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Ashley Bouder Makes The Front Page of the NY Times


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#76 bart

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 05:49 AM

Thanks all for helping me to formulate a set of opinions on this topic, one which I'd never given much thought to.

richard53dog writes:

I think performers are professionals , then as well as now, and they can turn their concentration on and off during performances. Or maybe it might be more accurate to say SOME can. There may be some performers that need to keep things on the flame and others that manage their stamina by putting up their feet and blowing off steam between their onstage periods.

Beverly Sills is clearly one who could do this. However, there must be performers who believe BELIEVE they can do it but would be better off if they did not. This has certain elements in common with people who text while driving. According to surveys, a very large majority believe that THEIR texting does not impair their driving, even though they are aware of overwhelming statistical evidence that it affects others.

Mme. Hermine rights:

{'m not even arguing that it shouldn't be done by a classical dancer. but i'm holding to my point that during the performance a dancer should concentrate on the performance. i know they do various things like knitting or whatever else to relax themselves if they don't happen to be appearing in an act, but the whole "everything everywhere any time" concept, IMO is invalid to begin with and especially bad in that particular situation.

Mme. Hermine, I agree with the above. I base this partly on my limited backstage experience where I've been fascinated with what dancers do when they are between scenes. There are relaxation activities, and then there are distraction activities. Knitting, stretching, brief conversational interactions with fellow dancers or stage crew, staring into space, etc., are in the first category. Tweeting is in the second.

#77 abatt

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 05:55 AM

If Peter Martins doesn't have a problem with the conduct of his dancers when they are off stage awaiting their next scene in a ballet, why should we? Also, using Twitter may be a form of relaxation to some, not merely a "distraction."

#78 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 06:12 AM

Obviously he has the job, so he can run the place how he likes. If allowing them to use Twitter during a performance backstage is a conscious decision of his, it's unimportant how I feel about it in a practical sense. I still think that whether or not the practitioner sees it as relaxation, an activity that engages someone the way tweeting does will have an effect on what that person does whether or not they realize it. So, if I were the boss, it wouldn't happen. :cool:

#79 bart

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 06:16 AM

Also, using Twitter may be a form of relaxation to some, not merely a "distraction."

Absolutely. However, it often does distract. My point is that people may not know when they are being distracted, and that this is supported by significant research having to do with behavior while cell phoning and texting in a variety of social situations. People are not necessarily the best judges of their own actions. Nor are they the best judges of the unanticipated effects of their actions.

#80 papeetepatrick

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 08:03 AM

Also, using Twitter may be a form of relaxation to some, not merely a "distraction."

Absolutely. However, it often does distract. My point is that people may not know when they are being distracted, and that this is supported by significant research having to do with behavior while cell phoning and texting in a variety of social situations. People are not necessarily the best judges of their own actions. Nor are they the best judges of the unanticipated effects of their actions.


Maybe they don't, but if Ashley does it when offstage, it doesn't show in her performance. Her Rose Adagio balances I saw recently were, if anything, aided and abetted by her Twittering, if any. I do not agree that the whole period of time during a performance is 'sacred' when you are not performing yourself. Some really serious types may want to meditate and even watch the proceedings of the action onstage so as to 'experience the whole piece' just an Ideal Balanchine Ballet Goer, although I hardly see that as necessary. They need to be comfortable, and they are most likely the ones to know how to do it. Bouder is the single worst example to criticize, so I'm glad she was publicized twittering, viz', because she's possibly the best, or one of the two best, dancers at NYCB, and her performances are so stellar that, if affected by twittering, we'd still have to start observing symptoms of Twitter-interference from the top down.

We agree with Simon's observations about Nureyev's likely behaviour (some of it, there were probably a number of 'Indochine'-like interludes as well, and he would probably have been all Prince of Wales about it) in a cab as opposed to Miss Bouder, and are glad to hear that men about town in other lands know about Columbia and Parsons...

I do recall some posts about one of the ballerinas of Kirov (can't for the life of me remember it), that Hans and I were doing when I was first watching the Kirov SB with Lezhnina. and he put up a clip of another important Kirov dancer of about the same period (she may still be with them, but isn't so young anymore), and I remember observing an unusual quality in her even in these clips: She seemed to be 'continuing' from offstage and even when she left the stage, it was as if she was still there. But that may have been an illusion: She might have even been on the net (although not Twtittering in the early 90s), and simply been able to de-addict herself from it immediately (I know myself how to do this in real life, and I'm sure many of you do to--you just realize that those net things, including BT, have to be subsumed to your physical life, although there are periods when an especially hypnotic situation CAN, as bart says, be more than just mildly distracting. I've recently been through an online experience that was so all-consuming I don't know how I ever got into and out of it but, while it did not keep me from attending to necessities and even going to performances and getting proper exercise, it did have some effects on my concentration: I stopped reading books for some months, or even watching movies all the way through. Once this 'nypnosis' was dissolved, my old 'good habits' came back, but I still think that these little 'light things' that the ballerinas like Bouder write are very likely just a hardworking professional who has to work very hard having a little fun in a way other kids her age are having.

#81 canbelto

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 08:19 AM

This, coming from someone who spent his whole life watching the very body of his home country ballet company formed by veterans MEN and WOMEN, is still kind of hard to digest.


Ok ... I just have to go here. But these are men and women who wouldn't be allowed to twitter, unless they defected to the U.S., because they lived in a regime with no regard to free speech or human rights. I don't see how this is better.
As for Ashley Bouder's tweet, anyone read facebook updates of, say, anyone? I've written much worse. and maybe here's where I differ in my approach to artists. I don't hold them on a pedestal, and imagine them to have any kind of mystique, or glamor, or be on a higher plane. I recognize that it is all, in many ways, an illusion, and that offstage, to be crude, their farts still smell. If Ashley's tweets showed her off to be arrogant, dismissive, haughty, and conceited, then I have a simple solution: don't follow her tweet, and just enjoy what she has to offer onstage. As it is I think she just shows herself to be a very normal young lady with normal interests, and she has a good sense of humor, so I check in on her tweets.

And as for tweeting in between performances, I remember Natalia Osipova saying that she text messaged between her acts of Giselle. I saw her give a Giselle for the ages. So keep on texting Natalia! :cool:

#82 bart

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 08:26 AM

Bouder is the single worst example to criticize,

I am sure that you are right, Patrick, from all that I have read about her dancing. However, I don't think anyone has criticized her for tweeting per se or suggested that, in her case, it makes her less of a dancer. She may be one of those performers who, like Beverly Sills, can do anything on their time off and still return to the stage completely in control of their performance.

There have been posts quoting some of Ms. Bouder's tweets and suggesting that they are limited in some way or other. That is a different matter. Personally, I think that people have different ideas of what constitutes the line between "private" and "public" discourse. Some of us -- Jack, Cristian, kfw, Mme. Hermine, Barbara, etc. -- seem to be most comfortable with a fairly clear, with much reserved for private conversation. Those for whom the line is elastic or possibly fuzzy have no problem with the idea behind twitter.. This second group is certainly more in step with the march of our culture in general.

P.S. Dale's post -- which notes that Bouder has mentioned that Verdy coached her for La Source -- expresses a wonderful "public" use of twitter. Contrast this with the material quoted by kfw.

#83 kfw

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 08:57 AM

Patrick, I don't think dancers need to hide the business aspect, or the personal aspect entirely, but there is a time and a place for everything. And I too love to learn everything I can about the art form, the artists as artists, and their creative process. That Verdy is coaching La Source is interesting news; that Bouder didn't like her cab driver . . . not so much. Perhaps you're correct that the latter tidbit will help young fans relate to her more, and in so doing will entice them to buy more tickets. I just find that a little hard to believe; how interesting is the information really? But again, I don't wish she wouldn't tweet altogether; I wish she wouldn't tweet between acts of Sleeping Beauty, and beyond that I'm just not convinced the personal stuff has much dollar value.

I agree that "Farrell is very 'girl next door' in parts of 'The Elusive Muse', in old home movies, etc., she's not a bigger-than-life personality offstage," and as I said, there is a place for the girl next door in ballet. There are places for all sorts of personalities in ballet. I haven't said everyone needs to be glamorous (although I loved, after a recent Kennedy Center performance, seeing a ballerina in a coffee shop tightly wrapped in coat, stocking cap, and huge sunglasses, but still instantly recognizable). But Farrell is no longer dancing, and the film focused not on trivialities, but on her career and her relationship with the man who gave her her greatest career opportunities. That's a far cry from tweeting "putting my pants on one leg at a time just like you do" (OK, I made that one up). Too much of the latter, I suspect, is a diminishment. I recognize that this is how young people communicate nowadays, but frankly, it comes across to me as a little self-absorbed -- you're reading this post for my opinion on this matter, but let me take a moment to tell you what I had for breakfast -- in a way that we all naturally are, but that finally has little value, and that we can grow out of with time. Art can enoble, and celebrity can trivialize; I think that's pretty well accepted.

Already with Balanchine ballerinas you were getting less of this highly individualized persona, and Peter Martins said in 'Far from Denmark' that Farrell was the last of the 'Balanchine ballerina' breed with the emphasis on the mystique. He said, and this was already as far back as the early 80s that dancers now are not cultivating that, and that they are just 'interested in the dancing'. Pretty perspicacious.


Sure, this has been much discussed (and lamented), and Farrell has noted it herself. Something has been gained perhaps, but something wonderful has been lost too, wouldn't you agree? Again, not everyone should be or can be forced into the same mold. But I reject the idea that "we don't need [the old models] any more . . . because that's been done." I mean, we don't need old-fashioned French cuisine now that we have nouvelle either (I'm probably hopelessly ignorant of cooking fads here, but you can see my point), but that's no reason to say it "just can't compete with . . . . something new," especially since the new will also get old. I'm not saying dancers should be nuns married to their art, although that seemed to be Balanchine's ideal. I loved seeing Veronika Part on the Letterman show. But I wonder if we're losing a healthy balance.

I've fought with myself about these things, and still am, so I do understand the sense of loss that some of these new things bring with them. They seem tacky at first, then we get used to them.


Well, don't give up the good fight. :cool:

#84 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 09:02 AM

Though I may be in danger of being She Who Doth Protest Too Much, I honestly don't care what they want to say! If they want to broadcast every grunt and groan because they think it makes them more human, or even if, as I am sure it is with a lot of them, they are just so excited about everything they do, that's fine with me. I may not care for Twitter or things like it, but I really couldn't care less whether someone else likes it. I may be more reserved than some but I am not old fashioned! Quel horreur. My main beef is the idea that it would happen during the performance. To me, tweeting falls into the main category of instant self-promotion, not company promotion, and even if it has a secondary effect of at least temporarily engaging the interest of an otherwise previously uninterested public, terrific; but I think they need to tweet when they get home or on the bus, not on the stage. If anything, a principal dancer has an even greater responsibility from my point of view to *be there* 100 percent.

Signed
Not A Luddite

#85 kfw

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 09:03 AM

that old fashioned glamour of sacred monsters is itself incredibly rarified and I'm afraid to say a total turn off for many young people.

Yes, and that's their loss, in my opinion, at least in regards to the sacred, and to ceremony and sense of occasion :). I belong to an Episcopal church and we have an evening service geared towards university students that my wife and I sometimes attend, and I'm struck by how casual almost everyone dresses for it. The rectors too dress down -- no robes -- lest they scare someone off, I guess. I'm not putting anyone down for this, but I do think the kids are missing a dimension, one they may grow to find. Meanwhile, if you ask me, which you sort of did, they're casualties of the code of the casual :cool:. Special occasions deserve special clothes -- or at least some kind of shoes! -- and special behavior. And the same goes for performances, fancy restaurants, weddings, etc. I'm not surprised Bouder tweets between acts. I just think it's too bad she wants to.

Whether tweeting or going off on a lousy cab driver is the better response is neither here nor there, not to mention that they aren't the only two options.

I don't hold them on a pedestal, and imagine them to have any kind of mystique, or glamor, or be on a higher plane. I recognize that it is all, in many ways, an illusion, and that offstage, to be crude, their farts still smell. If Ashley's tweets showed her off to be arrogant, dismissive, haughty, and conceited, then I have a simple solution: don't follow her tweet, and just enjoy what she has to offer onstage. As it is I think she just shows herself to be a very normal young lady with normal interests, and she has a good sense of humor, so I check in on her tweets.

She does seem like a very nice person, but to address your point, it's not that we should hold them to a higher standard, or have the right to. It's that they themselves -- many of them, at least -- used to have a different conception of their relationship to their art and their fans. I think of Tallchief saying something like "you carry yourself [as a representative of the art]."

#86 dirac

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 09:08 AM

I think performers are professionals, then as well as now, and they can turn their concentration on and off during performances. Or maybe it might be more accurate to say SOME can. There may be some performers that need to keep things on the flame and others that manage their stamina by putting up their feet and blowing off steam between their onstage periods.


Yes, exactly.

There have been posts quoting some of Ms. Bouder's tweets and suggesting that they are limited in some way or other.


Her tweets are just fine.

#87 papeetepatrick

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 09:21 AM

kfw--the reason i don't care if dancers Tweet between acts or do anything else that pleases them, is that nobody in audience sits in rapt attention during intermission, meditating on how this might help the continuity of a near-sacred performance.

I understand your points, even if I have different emphases, though. It's much more prosaic backstage, and it's true, even if the performer-pros know that they are indeed making up their eyes in a purely ordinary way to then do something extraordinary, the audience has a right not to want to see that. But it may also be possible that the performers, even if Tweeting, do not subconsciously lose sight of the performance they're in, even if they divert themselves a bit--I think diversions are a form of rest, and that, in fact, you come back to the 'concentrated important stuff' more fortified sometimes. Now that's worth thinking about, isn't it? Although I do think the 'generational matters' are exactly right. That I sympathize with the Tweeters while personally having no interest in it myself is just me. I've watched an old vhs of Garbo in 'Romance' 5 times in the last two weeks and my only interest in Twitter is discussing it here with smart people! I think Bouder's Tweets are boring too, personally, I just don't care when and where she does them.

As for Farrell, she's glamorous even if sometimes 'girl next door'. Her own 'aura', as I've mentioned once before, is much like Garbo's, and I always like this self-possessed sort, that's way too proud of their singularity for some tastes: They are worth emulating for this.

I like the way you handled my provocative post, though, because I fully intend not to give into the internet's encroachment whenever I can (I've been successful thus far in only being wounded, but not mortally). I actually like this peculiar thread, because it does show, I think, a brilliant young artist who acts silly sometimes, but it doesn't get in the way of the important things--and that helps me learn better how to integrate some of this new media that often really does annoy me to no end, and has even caused me real problems. But don't think for a minute that I wouldn't rather discuss some of the Reality TV people on THIS board than have to watch any more of their YouTubes :cool: They were all horrible, no matter how 'inspiring'.

I just pm'd Hans about that Aurora we were discussing along with Lezhnina, I believe it was Dumchenko, that had this seemingly uncanny ability to seem as if she'd been in the role before she went onstage and after she went off. I haven't had that impression too often, but you know, it may be that Twitter, etc, really DO interrupt to a degree, or is it not possible that it's also 'the age of Twitter' that does it? I find that I am extremely irritated by these things even without using them.

And it's true that both Farrell and Garbo (like Dumchenko, if that's the right ballerina), never really lose a certain aura-persona, even though Garbo, in particular, infuriated many people because she was determined to live her life as she chose, not as they chose. But, when you look back, that was a way to make the persona even more inaccessible and mysterious. Yes, I'd have to agree, if you can still pull it off, DO IT! I just think the opportunities for this are less and less, and I don't think NYCB has any mystique itself anymore. I don't think people want to hear that, but it's not really any worse than saying 'Bouder is exciting, but has no mystique', esp. since she's probably the best thing in the company. But, while I do think some of this mystery and aura may still be found, I do think it's diminishing. Yes, of course, I don't like it either, but I've GOT to learn to be more sensitive to young people!

#88 Simon G

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 09:24 AM

Yes, and that's their loss, in my opinion, at least in regards to the sacred, and to ceremony and sense of occasion :). I belong to an Episcopal church and we have an evening service geared towards university students that my wife and I sometimes attend, and I'm struck by how casual almost everyone dresses for it. The rectors too dress down -- no robes -- lest they scare someone off, I guess. I'm not putting anyone down for this, but I do think the kids are missing a dimension, one they may grow to find. Meanwhile, if you ask me, which you sort of did, they're casualties of the code of the casual :cool:. Special occasions deserve special clothes -- or at least some kind of shoes! -- and special behavior. And the same goes for performances, fancy restaurants, weddings, etc. I'm not surprised Bouder tweets between acts. I just think it's too bad she wants to.



The Episcopal church isn't a limping wounded art form, that MUST charge every member of the audience upwards of $50+ to $100+ if it has any chance of surviving.

Let's get past the 50s Ballets Russes "Ballet IS religion" mentality - it isn't. Religion can and will continue through one form or another as long as civilisation exists. Ballet? The Jury is very much still out.

Is $100 that came out of a pair of blue jeans instrinsically worth less than $100 that was put on a Platinum AmEx from someone wearing a tuxedo?

I have to say this Bouder Bashing is really entering the realm of poor taste - and I also want to say, a great deal of the opinions being opined, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, are far more damaging to ballet's continued validity as an art form with Universal appeal, than a ballerina giving a few friendly tweets.

Whether tweeting or going off on a lousy cab driver is the better response is neither here nor there, not to mention that they aren't the only two options.


What are the other options? She did NOTHING wrong!!!! She just chose to share her frustration in a calm, reasonable manner, she didn't explete, she wasn't rude, it was a funny sweet little glimpse into her life at that moment.


It's that they themselves -- many of them, at least -- used to have a different conception of their relationship to their art and their fans. I think of Tallchief saying something like "you carry yourself [as a representative of the art]."


kfw, unless ballet as an art form finds some way to make itself pay and connect and become relevant and close those vast evergrowing deficits, Tallcheif's "credo" will serve as more of an epithet on a tombstone for the art form. Carried all the way to the grave.

You can't go back, regardless of Bouder Tweeting or not. But I really am beginning to wonder what this thread is actually all about? The ire and outrage levied at her is completely out of all proportion to any crime against art that she may or may not have done. Real, imagined, perceived or otherwise.

#89 papeetepatrick

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 09:24 AM

that old fashioned glamour of sacred monsters is itself incredibly rarified and I'm afraid to say a total turn off for many young people.

Yes, and that's their loss, in my opinion, at least in regards to the sacred, and to ceremony and sense of occasion :).


On this, I totally agree with kfw, it IS their loss. They're just WRONG :cool: If you lose interest in 'les monstres sacrees', what else is there? Gerbils?

#90 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 09:26 AM

I'm not levying anything at Ashley Bouder. She's probably a really nice girl, and she's a good dancer too.


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