Brendan

Diana Vishneva to Participate in School Visit with First Lady Michelle

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Diana Vishneva to Participate in School Visit with First Lady Michelle Obama and Russia's First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva

Exciting news, everybody. Diana has been invited to participate with US First Lady Michelle Obama and Russia's First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva in a visit tomorrow (June 24th) to the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, DC. The Duke Ellington school is the Washington area's most prestigious public school for the arts.

Diana will be on hand to greet First Lady Obama and First Lady Medvedeva upon their arrival, and then sit with them during a dance and music performance by the students. Following the performance, Diana will remain at the school to speak to a select group of students and answer their questions about dance, the arts, her own career, and the students' other interests.

Diana danced "Swan Lake" with David Hallberg and Sascha Radetsky last night at the Met, and will travel down to Washington today.

As always, you can keep up on Diana's latest activities on her official page on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Diana-Vishneva/416638053237

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Sounds exciting. However, I find it a bit amusing that DV is being 'hauled in' for basically a photo op. I doubt that she's heard of the Ellington School, let alone set foot in it before....but she'll be shown greeting & welcoming the two first ladies to the school, as if she were somehow associated with it?!! [she definitely has heard of and even performed in another DC dance school, the Kirov Academy of Ballet...and certainly knows of the Washington School of Ballet. Ellington? I doubt it.] On the other hand, it's very nice that she will stay-on afterwards to chat with the school's students.

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Sounds exciting. However, I find it a bit amusing that DV is being 'hauled in' for basically a photo op. I doubt that she's heard of the Ellington School, let alone set foot in it before....but she'll be shown greeting & welcoming the two first ladies to the school, as if she were somehow associated with it?!! [she definitely has heard of and even performed in another DC dance school, the Kirov Academy of Ballet...and certainly knows of the Washington School of Ballet. Ellington? I doubt it.] On the other hand, it's very nice that she will stay-on afterwards to chat with the school's students.

I find your rather sour comments extraordinary. In this day and age celebrities are good enough to give their time to raise the profile of all sorts of worthy organisations and a school of arts seems highly appropriate for someone ov Vishneva's status.

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In this day and age celebrities are good enough to give their time to raise the profile of all sorts of worthy organisations and a school of arts seems highly appropriate for someone ov Vishneva's status.

I agree totally. I can't see why Vishneva's having heard or not of the Ellington School is relevant. In this case, she was invited by people more powerful than she, albeit not artistically. It's not as if she's supposed to be in a position (or that she would even want to be in one) in which she could choose which 'more exclusive school'--if I'm reading the subtext correctly--she'd prefer to make an appearance in. In point of fact, it's an obvious honour what she's been invited to do. Celebrities in all areas know that 'photo-op' is a fact of life--most want it, and I'm sure Vishneva doesn't object to that part.

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Vishneva is an example of the universaility and importance of culture - a Russian who is renown in her own country and here in the U.S. It's wonderful that she is doing this.

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...... Celebrities in all areas know that 'photo-op' is a fact of life--most want it, and I'm sure Vishneva doesn't object to that part.

That's my only concern....the phoneyness of contrived photo ops. This seems to be the order of the day and it has been pointed out of late, in other sectors of life.

Hey, it's great that it's Vishneva, if anybody. No complaints there. :) I just hate anything phoney and contrived.

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More power to them... I think it's great that they're all lending their celebrity to bring attention to the Ellington school, a very worthy school. It's not a threat to the Kirov Academy, apples & oranges, and I agree that it's an odd complaint.

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...... Celebrities in all areas know that 'photo-op' is a fact of life--most want it, and I'm sure Vishneva doesn't object to that part.

That's my only concern....the phoneyness of contrived photo ops. This seems to be the order of the day and it has been pointed out of late, in other sectors of life.

Hey, it's great that it's Vishneva, if anybody. No complaints there. :) I just hate anything phoney and contrived.

I agree; I don't think that any offense should be taken, or that this view in anyway "diminishes" the "motives" of Diana's personal appearance at this event. It's a great honor for the students because they're getting the triple crown: The FLOTUS, the Russian FL and a world reknowned Prima Ballerina. However, when I think of the Ellington School, I think of great classical and jazz instrumentalists, singers, and modern dancers affiliated with that Georgetown-located school...not classical ballet. IMO it might've made more sense to have Wynton Marsalis or the great lady of modern dance such as Judith Jamison, someone, whom I daresay, most of the students are familiar with and identify with. *Now if the fortunate chosen few students are also fans of classical ballet in general and Russian ballet in particular, then this will be a major day for them that they'll always remember. *(Respect to the FLs). On the other hand, if classical ballet were the main topic, and Diana was the featured speaker, then a classical ballet school, like Vinogradov's Academy or Farrell's students at Kennedy might've been a better choice. MO.

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I also thought this was a wonderful story and I don't think the event is "phoney"--except perhaps in the very broad sense that support for the arts in the U.S. is so thin that these gestures do indeed often seem little more than gestures (which is one of Natalia's points). However, as first lady, Michelle Obama has shown a real interest in the arts (including ballet) and the Obamas have brought the arts into the White House. I'm all for that!

Michelle Obama also seems genuinely committed to being supportive of D.C. public schools and has done quite a number of events with public school students in D.C.--not all of which make it into the papers. It's clear enough why she would focus on the public schools as first lady--and they need the attention for sure. (The Duke Ellington School is a public school that gets some additional private support). I do recognize that some might find it ironic that she did not send her own children to D.C. public schools; I don't -- in her position, I would have made the same decision whatever my committement to public education.

I am actually rather impressed that Vishneva is staying overnight to talk to the students the next day which means she is really giving of her time. I have no trouble believing that whether or not she enjoys the celebrity scene (which I would not begrudge her at all) she is genuinely happy to support the arts--and I rather think we need them supported and, especially, need classical ballet supported outside of the very few precincts in which it is already well-established.

I was writing just as Cygnet was posting: I think I address the issues she raises in what I wrote above, but am editing to underline that since the Duke Ellington School is an effort that joins public education to private support for the arts, it is a very appropriate venue for the first ladies to visit--more so, in my opinion, than a mostly or entirely private institution. Of course it would be a thrill for serious ballet students to meet Vishneva, but I think that is not exactly the symbolism at issue here (as Cygnet also says)--and I continue to think (or hope) that all students (especially those with interests in the arts) will benefit from exposure to a great ballerina. Basically I'm happy to see ballet as part of an American "public" scene...in however small a way. And I do agree that it's pretty small...

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I was writing just as Cygnet was posting: I think I address the issues she raises in what I wrote above, but am editing to underline that since the Duke Ellington School is an effort that joins public education to private support for the arts, it is a very appropriate venue for the first ladies to visit--more so, in my opinion, than a mostly or entirely private institution. Of course it would be a thrill for serious ballet students to meet Vishneva, but I think that is not exactly the symbolism at issue here (as Cygnet also says)--and I continue to think (or hope) that all students (especially those with interests in the arts) will benefit from exposure to a great ballerina. Basically I'm happy to see ballet as part of an American "public" scene...in however small a way. And I do agree that it's pretty small...

Yes, and those in the private specialized institutions will have access to Vishneva very frequently: They don't need to be introduced to ballet, they already are, and they go to see her in performances in D.C. I like the combination of Michelle Obama's interest in this school, and also introducing an important ballerina even if they're more associated with classical and jazz musicians. Frankly, I find it very imaginative and exotic, and I think it's a marvelous combination all around, much like Edward Villella's old visits to the Bronx--and that was WAY rougher and less interested in anything classical till they found out he was pretty much streety like they were. These particular kids may have no other opportunity to see Vishneva, and I'm sure they'll be fascinated, because they're already attuned to the Arts in general. It's actually good for ballet to be introduced to intelligent and gifted students who may know, however, little about it.

If the 'mise en scene' comes off as slightly staged, I really can see that that's hardly a problem, and that kind of kid will probably even be wise to it himself. It sounds very elegant to me. and Michelle knows what she's doing. I see it as though she might have left ballet out altogether in favour of something else, and she didn't. This goes along with the other thread's question someone put 'Can ballet be for anyone?' Maybe, and also not for everyone, but these are the candidates for whom it may really be something. It's Michelle's call, and with the Obamas showing interest in ABT, it's quite a bit further in promoting ballet than George Bush's photo-ops in front of his Xmas tribute of 'The Nutcracker' at the White House. Or so it would appear.

if classical ballet were the main topic, and Diana was the featured speaker, then a classical ballet school, like Vinogradov's Academy or Farrell's students at Kennedy might've been a better choice.

Classical ballet will be one of the main topics, but it would be inappropriate for it to be THE main topic. If the Russian First Lady is also there, this is not supposed to be a purely artistic event, even galas aren't quite 'pure'. You have to go to regular season perfs. for that, and you get plenty of that. If Michelle Obama wants to go to Suzanne Farrell's students (and she might), then she'll do so, and she might take Vishneva with her; I'm sure Suzanne would love it and all her students as well. Vishneva would, I'm sure, always be welcome there and at Vaganova if she wanted to go, etc.,

even if on her own (she might or might not)

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Bingo! Here are some wire photos of the two First Ladies at the Ellington School + one photo of the students performing. No Vishneva yet, though. It could be that she was in Mme. Medvedeva's entourage, rather than a "greeter" at the school. She would be visiting the school (same capacity as the Russian First Lady), rather than representing it.

http://news.search.yahoo.com/search?ei=UTF...&type=photo

Other than in Brendan's original post, above, I've never read that Vishneva was going to "greet" the First Ladies. On the other hand, being a member of the Russian delegation, then staying on to answer the kids' questions about Russian ballet, makes total sense.

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The event was attended by the First Lady of America and the First Lady of Russia.

Oddly enough, Diana Vishneva has a foot or two in both countries and as a distinguished representative of her art, it appears to me that she was the perfect choice to attend the occasion.

I would also add that whilst she doesn't have the status of Mrs Medvedev as a representative of Russia she certainly has the status as a representative of Russian ballet.

There is some odd idea here that Vishneva would not or did not meet the first ladies, what a thought.

Check here for some perspective as Michelle Obama honours the ballerina.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/24/m...m_n_624847.html

Ps Has Vishneva not been introduced to the First Lady before at gala events?

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Well, no ballet photos yet but we have another 'cultural' photo op: Pres. Obama took Pres. Medvedev to Ray's Hell Burgers in Arlington, VA!

http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=25&sid=1988087

The cultural parallels between this event and FDR inviting King George IV and Queen Elizabeth to Hyde Park for hot dogs are kind of appealing. Reports that the other customers left them alone to chew n' chat suggests that there's still hope for the American Public.

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....Ps Has Vishneva not been introduced to the First Lady before at gala events?

Not Mrs. Obama, who has not attended a Kennedy Center performance yet (ballet or otherwise), other than the Inauguration & the Kennedy Center Honors. Mrs. Clinton used to attend ballets, although it helped that daughter Chelsea was/is passionate about the art.

Of course, Vishneva has met the Russian First Lady.

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....Ps Has Vishneva not been introduced to the First Lady before at gala events?

Not Mrs. Obama, who has not attended a Kennedy Center performance yet (ballet or otherwise), other than the Inauguration & the Kennedy Center Honors. Mrs. Clinton used to attend ballets, although it helped that daughter Chelsea was/is passionate about the art.

Of course, Vishneva has met the Russian First Lady.

Michelle Obama gave a speech at ABT's Met season opening night gala last year. I'd be surprised if MO hasn't been introduced to the principal dancers backstage, or at least to the dancers who performed that night which included DV. So there's a very good chance that DV has been introduced to MO. If MO endorses an organization by giving it a speech, she should be familiar with that organization.

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....Ps Has Vishneva not been introduced to the First Lady before at gala events?

Not Mrs. Obama, who has not attended a Kennedy Center performance yet (ballet or otherwise), other than the Inauguration & the Kennedy Center Honors. Mrs. Clinton used to attend ballets, although it helped that daughter Chelsea was/is passionate about the art.

Of course, Vishneva has met the Russian First Lady.

Michelle Obama gave a speech at ABT's Met season opening night gala last year. I'd be surprised if MO hasn't been introduced to the principal dancers backstage, or at least to the dancers who performed that night which included DV. So there's a very good chance that DV has been introduced to MO. If MO endorses an organization by giving it a speech, she should be familiar with that organization.

I was informed that the dancers were introduced to the First Lady before that performance.

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Vishneva was very busy in Washington. She visited at least one other school -- Kirov Academy of Ballet, whose summer sessions started this week. I got an email today from KAB with a photo of Vishneva, looking extrtemely gracious, surrounded by at least 80 very excited little girls. She dropped by last night. (I'd left earlier, so I missed her, alas.) What a great gift to the students at Ellington -- Vishneva AND the First Lady!

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....Ps Has Vishneva not been introduced to the First Lady before at gala events?
Not Mrs. Obama, who has not attended a Kennedy Center performance yet (ballet or otherwise), other than the Inauguration & the Kennedy Center Honors.

Not so.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/06/o...e_n_164840.html

I agree with leonid's points. Also, this was a good opportunity to polish her US "credentials" and expand her fan base here (since she appears at KC with both of her ballet companies). A lovely event! And if these high school students didn't quite rise to the level of the legendary Moiseyev company (and I'm not saying for a fact that they didn't :) ), it was a chance to show off what American public education at its best can offer. I just wish it were fully funded by without "outside help."

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