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February 18, 2020

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Hi Haglund,

I love this great review, especially the googly eyes code blue! Now I wonder, should I see both Lane/Simkin and these two dancers in the spring Giselles. I've never seen either Brandt or Ahn in a principal role and your review makes the performance almost visual to me.

Well, as of now Skylar and Joo Won do not have a performance of Giselle. So unless the stars align, no one will see them in the ballet this spring.

Actually, Marta, I think you should go out of your way to see all of Sarah's performances this spring. One never can tell what McKenzie will do to her. I'm sure that he's confident that he can simply throw her in the trash whenever he wants--and it will all eventually blow over with the ballet audience.

I will certainly go out of my way to catch all of Sarah's performances. Not that she's doing many. At first I said just Giselle, then also Juliet, and now what the heck, her Aurora is worth paying $125+. Luckily, I'm not far away. I don't know why I'm getting the awful feeling that these might be among the last performances we'll see from her at ABT. I suppose if things go wrong this summer or next summer, there are still guesting opportunities. I would have gladly flown to Richmond, but I had an international flight scheduled for that weekend.

I saw Ahn partner Lane in the Nutcracker in December. Never before had I seen Lane dance “Clara” with so much confidence and brio. She was like a different person. Ahn nailed every lift, and beautifully. I assume he gives his partners the physical assurance they need to cut loose and not hold back in performing, and hopefully they’ll spur him on, too. I’m hoping he’ll be assigned to partner Lane for her Aurora in the spring.

I also saw Lane and Stearns last week in Richmond in Swan Lake. Stearns is Stearns, but Lane has reached an astonishing new level of excellence in this ballet. Her Odette was gorgeous, but her Odile stole the show, a real nasty, malevolent siren. Lane’s performance and technical skills were diamond-sharp, and she tossed off 33 fouettes without hesitation. It’s no wonder the celebrina gets “a headache” and can’t go on stage after that kind of dancing.

I’m happy to have traveled to see Lane dance over the past couple of months, but I’m sickened thinking about what ABT’s own Von Rothbart might do to her after the spring season. An absolutely nauseating situation. Everything opposite from the way it should be.

How great that you were able to get to Richmond. Sarah sure has spent a career saving performances for others who couldn't dance. At first, it seemed as though Skylar might be on the same path, but fortunately she has finally snagged a couple of big roles without having to wait around for someone to get injured.

Hi Haglund,
Thank you for the amazing review! I completely agree, Brandt and Ahn really came alive in that second act. Aside from Lane/Simkin and Abrera, this spring I would much rather see Brandt/Ahn's Giselle over the rest.

I too have a very bad feeling about this spring season for Lane. Only three shows out of the entire season...sad to say it seems like she's being phased out of the company. That's why I took greyhound buses to her Giselle and her Richmond swan lake last week. I had to, who knows if this spring will be her last with ABT? I could totally see the AD just not renewing Lane's contract. Ugh. And Lane gave absolutely stunning performances in both Giselle and Sean lake. She's truly at the top of her game.

Anyway, I will be at all three of Lane's shows and be alert for any substitution she might be called to fill. But I do question if she's still the understudy for any show with Cornejo, given their falling out. I do hope Ahn fills Lane's TBA Sleeping Beauty.

Lena, if what you speculate turns out to be the case, then it's really important that we get to the bottom of the matter. I also question the reason for the fallout with Cornejo. Further, given the way that Cornejo, one of the most brilliant artists of our generation, keeps showing up on stage with ABT's bottom of the barrel and escorts her around the world for performances for which she is so totally unqualified and so totally out of her league that she ends up withdrawing, it makes me wonder whether he is on her payroll. Is there a financial arrangement between the two of them or between him and someone on her behalf for him to escort her around while she tries to fumble and fake her way through classical ballet? What exactly is in it for Cornejo to devote all of his attention to ABT's embarrassment of a principal? Just asking. Good heavens, she has bought/bribed via money and accusation everything else: her promotion, her audience, her social media following, her publicity. How big a step would it be for her to buy Cornejo?

It's Brandt's natural googly eyes that make her very distracting for me. I don't know, she looks like a Kewpie doll which is not her fault but her face doesn't lend itself well to ghostliness.

Less is definitely more with the Mad Scene.

Re: Lane. I expect this might be her last season with ABT given the lack of performances she's been cast in and the fact that she was not cast in T&V this spring after performing it in the fall. How much notice did Veronika Part have? If I remember correctly it was only a few weeks.

I found on Sunday that Skylar achieved the ghostliness fairly well, but some of the Act I facial drama was overdone. It will all get fixed, I'm confident.

I recall that the public was given a few days notice for Veronika's last performance. I hope Sarah does not feel like she owes ABT any obligation to not discuss what has happened--if in fact it has as we are completely speculating. Unless she gets her side out in the open, people will assume that she was the problem.

Two days ago Sarah posted a Giselle rehearsal video on IG with very pointed text that she has gotten where she has via hard work, and that “money can’t make an artist.” I wondered then what was going on, and now I really wonder. It all seems very shady. And, while I applaud Skyler on her hard work and auspicious debut, I wondered at the time why an established Giselle had not been given Misty’s slot, particularly when disgruntled fans might be better assuaged. Why give the performance to an unproven debut artist? Then, Misty’s whole “pass the baton” post just seemed really over-the-top and rather pretentious — particularly when she has never done this for the many other artists who have stepped in to save her performances. What a sad, unfortunate mess for artists like Lane. She and her husband need to find a company where they can be appreciated.

I don't believe that there was another established Giselle who would have been available to dance with Herman on that night. They likely would have had to withdraw him, too. Sarah had a performance the next night whereas Hee, Stella, and Gillian were all too tall. That would have left Boylston who is a questionable choice for Giselle in the first place. Given Skylar's experience dancing with Herman, it seems like a good choice was made. She has earned these opportunities through spectacular dancing beyond all of the other soloists and most of the principals. But yeah, Misty's "pass the baton" and partner ownership suggestion was over the top especially since Skylar was one of her unnamed targets in her first book in which she complained about the advantages that some dancers had by being put into tutus when they are three years old.

I believe Skylar was given Misty's slot, at least in part, because (1) Sarah had just performed the night before and (2) she had a Swan Lake gig with Cory in Richmond, and had to travel to prepare for that.

This isn't to disagree with anyone in this forum, as I similarly find Sarah's artistry insufficiently rewarded at ABT.

True, Rachel. I meant to say that Sarah had a performance the previous night not the next night.

Hi Haglund, yes I'm very worried that the AD will pull a fast one and boot Lane out a la Part-terminate through not renewing her contract. Whatever happened between Lane and Cornejo, it must have been a devastating blow. Lane stopped posting photos of him to her Instagram but Cornejo went even further. He erased every photo of Lane from his Instagram going back several years. The only one he left up is a blurry one with Copland after that black swan last met season. Not being cast with Cornejo isn't helping Lane.

I also found Copeland's passing the baton comment over the top and vaguely offensive. What about letting Lane dance the role Copeland cannot do at a high level. Ugh just leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth.

If what fear comes to pass and Lane is terminated this spring, I just pray she finds another company to appreciate her.

Haglund your suspicion of Cornejo being bought by Misty makes a lot of sense. Maybe that's what the IG post about money alludes to. And maybe the falling out between Lane and Cornejo was due to this arrangement. It would certainly infuriate any dancer with integrity.

Contributing to the further devolving of this Giselle thread to one about Sarah ;), I do wonder if the new Ratmasnky has secondary principal female roles and if Sarah is cast in those. The main principal casting has been announced, but I know that James Whiteside is dancing a "secondary" male principal role, so perhaps Sarah is cast in a similar female role. This would only add 2-3 performances to her Met Season, but it's something. She seems to be a favorite of Ratmansky. I am sure that's not dispositive, but I'd be surprised if she were dismissed this year with Alexei's role at ABT.

Haglund notes she was not cast in T&V, but it otherwise just seems like a bad season for her repetoire-wise + the other dancers who have a claim to the roles. I don't believe she played any significant role in Jane Eyre last year, if at all, there are only 4 Bayaderes, in which she shines, but 1/4 of those is a guest pairing (Smirnova/Kim), only Teuscher and Copeland were given more than one Juliet, no one has more than one Giselle, and they are really spreading the wealth with Aurora, giving debuts to Skylar and to Cate Hurlin. I suppose she could have been given a proper debut in Swan Lake, but alas.

I think I'm just trying to stay positive, but it is hard. It does seem clear from the outside that she is not one of Kevin's favorites, dependable as she may be.

To keep it topical, it's not a bad problem to have to wonder whether I got to Giselle twice in a day to see Sarah and Stella.

Melissa - Sarah filled a last-minute spot for Giselle in 2017 when she was still a soloist as well. She was scheduled to dance her own performance with Daniil but also had to fill in at the last minute for Maria Kochetkova who was scheduled to dance with Herman at the Met. So what happened with Skylar was not unheard of.

I imagine many of you had seen the recent article in the New York Times interviewing Skyler for Giselle and how she created the opportunity to dance it at Kennedy Center. She had to go ask the AD; it wasn't offered to her.

Thanks for the great post, Haglund, and the great comments to you who have posted.

Hi Haglund,
I find your Cornejo/Copeland theory fascinating, but I think it might make sense. Think about it, they went from almost never dancing together to pretty much always dancing together. Then the fallout happened, and now Sarah is getting snubbed left and right. It sucks that Cornejo (potentially) sold his own sold. I suppose it's a good thing I stopped being a big fan not too long ago because otherwise I'd be really mad at the situation.
If SB turns out to be Sarah's last performance with ABT and it's not her own will, I hope she'll actually tell us what happened. Sure, people will be like "oh what a b, so unclassy." I wouldn't care about being classy if I'm being treated as scum. Hire a young PR person looking for experience (low cost) and write a script that would make the ABT powers look like the real b's but wouldn't make you look too bad. Heck, I'd be happy to help. I can be the queen of innuendos when I'm in the mood.

I cannot wait to experience Sarah Lane as Juliet. I am hoping to see another Giselle with Daniil....their partnership has grown technically and emotionally. We all have our favorites, and Sarah is mine. Her technique is so pure, unforced, and delicate. Her face on stage is gorgeous!! And I feel that she is a gifted actress. A natural Aurora and Giselle. A surprisingly dramatic Manon. A heart-breaking Nikiya....of course i raced to the box office to catch her one last-minute swan lake, and i will always be amazed that she is denied this role. It's a shame that she hasn't been elevated to a paloma-level; she can do it all. No idea what went down with cornejo, but sarah strikes me as humble and hard-working. Excited for May!!

What happened between Sarah and Herman? IT breaks my heart to see that he eliminated all of her pictures un his IG. Hey have been dancing together even before Xiomara's departure.
I'm argentinian and it makes me so sad and angry at the same time! He is right now our best male dancer in the world, he is representing us. What is he doing??? Omg cant stand this anymore. He dissapointed me very much.
I think that only Julio will be forever our national treasure, thought Herman could be the next but I dont know anymore
Dancing with that fake principal dancer whose thechnique is even worse than before is not acceptable!

Reading all these comments is so disturbing. I would be heartbroken if Cornejo were guilty of what's being hypothesized. I do think he's the greatest classical dancer currently dancing. I do not understand what happened, only that it it's a serious rupture between him and Lane. The more I read the more I believe that Sarah's days at ABT could be ending, if not 2020 then coming soon.

Absence of transparency tends to make people think the worst.

Can anyone explain what happened with Lane and Cornejo? I’m in the dark there.

I enjoyed seeing Skylar’s rehearsal clips with Max and Irina. They offer a level of coaching that ABT doesn’t seem to have anymore. A big part of ballerinas growing and achieving more is having someone behind them believing and cheering for them. While I’ve always enjoyed Skylar (she stood out as an understudy in rehearsal with Ratmansky years ago) she certainly has a great team encouraging her on. That helps a lot. Sarah doesn’t seem to have a team. I haven’t made a huge effort to see her as I have been continually more disappointed with ABT’s offerings and casting. There are other places out there that might offer her more opportunities. Been going to see ABT since the days of Baryshnikov and Cynthia Gregory. It’s not the same company. I noticed that every performance of Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake is already sold out for April and May. ABT can’t command that kind of audience but it should! Build it and they will come, Kevin. Give the audience good classical ballets with solid contemporary offerings performed by a company that is well disciplined, well rehearsed and led by principle dancers who can pull off the technical aspects and the acting. I’m happy to pay for that, heck I’d even be willing to pay for “costume fees.”

It doesn't need to be anything as nefarious as Misty paying off Herman to dance with her. I imagine Misty has enough "pull" to request which dancers regularly partner her; Cornejo is the best and most experienced danseur they have since Marcelo's departure and any ballerina of the right height would want him. And he might want to be paired with her too. She's a celebrity, and the spotlight shines on him as well when he dances with her. And judging by social media, Misty seems to get on well and be friendly both with Herman and with Herman's new wife.

I am just so happy for someone like Skylar setting high standards, I love the articule in the New York Times where she said sometimes her day off is harder from her regular day at ABT. In this days of Fakerinas/social media, it’s gives even more credit to Skylar to find a way to stay true the art form where all you need is true passion and integrity about putting the hours and the work that requires the artistic and technical aspects of this full length ballets. Thanks Skylar for the beautiful dancing and setting up the bar!!!!

So true, LA. Skylar uses her Instagram page the best of any dancer I know to promote her actual skills, hard work, and dedication.

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