bart

Ballet's "elitist" image --what do you think?

100 posts in this topic

One charge made against ballet that simply will not die is the idea that it is "elitist" and consequently (by implication) to be avoided.

Dirac has a LINK today that expresses this view succinctly. The surprise, however, is to find one of our finest (former) ballet dancers expressing it!! (Even though the quote is out of context.)

Here's the way it's presented on our LINKS page:

______________________________________________________

QUOTE: Preview of Ballet NY by Donna Hartman for The Bradenton Herald.

Ballet NY: More than just tutus and tiaras

QUOTE

Ballet doesn't have to be boring, stuffy or elitist.

It doesn't have to be stiff tutus, classical music and by-the-book classical movement.

Dance for Ballet NY is quite the opposite, said Judith Fugate, founder of Ballet NY and former New York City Ballet principal ballerina.

"Ballet can be all kinds of different things," Fugate said in a telephone interview from her office in New York. "Sometimes, the public thinks of ballet as snobby with its tutus and tiaras.

___________________________________________________________

I can think of other adjectives besides "boring," "stuffy" and "elitist" that I've heard applied to ballet in the past year or so. "Irrelevant." "Escapist." "Limited." "Old-fashioned.".

Oddly, BALLET people who are pushing their own contemporary alternatives often seem to be the ones most anxious to perpetuate this image, if only to assure potential audiences that this is NOT what WE are.

Any thoughts about this?

For instance, how or why does this impression of ballet persist? Is there any justice to it? What can be done to challenge it or at least provide a counter-weight?

The relevant LINKS page is located at: http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=21543 Scroll down to the 4th article.

Share this post


Link to post
Oddly, BALLET people who are pushing their own contemporary alternatives often seem to be the ones most anxious to perpetuate this image, if only to assure potential audiences that this is NOT what WE are. 

Yes.

I find it ironic and appalling that elite is considered a four-letter word when applied to the arts or education, but not when applied to sports. "Elite athlete" is a very positive thing to be.

In today's links, there was an article about Craig Hall, a student at the PNB school whose SAB audition was scheduled for the same time as the upcoming Super Bowl. (Seattle vs. Pittsburgh).

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/loca..._ballet27m.html

Stuart Eskenazi writes:

Professional ballet and professional football seem like diametric opposites on the cultural brow. One is white wine poured gently into crystal glasses. The other is watered-down domestic beers sloshing in 32-ounce plastic cups.

Toe shoes vs. face paint.

He later goes on to write,

Think about it: Ballet and football have as many similarities as differences. Both ballet dancers and football players are athletes who endure grueling practices under the watchful eyes of demanding taskmasters. They must be precise, disciplined and exhibit amazing balance and body control. Their careers peak at an early age and can be ruthlessly curtailed by injury.

We discussed the ballet dancer as athlete issue before on Ballet Talk, but the tone of the article suggests that ballet should be given the same respect as professional sports. Until Bruce Wells is quoted at the end, when asked if he'd be watching the Super Bowl:

I'll probably go to the movies," he said. "I like to spend my days off seeing something riveting, intellectually challenging or visually beautiful.

There go those elitists again, lording it over the rest of us with their superiority.

Share this post


Link to post

"My tastes are very simple: Only the best will do." - Sir Winston Churchill

Share this post


Link to post
The surprise, however, is to find one of our finest (former) ballet dancers expressing it!! (Even though the quote is out of context.)

There’s a distinction between “elite” and “elitist” in common usage, I think. “Elite” is often (though not always) used in a neutral or positive context, but “elitist” rarely is. The latter word carries an implication of entitlement.

I don’t think Fugate was suggesting, even when you take the quote by itself, that Ballet BC supplies a non-snobby version of ballet in contrast to the customary snobby one or that she was trying to perpetuate said snobby stereotype. She intended to say that many people have a negative image of ballet that follows this line of thought, and that it’s wrong.

I'll be watching the game, myself.

Share this post


Link to post
One charge made against ballet that simply will not die is the idea that it is "elitist" and consequently (by implication) to be avoided.

IMHO it's just another case of people bashing something that they don't want to take the time to understand. Anything that pushes the limit of creativity is obviously going to be challenging for the audience as well as to the artists (rock musician Robert Fripp says that his definition of good music is music that takes almost as much skill to listen to as to perform). If having to use your own intelligence to appreciate someone else's performance is "elitist", so be it.

Edited by YouOverThere

Share this post


Link to post
I'll be watching the game, myself.

Not me (sniff, and come to think of it, in all mock elitist silliness, a sniff that sounds just like Balanchine's). I'll be watching the Ballet Russes movie. :) (And taping the game!)

Stiff tutus, classical music and by-the-book classical movement = boring, stuffy or elitist? Are there really many people who would be attracted to the ballet under any circumstances who make so facile an equation? If so, I wonder if the blame doesn't lie in part on both sides of the culture war divide, with those who equate any distinctions of merit in regards to culture with bigotry, and with those who turn their noses up at any critique of populist aesthetics.

Share this post


Link to post

There is no question that ballet is strongly rooted in elitist tradition. It was court entertainment and not generally enjoyed by the masses in the way that, say, Shakespeare was. But that does not make it difficult to enjoy. Pretty girls in tutus or leotards, handsome men in tights. Who has a problem with that? And the athleticism? And the theatricality? Go back a few times and you begin to develop an appreciation for what's really going on, whether or not you know it.

Share this post


Link to post

carbro, I think you put your finger on it, except that I'd say that the tradition isn't elitist ("we're better than you") but, rather, has elite roots, i.e., in its origins only the elite could even experience it. But it's not Schoenberg. It's an art form and a tradition that people of all classes and backgrounds can potentially enjoy, and whether that's for the beautiful music or the beautiful bodies or the breathtakingly athletic movement, there is something to appeal to everyone.

Still, practically speaking, the handsome men in tights do pose a problem for many men in that the tights and the ballet vocabulary read, at first sight, as effeminate. To such men, "pretty girls in leotards" is just my line -- don't you like pretty girls; don't you love to watch them move?

Share this post


Link to post

Well, the tradition is split --

TO simplify grossly, ballet is rooted in folk dance, since it's rooted in court dancing, which was rooted in folk dancing. The people who're NOT to the manner born are the bourgeoisie, the middle class.

The aristocracy was in feudal times the military class -- peasants farmed and raised the food the people needed, the aristocracy defended the country. Ballet rose out of their horse-training -- cabrioles are jumps that HORSES do in battle -- and military dances (sword dances, etc), and of coursetheir own social dancing (which as Thoinet Arbeau pointed out, was an excellent way to find out the strengths and charms of a marriageable mate). The peasantry, meantime, also danced at festival time and eventually formed the core of professional dancers who lived at court, trained heavily, and swelled the ranks of court entertainments and did all the spectacular dancing (the "anti-masques' in Ben Jonson's time).

Royalty found ballet useful in presenting court propaganda -- Louis XIV found it very helpful to appear as the all-conquering sun in front of his courtiers, since he'd almost been killed in a rebellion as a child and needed to impress upon all of France that he was not just the king, he was "the state" itself and ruled by divine right. It was also very useful, in preventing civil war, to bring all the aristocracy away from their power bases in the provinces and make them live and dance attendance on him at Versailles and spend half the day perfectng their dance technique and rehearsing the roles they'd perform in the perpetual round of court entertainments devised by lully.

Centuries later, Stalin found it almost equally useful to present Soviet propaganda in the form of Socialist-realist ballet.

Share this post


Link to post

Coincidentally, I just received an email from Ballet Florida, a company which does mostly ballet-based contemporary works, and which recently has begun a long-needed expansion of its marketing and p.r. efforts. (I have to say that I enjoy this company a lot and am a supporter.)

Here's the text:

------------------------------------------

QUOTE: "Whose Ballet Is it Anyway?

"There's a rumor floating around Ballet Florida that 'we are not your grandmother's ballet." The truth is, that in the traditional sense, we are in fact NOT 'your grandmother's ballet' but then again -- OUR 'GRANDMOTHERS' AREN'T TRADITIONAL EITHER."

"They know that ballet does not have to be bland and boring. It is vibrant, exciting, athletic and at times, down right sexy!

"While on occasion the Company does present incredible classical and neo-classical works, Ballet Florida audiences expect to see new and cutting edge dance created by world-class choreographers, performed by exciting and talented dancers that love to show off their stuff!!"

-------------------------------------------

I detect the same put-down quality that I found in the article on Ballet NY. It's rather like those individuals whose favorite method of building themselves up is taking swipes at others.

I've seen many ads and press releases using this approach from many other companies. In their attempt to attract new audiences, they perhaps unintentionally hammer home the idea that classical ballet is old-fashioned and that the public is right in avoiding it.

Whatever the intention, ballet people themselves are increasingly pandering to -- and perhaps even stimulating the growth of -- prejudices that alienate potential audiences from traditional ballet. (Trusted old brand names like Nutcracker excepted, of course.)

When "traditional" becomes a bad word among the practioners of an art, something very significant has occurred.

Share this post


Link to post

It occurred to me that all these defensive sounding pitches are merely recognizing the persistence of a stereotype. It's easier to say "We aren't like that" than "Ballet isn't like that."

Share this post


Link to post
I've seen many ads and press releases using this approach from many other companies.  In their attempt to attract new audiences, they perhaps unintentionally hammer home the idea that classical ballet is old-fashioned and that the public is right in avoiding it.

Whatever the intention, ballet people themselves are increasingly pandering to -- and perhaps even stimulating the growth of -- prejudices that alienate potential audiences from traditional ballet.  (Trusted old brand names like Nutcracker excepted, of course.)

On the other hand, contemporary art is often considered to be "elitist" (and it often is "unaccessible" to people without a strong interest in the art form), so to be "cutting edge" may get an arts organization a reputation as being "elitist" even if they are "contemporary".

Share this post


Link to post

Ballet has multiple images in popular culture.

It signals a refined elite with classical music with tiaras, tutus, tights, and toe shoes. In contrast, ballet also indicates a childly innocence for young girls. Something common and trivial. Ballet is a respectful modifier for descriptions of operations involving intricate coordination, such as space travel and military operations. Nobody every mocked a paratrooper landing by calling it a ballet. I'd like to see a Swan Lake review claim that the 101st Airborne couldn't have done it better.

Share this post


Link to post

I personally believe, the perception (real or otherwise) of ballet (or any other form of dance, art, music, or sport) is more often than not verbalised most loudly by those whom have never tried to appreciate the work that goes into such endeavours. I also believe that people are more than ever afraid of not being accepted, fitting in or liking what everyone else does (Tall Poppy Syndrome), therefore if it is not everyday it must be ridiculed and branded elitist or pointles.

Another factor perhaps in the "elitist" attitude to ballet is perpetuated by the "management" (for want of another word) of companies. I'm not too sure how ticket pricing goes in the US but in Australia more often than not tickets are priced such that to become an avid follower of a Company or even just Ballet one must be of a certain socio-economic status. It is cheaper to get season tickets to the footbal than the the Australian Ballet. Finer margins and "more bums in seats" doesn't seem register. One wonders if by design or by force??

Perhaps the most overlooked reason is society as whole these days. People (again all of my comments are merely my thoughts on th matter and by no means definative) seem to derive more pleasure these days and only seem to be able to make themselves feel better when they are putting someone else down for any reason they can find. One can hardly scream at a soloist to "get a move on" like at the football, or cricket for example, whilst eating a pie and drinking a beer. Ballet requires discipline not do, to watch and from that comes enjoyment (for the dancer and the audience). The irony is whilst the "older" population becomes more and more undisciplined and young girls are often criticised for not being disciplined and having no direction, in a small regional area of tasmania there are more than five ballet schools all full with young girls wanting to learn the art of ballet.

I know I like to think of myself as achieving something that not everyone else can, but then, I also see my husband achieving something that I can't do in his rockclimbing endeavours (rockclimbing also appears to me to have the same perceptions as ballet in regard to elitisim). At the end of the day he appreciates the work and skill that goes into my dancing and I appreciate the work and skill that goes into his rockclimbing. I think they call that one respect.

Art imitates life or life imitates art, a case of the chicken and the egg.

Just my thoughts.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, Bluenightdipper, for your thoughtful comments.

Ticket pricing is problem here, too, and I don't think companies address it very well or consistently. As someone who has been convinced that only by paying full price can I truly be "supporting the arts," I admit to feeling somewhat annoyed to find seats being filled by last-minute giveaways and by papering the house.

Perhaps the most overlooked reason is society as whole these days. People (again all of my comments are merely my thoughts on the matter and by no means definative) seem to derive more pleasure these days and only seem to be able to make themselves feel better when they are putting someone else down for any reason they can find. One can hardly scream at a soloist to "get a move on" like at the football, or cricket for example, whilst eating a pie and drinking a beer. Ballet requires discipline not do, to watch and from that comes enjoyment (for the dancer and the audience). The irony is whilst the "older" population becomes more and more undisciplined and young girls are often criticised for not being disciplined and having no direction, in a small regional area of tasmania there are more than five ballet schools all full with young girls wanting to learn the art of ballet.

It's sad whent he requiement to sit quietly and pay attention becomes a deterrent to attending any performance. But I think you're right. There are so many "audience participation" spectator sports -- movie attendance being one of the most prominent nowadays -- that people may have to feel the it's downright odd to take part in what is seen as ancient and out-of-date 19th-century audience rituals.

Share this post


Link to post

Phew! :beg: Thank you Bart for your response. I thought I may have been a little to deep and meaningful with my previous post.

It's funny I have been thinking more about this issue and I am begining to wonder is the "elitist" perception (real or otherwise) forged, partly from simple misunderstanding, lack of knowledge, and a case of "couldn't be bothered to taking the time to understand."

For example waaaaaaaay back when I was at school (that what it feels like sometimes) part of our curriculum in English was to study some of Shakespeares works and part of the Music curriculum was classical "ancient and out-of-date 19th-century " pieces.

I used to do some volunter work with high school aged children and most if not all had no idea who Shakespeare was and as for the 1812 Overture never heard of it, but then when you told them that Shakespeare wrote the original Romeo and Juliet (like the movie with Leonardo Di Caprio) and the 1812 Overture (like the music for the Army recruiting advertisement on TV) there was a feint, slight glimmer of recognition.

As humans we tend to denegrate that which we fear most, that which we do not know or understand, hence the "elitist" perception and associated behaviours. Perhaps all that is needed on all sides is a little bit of "education" and by that I don't mean making ballet compulsory, but rather getting "it out there more."

By "getting it out there more" I also don't mean "seats being filled by last-minute giveaways and by papering the house " (that is boarderline patronisation) but rather a simple matter of making people aware that ballet whilst it may be an "ancient and out-of-date 19th-century " art, it does exist and it has many great aesthetic, physical, musical, dramatic characteristics which not only make dance what it is but may also add character to a person to enable them to achieve an elite level in whatever they choose to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Ticket pricing is  problem here, too, and I don't think companies  address it very well or consistently. 

Arts organizations are often criticized for their ticket prices, and I think often unfairly. While it's true that the cost prices out lower income people, at least in Denver the cost of tickets to (at least) professional basketball, football, and hockey also prices out these groups, yet they don't receive the same criticism. I would guess that the average price of a pro football or hockey ticket exceeds the average price of a Colorado Ballet or Colorado Symphony ticket. It unfortunately requires a significant amount of money to stage a ballet and that money has to come from somewhere. The dancers are, IMHO, already severely underpaid.

Share this post


Link to post

There is one glaring omission from this debate around which the elitism of ballet and opera is unequivocal and why despite tickets being expensive sports events are uncomparable to ballet in terms of elitism and that is simply - race.

High art is overwhelmingly white, and any form of art or entertainment which is situated within society as we know and live it today and does not reflect the multi-culturalism of society and the attendent issues thereof cannot be seen as anything other than divorced from society. Apart from it, elitist.

Sadly the occasional Accosta, Anderson come across as nothing more than nods towards tokenism when the sole black face is surrounded by a field of white faces.

Sports, popular culture, music culture give multi-cultural role models and stars for children, young people and adults to aspire to. The ascension from unknown to MBA, NFL or MTV star is one wholly recognisable, the struggle to achieve relevant to the fan. There is nothing of this within ballet and sadly very little done to address this.

The black dancers who were chosen to enter the halcyon major companies, such as Ashe, Long, Douglas all had tales of frustrated ambition before leaving to join environments where race was not an issue but talent was.

Not one poster here mentioned race, because I hazzard a guess not one poster who contributed to this thread is black? (Please correct me if wrong) And until ballet addresses this it cannot be anything other than elitist.

Share this post


Link to post

YouOver there, I totally agree with you in that dancers are severely underpaid.

This is where I face a connundrum. With the income from ticket sales, Government grants, benefactors, philanthripists etc. Where does is all go?? Like you say, not to the dancers. A bit like companies posting billion dollar profits and laying off thousands of workers, whilst increasing the cost of their product.

One begins to wonder if some ventures are never meant to be commercial enterprises and by trying to make them such we are destroying them?

Share this post


Link to post

Kate,

You are correcct in guessing that I am not black.

I would perhaps beg to differ on a few points made by yourself.

There is one glaring omission from this debate around which the elitism of ballet and opera is unequivocal and why despite tickets being expensive sports events are uncomparable to ballet in terms of elitism and that is simply - race.

I know here in Australia that race is also an issue when it comes to football, cricket (hardly any aboriginals), soccer (hardly any Australians) and just about any other sport at an elite level. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps certain races are attracted to certain activities due to their heritage and culture and therefore seen to be elitist by other races and cultures. I will probably be crucified for what I am about to say by it is only my opinion based on personal experience. We all (regardless of race) like to embrace the philosophy of multi-culturalisim, but when it comes to the doing, human nature prevails. Therefore, is elitisim mearly reflecting the subconscious of society?

Sports, popular culture, music culture give multi-cultural role models and stars for children, young people and adults to aspire to.

I'm not really into pop culture, music culture and the like, but when I do watch Rage (a bit like MTV I suppose), HIP Hop seems to be very black to me, Punk/Techno seems to be very UK, does that then makes these elitist? Perhaps it does to thoes not involved in those styles.

The black dancers who were chosen to enter the halcyon major companies, such as Ashe, Long, Douglas all had tales of frustrated ambition before leaving to join environments where race was not an issue but talent was.

Any woman trying to compete in a male dominated work force of any male for that matter trying to compete in a female dominated work force would relate to this.

Does the US have an all black dance company? We have an all aboriginal dance company here in Australia and from what I have heard and read they are highly talented, skilled and yes elite dancers. Like I mentioned in the Australian Ballet forum, trying to see the aboriginal company is just as difficult as it is to see the Australian Ballet if you don't live in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Canberra.

I'd better get back on track for this forum,

Perhaps Ballet is elitist, but then is it really so bad? We all like to be part of something special that reflects our cultural and artistic heritage. Be it black, white, asian, whatever. It is a shame I think when we can't accept that each race/religion will have it's own elite form of dance, music, communication. Perhaps we should be celebrating this elitisim, for each race, because isn't that what the philosophy of multi-culturalism is all about, not a common denominator?

Share this post


Link to post
High art is overwhelmingly white, and any form of art or entertainment which is situated within society as we know and live it today and does not reflect the multi-culturalism of society and the attendent issues thereof cannot be seen as anything other than divorced from society. Apart from it, elitist.

Like all good art, ballet is rooted primarily in particular aesthetic and cultural traditions, not political agendas, however important. What art or work of art can speak to or for everyone? And why should it have to? Western society is multi-cultural precisely because it is made up of specific cultures, and a society that truly "celebrates multi-culturalism" allows all of its cultures to thrive. It doesn't subject them to political tests.

Share this post


Link to post

I think you're both misinterpreting my points. No one is saying that ballet must be inclusory, however, the fact that it isn't means it cannot defend itself effectively against allegations of elitism when juxtaposed against the majority of cultural and sporting pursuits which on face value are.

There is a very great difference between elitism and "elite" as has been pointed out here before. A ballet dancer within a top company is indeed an "elite" athlete in much the same way an Olympian is, however the Olympian is an aspirational commodity the dancer not. Yes, indeed certain sports, music genres are exclusory to the a "typical" ballet audience, but what these art forms/sporting forms have is that they speak directly to a huge cross section of society; not least because within a black context many of the musicians and athletes came from crippling poverty and by dint of talent and hard work became successful and create a product which speaks directly to achievement. Rooted within culture.

The fact is that an aboriginal company, the now sadly defunct DTH and modern dance taken as proof of a non-elitist inclusive face of dance is a non-starter as an argument. Two swallows do not a summer make.

Ballet rooted within the confines of an opera house, presenting an overwhelmingly caucasian face and due to cost relying on a handfull of 19th century works (NYCB excepted, of course) can never be argued as being progressive and all-inclusive.

The fact that I post here I would hope be proof positive that I love ballet as an art form, passionately. But certain aspects, the arguments of regressive politicised femininity, institutionalised rascism are hard to make arguments against. And if one does wish to tackle the allegations of elitism one has to truly look at these aspects and not become defensive, but acknowledge them head on for what they are. Very real criticisms by ballet's harshest detractors.

On another ballet site I read recently a poster commenting on POB's Le Parc saying that it struck her that the choreography of the gardeners would not work on dancers of "color" because they work black sweaters with the arms rolled up and black gloved hands which were placed on their white forearms. That such an inane comment was seen as being worthy of being shared is saddening, what was moreso was that not a single respondent to the thread saw fit to criticise this comment. That is was seen as being valid.

Share this post


Link to post

Does "non-Caucasian" mean just black or does it include Asian and Oriental dancers? Ballet has taken off big time in Japan and is now booming in China with the result that these dancers are represented in just about every company you care to name.

I'm not certain that "grinding poverty" exists in the UK, poverty exists almost everywhere though and if you're poor than you've no chance in classsical ballet as classes cost money and few working class dancers make it anywhere regardless of their colour. The exception was the old Soviet Union, but that no longer exists and it will be interesting to see how the demise of the old system will impact upon future generations of dancers.

I've first hand experience of attitudes towards black dancers as I worked as an assistant/administrator to the black dancer William Louther for a number of years: he found working in Europe was more congenial than in the US as he'd experienced serious racism when dancing with a white partner in the southern states. One of the dancers in his company, James Lammy, who now works in Austria, told me of his disappointment at not being accepted as a classical dancer, but I've a feeling that things have moved on today and that there is more acceptance of non-white dancers. I once raised a question with an RB teacher at one of those Q & A sessions arranged by one of the ballet clubs, about the scarcity of black dancers in the company. He didn't like the question at all and looked plainly embarrassed to be asked. Audience reaction was somewhat different as all had something to say on the subject and that totally white, middle-aged, middle class audience made it perfectly clear that they had no objections to non-whites in their favourite art form at all.

I have to say that opera is generally accepted as being just as elitist as ballet, but black singers, from Jessye Norman down, don't seem to face these barriers.

Share this post


Link to post
Does "non-Caucasian" mean just black or does it include Asian and Oriental dancers?  Ballet has taken off big time in Japan and is now booming in China with the result that these dancers are represented in just about every company you care to name.

In the context of this argument I totally concede that non-caucasian includes Asian, Eurasian and Oriental and these dancers are poorly represented within the context of major companies. Moreover, this argument of elitism is taken in the context of Western perception of ballet. Yes, the ballet boom within Asia is happening but until these companies tour extensively with a classical repertoire within the West one cannot make a case for the Western perception of ballet being multi-national in terms of skin colour within companies.

Moreover the cause and effect of racism is most clearly seen and the battle most purely fought on the subject of black skin. Unapologetically, dark black.

I'm not certain that "grinding poverty" exists in the UK, poverty exists almost everywhere though and if you're poor than you've no chance in classsical ballet as classes cost money and few working class dancers make it anywhere regardless of their colour.  The exception was the old Soviet Union, but that no longer exists and it will be interesting to see how the demise of the old system will impact upon future generations of dancers.

Mashinska, grinding poverty does exist within the UK and it's naive to think not. However, yes you're right regarding the cost of becoming a dancer and a pursuit which is so resolutely middle-class especially in regards to being a pre-requisite for achievement can not claim to be anything other than elitist. The interesting thing in regards to the post Soviet ballet is the plethora of small-scale touring Russian companies whose incessant itinerary of small venues and regional towns probably does more to dispel the "elitist" tag for classical ballet than anything else.

Louther was a miraculous modern dancer, yes, but his inclusion does take the argument away from the arena that this question must be tackled - the opera house, its patrons and the make-up of the company.

Progress isn't found in off-shoot all black companies forming because the incredible dancers are horrendously underused within the mainstream. Progess comes from a line up of swans in the corps whose dancers contain black, asian, Oriental dancers the focus not being on ethnicity but meritocracy.

I think too, that the problem of elitism and racism was highlighted by your questioning of that rather reactionary teacher from the "Old school", the majority of the great ballet institutions are composed of stars, teachers, ballet masters etc whose formative careers took place in the not too distant past when such segregations were still sanctioned by society. When racism was de riguer and acceptable on a deep societal level, (though it is naive to suggest it still isn't, but now it's gone underground to a greater extent). But these divisions still exist and whilst society may have progressed like the audience at the event, the institution hasn't caught up yet. And perhaps this is the problem as a whole - ballet is still in an adolescent state of mind.

Opera is indeed as elitist if not more so, but then again black vocal art is an accepted part of black cultural heritage and the technique of opera is centered around the voice, of course. The cross over seems more "organic" if you will.

Share this post


Link to post