More Ballet Typecasting Thoughts

In the same vein as the last post but with no Misty, I wanted to address typecasting in ballet.  Is there typecasting?

Of course there is!  Is it a problem?  Yes!

From what I understand is that one of the artistic reasons Baryshnikov made his run for the border back in the 70's was because he was typecast as a character dancer.  He wasn't tall enough for the prince repertoire even though he was acknowledged to be extremely talented.  He came West, found himself the best partner for his height (Gelsey Kirkland) and danced as many prince roles as he was able.

Is this still the case in Russia and elsewhere?

I believe it is.  The sad facts are that there are many, many wonderful and ambitious dancers out in the world with too, too few places for them.  The art is, as of recent years, not a big box office draw and money is tight.  Even companies that take in many dancers can not give ALL dancers every opportunity.  In some cases, many dancers don't develop artistically and spend most of their careers in the Corps with occasional solo work.

Typecasting in any performing art develops from the best of intentions, trying to find a place for numerous artists in roles where they can shine.  But eventually, all too quickly, it becomes a crutch for casting decisions.  Actor/Dancer/Singer A looks like a comic role type instead of lead so in he/she goes without regard to other factors.  It is what happened to Baryshnikov.

I think the same problem exists for Anna Lavrinenko.  I was extremely impressed by her stage presence in such a small role in Mariinsky's Cinderella.  She made the most of it, and most reviewers who were present during the same performance did make mention of her bubbly presence.  Then I thought well, why not try to harness that stage presence into the lead?  Lavrinenko would be fantastic as Cinderella!  Her breezy presence would be perfectly believable as a naive ingenue who captures the attention of a bored prince.  Unfortunately, I don't believe we will ever get to see the Mariinsky take a chance on that outlier kind of casting.  They have tracked Lavrinenko into character solo work and that is where she will stay.  No matter how many good notices she receives for her work.  They won't expand on her repertoire because it requires more work for them, more shifting around of dancers and their schedules.  And because they so love that emaciated, wisp "woe is me" look right now.   That look is good for more conventional, romantic ballets.  But Cinderella needs someone like Lavrinenko. However since the role is a lead, in goes those doe eyed scarecrows.

There aren't many clips of Lavrinenko on Youtube.  But you can catch a glimpse of her charming presence in one or two she happens to appear in.

ETA:  I won't link to it but there is a fan youtube protest against the fact that Anna Lavrinenko is not given the opportunities she deserves.  Apparently there are many Russian and non-Russian fans of this ballerina hoping for more roles for her which she is not receiving due to being typecast as character.

If this is indeed so, I think this wonderful ballerina should think about moving to the West to a company that will be ecstatic to have her as their lead.  However, Ms Lavrinenko is married and moving to another country, another company (her husband is in the Mariinsky orchestra) would be very hard.

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