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Esteban Berlanga


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Esteban has just tweeted that he will be leaving ENB after the Nureyev programme. I'm shocked and disappointed to see this as he is one of my favourite dancers at ENB. That's two departures from the first soloist rank in a few weeks. I feel that he will be missed in the long Corsaire run. I hope that Zdenek, whom he has replaced in both Beauty and Swan Lake this year, will be fully fit again in time for the new season. Does anyone know where Esteban is going?

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I'm actually rather upset by this, he is a very unique performer, one that draws you into his world when he has a complex role to play such as the young man in L’Arlésienne.  I will miss him very much, but nevertheless wish him all the best and hope to see him dance in London again in the future. 

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I'm not sure that we should attribute Esteban's departure to any decisions made by Tamara. He has certainly been given several good roles this season, not least partnering Tamara in The Nutcracker and Raymonda and one of the two men in Song of a Wayfarer. He may just fancy a change after 5 years or so at ENB or want to return to his homeland. I suppose that he might have hoped for a promotion. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if he changed direction dance-wise and moved to a different type of company, perhaps a contemporary dance company. I've read somewhere that he likes flamenco dance and his favourite works, as listed in his biography, are nearly all contemporary pieces. His departure does leave a large gap though and I'm not sure that there is currently anyone at the company who can fill it. I think that someone may be brought in from outside.

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A possible opening for Osipova's husband Vasiliev.......although I think this would not be that popular. Unfortunately have never seen Esteban dance. Can Vasiliev act do you think as well as his high showmanship skills etc? Would he fit in with ENB?

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I really enjoyed Ivan in Don Q but I hope that ENB will not take him on. The core of ENB's repertoire is the well known classics and I really feel that he is unsuited to the princely/danseur noble roles not just because of his physique but also because of his flamboyant and rather untidy dancing which, as a "star", he is unlikely to refine. I don't think that ENB could afford him anyway, and I feel that his presence could seriously unbalance the company. The RB is large enough to absorb Natalia, although I'm sure that her arrival will ruffle a few feathers (and is this the reason - or one of the reasons - that Alina left?). Of course, another option for Tamara is to use guests to cover particular roles, which could be cheaper than recruiting a senior dancer from outside.

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I disagree. I think that both Esteban and Anais' departures say a lot about Tamara's role as a director. Two beautiful artists that will be sorely missed. What set them apart is that they both danced with a finesse that was nuanced and told a story. In my opinion, Tamara and her new staff are seemingly more focused on how many pirouette's one can do. It's very sad indeed. I will not be surprised if we see many more talented artists of ENB decide to leave. 

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In my opinion, Tamara and her new staff are seemingly more focused on how many pirouette's one can do.

What is your evidence for saying this? Not looking to make a cheap point but genuinely interested.

 

For myself I think Rojo is a dancer more into passion and expression then ever fit perfection - though one package with it all is never going to disappoint!

 

 

It's very sad indeed. I will not be surprised if we see many more talented artists of ENB decide to leave.

I'm sure some will. Also sure that talented dancers will look to join and talent within the company will be fostered. There is nothing new here - companies have been changing directors for years and dancers react. Better this then plodding on and atrophying. Of course its sad to see much loved dancers leave but the flip of seeing new eyes do it their way carries us forward.

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None of us actually knows why Anais and Esteban left / are leaving as, unlike Simone Messmer and Mathilde Froustey (see the RB Promotions thread), they have not stated their reasons publically. I imagine that, as senior soloists, they both wanted to be promoted to principal but there were no spaces and / or ENB couldn't afford it. I'm sure that there are some dancers at the RB who felt the same way before the latest crop of departures and retirements. I'm very disappointed by these departures but, as Bruce says, dancers come and go, and as dancers leave spaces and opportunities open up for other talent within the company. ENB has probably always had more than its fair share of departures because of its more restricted repertoire the reasons for which we all know.

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... as a "star", he [ivan Vasiliev] is unlikely to refine. 

 

I think you are being a tad unfair to I. Vasiliev here,,Aileen.  There can be no question but that his placement needs refinement but his assets can, I think, not be denied upon a world stage.  In his most recent interview with the NY Times Mr. Vasiliev came over (at least to me) as ultimately 'teachable' and most certainly dedicated.  This is someone who - whatever else one may think and feel - loves the artform of dance and is obviously willing to entirely dedicate himself in an effort to achieve the broadest canvas through which to paint his art. The memory of his performances in Spartacus (and I have to confess I really DON'T like the ballet) made the work for me not only palatable but stand out in a way no other living dancer has been able to accomplish.  The fact THAT memory lives with me even now (without requiring the resource of a filmed record) is (at least to me) astonishing.  He is still, I think, finding his way and is eager to learn.  That is, I think, a large part of his attraction.  There is always more than a certain mystery when he steps up to bat.  He invites us to share in the rawness of that adventure.  That's what gives him such extraordinary presence/charm as he so ably demonstrated at the end of the first act of Giselle in his recent London performance.  Or who could forget his STELLAR performance in Le Jeunne Homme et la mort with ENB - every bit in its way as fine (albeit different) as Nicholas le Riche's world shaking portrayal in that role.)  Absurd or not, this is a lad willing to be totally committed in an effort to step beyond.  He gives his audience the chance to love or to hate him: He invites us.  As he barrels through the air he calls out (with always the glint of a telling smile): 'The choice is yours'. That invitation is, I think, his key.  The invitation itself is open (like a wound).  It stings and yet is freely humane.  That in my book takes guts.  That courage cannot be bought or trained.  He possessed it when we first saw him in London when he was 17.  He is wise to have protected that gift.  In an interview I did with Erik Bruhn MANY years ago, I remember him saying of Nureyev that 'there was no inbetween'.  I feel the same in that sense might be said about young Vasiliev.  (Of course, Nureyev had a more conventional line in his physique ... if not the optimum height.  Sadly, Vasiliev has neither but always fires on all cylinders with what he has been graced.)  One only wishes certain politicians would share a similar creative dedication and honesty in their work.  Would the world be a better place?  Perhaps not .. but it certainly wouldn't be boring.  There is no question but that Vasiliev did not have the protected opportunities in much of the classical canon that others at a similar level - albeit being thrust there at a very young age - have had.  (Here I'm thinking here of Polunin.  Certainly it was for me, I think, far less easy to dismiss Polunin's messy Don Q pas at Alina's recent gala - especially having seen his fine work in M&A only recently - than it was some elements of misfire in segments of Laurentia for a Vasiliev who was still recovering from an injury that had taken him out of many of his Notre Dame performances at La Scala only weeks before.  Whatever else Vasiliev is ... He's not lazy)  Thus Vasiliev is gaining his 'classical' experience in front of the world's eyes in a largely unprotected format.  He has had to fight for that right.  In a sense, it has been the award of his defection from the Bolshoi which sometimes seems to me - from all the recent items quoted on this forum - a nation state foreign unto itself.  I applaud him for his bravery in that pursuit.  This is, I think, what Ratmansky was attempting to relate when he was interviewed for that NYT piece.  I have to say that I am also much impressed that he has taken the time to attempt to learn several different languages, having seen clips of interviews with him in both English and other European languages.  It is also clear he is striving to find ways to employ his physique in avenues where it might not otherwise most conventionally fit.  For THAT, I - alongside world theatres crammed with cheering others - find myself forced to join in with the shouts of 'Bravo'. I just find myself not able to help it - as much as I know there are aspects where by right I should.  I also hope his lack of a 'conventional' male ballet physique gives hope - and, yes, the necessary fight - to 'other boys' who may at times have been retarded in their passion for a similar reason.  Of course, Vasiliev is not alone in this regard ... Look at Villella, look at Hubbe (Mr. Thunder Thighs Personified) and just LOOK at Mukhamedov .... They, too, all at certain levels had to fight and unquestionably managed to leave their indelible mark against more conventional odds.  I, for one, am willing to give Vasiliev the space I feel he not only deserves but surely at this point has earned.  I'm not always a betting man, Aileen, but I think we may well see that refinement in time.  If not, it certainly won't I think be for a lack of desire; a lack of trying.    .  

Edited by Meunier
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I disagree. I think that both Esteban and Anais' departures say a lot about Tamara's role as a director. Two beautiful artists that will be sorely missed. What set them apart is that they both danced with a finesse that was nuanced and told a story. In my opinion, Tamara and her new staff are seemingly more focused on how many pirouette's one can do. It's very sad indeed. I will not be surprised if we see many more talented artists of ENB decide to leave. 

Contrary to what you say I think Esteban has been very well treated by Tamara. He partnered her in Nutcracker, was Prince Desiree (Sleeping Beauty), Prince Siegfried (Swan Lake RAH), will dance Song of a Wayfarer, one of the iconic Bejart ballets, will partner Rojo again in Raymonda and has been widely used in promotion ENB posters.

Next year, apart from dancing one of the roles in Corsaire (he is the main figure in the poster) he would have had the privilege to work with Russell Maliphant, Akram Khan and Liam Scarlett at their new creations for ENB.  

 

As for your assertion that Tamara and her new staff are more focused on how many pirouette’s one can do, are you saying that Laurretta Summerscales was recently given the role of Odete/odile at the RAH just because she can just do pirouettes? Or that Nancy Osbaldeston will be doing the female principal role at Petrushka because she is just a pirouette dancer? I really think you are insulting them

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A good friend of mine who is an HR manager advised me the other day....'if you want a promotion or more money, you're going to have to move company, that's the only way to get anything decent if there is no room above you, or no money to give you the decent increase you deserve.  A change is the best way to get ahead.'   I think that advice can apply to any job, whether it's in the arts, finance, etc.  Also, in the dance world, when careers are so short, a change can give you a fresh outlook, new lease of creative life and upwards movement.  Perhaps, in these cases, that's all there is to it. 

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I agree with Erica that Esteban has had lots of good roles this season (although I think that he only danced Siegfried because Zdenek was injured) and would probably have had good (and newly created) roles next season as well. It could of course be a Polunin-type situation ie he felt that he was being given too much rather than too little, but I suspect that he is leaving because he is not getting a promotion. He has not said what he will be doing after he leaves ENB, only that he is going to Madrid. I don't think that it's fair to blame Tamara for his departure. It's pure speculation that she has treated him badly in some way or that they don't get on. If there's no room or money for another principal that's not Tamara's fault and I imagine that senior appointments have to be approved by the Board anyway. Esteban may be leaving for personal reasons or he may want to be in a different or different type of company.

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Much of this thread is pure speculation anyway, so perhaps we should stop throwing more things into the pot, and wait to see if anything emerges.  Either way, I shall be sorry to see him go.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have just noticed that Esteban has been replaced by Yonah Acosta who will now be dancing Raymonda with Tamara on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon next week. However, it looks as if he (Esteban) will still dance in Song of a Wayfarer. That's good because it will be nice if he can end his time with ENB on a high note.

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He's apparently joining CND on a principal's contract. I don't think that he's going to be dancing Siegfried or Prince Desire any time soon. CND seems to dance a contemporary repertoire and I think that I read somewhere that Jose Martinez has re-introduced pointe work.

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There was an announcement last year that CND were setting up a division of the company devoted to classical and neoclassical dance.  I haven't been able to find an English source for this announcement but here it is in Spanish:

 

 

http://balletomanos.com/2012/10/31/re-nace-la-compania-nacional-de-danza-clasica/

 

 

 Google Translate will probably help readers get the gist.

 

Edited to say that I've just noticed there's an English version of this website but I couldn't find this announcement there.

Edited by Bluebird
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