Amanda McKerrow, the Washington Ballet dancer who won international fame and recognition last year in Moscow, is expected to join the American Ballet Theater in New York, the company confirmed yesterday.
McKerrow and her manager have been talking with Mikhail Baryshnikov, ABT's artistic director, for several months regarding her coming to ABT. Most recently, McKerrow spoke with Baryshnikov in New York on Monday when he said he would send her a contract.
"It's still not definite," said McKerrow, who is 18. "I haven't even gotten the contract. We haven't talked about fee or anything." However, ABT officials said that Baryshnikov mentioned this week that she would join the company.
The delicate-boned blond dancer won the Gold Medal at last June's prestigious Moscow International Ballet Competition where the jury cited her dancing for its purity of style and refinement.
Alton Miller, managing director of the Washington Ballet, said the company had "no misgivings" about losing McKerrow to what seemed inevitable.
"This didn't come as a surprise to us," said Miller. "It was just about a year ago that our primary concern was whether Amanda McKerrow would be with us for our 1981-82 season. She was so in demand . . . We had no idea that she would be with us longer than destiny calls. Is there any actor who would turn down a chance to play Hamlet? Is there any young girl who would turn down a chance to dance the great classics?"
Mary Day, artistic director of the company, who nurtured McKerrow for the last four years and took her to Moscow, said yesterday, "Well, naturally everybody's sorry to see her go, but if that's what she wants and that's what she thinks is best for her, we wish her well."
McKerrow will be dancing with the Washington Ballet at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. The company leaves Sunday and is to stay through July 20. "We're doing really nice things now," Day said. "We're going to Italy Sunday . . . We have a week in Paris in September . . . We're not doing anything small potatoes. I like the group to stay together, especially on the brink of our international tour. But if a dancer isn't happy, it's better not to have them."
Day said her advice to McKerrow was, "Give it a lot of thought and talk to a lot of people whom you respect and weigh everything."
McKerrow will receive a contract as a member of the corps de ballet, although both Miller and Day said they felt she would dance solo roles. "She probably won't stay in the corps very long," said Day.
Regarding solo roles at ABT, McKerrow said, "That's what we're negotiating right now. We need to discuss the repertoire. I don't know what they're doing next year."
However, Baryshnikov unveiled the 1982-83 season yesterday. It will include two new full-length ballets: "Cinderella," with the celebrated Serge Prokofiev score, to be choreographed by Baryshnikov and independent choreographer Peter Anastos, and "La Sylphide," a new production of the classic to be staged by Erik Bruhn, the former dancer.
Asked if she would perform solo roles in the coming ABT season, McKerrow replied, "I hope."
She said she chose to go with ABT because, "I've always liked Ballet Theater. I think I always thought that would be the place to go. I've been seeing Ballet Theater since I was a little girl." The dancer also had an offer from the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany, according to Miller.
McKerrow said she did not consider herself too young to make this move. "I've thought about it a lot and gotten a lot of advice from a lot of people. I wasn't sure whether I should stay with Washington another year. But I just thought it was time for me to join a larger company and see a wider repertoire and wider variety of choreography that a smaller company can't offer. I think it's the best thing for me now."
McKerrow said she hoped to maintain a close relationship with the Washington Ballet. "I intend to do things with them when I can," McKerrow said.