only explanation; otherwise why would she be permitted to risk passing the flu to everyone else in the company, especially Herman. It's as inconsiderate as can be to risk making all your colleagues ill with flu just so you can practice your rich bows in front of the curtain.

No real flu here, I'm afraid; just "thought-flu".

One of Sarah's Instagram stories had a photo of her in the black swan costume and this caption: "And with a couple hours notice, I guess, this is happening tonight. #blackswan" I wouldn't blame her for being bitter, but this almost sounds to me a bit more....incredulous that it was happening this way. Poor Sarah. And a bit off topic Haglund, but what happened to Seo in Act III this week?

Dear Haglund,
Just a quick point of clarification on your post - it wasn't Jolinda Menendez in a Minneapolis Swan Lake Odette (and not Odile) performance - I know because I am Jolinda Menendez. I did Odette/Odile Swan Lake performances with ABT under Lucia Chase but never half of one. I think you may be thinking of one of my Nikiya performance in Bayadere (in Minneapolis?), when I was dealing with a foot injury and should not have performed but did anyways (as we did in those days) - my foot started giving out in Act I and fortunately, Martine Van Hamel was in the theater that night and she finished 2nd and 3rd Acts (thank you Martine!).

Anyways, I follow your column - keep covering the ballet world! With appreciation, Jolinda

Not going rehash much on Misty and the optics of this performance on her because other commenters here and other ballet forums are well on their way besides this comment: I find it telling that Stella Abrera (several years her senior) who just recently had a big spread in NYT about how she maintains it all- lots of physical therapy, conditioning, ibuprofen, and admitting that some roles are no longer ones that she can still do confidently-I think she is selling herself slightly short but I digress- is still getting tapped for tricky Ratmansky choreography and Misty has no Ratmansky in her schedule this season. I’ll give Misty credit for getting outside coaching but given the videos you can find now on YouTube with this coach, clearly improvement but not enough when you got other ballerinas at all other levels who are tearing through roles with aplomb.

Other ballet forums are reporting in that Sarah and Luis did really well and seemed to have garnered new fans, particularly Sarah. No fouettes snafu of two years ago and much stronger characterization perhaps thanks to her work with Manon was reported. Mckenzie is bonkers to not give her a SL next year but like many others not holding my breath. She just needs to start guesting if SL is what she wants to get more experience in. Herman has his Act III Variation up and he didn’t seem cautious at all.

If McKenzie could condition the right partners, I would attend EVERY evening of a week in a Met Season that including Christine, Devon, Skylar, Gillian, and Sarah as O/O. I don't think they'll drop Swan Lake from a season any time soon, so fingers crossed!

I just find this whole casting thing quite odd. I attended a performance a few years ago when Gillian was injured in Act II and, after an extra long intermission, Hee stepped up to take her place for the duration, and, similarly, was at a performance of Giselle at the Royal Opera House where Matty Ball replace an injured-in-Act-1 Hallberg as Albrecht, but I don't think I've ever seen this pre-planned substitution of a ballerina for one portion of a ballet. I understand the debilitating nature of the flu, but I feel like you should pull out of the whole thing and not just one piece.

Hi, Jolinda!

Thanks so much for the clarification that it was not you in the matinee S.L. in Minneapolis. My sincere apologies for the mis-ID. Now, I will be doubly embarrassed if the Odile turns out not to have been Yoko Ichino, but Janet Shibata or some other dancer. That might lead the discussion down an unfortunate path...

I'm afraid that I don't recall the La Bayadere that you referenced. Back in the 70s & 80s I was spending most of my money on Swan Lakes. ABT would come to town and I would see every one of them.

Thanks again for your comment, and also for the wonderful video interviews that you conduct with dancers when they visit Indianapolis to guest teach.


Just when I thought I could not dislike Copeland anymore, I see her smooching my two favorite dancers when she (claims she) has the flu. ICK. On so many levels.

Unrelated -- that sign says Nicole Graniero was dancing -- did she not decamp for DC a while back?

Emily, Misty needs another PR rep who can think her excuses through a little more before unleashing them. If you're "battling the flu" you don't put your mouth all over other people, Jeeze Louise.

Yes, Nicole did decamp but has been returning for ABT's Met seasons for a couple of years.

I can not begin to imagine how Ms. Lane feels. Second best to a dilettante when she should have had the role all along. There is such a fine stable of young dancers at Ballet Theatre right now that it is just unconscionable that Mistyrama still continues. A nod to her colleagues for not expressing their real feelings. Siting the flu, then slobbering all over the other cast members is just ridiculous. The message being sent by the AD is that a great press agent trumps hard work. Skylar, Devon, Sarah, Christina and “ Hurricane “.... you da real deal.... and we all know it. To all of you.. if class were a scent, you’d reek!

David is rehearsing Black Swan PDD with Shevchenko, don't be surprised to see her on Sat.in place of Misty. They look great together and should have been cast. Misty is too short for David so the Prince is dancing with a little duck not a swan. She would have bailed out but her shows are sold out,people come especially to see her so she couldn't cancel. She was a good Manon though.

I see some irony in all of this, but also convoluted justification: years ago Sarah Lane became known beyond ballet circles because she had to body double for someone who was good at acting but not at ballet and she dared talking about it. Here, again, she is doing tricky steps for someone who can not do them. At least now she gets full credit. This, however, proves her point from years ago: it is not easy to be a ballerina. Sometimes even actual ballerinas can not do it, let alone actresses who took classes for a few weeks.

Hi Haglund. I agree about M hiring another PR rep. She should hire me. I would have said that it is mono and then advised her not to kiss anyone. But seriously this whole thing is so incredibly ridiculous.

NYCGirl, seriously?! Is it going to be another pre-planned bailout of Act III by the Fakerina?!! She really is low class. Hopefully Shevchenko will get the full performance.

I would think that by now the other principal women see what she's doing and realize that they will only be considered her "backup dancers" if they continually go out and save Misty ass from having to do the hard work. This certainly has turned into McKenzie's latest sales gimmick: cast Misty, praise Misty, publicize Misty, and then insert another lackey to do the hard work.

I've really enjoyed reading about the events of the past 24 hours. I love that Sarah Lane is receiving credit due to her impeccable skills and devotion to her art. And for once, the other dancer involved has been revealed - to some extent, anyway - in a negative and problematic light. All this, based on stupidity and greed. Copeland will never change managers - they've made too much $$ together, mountebanks that they are. I am so looking forward to Sarah's two performances next week!

If Shevchenko dances the Black Swan PDD then I call bs on the flu excuse. The flu either gets better or worse as time goes by. If Copeland were in the early stages then she'd be too sick to dance on Saturday and you bet other dancers would be about to get sick too. If the virus were on its end stage then she'd be good to dance all 4 (well, 3) acts. She wasn't sick during Manon, so that's kind of suspicious too. Also, if the virus were near the ending, she wouldn't be putting other dancers at risk of catching it. Then again, she would have during Manon as that would have been the early stage of the virus. Like I said, I find her excuse rather suspicious. At this point, saying that she has a scheduling conflict during act III and act III alone would have made more sense to me, to be honest.
I hope Misty fans enjoyed watching the act III choreography that way it's supposed to be done. Perhaps some of them learned for the first time what 32 fouette turns really look like, with no piques or turns from 5th at the halfway point.

LOL, Alli. "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to American Ballet Theatre. In this evening's performance, Misty Copeland has a scheduling conflict during Act III and will be unavailable to perform. Sarah Lane (or Christine Shevchenko) will dance in her place."

Flu in July? When pigs fly. Misty should start transitioning to her next career as a judge on World of Dance. Derek Hough would be a great partner for her.

I guess the bright side is Sarah wasn't forced to do the Pas de Trois this year like she was last year.

The flu has seemingly passed as she posted a picture in hr Odile’s tutu with David and Irina. Remarkable recovery

@Haglund Yeah she is a back up plan but Misty is also rehearsing BS PDD now so you got 50%-50% chance. It's a big night for Misty - full house. All her fans are flocking to see her famous pique turns coda.

Or maybe McKenzie will just send Schevchenko in to do 32 counts and then rush her off the stage and send the Fakerina back on. I don't plan to go regardless. The Fakerina's career has become such a sham that she should be deemed the Shamarina.

Do you think that one day years from now some of the dancers will write a tell all about all the stuff that is going on with casting at ABT?

I'd bet that Misty's Black Swan is danced by another dancer tonight. My guess is that the Misty PR juggernaut has ended up putting McKenzie in a position where he can't win. Her fans demand SL, and if he allows her to dance it and she fumbles Black Swan again, it's an admission that she shouldn't be a principal at her level of technique. But if he doesn't give her two, there won't be enough tickets for all her fans and there will be an outcry. For sure ABT will get negative publicity and possibly charges of discrimination.

Subbing in dancers who can dance Black Swan is probably the most graceful solution he could come up with. Misty saves face, most of her fans aren't very knowledgeable about ballet and don't care that it's a different dancer for part of the show, and ABT saves itself from fan backlash. And Sarah Lane, as commenter pbf noted earlier, is once again doing tricky steps for someone who cannot do them.

First of all, the Fakerina's performances are not "sell-outs"; they are "give-outs" -- to organizations, to corporate donors, to anyone and everyone. ABT gives huge blocks of tickets to the companies of its donors.

Secondly, McKenzie is not above artistic corruption if he thinks it will make him look like he's doing his job. He doesn't have enough years left in his life to live down the harm he has done to ABT by politicizing it almost to the point of death and by smothering talent in the ranks for the benefit of the Fakerina while making endless excuses for her. He's like the Bill de Blasio of Ballet.

I am sure you are right that a Misty house is largely give-outs. I suspect that they are ABT's most popular give-outs, though, because so much of the public has heard of the famous Misty.

If I were the Bill de Blasio of ballet (snort!) Misty gets subbed again due to a previously unmentioned minor injury that she soldiered through on her first SL, alongside the flu. But the injury got aggravated in rehearsal and so as not to disappoint her legions of fans, she will perform only the White Swan role to prevent the possibility of incurring serious injury.

Saw Jolinda Menendez many many times late 70s early 80s. Have all programs from those ABT seasons and loved her Bayadere entrance in Turning Point. Loved her response here.

I was gifted a ticket to Swan Lake for the 8/29 evening performance. I have never seen Misty Copeland perform live, and although I have not been overly impressed by the performances I've watched on video I hoped for better in a live performance.Sadly my expectations were not confirmed. Swans are ungainly creatures out of the water, so in that her performance was authentic. I admit I am prejudiced and unfair by mentally comparing the Odette/Odile I was witnessing to dancers I've seen in the past and some only on video. However, cast in a role that demands virtuosity, she was treading water. I walked out at the end of Act III, with words of another bird echoing in my mind. Nevermore Nevermore

Oh dear...

I was there last night as well, Haglund. I agree with everything that Bill said above. The tempos slowed down considerably for all of Copeland's bravura passages. Time and again, Hallberg kept her upright and put back on balance. (I stopped counting after "six.") I understand and appreciate everything that Copeland stands for, but I was completely and totally underwhelmed. (Oh, and she didn't even bother to do one fouetté in Act III!)

Oh my.... Maybe she was feeling flu-ish for another reason. Nah, we couldn't be so lucky.

It’s sad, she fight to be able to do swan lake, what at irony that because of it, she can do the unthinkable, swan lake without the 32 fouettés.... she wants to set an example, she can send the message of honesty, integrity and being humble about what she can and can not do. We never saw Alessandra Ferri doing Swan Lake or Julie Kent doing Don Q, why we have to see Misty doing SL...... other ballerinas out there are struggling with their bodies, they spend a lot of their time and money doing therapy and body conditioning....maybe misty need to do more of that and less social media..... even do she dance the whole ballet on Saturday I could not feel but cheat by her publicity and Abt casting her with David....

Dancelover, ITA with your main point. To my knowledge, Ferri didn't perform Odile although she did dance Odette, just not with ABT. Julie Kent did occasionally dance Kitri but without much success. She even danced Theme and Variations at least once -- I may be the only witness who survived and remains alive today to tell about it.

Ferri danced Swan Lake when she was younger, in 1988 to rather unfavorable reviews. As one of the critics wrote at that time: "Every actor wants to play Hamlet. Every ballerina wants to dance "Swan Lake." Some shouldn't." This applies to Misty as well. Ferri got praised for her Kitri though but being a smart ballerina protecting her international star reputation, she stopped performing these roles althogether when her technique was just not there. The difference is, back then the press and ballet fans would not be as forgiving as Misty's fans and current PC dance critics are, nor would she hire PR spin doctors to defend her technical failures on social media.

I cannot believe that ABT puts up with this sort of unprofessionalism, just to pander for PC dollars. I'm not just referring to Copeland being thrust onto the paying public but also this entire "woman choreographers" ad-nauseum pushing. Just think of all of the great Tudor, Ashton, et al "male ballets" that aren't being scheduled just to push the Dorrance and Marston idiocies on us. Not to say that there haven't been wonderful female chor'ers like Tharp, Nijinska, DeValois and Holmes (stager of the hit Corsaire)...and they all made their mark without touting their gender. This is a very sad time for ABT.

ITA, Jeannette. When was the last time ABT performed any of its Agnes de Mille rep? De Mille and all of the women choreographers who you pointed out made their marks without touting their gender -- ALL of them are better than these angst&yank and slide&tap dilettantes who ABT is peddling to the public.

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