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Dancers Who SmokeWhy do they put their life at RISK?


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#16 Mashinka

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 03:22 AM

In my experience more dancers smoke than not and not just tobacco either. The worst smokers are the Russians and here in the UK where it is now prohibited to smoke in any workplace, the sight of Russian dancers having a fag break in full costume outside of the stage doors is quite common.

As an asthmatic I avoid smokers at all costs, though as for injuring themselves isn't it more a case of it being like Russian roulette? A friend of my parents actually made it into the papers as the UK's oldest smoker when she died last year, just short of her 103rd birthday and smoking didn't harm her. The cancer that is mentioned wasn't lung cancer by the way:

http://www.telegraph...r-95-years.html

Cuban Miami Boy has a very good point about the glamour aspect of smoking and I picture some of the old stars in my mind, such as Marlene Dietrich wreathed in smoke and with a smokey voice to match, they looked wonderful on screen but I was always grateful that weren't sitting next to me.

#17 bart

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 04:01 AM

Perhaps one had to grow up in those "glamourous" days, as I did, at least at the tail end.

I recall sitting in an auto surrounded by so much smoke generated by adults that I could hardly see outside the closed windows. (Ditto trains, planes, to mention windowless elevators.) I recall, when I was a bit older, having the take clothes frequently to the dry cleaners to get rid of the smell of rancid smoke. Not to mention: visions of Central Park and Jones Beach being littered with cigarette butts, the smell of old tobacco on people's breath, the prevalence of orange-brown teeth, the ubiquity of cigarette burns on clothes, arms, the surface of furniture and upholstery. I could go on.

Sometimes, sitting in a Parisian cafe or someplace like that, I do feel wistful and wish I were 20-something, willowy, with that marvelous French ease in public places, holding the slender white tube just so, smoking peacefully, meditatively, gracefully. The cigarette can be one's companion, security blanket, tranquilizer, and communications tool, in addition to helping curb the desire for food.

Then I recall the awful long-term medical consequences, much of which non-smokers have to pay for in the form of higher insurance rates and public spending, no to mention the loss of loved ones. I think of my cousin and her husband, both militant smokers'-rights advocates. He died in his fifties of lung cancer; she now is in need of a double lung transplant.

Nicotine is powerfully addictive. This is particularly true when the form in which it is delivered is -- like cigarettes -- seen in a very positive light. For every dancer who smokes thoughtlessly today, and then gives it up when it is time, there will be some who will not be able to give it up, even if they feel that they want to.

I agree that the choice to smoke is personal and individual. The consequences, however, are usually social, somewhere down the line.

Given the history, and the vast amount of harm it produced, I find it difficult to think of the anti-smoking regulations as being particularly villainous.

#18 Simon G

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 04:05 AM

I used to smoke for years and I stopped, but by far my favourite holiday destination of choice remains Marlboro Country, with it's verdant rolling plains and snowy-topped mountain peaks, how I loved to wrangle cattle my Marlboro light glued with spit to my lower lip, a scaramouche trail of exhaled smoke filtering through the cracks of my careworn straw stetson - My beloved Marlboro country, I miss it all the more for being so long parted.

In truth I think it's important not to be too precious regarding "my freedom stops etc etc", I mean it's estimated over 50% of methane gasses destroying the ozone layer is a result of livestock flatulence, those aren't my farts but they're slowly destroying the polar ice caps and irrevocably tipping the world to the brink of Armaggedon.

As has been said there's more harm in the crap in the air from pollution, exhaust fumes etc than catching a whiff of second hand smoke.

The history of smoking predates ballet, in regards to the original question one could ask instead of "why do dancers smoke", "why do smokers dance", it's actually an equally banal question either way to which the only real answer is "none of your business".

#19 richard53dog

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 05:39 AM

I think antismokers have gone too far; it's fine to ban smoking indoors but in the open air?

I walked out of War Memorial Opera House early yesterday evening, happy as a clam after having heard Nina Stemme's Brunnhilde in a performance of "Die Gotterdammerung" that flew by, and one person lit up, and the entire area was hit by a chemical bomb. I was not happy as a clam after that.



Well, see, this is the tricky part. Of course it's understandable that you don't like walking through a cloud of smoke. And certainly it's quite logical that it makes you unhappy.

But for the smoker that can't light up because a ban has been placed on a huge outdoor area, well, they're not happy with that.

So you have the problem of who's unhappiness/happiness is more important. Not an easy call.

My own feeling is that common sense needs to apply. Even outdoors, there are areas that aren't ventilated well, say a space between buildings. And even though it is outside and in open air, the smoke will build up and become really a problem. It makes sense to me to say "no smoking in this area"

But in general, in the open air, well smokers have rights too, as long as buying cigarettes are legal.

For those really passionate about it anti-smokers, here's a suggestion, work towards getting the cigs made illegal.

#20 richard53dog

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 05:47 AM

I used to smoke for years and I stopped, but by far my favourite holiday destination of choice remains Marlboro Country, with it's verdant rolling plains and snowy-topped mountain peaks, how I loved to wrangle cattle my Marlboro light glued with spit to my lower lip, a scaramouche trail of exhaled smoke filtering through the cracks of my careworn straw stetson - My beloved Marlboro country, I miss it all the more for being so long parted.


Wonderful image! Ah, the power of advertising! :devil:

I'll play devil's advocate here. Scent isn't part of your experience here, right? Because while you're in MC, instead of that bracing mountain air tinged with the scent of the mountain pines and the added in whiffs of cow poop, you're not really experiencing any olfactory sensation, right? My own experience, when I smoked,is that you didn't smell much of anything. Although even then yesterday's unemptied ashtray still packed quite a punch.

I enjoyed smoking for the years I did it and in a few ways I do miss it. But mostly, I'm glad I'm over it.

#21 Simon G

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 07:07 AM

For those really passionate about it anti-smokers, here's a suggestion, work towards getting the cigs made illegal.



Richard,

Are you secretly Rob Reiner? The thing is cigs will never be illegal as long as tax revenue is there to be garnered and indeed why should it, people have been enjoying a tab for millennia in one form or another.

Though if it were to be made illegal it'd just push it underground, it'd be just like the days of prohibition with Emphysema Speakeasys, with a troupe of wheezing hoofing iron lung flapper girls.

What gets me is that sure the odd stray whiff can be annoying, but think of all those sleights small and large, petty infractions, annoyances and irritants that happen to one over the course of a lifetime, are any of those truly worth getting one's knickers into such an inordinate twist?

Smoking is a choice and sooner or later every smoker decides to quit, and it's hard or continue. As tragic as the stories of loved ones dying are, Aurelie Dupont is not nanarina's father and should she continue to puff away till her lungs are black wizened lumps of tar rattling around in her rib cage it has absolutely no relation or bearing on anyone else's death or illness. With all the stresses, insecurities, injuries, hardships and worry a dancer has to face, will you really deny her the occasional cig, or not so occasional if that's what floats her boat?

#22 kfw

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:13 AM

So you have the problem of who's unhappiness/happiness is more important. Not an easy call.

No, but I don't think that's actually the question. The question is whether or not smokers should have a legal right to harm non-smokers.

My own feeling is that common sense needs to apply. Even outdoors, there are areas that aren't ventilated well, say a space between buildings. And even though it is outside and in open air, the smoke will build up and become really a problem. It makes sense to me to say "no smoking in this area"

Yes. It makes sense to me that spaces immediately outside entrances and exits to public facilities should be no-smoking areas.

#23 richard53dog

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:19 AM


For those really passionate about it anti-smokers, here's a suggestion, work towards getting the cigs made illegal.



Richard,

The thing is cigs will never be illegal as long as tax revenue is there to be garnered and indeed why should it, people have been enjoying a tab for millennia in one form or another.



No kidding!!!!

Agree, where is there is money to be made or collected, cigarettes will not go away.


But I really agree with you overall take on the situation. Yes, it's a nasty, dirty, unhealthy habit... but it's legal and the
fallout to non-smokers joins a host of other unsavory effects such as breathing smoggy, poluted air, or smokestack output. I live in New Jersey and one of the nasty local attractions is a group of large oil refineries. Really, really nasty. But again, here Big Oil is an interested partner here so the whole thing is allowed to continue.

My problem is that many of the antismoker groups have more than a tinge of the Evangelical about them "you'll be puffing on your way to damnation...."

#24 Helene

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:21 AM

I used to smoke for years and I stopped, but by far my favourite holiday destination of choice remains Marlboro Country, with it's verdant rolling plains and snowy-topped mountain peaks, how I loved to wrangle cattle my Marlboro light glued with spit to my lower lip, a scaramouche trail of exhaled smoke filtering through the cracks of my careworn straw stetson - My beloved Marlboro country, I miss it all the more for being so long parted.

Ah, "Das Gesmaeck von Freiheit und Abenteur".

#25 Helene

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:35 AM

Well, see, this is the tricky part. Of course it's understandable that you don't like walking through a cloud of smoke. And certainly it's quite logical that it makes you unhappy.

It wasn't a cloud of smoke -- it was a single cigarette lit up that sent a bomb down the street.

But for the smoker that can't light up because a ban has been placed on a huge outdoor area, well, they're not happy with that.

So you have the problem of who's unhappiness/happiness is more important. Not an easy call.

There are people who are unhappy because they can't bring their animals into stores and restaurants, as is customary in other parts of the world. There are people who want to go shirtless and shoeless in some restaurants and are unhappy because they can't. There are people who don't like seatbelts and are unhappy when they are ticketed for not wearing them. There are children who pass a toy store window and are unhappy because they can't have toys.

I don't think happiness has much to do with it. And I also don't think that because there are other things that are equal hazards to one's health, like pollution or the amount of meat that first world societies eat, means that there should be no regulation unless everything is addressed.

#26 Drew

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:07 AM

Surely if Aurelie Dupont, Marie Agnes Gillot or any other dancer or indeed person wishes to smoke it's their business and theirs alone. But if you truly feel so strongly about it why not write to the POB and take it up with Dupont? I'm sure she'd be delighted.

www.operadeparis.fr


Well I agree that it's "their business" if they smoke, but if they smoke in a film being made about their lives, that film is a public document (as they know) and their smoking on film is a choice that the viewers may well comment on and wonder about. For myself, I often like to express myself strongly to other fans without necessarily thinking that those feelings merit being mailed directly to dancers involved (or that I should be needled about doing so).

Principal ballet dancers are de facto role-models to young ballet students, but it's hard to say what kind of responsibility that imposes on them--probably not much. Kirkland felt compelled to append a few lines to the credits for the Wolftrap video (in which she appears with Baryshnikov) in order to criticize her ultra thinness and urge young dancers not to follow her example; she points to him as the better example (unlikely as that may sound to a reader of her first book). But she has come to see herself as having a kind of mission in the ballet world, and that is hardly typical...Moreover her point had a bearing on the quality of dancing specifically--she tells young dancers you can't dance well when you are that thin. Though of course anorexia is not good for non-dancers either!

Like others on this board, I have noticed a lot of dancers smoking, doubtless for a variety of reasons (weight and stress presumably being among them). I also think the ultra-restrictions on it in the U.S. are out of hand--it would be more honest to make it illegal than to ban it in outdoor spaces. (I write as someone who has never smoked and gets migraine when exposed to second-hand smoke; I am also appalled by its long-term health impact.)

Oh...and I do think smoking almost always looks strangely attractive, even sexy, at least when I can't smell it and no-one is coughing.

#27 richard53dog

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:12 AM

[It wasn't a cloud of smoke -- it was a single cigarette lit up that sent a bomb down the street.

Well as long as we have exploding cigarettes, then there is a severe problem isn't there?

As far as the term "happiness", I was replying to your use of the the term. You were no longer "happy" when you had to pass through the mushroom cloud. It must have been very upsetting.

#28 Simon G

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:14 AM

Well I agree that it's "their business" if they smoke, but if they smoke in a film being made about their lives, that film is a public document (as they know) and their smoking on film is a choice that the viewers may well comment on and wonder about. For myself, I often like to express myself strongly to other fans without necessarily thinking that those feelings merit being mailed directly to dancers involved (or that I should be needled about doing so).

Principal ballet dancers are de facto role-models to young ballet students, but it's hard to say what kind of responsibility that imposes on them--probably not much. Kirkland felt compelled to append a few lines to the credits for the Wolftrap video (in which she appears with Baryshnikov) in order to criticize her ultra thinness and urge young dancers not to follow her example; she points to him as the better example (unlikely as that may sound to a reader of her first book). But she has come to see herself as having a kind of mission in the ballet world, and that is hardly typical...Moreover her point had a bearing on the quality of dancing specifically--she tells young dancers you can't dance well when you are that thin. Though of course anorexia is not good for non-dancers either!

Like others on this board, I have noticed a lot of dancers smoking, doubtless for a variety of reasons (weight and stress presumably being among them). I also think the ultra-restrictions on it in the U.S. are out of hand--it would be more honest to make it illegal than to ban it in outdoor spaces. (I write as someone who has never smoked and gets migraine when exposed to second-hand smoke; I am also appalled by its long-term health impact.)

Oh...and I do think smoking almost always looks strangely attractive, even sexy, at least when I can't smell it and no-one is coughing.




The thing is Drew Dupont, Gillot etc didn't ask to be role models, nor would they claim to be them. Sure one can say that they are de facto role models, but this is nothing more than an outside or third party reading. For these two Gallic luvverlies they probably thought no more of lighting up in that casual Frech sexy way than they would do walking down the Champs Elysees eating a croissant, singing Chanson D'Amour and pouting their lips sounding out "boff" to signal their disapproval of foreigners not sporting the latest haute couture. Not that I'm making a grossly contrived, vaguely xenophobic caricature of the French or anything.

I suppose that's the only problem I have with the main content of the argument they smoke, it's a part of who they are for the present, their dancing is what makes them aspirational everything else is immaterial to anyone wanting to make them a role model or so they would argue.

On the subject of Kirkland and snaffling down elephantine amounts of cocaine do you remember in 2005 the Cocaine Kate scandal? When Kate Moss was pictured tooting in a recording studio. The press was in umbrage saying how could a role model to this? But she wasn't a role model, she's never claimed to be anything other than just a model. I'm not for one minute saying that Moss is anything other than a rather silly woman, and Dupont & Gillot are indeed artists, but you've just got to accept that chaque une a son gout et C'est la vie, mon brave!

#29 Quiggin

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:22 AM

It's really no longer glamorous to smoke in the way it used to be and most European countries have smoking bans – Germany appears to be the exception. I believe that part of the impetus for the bans had to do with the costs to national health systems.

Wikipedia list of smoking bans

I remember our design class teacher always sitting on a stool as he lectured, in a crisp white shirt and bow tie and a cigarette in one hand that he would switch for a piece of chalk when he went up to the board. A friend who worked at Time in Chicago said that the floors were covered with piles of cigarettes before each deadline. (In the last minute madness she once made the mistake of letting an issue of Sports Illustrated go to press with the old price of 15c on it instead of 20c). Cigarette smoking seemed to have become a part of the rhythm of modern life – the drug to keep production flowing. It's supposed to be as hard to give up as heroin is.

I seemed to have grown up with no curiosity or animus towards it – I guess I associated it with my parent's generation, their drinks and their party noise. I don't fault dancers for smoking. It seems to have an element of melancholy and solitude to it now. The compulsion to text has taken its place, a small decafinated pleasure that seems to dull rather than sharpen the mind.

Yes, Sternberg more than any director liked to use smoke as a visual element in his films, against black backgrounds – anything moving slowly through air: smoke, feathers, black lace, they mesmerized him. After some time of watching that stuff, you'd want to get out of his class as quickly as possible for one where a bare bones neo-realist or Sam Peckinpah film was being shown and discussed – and where cigarettes were scarce due to rationing or black market sourcing, or took a long time to roll.

#30 Simon G

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 11:11 AM

For kids smoking will always be associated with louche coolness, anti establishmentarianism and belonging to the in clique, which let's face it every kid wants, long term health isn't an issue. I'll never forget my terror on my very first day of kindergarten. Sensing my fear my mother pressed her pack of Marlboro reds and her zippo lighter into my chubby little hand and told me to wait until break and then share them out amongst all my new friends, she was right, I soon became the most popular pre schooler in juvenile detention. Her heart was in the right place, if nothing else, my dear mama.


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