Dancers Gelsey Kirkland and Patrick Bissell, fired by the American Ballet Theatre on Tuesday for allegedly failing to show up for rehearsals, are reportedly in seclusion in the Washington area.
Neither dancer could be reached for comment on the ABT action, but Alexander Dube, of Dube Zakin Management Inc., which managed Bissell, said yesterday that he intends to fly from New York to Washington today to meet with ABT officials "to see if we can arrive at a reconciliation of some sort." He said he has talked with the 22-year-old dancer, but declined to comment on Bissell's feelings or opinions.
Kirkland's personal representative, Barna Ostertag, said she had spoken with the ballerina yesterday and "We are in total agreement that it is unbecoming to say anything at this time. We are as calm as can be. . . I won't have anything to say until the dust settles." Ostertag said that Kirkland had danced as scheduled last Friday at a gala in Boston, partnered by ABT artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov.
At a backstage reception following last night's performance at the Kennedy Center, Baryshnikov said of the surprise dismissals, "Sure it was difficult -- and very much so." He refused further comment on the firings, but added, "We are all one big family here, and the spirit of the company is just marvelous."
"The one thing this company needs is professionalism," said ABT's Chairman of the Board, Donald M. Kendall. "No one was surprised at what happened, the question was when."
"It's too bad," said ABT grande dame Lucia Chase, the former co-artistic director. "But Gelsey is the most difficult performer I ever had to work with. Poor Misha, it was the only thing he could do. I admire that he had the guts to do it."
As to whether the dancers would be reinstated, Chase said, "Not a chance."
Company members appeared divided on whether the dismissal was justified. "Personally, I felt it was a bit too drastic," said Robert La Fosse of the corps de ballet. "But we saw it coming. They came late too much, and missed extremely important rehearsals before a major opening."
"It was the only thing they could do," said soloist Lisa de Ribere. "This year they are really trying to get the company very disciplined."
In New York, Dube said that ABT's allegations that Bissell had missed rehearsals (including a key dress rehearsal on Tuesday) were true, but that the rehearsals were to have been with Kirkland -- and since Kirkland was apparently unavailable to practice, Bissell had no partner to work with, and thus did not appear.
Meanwhile, the company has announced further cast substitutions for Kirkland and Bissell. Rebecca Wright and Richard Schafer will dance in "Interplay" for this Saturday's matinee; a performance of "Pas d'Esclave" with Susan Jaffee and Alexander Godunov has been added to the program for that matinee. Marianna Tcherkassky will dance for Kirkland in "Les Rendezvous" on Sunday's matinee program, and in "Giselle" Tuesday night, partnered by Baryshnikov.