I think many of you have provided various intelligent points on this issue. And by the way, Cygnet OH MY God! was Virginia Johnson really your sorority sister? That is just amazing!
I find Drew's comment particularly courageous. This is living proof that by having at least a minute inclination to mind openness, people's point of view can be wider, especially, in a ballet context, when a performance is delivered by an artistically accomplished dancer. The characterization of "a Prince" could therefore be achieved in a wider range of bodies than what could have been previously concieved, same logic for the Malakhov example, therefore not limited to the race issue. But the problem still resides. How does one get to the level of performing in a big company, if a majority of black kids are NOT in top rated ballet schools?even if (at least some) AD's would be positively enclined to choose some, given the fact some could/would present themselves at a company audition. The lesson from Drew's experience is clearly that change is bound to happen if we stimulate people's minds. Bravo to you.
So the bottom line is the ballet public open minded? I would like to think it is. I mean, this is the 21st century...
However, I don't necessarly agree to use the fact that the classical ballets
as a valid excuse. I am rather against such an excuse for peoplewho feel the right or need to "typecast" on the basis that history has not provided them with an alternative.
from that time are very European. Maybe imagining someone of African descent as a European was too jarring. I don't think this is prejudice, exactly. Nineteenth century Europe wasn't integrated the way it is now; on the contrary, it was, culturally, very homogenous. (And this was a time of rampant nationalism, when the French would have been insulted to have been compared to Germans, etc., let alone non-Europeans.)
But there WERE people of African descent in Europe at that time!(although I am sure Ari did not necessarly imply there was 0). In France (Paris) there were few, but at the very least enough so that Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was able to head a troop of 1000 "colored" men in the French Revolution! This is off topic but The Chevalier de Saint-George was such a violin virtuoso and a prominent composer that in 1775 the King of France wanted to appoint him as the Royal Academy of Music's AD and just a year (or 2?) later Noverre was to become the Ballet master of the POB....Hmmm I wonder what ballet would've looked like now if the King didn't meet strong oppositions regarding his intentions on nominating Saint-Georges (
ok, can I dream a bit???)
See, maybe I am totally off track, but when I first saw Les Sylphides, I was struck by the ideology behind the sylph, more than by "the fact she should be white because M. Fokine's environment was majoritarly white so therefore, sylphs for the next thousand years should be white". I mean I will always admire how some Asian countries have taken up ballet as part of there own culture, even if princesses in Europe's courts would not have necessarly looked like them. For me, the power of this art resides in the power of transcendance. The more an artist is "classically pure", the easier you should be able to believe his/her soul reflects on the "concept" or emotions underlying and motivarting the character they portray.
Finally, some of Leigh, Drew and Cygnet's insightful comments have made me realize that in conclusion, the very least I can do to make things a little better is to believe that if one feels the need for change, one needs to believe she has the power to make it happen( in her own environment, by concrete actions...)
Boy do I know what I will be doing next February!
Thanks to all for your replies(even if it was not my topic).