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Alexandra

Is the Volochkova story good for ballet?

   52 members have voted

  1. 1. Is the Volochkova story good for ballet?

    • Yes
      11
    • No
      31
    • It depends, see my answer below.
      9
    • I hate yes/no polls. I abstain.
      1

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29 posts in this topic

Or not?

A quickie, yes or no poll. Feel free to expand your answer in the space below.

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I voted "it depends..." :wink:

Because to me it does depend on what those who read the stories (and do not know much about Ballet) think and what their reactions are afterward.

If they then become interested enough to want to see an actual performance, or to even try it out for themselves; then that is fine.

If it only serves to reinforce dried-in-the-mud stereotypes, then that is not so fine.

In show-biz, usually almost _any_ publicity is good. What folks normally remember is not necessarily whether a story was positive or negative - but that there WAS a story at some point on that person/ topic.

-d-

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I voted yes because - any publicity is good publicity. I hate the fact that most of the news coverage has focused on the sensational aspects of the story and I think that it not only reinforces a negative stereotype, it actively makes fun of ballet dancers and the general attitude of the ballet going public.

Still, if Volochkova tours (and she will!) and 100 people who wouldn't normally go to the ballet go to see her because of all this fuss and 1 of them falls in love with ballet...it's good for ballet! :wink:

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I say no, it's not. We've been pegged as being overly concerned about being skinny for a long time now. The baised coverage this story is recieving does nothing but reinforce that, at least in the West. Especially after the Today Show coverage this morning, people are sitting around their living rooms saying "See? I told you it was a bad idea to put little Suzy in ballet classes. They'll turn her anorexic." Not only is it giving non-dancers a negative picture of the ballet world, it's providing reinforcement for the eating-disorder epidemic that already exists in many younger dancers.

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No, and my feelings are in agreement with Arak. I think that publicity for weight issues is not something ballet needs.

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I voted "it depends". If Volochkova does dance again soon (instead of giving dramatic press conferances dressed in long flowing scarves), and she is actually talented, then so many people will be exposed to ballet that normally would not be. I think the press savvy Ms. Volochkova would have the press salivating to cover her next dance assignment, and the worldwide audience could see that a ballerina does not have to be tiny and skeletel to be beautiful.

However, all depends on how the Bolshoi reacts to her lawsuit and if the ballerina herself is trying to expand and glorify her art form or is just out for some publicity and worldwide fame(or infamy).

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Voted "it depends" out of my naive optimism that someone, somewhere Out There will bring an honest perspective to the story. I want to think that the celebrity factor may sell a few seats. At this point it seems to be a story about an appropriately proportioned but grandiose ballerina who has engaged in some political head-butting with the Powers at the helm of her company, which Powers may have justified their actions with patently false charges -- or at least were reported to have made excuses that were later exposed as false.

Publicity is good. :thumbsup: Sensationalism is bad. :wink:

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Publicity is good.  Sensationalism is bad.

And this focus on a "fat"dancer who is not even is WORSE.

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What Arak said, although I'd add that stereotypes become stereotypes for a reason. This is not something ballet needs, and I wish the powers that be who wanted to take the lady down a peg had considered such issues before throwing their punches. (I don't think they'd call a man fat. Out of condition, temperamental, yes, but not fat.) Most people won't be that interested in the fine print. They'll see the headline or hear a little on television, and that will be that.

Also: no fair voting and not posting. Come on, people.....

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I voted yes on the theory that any publicity is good publicity. The story was on NPR this morning. When was the last time they ran a ballet related story? Eventually Volochkova will perform again, and there will be more headlines. Its free advertising.

Those people inclined to see the worst are unlikely to attend a performance anyway. Other people will be intrigued and may decide to see what the fuss is all about.

The one downside I see is that concerns about the weight issue may cause some parents to remove their daughter from ballet.

Cliff

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:angry: I voted no - OK, this is not the thing one should vote on IMO, but there it was, so...

Another thing emerged though. While I was watching State TV News this morning there was a bit, only 90 seconds or so in the Foreign News section, about Ms. V. and her tribulations.

Well, if that is the only way ballet can get on State TV News then the situation is really very sad. Just imagine it, ballet is completely ignored otherwise, Fonteyn died, Nureyev popped off, whoever else produced something great, Ashton and Balanchine they never even heard about - but this got prime time 9.15 a.m. news time!!!

I am frankly disappointed, such a pseudo-news item on the day of the memorial service of the slain Foreign Minister.

There are such things as publicity managers, hers must be the Phantom of the United Press and Television. :)

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My roommate (who is a strictly video games and violent-crime-novel type of guy came home to inform me of the situation right after it broke. He didn't remember what Ms. V.'s name was, he didn't even notice where she danced. All he remembered what that she got fired for being "too fat."

So, I got some ammo (from this site and the links) and gave him a lecture and showed him some strategically chosen pictures of dancers... And he listened, and even watched some of the RB's Sleeping Beauty when I had it on.

He still doesn't give a darn about ballet and the last 2 times I headed off for ballet class he made a point of sitting on the couch eating Ben and Jerry's out of the pint, and saying something about "Anastasia."

Maybe somebody else got lucky with their non-ballet person. I hope so.

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Any story which makes the front page of the New York Times brings national attention to the subject. Ballet needs the attention.

Page One! Was it a slow news day?

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When my friends at the "day job" ask about this story, all I can characterize it to them is as a labor dispute. The sooner the matter goes to negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or to court, the better for all parties involved, including the world audience.

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I took the "it depends" way out.

Yes, it is "bad" since it tends to continue the stereotype of the whole ballerina thing, and even more specifically the Russian prima ballerina one. :yawn: Of course, I have to admit that I did get a few chuckles reading about it - the first time.

Still, it can be looked at as an interesting example of the more "corporate" side of the ballet world with its Byzantine intrigue. Unfortunately the world of the arts is frought with this, just as the nonballet world is - theirs is just more colorful with larger than life characters such as Ms. Volochkova, whether it be thanks to her personna or her press agent.

On the other hand, as many have noted, if she does go on tour as a guest performer I have no doubt that there'll be many new faces in the audience. And if her performance is really good, then all this will be good for ballet.

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What's the problem. Volochkova says she weighs 109 lbs. The NYTimes measured her height as 5' 6". I voted Yes--and I think it is bad publicity for ballet for the right reasons. Perhaps ballet companies will re-think their policies of skinny dancers.

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I voted yes in the poll because like many others I think that any publicity is good publicity. Now days ballet has become so low key in the world press it's almost boring. There, that is my two cents worth. :)

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Page One! Was it a slow news day?

It was the New York Times.

Baryshnikov made the front page when he defected.

Dance is important in NYC.

Unlike some other major US cities I've lived in.

Yes or No? I can't decide. It continues to characterize ballet as some sort of weird fine art form whose denizens are out of touch with the rest of the world's ideas of what a woman should look like... on the other hand, it might pique their curiosity to see her dance... but I think the "nay"s have it.

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Here is the opinion of an expert on eating disorders whose letter was published in "The Times" on 23.09.03:

"Anastasia Volochkova … turns out to be alarmingly underweight. From the information you give, she has a body mass index (BMI) of about 17. The healthy range for BMI is 20-25. Many adult women who are as thin as Ms. Volochkova will not menstruate, and could develop premature osteoporosis and fertility problems. If Ms Volochkova is regarded as "too weighty", this could suggest that her fellow dancers are even thinner, with greater consequences for their health. If the rigours of classical ballet are such that the female dancers have to take long-term risks with their health, perhaps the ballet companies, and even the audiences, need to think again."

Who will say after this kind of letters that Volochkova story is good for ballet?

What I really would like to check is the scales which showed less than 50 kg. :wink:

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What pops into my mind when I hear about Anastasia is that Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding figure skating story at the 1994 winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

Figure skating has never been a big sport here in Sweden and despite the papers were covered with the news about the attack on Nancy Kerrigan (done by her "rival" Harding's boyfriend, or was it her ex-boyfriend???) the sport itself didn't receive more broadcasting-time on television nor did more people start to figure skate. (On the contrary the public service channels cut down the coverage of figure skating a couple of years ago. )

This will only emphasize people's view of ballet as "shallow" and the only thing that takes to make it is to be thin. But there is no focus on all the years and hours of struggle and hard work in the studio which takes to make it.

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I think any publicity is good. I just wish this particular story didn't make us all out to be high-strung anorexic obsessive compulsives with no foothold in reality. I don't think weight is what this story is about, but you wouldn't know that listening to or reading the American media. This story is too complicated for most newscasts to accurately report given their shortcomings.

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Now, now, LMCTech, be fair. You're not ALL "high-strung anorexic obsessive compulsives with no foothold in reality." The media went to great pains to point out that some were, instead, hysterical, self-promoting, bulemic prima donnas who would stop at nothing to further their careers. :wink:

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The Kerrigan/Harding analogy is an interesting one, Susanne, but in America the story played out a little differently. It actually did get non-skating fans to start watching. Men – not generally part of the figure skating constituency -- followed that story, too, and caught a little more skating action than they would have otherwise. The high profile given the sport by Tonya-and-Nancy coincided with a boom in skating coverage that lasted several years. It's quite true, as you say, that the coverage of skating has dropped considerably in recent years, but there's no question that in the U.S. at least, T&N were good for the sport (in one sense), a genuine example of bad publicity being good publicity. Perhaps the Kirov will hire goons to take out one of Volochkova's knees, and then we'll really have something.:wink:

Our present drama isn't really about weight, true, but one reason it's captured so much media attention is because the story in outline conforms to preconceptions about women and ballet, and so those aspects are emphasized because they're in line with what viewers expect….it's kind of a vicious circle.

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