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Nutcracker Chronicles - NYTimes

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Jenifer Ringer's interview

I thought Jenifer Ringer did a fantastic job on the Today Show. She was incredibly well spoken and calm, even when the questions from Ann Curry were a bit awkwardly phrased. There was also some wonderful footage of NYCB in The Nutcracker-- hopefully more people will go to see the ballet after seeing this piece. Who knows, maybe some good could come for Nutcracker sales out of this controversy? No matter how you feel about weight in ballet, Jenifer Ringer should be commended for being honest and open about her experiences. She seemed like a beautiful person inside and out.

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Jenny Ringer was on the Today show. I have not seen it yet, but I taped it.

Edit to add: You can watch Ringer's appearance on Today on the Today show's official website. Ringer was very well spoken and mentioned that shw was touched by the outpouring of public support. It was also mentioned that the NY Times was invited to participate but declined. (Translation: Macauley is a wimp.)

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Before one starts attributing the non-appearance of Macaulay (note spelling) on TODAY to a lack of strength etc., it would be advisable to investigate what NYTimes policy is about its staff writers answering their critics in situations like this. From what I understand, the TIMES might not allow its personel not to appear in such circumstances; furthermore, in this instance, I happen to know that Macaulay was out of town this weekend, and is likely not yet returned.

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furthermore, in this instance, I happen to know that Macaulay was out of town this weekend, and is likely not yet returned.

In this day and age, they can hook up a satellite connection. The guests do not have to be in the New York City studios in order to appear on the show. These TV programs regularly interview people in their living rooms, hotel rooms and elsewhere.

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how to have Macaulay on the show is beside the point, until one knows for certain if the TIMES would approve his appearing. if not, if it's the the paper's decision, pointing a 'wimpish' finger at the writer is mistaken.

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I think what the "Today Show" clip showed is that Macauley's comment came at a time when there was already a media narrative underway that portrayed ballet as potentially dysfunctional, obsessive and unhealthy. The "Black Swan" clips inbetween Ringer's interview highlighted that. Mainstream media usually sensationalizes, simplifies and misrepresents.

Ringer did very well, she was calm and not accusatory. Because of course Macauley is entitled to write his reviews as he sees fit. That's what he gets paid for by the New York Times. At the same time, I thought the "too many sugar plums" remark was just a cheap shot. He didn't elaborate why the dancers' weight bothered him and how he thought it distracted from the choreography etc. Honestly, it seemed that he just thought that his pun was clever ("Ha ha! Nutcracker! Sweets! Suger Plum Fairy! Too many sugar plums! Get it?") and couldn't resist putting that in. Or he wanted to create controversy, I'm sure the NYT got a lot of pageviews out of all that outrage. They even linked to Ringer's interview in one of their blogs.

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how to have Macaulay on the show is beside the point, until one knows for certain if the TIMES would approve his appearing. if not, if it's the the paper's decision, pointing a 'wimpish' finger at the writer is mistaken.

I don't know what the official policy is of the NYTimes. However, I do know that the Times' lead movie critic, A.O. Scott, used to host a TV show called "At The Movies", where he and another critic provided their opinions on films. The show went off the air recently due to poor ratings. If there was no policy preventing A.O. Scott from providing his opinion (for compensation) regarding films on a TV show every week, I can't imagine why the Times would prevent a dance critic from appearing on TV once to discuss dance (without compensation). (The Today Show does not pay guests for interviews.)I also believe that I have seen reporters from the NY Times on television shows like Meet the Press and other news shows discussing politics, economics, military issues and business.

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I don't know what the official policy is of the NYTimes. However, I do know that the Times' lead movie critic, A.O. Scott, used to host a TV show called "At The Movies", where he and another critic provided their opinions on films. The show went off the air recently due to poor ratings. If there was no policy preventing A.O. Scott from providing his opinion (for compensation) regarding films on a TV show every week, I can't imagine why the Times would prevent a dance critic from appearing on TV once to discuss dance (without compensation).

Even if, contrary to what rg suggests may be the case, the Times doesn't have a blanket policy prohibiting such appearances, I think the reason in this case is easy to guess. Macaulay, if he'd appeared, would have been put on the defensive, and not just for his critical judgment, but for his manners. He's already been given space in the paper to defend himself. Putting him on a show geared to women, with women hosts sympathetic to a woman perceived as a victim, would clearly make him, and by extension the paper, look even worse.

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I don't consider the Today Show a "woman's" show. It's not Oprah or The View. By the way, the clips that have been posted do not show what happened earlier in the broadcast. At approximately 7:30 AM, the show's host, Matt Lauer, was introducing the various guests who would be coming up on the show. He noted that Ms. Ringer would be a guest in a few minutes discussing the controversy regarding the NY Times article concerning her weight. He then turned to his co-host and he stated that he can't understand why she would be considered heavy. He then stated that Ms. Ringer had a lovely, slim figure. You're right that the Times would have looked very bad if Macauley had shown up to defend his position. The last thing the Times needs right now is to lose readership. Thus, my guess is that there was no "policy" that prevented an appearance. Nor was it an issue of logistics. It was simply an attempt by the Times to save face after one of Macaulay's more obnoxious statements. As someone noted on the blog on the Times website, let's not forget that this is the same critic who equated Ethan Steifel to a Hitler Youth because of his hair color only a few months ago.

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I see the whole thing as simple as "You choose a profession, you deal with it". Weight issues were, are and will be an item in ballet, we like it or not, and many times for being too "politically correct" critics reviews are just totally flavorless. I would hate to see my favorite ballerina's-(or singer, or actress or whatever)-feelings hurt, and I'm SURE I would be ballistic would I be the object of the attack, but...that's show business. Old school comedians-(like Letterman)-have at times been forced to apologize in public television about some of their jokes, and I still don't get the WHY of the apology...

Actually the freedom to which all this people speak about and criticize public figures-(even the President!)- was one of the things that amused me BIG time when I came to US...and I totally :clapping: to it.

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The Times does have stricter rules than many news organizations about under what circumstances its reporters are allowed to appear on television, although I don't know enough about chapter and verse to know if Macaulay would be forbidden to appear on Today. The paper might well not think it appropriate and one could see why, but I don't know. Macaulay's already responded to the criticism. If Ringer wants to appear on the teevee to talk about it that's entirely up to her.

Putting him on a show geared to women, with women hosts sympathetic to a woman perceived as a victim, would clearly make him, and by extension the paper, look even worse.

Actually, it might make him look better, if the wimmenfolk appear to be ganging up on him. I'm sure he would receive a square deal from the ladies, however.

In one exquisite — but unacknowledged — respect, most of these “Nutcrackers” are hard to tell apart. Only the Joffrey production admits that it is based on the old 1940 Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo production; the others give credit only to their own house choreographers. But much of the same Sugar Plum choreography is danced by the Colorado Ballet, Moving Island Company in Rhode Island, Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet and Houston Ballet. (That’s just to name a few; the Royal Ballet and other companies in Europe also use this choreography.) It probably all derives from the Monte Carlo version, and in the case of the adagio and ballerina solo, parts of it surely go back to the 1892 St. Petersburg original, choreographed by Lev Ivanov.

Good stuff.

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Putting him on a show geared to women, with women hosts sympathetic to a woman perceived as a victim, would clearly make him, and by extension the paper, look even worse.

Actually, it might make him look better, if the wimmenfolk appear to be ganging up on him. I'm sure he would receive a square deal from the ladies, however.

I'm sure as well that they would have been perfectly polite to him, but no less sympathetic to Ringer, in their questions and their facial expressions, than they actually were this morning. Their very courtesy would have made him look all the more the ogre. Unless, of course, he'd done what he didn't do in his blog post - actually apologize.

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He sort of did a summary of his Nutcracker chronicles, and I thought this was maybe my favorite description of all:

In one exquisite — but unacknowledged — respect, most of these “Nutcrackers” are hard to tell apart. Only the Joffrey production admits that it is based on the old 1940 Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo production; the others give credit only to their own house choreographers. But much of the same Sugar Plum choreography is danced by the Colorado Ballet, Moving Island Company in Rhode Island, Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet and Houston Ballet. (That’s just to name a few; the Royal Ballet and other companies in Europe also use this choreography.) It probably all derives from the Monte Carlo version, and in the case of the adagio and ballerina solo, parts of it surely go back to the 1892 St. Petersburg original, choreographed by Lev Ivanov.

Yes, yes and yes..Viva Fedorova...!! :clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping:

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The entire Jenifer Ringer "Fat Ballerina" story seems to be gaining momentum. It's now on the front page of Yahoo and Google. This from Yahoo -

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20101213/us_yblog_thelookout/sugar-plum-fairy-doesnt-want-apology-from-critic-who-called-her-fat

It's really sad that American at large will know the exquisite dancer as 'the fat ballerina.' She deserves much better.

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I agree with the above posters regarding Jennifer's Today show appearance. She was calm, warm and open and seemed to me a little overwhelmed by the firestorm. She did acknowledge that she was appreciative of the outpouring of support from so many who rushed to her defense. On a completely shallow note, her shoes were to die for! :wub:

I didn't appreciate seeing the clips from Black Swan used to suggest that ballerinas are under pressure to be too thin. Gad, I'm sick of that movie!

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I feel this like a Volochkova zaga...

Yes, except that, thank goodness, none of Ringer's male partners have complained that she is too heavy to lift, a-la Yevgeni Ivanchenko's complaint about La Volochkova.

I wouldn't be surprised if Ringer ends up on other shows very soon, such as The View, Ellen, Letterman, etc. This sort of thing escalates pretty quickly, especially during a stretch of 'slow news days.' I would just keep the DVRs at-the-ready for more in the next day or two.

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The entire Jenifer Ringer "Fat Ballerina" story seems to be gaining momentum. It's now on the front page of Yahoo and Google. This from Yahoo -

http://news.yahoo.co...-called-her-fat

It's really sad that American at large will know the exquisite dancer as 'the fat ballerina.' She deserves much better.

I expect the appearance by Ringer on national television had something to do with keeping the story going.....

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What interests me is that The Nutcracker is clearly the most powerful ballet every written in several senses. Does that mean it is the greatest? Yes, just like the most powerful nation in the world is the greatest viz., the U.S. of A., in practical terms, yes, nothing else comes close, not even Swan Lake, in ballet terms, or England or France or even China yet, in national power terms.

And it is also interesting that balletomanes take it so seriously too. The popular audience comprises people who never go to a single other ballet, that's one thing. Then balletomanes tend to go see it every year. There have been discussions about how the Nutcracker is not everywhere seen as a holiday thing, but the Balanchine is, and maybe previously the old ones were, too.

This is a curious collaboration, because connoisseurs of ballet most likely don't think The Nutcracker is the greatest ballet ever made, but they talk about it, with every detail of minutiae, as if it were. Which is fine as long as you feel it's that important, for whatever reason.

I've seen The Nutcracker a total of twice and it is very enjoyable, but I don't plan to see it again unless it comes up as some social affair to do; I wouldn't seek it out for artistic reasons. It's not an unimportant ballet to me, but neither is it particularly outstanding either. It's on the same level as 'La Bayadere' or 'Don Quixote', but not up there with Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty or much of Balanchine.

I wonder if anybody else doesn't care that much about the Nutcracker as an always de rigueur holiday event. It may be that it finances the rest of ballet to a great extent, and that's reason enough for it, no other ballet does that. But is it this 'cozy' thing that happens for some balletomanes every year? Because to me, it's just another good ballet among a number of full-length one, if I'm being as objective as I can be. It's pretty clear that the appeal has to do with its charm for children and its use in the holidays (even if not everywhere, most people think of it as an Xmas event.) If you're in the business, it's obviously a big deal, but not everybody who likes ballet is in the business, so I wonder if there are others who realize that the Nutcracker is also just something that is propelled by its popularity with families w/children, and may not really be more interesting than a lot of other ballet. I do know it's not necessary to love ballet to not want to see a lot more Nutcrackers, although this is not meant as a criticism of those who do. I just think it's a fine ballet, but not that great.

So what I guess I am asking is, of you balletomanes, which of you think that, overall, the Nutcracker is the single most important ballet every made? or the greatest? or the most worthy of infinite, endless attention? Nobody seems to ask this, but I've also never heard the Nutcracker proclaimed by even a single critic, dancer, artist, or balletomane as 'the greatest ballet ever made'. Not that it has to be, again, to make it all this popular. On the other hand, the 'spell' that seems to come, and this includes Macaulay's 'Nutcracker Chronicles', which is representative of this perennial phenomenon, seems to be something accepted for the most part. But, while I stopped being an NYCB freak and started getting interested in other ballet companies that used to interest me much less, it has never happened that I have been caught by this 'Nutcracker spell', and I imagine there are even some dancers and choreographers who are not always.

I'm also realizing that I would want to go see other dancers in 'Swan Lake' and 'Sleeping Beauty' and many Balanchine and Ashton works, and other things I can't even remember right now, but to go see what somebody's 'Coffee' or 'Arabian' is just doesn't captivate me. But it seems as reliable as tax returns, and that's what's interesting to me about the phenomenon. So I want to know if there really ARE ballet super-fans who think Nutcracker is THE greatest ballet ever made.

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I'm glad you raised this issue, because I've always felt like the lone ranger when it comes to Nutcracker...I appreciate it in its historical context, for its visual panoply, wonderful music and so on, but it is among my least favorite ballets. I don't find it interesting or engaging, and certainly not great; even as I child, it left me cold. Maybe I'm just a born curmudgeon. :blushing:

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I don't know what the official policy is of the NYTimes. However, I do know that the Times' lead movie critic, A.O. Scott, used to host a TV show called "At The Movies", where he and another critic provided their opinions on films. The show went off the air recently due to poor ratings. If there was no policy preventing A.O. Scott from providing his opinion (for compensation) regarding films on a TV show every week, I can't imagine why the Times would prevent a dance critic from appearing on TV once to discuss dance (without compensation). (The Today Show does not pay guests for interviews.)I also believe that I have seen reporters from the NY Times on television shows like Meet the Press and other news shows discussing politics, economics, military issues and business.

There's little comparison between a critic appearing on TV in a critical format or for expert opinion or debate with other critics or subject matter experts and a critic appearing on TV to "debate" the object of his criticism.

If it were up to Macaulay to decide and not a NY Times policy/guideline/rule, to accept simply because someone might think you are weak is a weak position, and bypassing the "opportunity" just means that someone may think you are weak.

Criticism is a job, not a debate. It's not "American Idol" where we get to phone in our votes.

Ms. Ringer has been given a platform to respond to his formal criticism, and it sounds like she took the high road, which is no less than I'd expect. For the record, she was my favorite dancer when I left New York, and she remains the one I miss most keenly, regardless of her weight at any point.

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Ms. Ringer has been given a platform to respond to his formal criticism, and it sounds like she took the high road, which is no less than I'd expect. For the record, she was my favorite dancer when I left New York, and she remains the one I miss most keenly, regardless of her weight at any point.

Amen to that - on the Today Show clip that I saw, she said something like this (paraphrasing) - at NYCB we have all types, big, petite, womanly, wraithlike - they are all gorgeous, and can all dance up a storm. Let's celebrate that. (end paraphrased quote)

I loved that statement. It showed class and told people who are not familiar with ballet, that not every dancer is as skinny as Natalie Portman in Black Swan. In fact Ringer said that dancers who are too skinny, can't do the job.

I'm getting off topic, but I think Jennifer Ringer's statements are great ones to have out there.

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My favorite part of Ringer's interview was her point that people who have eating disorders don't have enough strength for ballet. I noticed the last few times I saw the Mariinsky that certain dancers were SO thin that at times they seemed to actually have difficulty rising up on pointe. It was painful to see them grimly trying to go on pointe, with absolutely no calf muscles to speak of. But Ringer's such a well-spoken lady, with such a lovely voice. Great appearance by her on the Today Show.

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My favorite part of Ringer's interview was her point that people who have eating disorders don't have enough strength for ballet. I noticed the last few times I saw the Mariinsky that certain dancers were SO thin that at times they seemed to actually have difficulty rising up on pointe. It was painful to see them grimly trying to go on pointe, with absolutely no calf muscles to speak of. But Ringer's such a well-spoken lady, with such a lovely voice. Great appearance by her on the Today Show.

Again veering off topic (moderators remove at will). The too thin thing was part of my problem with Portman in the film Black Swan. I looked at her body and thought that she would never get through a ballet.

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