The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

Just another site about the love of ballet

Major changes at the top August 12, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 3:48 am

Learned months ago that Maria Alexandrova was leaving the Bolshoi; apparently she’s been convinced to stay on as a contract player, as has Nina Kaptsova.  Both were born in 1978 and are nearing 40.

They are leaving at a time when the Bolshoi’s roster of ballerinas is as strong as it’s ever been.  Although Zakharova is getting up in years too (she’s in her 40’s) and may be slowing down, they always have the Maryinsky to pluck new stars from — always plenty of talented, neglected dancers there.  They already have Zakharova, Obraztsova and Stepanova, and snatched Smirnova straight out of the Vaganova Academy (there’s at least one more who is in the corps, Xenia Zhiganshina, and I’m sure there are many others).

And of course, with 200 dancers in the troupe — over half of them women — they have a lot to choose from.  And so there is little to fear for them in the retirement of a ballerina.

I went from thinking about that to thinking about the situation at the New York City Ballet, oddly enough.

Peter Martins has been in control of both the company and the school for a long, long time, as a reader pointed out.  And he’s done well in maintaining the integrity and the status of the company.  But I started wondering how long this can continue.  He is no longer a young man.

Anyone here know if there is an heir apparent?  I’m not NYCB’s biggest fan, but they are one of two truly great American companies.  There are several just one step down from them (San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey come to mind), but NYCB and ABT are the top two.  It would be a shame to lose one of them.  ABT has been through the fires, nearly collapsing in the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s, but has come out better than ever.  As for NYCB…well, it’s looking like it’s hanging by a thread.




Another view of JW August 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 1:14 am

This is from a reader, TheBrain1234:

Didn’t Joy complain about not getting Nikya this year, even though she was already dancing Gamzatti? Nikiya is a romantic, lyrical role. Was the issue really more about wanting to play the heroine?
On the subject of self-promotion and social media, I agree that famewhores (sorry for the lack of a more polite term) exist in every generation but the sharing of every bowel movement is something that’s more prevalent now thanks to social media and data shows that millennials are more likely to share things than the older generation. I mean, did you know that watching people eat on a live stream is actually a thing in Korea?
But there is a difference, I think, between Marcelo Gomes eating pork buns and Joy Womack posting a manifesto about professional behavior and jealousy. One is simply a “look at my awesome life” that’s no different than your friends who share pics of their vacation to Bali or your neighbor revving up the engine really loudly when he gets a new car, except the audience is in the thousands rather than a few people. The other example is blatant self-promotion that sometimes involves using others without their consent and painting them in a negative light in order to advance an image of superiority.
While one may or may not care what Gomes eats (I actually follow his food account because Food instagram accounts are a guilt pleasure of mine) in the end, it’s harmless. On the other hand, I don’t think one needs to explain why using YouTube as a sounding board for your work place troubles is a good idea

Another Self-Created Dilemma (or two) August 6, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 6:54 pm

I remember reading in Natalia Makarova’s autobiography that one of the great shocks for her after she defected…well, there were two:

(1) the demand of western companies that their dancers be stick thin, and
(2) adjusting to the increased performance schedule in the west.

Oh, how times have changed.  Nowadays dancers in Russia often (not always) look like dancing skeletons, while their counterparts in the west look like well-muscled athletes.  The performance schedules in the west remain as demanding as they ever were, especially in small companies — but Russia has more than caught up in that regard.  Back in Soviet days, principals at big companies would wait a month or more between performances.  Nowadays they can be on several times a week, or at least in a month.  Certainly it’s odd that someone who said she wouldn’t consider ABT because of all the guest artists interfering with being scheduled for performances, now has gone AWOL from the Kremlin Ballet because of being scheduled for too many performances.

Yes, I’m talking about Joy Womack’s excuse for going AWOL from the Kremlin (because of her company performance schedule as opposed to her personal schedule).  There was also some mention that a new ballerina has been hired from the outside at the Kremlin.  I tend not to go to their website as I keep ending up on a shell site that says nothing much about the company except for its history; I did finally find the real site yesterday and saw a photo of the new ballerina.  Interesting, to say the least.  Here’s a girl in the same situation as Joy — coming in from the outside and placed at the top — and she’s there every day and working hard even though there is probably rejection and resentment from dancers around her.  This must be weighing on Joy’s mind and possibly contributed to her going AWOL.  Maybe the handwriting is on the wall for her at the Kremlin, who knows.

And like I said previously, and one of our commenters also said, right now it’s not a bad thing for Joy to be out of Russia.  Maybe she knows that; maybe that’s the deeply-held secret behind her recent actions…but I doubt it.  I rather think it’s more like she’s rebelling.  That’s okay; I’ve done that a lot too (am doing it again right now, in fact), as have our readers.

As for her other claim that it’s a millennial thing that she needs to record every little knuckle-crack and fart on social media…no.  I don’t believe in this “generations” nonsense; it’s a longstanding marketing ploy from the 1920’s that has very little basis in reality.  So no, it’s not “a millennial thing,” everyone is not doing it.  These days the majority of dancers in professional ballet companies were born after 1989 — the latest definition of a millennial (because it’s BS, the definition keeps changing, much as the earlier definition of a “baby boomer” has changed).  The majority of of the under-30 crowd do not produce videos of every moment of their working lives.

That is to say that use of social media is an individual thing, not a generational one, and this individual thing is one that the Kremlin has chosen as a problem they have with Joy.  Employers will sometimes choose to have problems about things like this when they want to get rid of you.  They will also hire others to do your job when they want to get a point across.

But making videos is also, as I have mentioned in the past, downright inconsiderate to the dancers around her.  There is a way around this — film only yourself, as a young dancer in the Oklahoma City Ballet is now doing — but Joy hasn’t done that in the past and has been only a bit more careful recently.

That is to say that she’s going to run into the same objections no matter where she goes, probably even in southeast Asia.  She hasn’t posted a video in a few days, so who knows how her audition with the Hong Kong Ballet went.  But I’m wondering if she’s reached the end of the road as far as working for ballet companies is concerned — she’s now inching toward her mid-20’s and has a bad track record for reliability.  Maybe her only way out now is teaching and perhaps performing at the head of her own troupe, but that takes tenacity, which she has only shown to the degree of being willing to physically torture herself in order to become something that she possibly isn’t.

We’ll see.