Dancer Fernando Bujones, a leading figure in international ballet and a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre for 11 years, will not be performing as scheduled during the company's two-week season at the Metropolitan Opera House starting tomorrow night, ABT announced yesterday.
Bujones' future with the company also appears cloudy. A dispute over the dancer's new seasonal contract was the apparent cause of the break.
He had been slated to dance in "Romeo and Juliet" opposite Marianna Tcherkassky at tomorrow night's Met opening. He last appeared with the company this past Wednesday at Wolf Trap, partnering Tcherkassky in "Giselle" in place of ABT artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov, whose recent knee surgery forced cancellation of his previously announced Wolf Trap and Met appearances.
ABT Executive Director Charles Dillingham said yesterday that Bujones and the company had reached a firm verbal agreement in July on the dancer's Met performances, on the basis of which, with Bujones' knowledge and consent, ABT announced the Met casting. "Two weeks ago," Dillingham said, "Bujones came back with additional demands that ABT found unacceptable, among them that he'd dance at the Met only on condition that ABT commission for him now a new full-length ballet for the 1986-87 season. The company is not in a position at this time to commission a ballet by anyone for anyone for that season. We greatly regret that Bujones will not be performing with us at the Met as planned. I certainly hope that when this unfortunate incident is behind us, we will be able to reach an agreement with Bujones. He belongs with ABT."
Bujones could not be reached in New York for comment yesterday. However, his manager, Vaida Mendez, said by phone from Florida that the company had continually put off contract negotiations since July, despite her frequent requests. "As far as the future is concerned, if ABT is interested in talking, we are willing to listen."
Tomorrow at the Met, Robert La Fosse and Leslie Browne will dance in place of Bujones and Tcherkassky as the leads in "Romeo and Juliet."