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Dark skin as an aesthetic issue in classical balletHow do you make it a non-issue?


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#61 lmspear

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 06:17 PM

If memory serves, she's on the Dance in America recording.


Here's a the video that includes Austin:
Ballo is the first dance after the opening credits.

#62 sandik

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:50 PM

... thanks for the news about Austin. :) Vipa mentioned that Balanchine put her in Ballo Della Regina. If memory serves, she's on the Dance in America recording.


She is indeed, and tears up the floor. And considering that she's in a performance with Merrill Ashley, makes it even more impressive.

#63 Helene

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:56 PM

Vipa mentioned that Balanchine put her in Ballo Della Regina. If memory serves, she's on the Dance in America recording.

She was, along with the other three original cast member soloists: Bonita Borne, Stephanie Saland, and Sheryl Ware.

I saw Debra Austin dance once, when Pennsylvania Ballet came to BAM in 1985 and brought a triple bill: "Bolero", "Awakening" -- both by Robert Weiss -- and "La Sylphide". I wasn't impressed by "Bolero", but I loved Austin's dancing, here with Roy Kaiser. All three female leads were great, Austin, Melissa Podcasy in "Awakenking", and Tamara Hadley as the Sylph.

#64 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:03 PM

And while in the subject...does anybody knows who's the black female dancer in the Snow scene from Balanchine's "Nutcracker" DVD...? The inclusion stands out even more particularly because of the whiter than white nature of the sequence.

#65 JMcN

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 11:56 PM

This isn't a comment about dancers with dark skins but about audiences. My only visit to America was in 2000 to Atlanta to see Atlanta Ballet performing Michael Pink's Dracula. Walking around Atlanta, the majority of the population we saw was African-American but I would guess that the audience was 99% white. At one performance my friend and I got chatting to the lady sitting next to us (African-American) and she commented on the make-up of the audience and finished by saying she was from California!

I find the same sort of thing in England. For instance, a good proportion of the population in Bradford is of Asian ethnicity but there are very rarely Asian people in the audience.

#66 diane

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 12:47 AM

JMcN, that is kind of troubling, isn't it? It would seem to me that this disconnect shows how little the local population identifies with the theatre in their area, which in the long run could surely hurry along the ultimate demise of that theatre. :(

There are not many dancers of very different skin colors in the bigger theaters where I live, either. Well, to be fair, the population as a whole is pretty homogen in most places, too. But, it is true - one is more likely to see a dark-skinned man in a ballet company than a dark-skinned woman.
-sigh-

-d-

#67 kfw

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 04:26 AM

I find the same sort of thing in England. For instance, a good proportion of the population in Bradford is of Asian ethnicity but there are very rarely Asian people in the audience.


You find the same sort of thing in jazz clubs, at least in the U.S. - whites and Asian tourists, but very few African-Americans, even when everyone on the bandstand is black.

#68 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 05:39 AM

And as of yet, none of us has mentioned Raven Wilkinson!!!

http://www.balletrus.../wilkinson.html

She and Misty Copeland appeared at a recent event at the Studio Museum in Harlem:

http://bdixongottsch...aven-wilkinson/

#69 Simon G

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 06:12 AM

I find the same sort of thing in England. For instance, a good proportion of the population in Bradford is of Asian ethnicity but there are very rarely Asian people in the audience.


You find the same sort of thing in jazz clubs, at least in the U.S. - whites and Asian tourists, but very few African-Americans, even when everyone on the bandstand is black.



And you base this statement on an exhaustive list carried out from surveys, polls and statistics from the thousands of Jazz clubs throughout the US, in every city, every performance 365 days year over how many years?

Thank goodness for European & Asian tourists, without whom the doors of jazz clubs would be closing throughout the US.

#70 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 06:35 AM

As well as Janet Collins (Metropolitan Opera) and Delores Browne. Raven Wilkinson is interviewed in this film segment as well, with some video sequences. the modern studio sequences shown appear to be at the Boston Ballet studios, but I do not know the dancers.



#71 lmspear

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 07:41 AM

Those familiar with the ballet history of Washington, DC will remember Sandra Fortune who danced with the Capitol Ballet company and entered both the Moscow and Varna competitions with Sylvester Campbell. She now directs the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, where she trained.

http://www.culturalt...-heritage-trail

#72 kfw

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:04 AM


I find the same sort of thing in England. For instance, a good proportion of the population in Bradford is of Asian ethnicity but there are very rarely Asian people in the audience.


You find the same sort of thing in jazz clubs, at least in the U.S. - whites and Asian tourists, but very few African-Americans, even when everyone on the bandstand is black.



And you base this statement on an exhaustive list carried out from surveys, polls and statistics from the thousands of Jazz clubs throughout the US, in every city, every performance 365 days year over how many years?

I base that comment on 30+ years of club-going in Chicago, Boston, NYC, D.C. and elsewhere, and also on 30+ years of reading the jazz press. Other people are of course free to disagree.

Speaking now as a moderator on this forum, I will remind you that Ballet Alert! has a tradition of frank but respectful discussion and debate. Snide and sarcastic questions are unnecessary and unwelcome. You can find Ballet Alert!'s Golden Rules here. Kindly observe them.

#73 Simon G

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:36 AM

I base that comment on 30+ years of club-going in Chicago, Boston, NYC, D.C. and elsewhere, and also on 30+ years of reading the jazz press. Other people are of course free to disagree.

Speaking now as a moderator on this forum, I will remind you that Ballet Alert! has a tradition of frank but respectful discussion and debate. Snide and sarcastic questions are unnecessary and unwelcome. You can find Ballet Alert!'s Golden Rules here. Kindly observe them.



I've been to several jazz clubs over the years and every time there's been a far larger ratio of black to white punters than at many events I've been to. It's purely anecdotal, but to suggest that jazz a black art form doesn't have a strong, firm, committed and large African American or Afro Caribbean audience, I really have a hard time believing.

There are thousands of Jazz venues throughout the US, considerably more than ballet or dance venues, can you or anyone honestly say they've been to EVERY jazz venue, concert and festival and been able to successfully note and quantify the audience and from that establish a mean ratio for jazz-going and habits?

#74 lmspear

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 09:09 AM



People often refer to Agon as his "Sputnick ballet" but I sometimes wonder if it is really his Brown v. Bd. of Education ballet. That 1954 decision desegregating the schools unleashed a virulent racist uproar in much of the country. It was a decade before the 1964 Civil Rights Act finally ended the ugly Jim Crow laws still rampant in so many states. Balanchine was not in ignorance of what was happening in the country when he cast that ballet. Imagine how provocative the choreography would have seemed in the 1950s in much of the country with an interracial couple.

I've never seen Balanchine discuss this angle to the ballet and wonder if others have seen any interviews along these lines.


Arthur Mitchell did dance in roles that some people may have forgotten he performed; Bourree Fantasque, Stars and Stripes, I've seen a photo of him in Divertimento No. 15, Western Symphony as he mentions here - the New York Public Library's site has a lot of interesting information on that, I did not see him dance, I wasn't living in New York or going to ballet then.


I just found this longer interview with Mitchell where he also discusses the Nutcracker broadcast with the reworking of the Grand PDD to include 4 cavaliers and Balanchine's desire to work with black female dancers.



#75 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 10:01 AM

And while in the subject...does anybody knows who's the black female dancer in the Snow scene from Balanchine's "Nutcracker" DVD...? The inclusion stands out even more particularly because of the whiter than white nature of the sequence.


Cristian -- I believe it's Andrea Long. She danced with NYCB for about 8 years during the late 80's and early 90's then moved on to Dance Theater of Harlem.


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