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'The ABT Dancer' Video ...


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This is a three minute video clip which ABT has hastily placed on YouTube (something in the past they have not been known to do AT ALL) as (perhaps) a direct response to much press/blog notation during the current ABT/Met season concerning (i) an excessive use of foreign artists on the current NYC roster and (ii) the vast number of [a] foreign born / artists drawn from widely differing schools in the current overall Company make-up.  The latter point (e.g., ii) in a way made me think of a certain similarity with both the current Royal Ballet and English National Ballet companies.  (That said, one must of course take into consideration the vastly different size in population between the US and a small island nation like the UK which itself is, of course, currently a member state in the larger European union).  It is clear that the ABT film makers (unidentified short of the ABT logo at the clip's conclusion) wish to push ABT's diversity as a definite key asset - which it may well be (as opposed, say, to NYCB, POB or the Bolshoi/Mariinsky companies where the majority of artists are largely native born respective nationals who have been primarily recruited through their long established designated feeder academies).    .  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Nice film.  The only point I would dispute is where the dancer says that lots of companies only do one thing and ABT is special because it does classical and contemporary. Maybe this is true of smaller companies in USA but  I would say that internationally every major company has both classical and contemporary works in its repertoire.

 

Edited for punctuation

Edited by Pas de Quatre
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Interesting film - thank you for posting it.

 

 

(I put in "bold" the paragraph that may be relevant to this thread:)

 

On Sept. 14, 2001, I attended a pre-performance Chat with Victor Barbee, Principal Dancer, Asst. to the Artistic Director and Ballet Master, American Ballet Theatre.

 

For thirty minutes, in the Grand Salon of San Diego’s Civic Theatre, Welton Jones, Dance Critic (retired) of the San Diego Union Tribune and Principal Dancer Victor Barbee conducted a most interesting and spirited pre-performance “chat.”  Mr. Barbee after a long  career with ABT, is now dancing character roles and as well as ballet master, and has just recently been appointed as Assistant Artistic Director under Kevin McKenzie.  Now for the first time in many years, ABT is under the direction of dancers who rose through its own ranks.  Mr. Barbee sees the role of Ballet Master as key to  handing on the tradition that is the heart of the art form.  In his twenty-seven years with ABT, he has danced through much of the Company’s repertoire of four hundred ballets and so feels strongly this treasure must be guarded, enhanced and passed on.

 

Questions were solicited from those assembled:

 

My question was:

 

"How as ballet master do you marry the many disparate styles of the dancers, particularly the corps de ballet of ABT, into a cohesive stylized whole."  

 

He said:  " I think that the many schools and countries from which the dancers come is an advantage which gives them a great deal of versatility rather than  a liability.  I feel that it is my task to blend their talents and styles without losing their individuality.”

 

(This is an excerpt of a much more complete report I wrote of the event.)

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