Jayne

Now it's Sara Mearns turn in the Bullseye (Not that again!)

35 posts in this topic

ITA with canbelto and others who cite the aesthetics in ballet - Mearns is a fantastic dancer, beautiful interpreter, but -- as I mentioned in my review of the recent Kennedy Center Swan Lake -- less-than-ideal body type. It has more to do with her proportions, especially the short neck and large bone structure. That said, there's no dancer I would rather see as Odette in MrB's SL nowadays. It is totally correct for critics to point-out physical features, whether we like it or not.

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How different is Mearns in body type from the woman on whom Petipa and Ivanov created "Swan Lake"?

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Our eyes are now trained to see anything that is not string-bean as automatically "heavy" or "fat". You know the saying "don't make the perfect the enemy of the good"? Well I think in this case, Mr. Gottlieb has made "any-other-body-type the enemy of the -Sylvie-Guillem-body-type". I have no problem saying that Ms Mearns doesn't look exactly like every other woman on stage. But that doesn't mean she's automatically heavy. I prefer the term "old fashioned ballerina".

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Here is an interesting interview Sara Means gave. She stated she had struggled with weight before, however, I feel that dancers with her body type are often unfairly stereotyped as being overweight. It am always amazed that any professional dancer could be described as overweight.

I was also surprised to read that she was almost let go after her first year at NYCB; allegedly it was due to her weight. But she persevered and didn't let naysayers get her down. Hopefully she will not be deterred by criticisms like these.

http://balletshoesandbobbypins.com/interview-with-new-york-city-ballet-principal-dancer-sara-mearns/

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Belatedly, I just want to point out how often (on this board and elsewhere), Vasiliev is described as "stocky" and "chunky" - words that are usually reserved for men who are a bit on the chubby or overweight side. It does seem appropriate to point that out, especially as it interferes with his line.

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Our eyes are now trained to see anything that is not string-bean as automatically "heavy" or "fat". You know the saying "don't make the perfect the enemy of the good"? Well I think in this case, Mr. Gottlieb has made "any-other-body-type the enemy of the -Sylvie-Guillem-body-type". I have no problem saying that Ms Mearns doesn't look exactly like every other woman on stage. But that doesn't mean she's automatically heavy.

No it doesn't. But to be fair to Gottlieb, he didn't say it did, or mention her body type at all. He only said that "at the moment, she’s just too heavy," and he said it while paying her a compliment.

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I've never heard "stocky" used as a code word for a male ballet dancer who was overweight. I've heard it used to describe thick-muscled, usually short dancers who, in a strict emploi classical dance system would be demi-caractere dancers, not princes. Golden Idol vs. Siegfried, Solor, or Albrecht.

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Having just now returned from seeing Mearns in A Dancer's Dream at the NY Philharmonic - and especially with her performance of The Fairy's Kiss in mind - I think the question to be asked about Mearns right now is not 'is she too heavy?' but 'is she one of the most extraordinary and imaginative ballerinas in the world today?' You can guess my answer...

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Of course it's the critic's job to measure dancer's on very high standards, but I disagree that there is an 'ideal' that they should be measured against. There is no one ideal performance of Odette, or Giselle, or the lead role in Serenade, why should we assume that there's an ideal body type? Critics should be able to comment on dancers' bodies because they affect their performances, in fact the body is part of the performance, but the problem here is the assumption that every performance would look better if the dancer were taller and thinner. I couldn't disagree more. Different performers can bring out different things in a part based on the instrument that they have been given (and then perfected). How sad would a ballet world be without Sarah Mearns, Carrie Imler, Ivan Vasiliev? Not despite their bodies, but (in part) because of them.

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Of course it's the critic's job to measure dancer's on very high standards, but I disagree that there is an 'ideal' that they should be measured against. There is no one ideal performance of Odette, or Giselle, or the lead role in Serenade, why should we assume that there's an ideal body type? Critics should be able to comment on dancers' bodies because they affect their performances, in fact the body is part of the performance, but the problem here is the assumption that every performance would look better if the dancer were taller and thinner. I couldn't disagree more. Different performers can bring out different things in a part based on the instrument that they have been given (and then perfected). How sad would a ballet world be without Sarah Mearns, Carrie Imler, Ivan Vasiliev? Not despite their bodies, but (in part) because of them.

Bravo, Swanilda8!

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