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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 1:40 pm 
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Unfortunately, not a huge surprise as Malakhov is at the end of his performing career and he is now mainly focused on his responsibilities as artistic director in Berlin:

VLADIMIR MALAKHOV TO WITHDRAW FROM PERFORMANCES WITH AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE
DUE TO INJURY


Principal Dancer Vladimir Malakhov has been forced to withdraw
from his scheduled performances with American Ballet Theatre for the 2007
Metropolitan Opera House season, it was announced today by Artistic Director
Kevin McKenzie.

Due to a knee injury, Malakhov will be replaced in performances
of Symphonie Concertante, The Sleeping Beauty and Manon.

For more information on American Ballet Theatre¹s 2007 Spring
season at the Metropolitan Opera House, please visit ABT¹s website at
www.abt.org <http://www.abt.org> .


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 1:40 pm 
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AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE¹S SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
TO FEATURE PRE-PERFORMANCE TALKS AVAILABLE TO ALL TICKET HOLDERS ON MAY 23,
31 AND JUNE 19, 2007

Performances include Lar Lubovitch¹s Othello, Frederick Ashton¹s The Dream
and Kenneth MacMillan¹s Romeo and Juliet


American Ballet Theatre¹s Spring season at the Metropolitan
Opera House continues with performances of ballets adapted from William
Shakespeare¹s masterpieces, Othello, May 22-24, The Dream, based on ³A
Midsummer Night¹s Dream,² May 25-May 31*, and Romeo and Juliet, June 18-23.
ABT¹s Shakespeare Festival includes performances of these three works, along
with pre-performance talks featuring Principal Dancers from each of the
ballets.

ABT¹s pre-performance talks on Wednesday, May 23, Thursday, May
31 and Tuesday, June 19, begin at 6:30pm in List Hall at the Metropolitan
Opera House. Admission to the talks is $20 and open to all ticket-holders
of these performances. Moderated by noted dance writers, the talks offer
audience members a deeper understanding how the world¹s most famous
playwright has inspired the world of dance.

The schedule for ABT¹s pre-performance talks is as follows:


Othello
Wednesday, May 23 at 6:30pm
Featuring Principal Dancers Julie Kent, Marcelo Gomes and
Choreographer Lar Lubovitch
Moderator Anna Kisselgoff

The Dream
Thursday, May 31 at 6:30pm
Featuring Principal Dancers Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel
Moderator David Vaughan

Romeo and Juliet
Tuesday, June 19 at 6:30pm
Featuring Principal Dancer Alessandra Ferri
Moderator Wendy Perron.


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 2:13 pm 
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I'm sorry to see a season-ending injury to any dancer, but from previous performances I've seen, and despite the fact that Vishneva and Malakhov apparently are partnered often and to general acclaim, I prefer Vishneva with Corella or (based on last Sat. night), Steifel. So I'm disappointed in the replacement casting listed; Vishneva/Hallberg doesn't seem like it would work. But I guess that stranger things have happened -- maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 4:19 pm 
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Greetings
The replacement casting probably had more to do with which dancers were available and able. At this late notice, ABT likely wanted to avoid making changes to other casts, so they needed to find a dancer who could do more performances rather than switch casts around.

Stiefel has just finally recovered from a series of knee injuries, so they probably did not want to add any more performances to his schedule. Corella may have had responsibilities relating to his ballet company in Madrid and/or at 31, need to be careful not to do too many performances. Hallberg on the other hand, as the newest male principal, is likely to have the lightest schedule, and being quite tall, not limited physically in whom he can partner.

Kate


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 8:15 pm 
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Of cours you're right about the replacement casting, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. Even though I know they preferred not to make changes to existing cast listings, I would have preferred that they did But I'm probably a minority -- I'm sure there are those who purchased tix to see, for example, Corella when he was listed, and who wouldn't be happy if his dates got switched.

But this raises a related issue. There used to be reasonably reliable casting partnerships. It seems now that casting depends as much on who's available on a given date than on any particular performing compatability between one dancer and another, and that the powers that be work on the assumption that - after considering who's capable of lifting whom - the actual dancers in a given performance are intechangeable. To me that's unfortunate. I think that a more regular partnership (assuming they complement each other) brings an added quality of assurance to both dancers, and a greater likelihood of a memorable performance.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 3:30 am 
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I certainly agree. I've always felt that ABT casting is driven much more by $$ than by a desire to carefully match and develop talent. There seems to be a focus on using as many lead couples in each ballet as possible so that they can make sure to draw in the fans, and no understanding of the concept that not every dancer is suited for every role (or every partner).

As a result you get some strange pairings and dancers don't get the chance to dance a role more than 2 or 3 times. How can a dancer develop into a role or work on a partnership when it's three nights and on to the next ballet...

I think it would be much healthier to stick with no more than three casts per ballet, excepting for injuries. Of course they might have to deal with not being able to put someone like Corella on stage for a week or more, but they would also be able to rest dancers and not cast dancers where they aren't suited.

In addition, I would agree with people who feel that the current system really blocks out the younger dancers. It's VERY rare than anyone other than a principal or top soloist is cast in a lead role because they try to have each principal dancer in just about every ballet. But ABT is going to have to face facts in that many of their principals are not going to be around much longer (Kent, Malakhov, Ananiashvili, Stiefel because of injuries, Carreno, Dvorovenko and Beloserkovsky aren't that young, etc.) and they need to develop the younger ranks.

Already they've lost a lot of talent because dancers were probably sick of doing the same corps roles over and over and over with only the rare dancer ever getting much further (Sean Stewart, Ricardo Torres, Ana Sophia Scheller and Joaquin de Luz all come to mind). There seems to be a pattern of attracting a lot of young, hot talent out of the YAGP and Studio Company, but these young dancers hit the corps to realize that unless they really beat the odds, their future is pretty much limited to third peasant or third swan from the left.

Unfortunately, I think it would take a real shift in thinking and focus for many of these issues to be solved, and whilst there are certainly many good things going on at ABT, they don't want to risk losing out on the $$ by not centering on their stars. Nevermind the whole obsession with being 'America's National Company'. They are no more the national company than NYCB or SFB or PNB or Joffrey. In fact I dare say that the latter companies have a greater percentage of American born dancers and have more American choreographers in their repertories. I think it's great that ABT is touring more and bringing top quality ballet out into more US cities, but it's dishonest to call them a national company because the US does not have a national company. We have a nation full of great companies, each which fill a niche.

Kate


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 7:50 am 
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The United States, unfortunately, does not subsidise the ballet. The only massively-funded troupe is Balanchine's, an outgrowth of the Congress for Cultural Freedom circles.

But we shall stay away from politics here.

The Balanchine troupe describes itself as neo-classical, and its technique as "Balanchine technique" (their term, not mine), in other words, it acknowledges that what it teaches and dances, is something different from classical dancing.

The point about American Ballet Theatre is that in its repertory and coaching tradition, it is the heir to what was best about the Ballets Russes, and is the only major CLASSICAL troupe left in the United States. Amongst the big players, everyone else is either Balanchine (PNB, Miami City Ballet etc.), or fully into Crossover.

In these times of flat-out cultural degeneracy, ABT and its "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School" should not be slighted - no matter the shortcomings of present management, or the flash-and-dash shenanigans and high-kicks of certain stars.

(Personally, I am not an admirer of D. Vishneva, V. Part or P. Herrera, all of whom are different shades of gymnast, but that is neither here nor there.)

The real issues have been discussed by Yvonne Chouteau and Frederick Franklin in the "Ballets russes" film by Gellner & Goldfine, shewn a few months back at the Cinémathèque, but unfortunately never released here in France.

I for one would like to see the Government of the United States a/ institute a universal free National Health scheme tomorrow and b/ begin, also tomorrow, to massively subsidise classical dance.

Under its present interesting rulers, this will not happen. Time for régime change, eh?


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 8:00 am 
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Actually ABT IS getting money from the government for some of its tours etc. (I believe it may come via things like the NEA), which is why it's being advertised as the national company. But then I think many companies end up with some government money through grants and foundations.

I certainly don't think Ballet Russes embodies fully what I consider the heart of American ballet. Ballet Russes (and Balanchine and others) brought ballet to the heart of the country, certainly, and then allowed it to be crafted into something more individual. American ballet and dance is a mixture of Balanchine, Robbins, Graham, european classical ballet, broadway influences, newer stagers and choreographers. I certainly love 'the classics', but I think they represent more of what Europe brought to ballet. In the U.S. we've taken the traditional, and given it our own twist. ABT gets closer to that in their fall repertory programs - think "Rodeo" and Mark Morris' Gong and 'Fancy Free' mixed in with bits from Bayadere and classical pas de deuxs.

Kate


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 9:12 am 
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Kanter - I'm glad you decided to stay away from politics!

I don't know the details of government funding in the US -- I'll leave details to Kate, who always seems to have a massive amount of information at her fingertips. But I think that Peter Martins would challenge the notion of NYCB being "massively-funded." And the problem with providing government subsidies to the arts (and it's not just limited to dance/ballet) is not limited to the current administration, for all its other faults.

Be that as it may, the question of funding may be related to the need to fill a house, but it's common to all ballet companies [unless the government were to de facto take over companies by monopolizing their incoming financial support and, thereafter, their budgets, and thereafter, their artistic decisions. It's been done]. But other ballet companies manage to encourage partnerships and nurture talent to better effect than ABT, regardless of the amount of government support they may get.

I recognize that ABT has a big house to fill at the Met, and there were many lean years when, for whatever reason, they couldn't fill a house. With certain "guest" artists (whether listed that way or not), the house is filled. But I suspect that ballet attendance now is in an upward swing (it seems that artistic attendance may go in cycles -- in the 70s-80s, attendance was high; then it seemed to diminish, and now it seems to be on the rise again), and there may not be the need, if there ever was, to rely solely on guests or principles to fill a house. There needs to be a balance. Without intending any slight at all, did McKenzie really need to bring back Ananiashvilli for a couple of performances? Did Paloma need to get two Juliets? I don't know the answer. But I do know that there must be a way to give growing dancers a chance to grow, and give audiences a chance to whatch them grow.

I saw Renata Pavam do Clara in the Nutcracker in Washington D.C. a year or so ago. The role may not be on anyone's list of most challenging roles, but she did a fine job. And as Martins recently demonstrated with his R&J casting, young not-yet-perfect dancers can do excellent work in complex roles, if given the opportunity. As much as I enjoy seeing perfection (or a reasonable facsimile) on stage, I take great joy in seeing a young dancer when perfection isn't quite there yet. Surely the ability to cast soloists and corps dancers who are ready in lead roles is not always determined by lack of funding. And I think that doing so is essential to their development, to the dancegoer's enrichment, and to the maintenance of what passes for company character.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 11:05 am 
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I think all the major companies listed above get NEA grants so if that is the criteria ABT is using to call itself the national comapny, they all could clain that title. But I digress from what I really wanted to say.

The lack of opportunities for homegrown corps de ballet dancers has always been my biggest gripe about ABT. I think it partially stems from their financial difficulties and the need to curtail rehearsal time and coaching. A young dancer in a new role needs more coacing than a seasoned dancer returning to a role. Coaching is costly. ABT never, even in the best of financial years, has money to burn.

ABT has always been set up as a company of international starts. They've had lots of them from the beginning, but it does seem like recently they have had even less interest in domestic dancers. Is it any wonder that the most talented young dancers in America are hired by ABT, flounder in the corps for several years and then leave? I say, better for us outside NYC and worse for ABT. Their loss and shortsigtedness is our gain.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 3:58 pm 
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There are other grants, but I think what I'm thinking of is ABT's appointment as a UNESCO partner. That was the press relase in which McKenzie referred to the company as 'America's National Ballet Company'. But it's only really natural that ABT would be a fit for this kind of position because ABT has always done a fair bit of touring, both nationally and internationally because it does not have it's own home. NYCB has it's own theatre, so doesn't need to tour as much, nor is that part of its 'modus operandi' (sp?).

ABT seems to start off on the right foot, both with the new (again) school and the Coca Cola National Scholars Program, but as has been said, the vast majority of that talent seems to dead end in the corps. And unfortunately, I think the flashy, star driven style of ABT is what is driving so many of competitions like YAGP, which push too many, far too young dancers to do solos far above thair appropriate level of talent and technique. The kids hear that their favorite dancers were doing these solos at very young ages and see them on stage as stars, but rarely ever hear about the pain and injuries that frequently have resulted.


To ABT's credit, I think that filling the Met is probably an impossible task except for special performances. For one, so many of the seats are miles from the stage and have partial views, not helped by the design of some of the sets (the finale of 'Swan Lake' might be poignant, but if half the theatre can't see it, it's pretty worthless). And the rake is pretty miserable, which makes it hard to see over heads in front of you, even in the most expensive seats. I've heard also that because ABT is a guest company at the Met, they have less control over ticket prices and have to hand over a not small proportion of ticket and boutique sales to the Met Opera. So even if you fill all the seats (nevermind that on sellouts, many of the seats are comps), you don't get that many seats worth of ticket proceeds.

It's not that I don't really enjoy getting to see the grand full-lengths or being amazed by Angel Corella or David Hallberg. But when it comes down to it, I generally find that my money buys a much better seat and a great variety of ballet & dancers over at NYCB. I think I'd see much more of ABT (as a non-critic) if they performed at a theatre where a) I could actually see the performance without paying through the nose and b) where they could so a more varied rep.

Kate


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 4:10 pm 
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300 FORMER DANCERS TO TAKE CURTAIN CALL
FOR ABT'S ALUMNI REUNION WEEKEND,
SATURDAY EVENING, MAY 26, 2007


5/22/2007 - Nearly 300 former members of American Ballet Theatre will take to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House for the final curtain call at ABT�s performance on Saturday evening, May 26. As part of a special Alumni Reunion weekend, ABT alumni from across the country will take part in events that include pre- and post-performance receptions and a special showing by students of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre.

Alumni and special guests from every decade of American Ballet Theatre�s last 67 years will be in attendance for the weekend�s activities. Co-chaired by Cynthia Gregory, Gage England Bush and Susan Jaffe, ABT�s Alumni Reunion weekend will be the first formal gathering of alumni since the Company�s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1990.

Tickets for the May 26 evening performance of Symphonie Concertante and The Dream are on sale at The Metropolitan Opera House box office or by calling 212-362-6000.


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 2:16 am 
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ABT's big reunion:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/28/arts/dance/28old.html

And "The Dream" returns to the Met stage with David Hallberg in yet another debut (and with it my horrid memories of clomping fairies. It's such a shame to see so much good choreography hobbled by a stage magnifies the sound of every footstep)

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/28/arts/ ... 8ball.html


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 7:37 pm 
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The ABT Reunion was great fun, but more for the dancers than the audience, I think. For me, it was an opportunity missed.

Although I knew that many members of the audience were former ABT alumni, I was able to recognize few of them whom I hadn't seen or seen pictures of in the interim. It would have been helpful if the organizers had conjured a way to introduce the alumni to the audience (as opposed to what was said: 'Look around; the person sitting next to you or behind you may be a former ABT dancer'). I know with 300 of them it would have been difficult, but it would not have been as tedious as it might sound, since most, if not all, the audience would have been interested. After all, it is a reunion of sorts for the audience as well.

As it was, I was only able to recognize a few dancers whom I hadn't seen in years. The highlights for me were seeing Hilda Morales, whose Juliet in Tudor's version I recall vividly, and Marianna Tcherkassky, who I remember vividly regardless of role. From Jennifer Dunning's article, I know that Sallie Wilson was there, but I didn't see or failed to recognize her.

If it's done again, and I hope it will be and I'm still around to see it, I'd like to have the opportunity to thank them for the memories.

I guess I just did.


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 2:21 pm 
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CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR FIFTH AND SIXTH WEEKS
OF AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE¹S 2007 SPRING SEASON
AT METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE

Alessandra Ferri to Dance Final Performance with ABT on Saturday Evening,
June 23


Casting for the fifth and sixth weeks of American Ballet
Theatre¹s 2007 Spring Season at the Metropolitan Opera House was announced
today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.

Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon will be given eight performances
beginning Monday, June 11, led by Alessandra Ferri, Guest Artist Roberto
Bolle, Herman Cornejo and Gillian Murphy. The performance marks Mr. Bolle¹s
first appearance with American Ballet Theatre. On Tuesday, June 12, Marcelo
Gomes will debut as Des Grieux, opposite Diana Vishneva in the title role,
and Michele Wiles will dance the role of Lescaut¹s Mistress for the first
time. At the matinee on Wednesday, June 13, Ethan Stiefel will make his
debut as Lescaut. Staged for ABT by Monica Parker, Manon is set to a score
by Jules Massenet and features scenery and costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis
with lighting by Thomas Skelton.

The Company¹s first performance of Sir Kenneth MacMillan¹s Romeo
and Juliet will take place on Monday, June 18, with Diana Vishneva and Angel
Corella in the title roles. On the evening of Saturday, June 23, Alessandra
Ferri will dance her final performance with ABT, opposite Roberto Bolle as
Romeo. Romeo and Juliet is set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, with
scenery and costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis and lighting by Thomas Skelton.

Countrywide Financial is the National Sponsor of American Ballet
Theatre. Superfund Asset Management, Inc. and Northern Trust are the
sponsors of ABT¹s Metropolitan Opera House Season. The 2007 Metropolitan
Opera House season is also made possible with public funds from the National
Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state
agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Tickets for American Ballet Theatre¹s 2007 Metropolitan Opera
House season, priced $24-$110, are available at the Met box office, online,
or by phone at 212-362-6000. The Metropolitan Opera House is located on
Broadway between 64th and 65th streets in New York City. For more
information, visit ABT¹s website at www.abt.org <http://www.abt.org/> .

Complete casting follows:






FIFTH WEEK

Mon. Eve., June 11, 8 P.M. MANON ­ Ferri,
Bolle+, Cornejo, Murphy

Tues. Eve., June 12, 8 P.M. MANON ­
Vishneva, Gomes*, Saveliev, Wiles*

Wed. Mat., June 13, 2 P.M. MANON ­ Reyes,
Corella, Stiefel*, Abrera

Wed. Eve., June 13, 8 P.M. MANON ­ Kent,
Carreño, Pastor, C. Corella

Thurs. Eve., June 14, 8 P.M. MANON ­ Ferri,
Bolle, Cornejo, Murphy

Fri. Eve., June 15, 8 P.M. MANON ­
Vishneva, Gomes, Saveliev, Wiles

Sat. Mat., June 16, 2 P.M. MANON ­
Kent, Carreño, Pastor, C. Corella

Sat. Eve., June 16, 8 P.M. MANON ­
Reyes, Corella, Stiefel, Abrera


SIXTH WEEK

Mon. Eve., June 18, 8 P.M. ROMEO AND
JULIET ­ Vishneva, Corella, Cornejo

Tues. Eve., June 19, 8 P.M. ROMEO AND
JULIET ­ Herrera, Gomes, Lopez

Wed. Mat., June 20, 2 P.M. ROMEO AND
JULIET ­ Murphy**, Hallberg, Salstein

Wed. Eve., June 20, 8 P.M. ROMEO AND
JULIET ­ Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky, Pastor

Thurs. Eve., June 21, 8 P.M. ROMEO AND
JULIET ­ Reyes, Carreño, Salstein

Fri. Eve., June 22, 8 P.M. ROMEO AND
JULIET ­ Kent, Corella, Cornejo

Sat. Mat., June 23, 2 P.M. ROMEO AND
JULIET ­ Herrera, Gomes, Lopez

Sat. Eve., June 23, 8 P.M. ROMEO AND
JULIET ­ Ferri, Bolle+, Cornejo


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