Dueling ballet headlines: ABT vs. Bolshoi 4


You cannot make this stuff up. You just can’t.
Dueling headline news …  first from the Bolshoi Ballet, then from American Ballet Theatre …

Bolshoi Theatre via RIANOVOSTI
Sept 28, 2011
The Bolshoi Ballet picks up an American accent
Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater has broken new ground by inviting David Hallberg, of the American Ballet Theater (ABT), to be a guest dancer for the upcoming performing season. Hallberg, 29, will appear on the stage of the Bolshoi in early November, in Adolphe Adam’s “Giselle” and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty.
American Ballet Theatre
Sept 28, 2011
American Ballet Theatre to Launch National Training Curriculum in Saint (sic) Petersburg, Russia
American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum, a program of ballet technique combining artistic training with the basics of dancer health and child development, will conduct a five-day satellite session in St. Petersburg, Russia.“Bringing ABT’s National Training Curriculum to a community outside the United States is extremely exciting for us,” said ABT Executive Director Rachel Moore.

It’s been a week since we learned that, in a reversal of fortune, the Bolshoi Theatre picked off our bravura-best ballet guy, David Hallberg. It was a good, old-fashioned talent steal … like in baseball, or hockey, or something like that.

Given this keening body blow, with what “touché” does American Ballet Theatre counter-parry?

ABT will go to Russia and teach ’em a thing or two about ballet instruction.

Yes, in an announcement of, shall we say, unfortunate timing, ABT crows, con brio, that it will travel to Russia to teach Russians how to teach classical ballet to children.

What am I missing here? Isn’t teaching ballet to children, like, the #1 Main Thing that Russians do incredibly well? Shouldn’t they rather be teaching us how to do this? (In fact, they have been, for 100 years.)

Perhaps this is ABT’s subterfuge way of stealing their dancers back for us. If so, go for it!

Am I picking on ABT? You bet. I’ve spent the last thirty years writing supportively about ABT. To see them lose their mojo in this fashion is just painful. David Hallberg, you go !

And don’t look back.

Like this? Read more:

4 thoughts on “Dueling ballet headlines: ABT vs. Bolshoi

  1. Robert Johnson Sep 30,2011 12:44 pm

    Dear Ballet Mom: Even in America, you do not get to be a physicist, a mathematician, or a poet by doing “relatively well” in class. You do not get to be a professional of any kind this way. I’m glad that your daughter enjoys her ballet classes. I also hope that some day she will discover a passion–for ballet, or something else–that leads her to challenge herself and to reach for an ideal. When that day comes, please don’t let your good intentions stand in her way.

  2. Gina Buntz Sep 30,2011 12:38 pm

    I think it’s interesting that the House of Vaganova (Kirov now St. Petersberg) is inviting ABT curriculum workshop into their territory. ABT Curriculum is more like a franchise of do’s & don’ts while the real curriculum(s) to study,immerse & cross-pollinate with the Vaganovans can be found w/Paris Opera, The National Ballet School of Canada & Stuttgart. This appears to be more like a USO/Goodwill tour of ballet pedagogy than anything else.

  3. debra Sep 30,2011 10:39 am

    Thanks, Ballet Mom, for taking the time to explain this program for us. I’m impressed by your excellent command of English, and of the facts involved. Still unconvinced that the ruined self esteem of little Russian girls is ABT’s problem, given priorities. Debra Levine

  4. Ballet Mom Sep 30,2011 10:19 am

    I am afraid this is so wrong! Yes, 2% of kids entering Moscow State Choreorgaphy Trade school (that is what is called in a literal translation from Russian, and the kids learn the trade, but is it enough?) become international ballet stars. What happens to other 98% of children? 50% get injured and can’t continue with serious ballet careers because the training is overly strenuous and intensive and children start point work way too early. And 48% get dropped off when they reach their teens, which in Russia is high school age (kids graduate high school at 16/17 latest in Russia). They fail to learn anything beyond ballet technique and ballet history, and are unqualified to enter colleges or universities and are unprepared for any other future careers. In addition they end up with ruined self esteem for life. It might have changed lately, but it was not a secret that in the glorious old days in Russia they used to train legs and arms, not children with their personalities and dreams. yes, how many smiles have you seen on the faces of kids in Russian ballet schools? I am Russian and my daugther attends classes at ABT, she is happy, she smiles all the time she is in class, she loves her teachers and her friends. She does relatively well in class and she says she wants to be a professional ballerina when she grows up. Who knows? She is only 8 years old, so it’s hard to tell. However I know that whatever career she chooses to have, her ballet training at ABT won’t be an inpediment to her future development whichever career she chooses, whether she ends up becoming a physicist, a mathematician or a poet. I don’t think that the children brought up by the Bolshoi ballet school have these choices.

Leave a Reply