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Mr and Ms? How does your local ballet company refer to its dancers?


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#1 kbarber

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:36 PM

At the National Ballet of Canada, the publicity department always refers to its dancers as Mr X and Ms Y after the first time they mention them with both their first and last name. "Giorgio Galli.... Mr. Galli..." Personally I find it a bit odd to see an 18-year-old referred to in this way rather than by their first name. I notice that NYCB does the same thing ("Mr. Angle, Ms. Bouder") and of course the NY Times does it. At Boston Ballet, SFB, and ABT they just use their last names in second reference . At Birmingham Royal Ballet they use their first names in second reference. "Jamie Bond.... Jamie...".
Using Mr and Ms strikes me as old-fashioned and stuffy, and in this day and age when ballet companies are always complaining they can't get enough young people to buy tickets, I think this is offputting to younger people. What do you think?

#2 California

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:47 PM

Fascinating question! I just looked at the Colorado Ballet site and they use the more formal Ms. Here's an example from my favorite dancer with this company, Maria Mossina:

http://www.coloradob...rs/maria-mosina

But I am guessing that this is a term of respect, especially to the dancers. Ballet has such a history of infantilizing dancers as "boys" and "girls."

#3 sandik

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:52 PM

I have always thought that the use of first names, unless you were personal friends with someone, and discussing that friendship, was a poor choice in public documents -- it trivializes dancers and their contribution to the art form.

Your question about generational preferences is an interesting one, though -- it could be that my preferences do indeed mark me as part of an older demographic. Nevertheless, I try to use first names sparingly.

#4 kbarber

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:56 PM

I have always thought that the use of first names, unless you were personal friends with someone, and discussing that friendship, was a poor choice in public documents -- it trivializes dancers and their contribution to the art form.

Your question about generational preferences is an interesting one, though -- it could be that my preferences do indeed mark me as part of an older demographic. Nevertheless, I try to use first names sparingly.


Even dropping the "Mr" and "Ms" though, and using the surname by itself, seems to me to make it less stuffy, if one doesn't want to go the whole way to first names.

#5 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 02:47 PM

I'm with those in favor of the Mr./Miss term, and totally against the "girls and boys" fashion. Even if the ballerina is pass her 40's,or even a retired one over 50, I would still use "Miss" on them.

#6 Helene

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 03:53 PM

Referring to dancers by their first names, unless their entire performing names are "Jillana," "Marie Jeanne," or "Madonna," is a major set-me-off point.

#7 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:04 PM

There have been various forms of address over the years, and they have been different in different countries. In the olden days in Sweden, an actress/dancer was always referred to as "Mrs" even if she was seventeen and unmarried. Why I do not know, was it supposed to give an air of respectability? In a Swedish text today, one would only use the name. First mention full name, then only surname. But I remember a TV film with and about Margot Fonteyn - she hosted it herself - from, if mem. serves, the late seventies. There she referred to herself as Miss Fonteyn. Though she was married then. And think of the late and much married Miss Taylor! But if I bumped into Plissetskaja, I think I would address her as Madame, considering both status and age.

But "boys and girls", what a horror! Are we referring to pupils and end of term displays! Must show respect at all timesPosted Image

#8 dirac

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:07 PM

Interesting question, kbarber.

Even if the ballerina is pass her 40's,or even a retired one over 50, I would still use "Miss" on them.


Use "Miss" and you risk causing offense, even if nothing is said. There are good reasons why "Ms." is now the default.

The NYT is famously stuffy - there's a story, possibly apocryphal, that it once referred to Meat Loaf as Mr. Loaf. I'm not sure what else they can do, however. Newspapers are under more obligation to respect the formalities and probably publicity departments should, as well (not really a big deal either way IMO). Magazines are notably freer - magazine reviews often refer to the dancer by surname only (and sometimes the NYT does as well, depending on the context). The Internet, well.

Referring to dancers by first name is often a sign of affection (the same is true for sports stars, for example). It can get dicey because women and men are not always treated the same way - in sports women tend to be called by their first names more frequently than men, at least that's my impression. I don't have any problem with it in certain contexts, although it would obviously not be proper usage for a review or article.

#9 California

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:15 PM

Even if the ballerina is past her 40's,or even a retired one over 50, I would still use "Miss" on them.


Use "Miss" and you risk causing offense, even if nothing is said. There are good reasons why "Ms." is now the default.


Thank you for pointing this out. It's certainly the default in the U.S., but with so many international readers on this site, I'm not sure whether it is elsewhere. But regardless of geography, if a person stipulates a preference, that trumps local practice. I can think of many women who want to be Ms. in a work setting but Mrs. in a private/personal environment.

#10 dirac

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:28 PM

"Ms." has specific legal purposes as well. I quite agree that personal preferences, when expressed or known, should be respected.

#11 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:31 PM

Interesting question, kbarber.

Even if the ballerina is pass her 40's,or even a retired one over 50, I would still use "Miss" on them.


Use "Miss" and you risk causing offense, even if nothing is said.


Please, tell me why...I'm honestly clueless now...Posted Image In our hospital all my female coworkers-(nurses)-are always referred as Miss So-and-so...and I've never seen any bad response to it...

#12 California

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:48 PM


Please, tell me why...I'm honestly clueless now... In our hospital all my female coworkers-(nurses)-are always referred as Miss So-and-so...and I've never seen any bad response to it...


My sense is that there is great variation, not only from country to country, but also from region to region and setting to setting. If it's the standard in your workplace, then that's the practice to follow.

Another example of the wide variation in how to address people: should Ph.D.s be referred to as "Doctor"? It varies by region and institution. In New England, many professors consider that tacky and prefer Mr./Mrs./Miss. In the mid-Atlantic region, "Professor X" is typically preferred. As you move west, you see more and more faculty preferring Dr. X. But this is a great over-simplification and you can find plenty of exceptions. I can think of some University of California campuses where Dr. is preferred and others where Professor is preferred and they're part of the same University system. But it's safe to say almost all faculty bristle when an 18-year-old freshman calls them by their first name, which is appallingly common in my experience.

My suggestion: if you're in a setting where you don't know the preferred practices, Ms. trumps Miss in the U.S. But if you learn something else is preferred, then go with the local preference.

#13 dirac

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:48 PM

Here are a couple of links that might help, cubanmiamiboy - they provide some helpful background on the term:

http://www.nytimes.c...age-t.html?_r=0

From a UK perspective:


http://www.guardian....un/29/gender.uk

Note that the Guardian piece mentions the legal aspect. It was actually only a few decades ago that women could not open bank accounts, take out loans, apply for a passport, etc., without a male relative or husband signing off.( "Ms." often holds a special meaning for women who matured in that era.) "Ms." provides women with a formal public identity independent of marital status.

#14 kbarber

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:34 PM

Getting back to the ballet companies.... Northern Ballet goes straight to "Pippa", while the Royal Ballet just uses "he" or "she". Maybe that's what bugs me about NBOC practice. Why, in a short facebook post like the following:
Dancer Spotlight: New Corps de Ballet member Francesco Gabriele Frola. Born in Aosta, Italy, Mr. Frola trained at Professione Danza Parma in Italy and at the School of The Hamburg Ballet in Germany before becoming an Apprentice with The National Ballet of Canada in 2010 and joining the company in 2012. In June, he won the Silver Medal at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition.
do they have to introduce "Mr. Frola"? In this case, because he goes by Gabriele rather than Francesco, it would be all the more useful to call him by his preferred name.

#15 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:07 PM

Here are a couple of links that might help, cubanmiamiboy - they provide some helpful background on the term:

http://www.nytimes.c...age-t.html?_r=0


Ah, now I get it. Ms. is sort of a mix in between Miss and Mrs...! Wow, I didn't really know that. But then, when not in writing, but orally...doesn't "Ms." sound more or less like "Miss"..?

There's a huge Cuban population down here, for which the practice of a woman adopting the husband's last name is completely alien. In Cuba a person can not change his/her last name. One dies with the same last name one is born with. Then, the whole "Mrs so and so", referring to a new marriage-related last name, doesn't happen. Here I notice that the use of the "Mrs" is strongly related to last name change due to marriage.


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