The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

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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.




4 Responses to “Major changes at the top”

  1. Another succession plan to consider is San Francisco, when Helgi retires. I think he’s even older than Martins.

  2. On the subject of San Francisco’s place in the American Ballet hierarchy, it will be interesting to see how it continues to progress when Helgi leaves. SF’s profile has raised considerably since he has been in charge, and the next AD has to be someone who has the same relationship with the donors and the same clout in the international dance community to attract talent. The difference between an NYCB or ABT and a regional company is that its clout is strong enough to survive personnel changes.

    To me, SF is in a similar situation that the Mikhailovsky and Stanislavsky theatres were in where both had surges in profiles thanks to those in charge. The Mikhailovsky was able to lure talent away from Bolshoi and Mariinsky because of the director’s pocket book but since he started having some financial issues, there hasn’t been any high profile defections or in the case of Viktor Lebedev outright refusals to join the top company. Zelensky was also able to attract top talent but keeping them seemed to be an issue. However, they have developed an interesting repertoire of western ballets and It will be interesting to see how the company progresses with Hilaire in charge. So far, the dancers seem very excited to be working with him.

    • theworstat Says:

      Spot on about the San Francisco Ballet, which currently is a target for foreign dancers because of the strength of its reputation. They are another company which may have put all its eggs in one basket (Helgi) as it were.

      The Joffrey went through this too, and is still recovering. Right now they have a very determined artistic director/school director at the helm, and he’s not too super old, so they may be okay for a while.

      I guess I started thinking about this seriously after reading the other day about the old Harkness Ballet, a very respected company in the 1960’s and ’70’s which abruptly died with its founder. Of course SF Ballet and the Joffrey won’t do that (Joffrey has already survived the death of its namesake), but you’d think they’d learn from the past and start grooming management successors as well as dancers.

  3. atlanticw Says:

    Would Justin Peck be too far fetched? He seems to have a strong creative vision and his ballets have had very good reviews. I wonder if even Christopher Wheeldon would be a good fit? He didn’t train at SAB but he did dance ay NYCB and clearly can produce exciting works-both modern and story-ballets. I really enjoyed his Cinderella at SFB.

    Speaking of SFB, as a new Bay area resident I have switched from MCB to SFB. The company has been superb in every show. I hope whoever takes over keeps steering the ship in this direction.

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