Blackface in Bolshoi's "The Pharaoh's Daughter"
Posted 29 July 2012 - 04:17 PM
Posted 29 July 2012 - 06:12 PM
Found this video of Evgenia's Pharaoh's Daughter debut:
I see the controversial little black faced painted kids from Bayadere are back here also.
My experience in Europe (although I haven't been in 20 years but did go regularly from the 80s to the early 90s) was that the race issue is approached very, very differently there. You will see candy bars with black Moor faces on them that make an American gasp. At least 20 years ago you still could see things like that. There is a lot more racial strife that has happened here in the U.S. so that I have a feeling if La Fille du Pharaon were staged at ABT there would be changes to the painted kids. I am pretty sure they would not be painted at ABT, and that is probably a good idea considering the history America has had. But my personal experience with Europe is that there is much less political correctness there. None of my European friends understood at all my shock at seeing stereotypical black faces on candy bars.
Posted 30 July 2012 - 12:24 PM
Posted 30 July 2012 - 12:42 PM
I recall seeing the Bolshoi doing this ballet at the Met Opera around 2003 or 2004 when they visited New York. Does anyone recall whether they used the painted kids during their Met appearance. I don't remember seeing the painted kids, but it's been a long time and memory fades.
Posted 30 July 2012 - 01:11 PM
Posted 30 July 2012 - 07:11 PM
For Russia to stage it like that is not as big of a deal.
If ABT staged it with dancers with black face paint here in the U.S. I think there would be a lot of negative media attention.
Posted 30 July 2012 - 10:57 PM
Posted 31 July 2012 - 03:51 AM
Posted 31 July 2012 - 06:42 AM
Posted 31 July 2012 - 07:43 AM
Can we consider the fact that they want dancing kids representing black dancing kids and they just don't have them...? I realize many SB productions use a black guy to portray the black prince-(probably a moor of some sort), but this is easy to get, considering that it is only one character...not a bunch of them. I'm sure that in PD, just as in Bayadere, the Russians used the only option they had; just as in Petipa's times, the use of paint. What happens when a ballet production is in need of portraying boys onstage and they don't have them-(just as in The Nutcracker)-? Do they usually get rid of the idea and change the party scene into an all-girls one..? No. Girls are disguised as boys, and even if we know it, the idea is to keep somehow the story as faithful as in the original. Sex or race, it is all a matter of make-believe, and I doubt many of us don't get this concept.
I agree pretty much with what you say, EXCEPT that black face paint is a controversial topic (probably only in the U.S. due to the way people used to use black face paint). It is not controversial in any other country probably, so it is probably not a problem in Europe. But it is a problem here, and so ABT or any other American company would probably not put a bunch of black face painted kids in a ballet. If we had not had a history of white performers making fun of blacks in black face paint there might not be a reaction like there is in the U.S. It is a unique reaction due to America's history.
A culture's reaction is not always a logical reaction. Other stereotypes are still okay to put on the stage in the U.S., but not black ones. You can't change the way the general population of a culture thinks and feels just because you want them to think and feel the way you do. And vice versa. We can't expect Russians to think and feel the same way about black face paint as we think and feel about it.
Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:00 AM
Apollinaire Scherr wrote about this:
Posted 31 July 2012 - 01:44 PM
Posted 31 July 2012 - 02:30 PM
(And for those wondering whether the Russian empire, Soviet Union or post Soviet Russia has a history of racism regarding people of black-African descent or any other 'non' white populations...I think Google is a pretty helpful tool. Wikipedia too--which also gives sources. Is the U.S. any better? Let's say all racisms are "worse.")
As for Obraztsova...even when I'm watching a ballerina as great as she is...my pleasure is spoiled by what seems to me unnecessary theatrical boorishness. Which I think this is. And I gave up on the video.
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