In the wake of the news earlier this week that a number of the open principal roles for American Ballet Theatre's spring season at the Met went to visiting male dancers from the Royal Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet, as wonderful as they may prove to be, I was getting less and less optimistic about the future of some of ABT's homegrown dancers. However, in some happy turn of events some additional casting went up on the website today that made me take a big sigh of relief:
1. In addition to his already scheduled debut in Swan Lake and repeat performance as Romeo, recent soloist Alex Hammoudi picked up the remaining open spot as Prince Desire to Gillian Murphy's Sleeping Beauty. Congrats Alex! If the strength in his balance proves to be as strong as his acting last season we should be in for a treat this season.
2. Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes got slotted in for the open Swan Lake Saturday matinee. (While Julie's black swan isn't what it was, and she has better-suited roles in her, it's just a huge relief that this spot didn't go to the bouncing, hammy Osipova, or a second performance to the bullish Isabella Boylston.) Julie's white swan is still tender and touching, and it's ALWAYS a great thing to see Marcelo's Siegfried whenever opportunity presents.
3. Almost-veteran soloist Jared Matthews, who seemed vexingly left out of Met casting until now (though i hope/expect him to pick up meaty roles in a Month in the Country and the new Ratmansky pieces), finally got slotted in to a Lankendem spot in Le Corsaire and in a very welcome and surprising turn, will be dancing the lead opposite Paloma Herrera's Sylvia.
4. Recent-Boston-Ballet-import James Whiteside will be dancing Swan Lake with Gillian Murphy this year - an odd choice in my opinion but I'm open to being proven wrong. It's been a while since Gillian was well matched - so any opportunity to find her a useful partner would be a positive step in my opinion. He'll also be dancing Romeo opposite Paloma Herrera - I can't picture it but again I'm open to being surprised.
(Now, if only underused FEMALE soloists such as Stella Abrera and Yuriko Kajiya would get such opportunities I might be tempted to donate to ABT again...)