Jump to content


Now it's Sara Mearns turn in the Bullseye (Not that again!)un-waif ballerina gets the "heavy" critique


  • Please log in to reply
34 replies to this topic

#16 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,126 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:54 AM

If Gottlieb thinks Mearns isn't at her best for this particular reason I don't see why it's out of bounds for him to say so. Athletes, whose performance can also be affected by weight gain (and loss), receive this kind of comment all the time, and much more harshly - the fluctuating weight of Pablo Sandoval of the SF Giants and any relation it has to his current foot injury is a topic of daily discussion, and it's not always very kind.

That said, cultural considerations do matter. Baseball, unlike ballet (or gymnastics and figure skating) doesn't come with a lot of historic baggage about ballplayers with eating disorders, and such disorders and other considerations related to weight do affect women disproportionately in our society and the ballet world in particular. It is no bad thing if critics keep such things in mind when writing about dancers and weight.

(I remember Dick Button commencing an interview with Elaine Zayak, whose battles with weight were well known, with "Elaine, you look so thin and pretty!" Urrgggghhhh.......)

#17 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,272 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:14 AM

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that Macaulay wasn’t criticizing her weight, just that I only objected to the way he did it.

#18 Colleen Boresta

Colleen Boresta

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 351 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:20 AM

I think this came up after Macaulay made his comments about Jennifer Ringer and Jared Angle, but I don't think it's a critic job to criticzie someone's physical appearance. If you want to mention that a dancer is out of shape and talk about how that affects their dancing, that's fine. Aren't critics supposed to be talking about how someone performs, not what they look like? Is it okay to say that a performer has a big nose or crooked teeth? I don't think so.

#19 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,272 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:46 AM

Colleen, I suppose there's room to wonder, but that's just what I read Gottlieb as saying, that she's "just too heavy" to dance "at her best," not that she's too heavy to look her best. But I think either opinion would merit expression, and that's why I only fault Macaulay for how he expressed his opinion, not for expressing it. Dancing on stage is about using the body to make visual images, and the shape of the body can't be separated from those images. 



#20 Michael

Michael

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 777 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:13 AM

But frankly Gottlieb just doesn't know what he's talking about.  Mearns is in great shape this season, neither worse nor better than over the past couple of years.  She's actually been very consistent.  



#21 Colleen Boresta

Colleen Boresta

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 351 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 11:17 AM

Thank you,Michael, for making such an important point.  Just becuase someone has a job as a critic with a national publication does not mean they know what they are talking about.



#22 canbelto

canbelto

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,877 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:31 PM

I will say though that ballerinas are constantly praised for their beauty both here and by critics, and they should also accept the flip side. For instance hardly a review of Maria Kowroski fails to mention her physical beauty. Aesthetics are just an important part of ballet, like it or not. 



#23 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,156 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 01:08 PM

(I remember Dick Button commencing an interview with Elaine Zayak, whose battles with weight were well known, with "Elaine, you look so thin and pretty!" Urrgggghhhh.......)


---------------
 
From "Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear"; the context is at the beginning of Korbes' apprenticeship, after she had been out for two years with an injury caused by errant stage tape:

 

"I was kept in the company, and he said that he really liked me, but when he saw me before I got injured I was so much thinner. "  Korbes was realistic.  "I was out for two years.  My body was not looking like what it was two years before I left.  He was very unhappy about it.  he said, "You have to lose some weight, get strong, and then you'll be fine."
 
Before a two-week break, Martins told her "if in two weeks we don't see results, you know, I just can't renew your contract. "  Korbes wen ton a crash diet.  "So I'm all kind of unhealthy, and I come back really thin and Peter Martins is, like 'Oh, you look so good.'  Then all of a sudden he's giving me all these parts.  I'm doing Darci Kistler's" -- his wife's-- "parts.  There was one season in there that I never did a corps part, I would always do soloist parts."
 
But Carla came to see a vicious circle.  "If I was thin, I would get parts.  Then I would get hurt because I would have a lot of parts and I wasn't eating....I would gain weight and I would come back and he'd be like, 'You're not good anymore.' Then he would take me out of all the parts.  Then I would lose the weight.  It was like that for the whole time I was there"--about six years.


--------------------
 
This is not to say that the NYCB schedule would have been too much in the long-term for Korbes -- she's been injured several times since she's been at PNB, including for the second weekend of the final rep, and PNB has a much more humane schedule -- but had she had been managed reasonably at NYCB, NY audiences would have been able to see her instead of read about her.



#24 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,272 posts

Posted 13 June 2013 - 01:17 PM

I will say though that ballerinas are constantly praised for their beauty both here and by critics, and they should also accept the flip side. For instance hardly a review of Maria Kowroski fails to mention her physical beauty. Aesthetics are just an important part of ballet, like it or not. 

 

I agree, and the thing is that everyone probably agrees that whether or not they’re at their ideal weight, Ringer and Mearns are quite lovely women. Part of a critic’s job is to measure a performer against the ideal. Dancers, of all people, are understandably sensitive about their looks, and we can be sensitive for them, but to say someone doesn’t look her best (or just can’t perform at her best at her present weight) is not to say she isn’t still beautiful.



#25 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,126 posts

Posted 14 June 2013 - 10:12 AM

I will say though that ballerinas are constantly praised for their beauty both here and by critics, and they should also accept the flip side. For instance hardly a review of Maria Kowroski fails to mention her physical beauty. Aesthetics are just an important part of ballet, like it or not. 

 

Dancers are constantly praised for their beauty because, well, they're beautiful people. It’s true that how you look onstage matters, and performers have to deal with poor reviews as well as good ones. There is no way to avoid such discussion – we are after all talking about dancers, and the look and shape of bodies is important. It’s more a matter of what’s within bounds to say and how to say it. Comments about a dancer’s beauty aren’t equivalent because paying a compliment about looks is different territory. A critic can remark that Maria Kowroski is beautiful but he or she is not going to say that Dancer X is plain, certainly not in so many words, and for good reason.

 

Nor is it true that constant and sometimes unseemly harping on a dancer’s beauty is necessarily flattering or complimentary, given that women tend to be assessed disproportionately on the basis of appearance (although the same can apply to very handsome men). Of course, there are worse problems to have.......



#26 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,395 posts

Posted 15 June 2013 - 10:03 AM

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.



#27 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,156 posts

Posted 15 June 2013 - 10:23 AM

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

#28 Jayne

Jayne

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 870 posts

Posted 15 June 2013 - 06:32 PM

 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".



#29 writer

writer

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 18 posts

Posted 16 June 2013 - 04:29 PM

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://balletshoesan...er-sara-mearns/



#30 California

California

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,492 posts

Posted 16 June 2013 - 04:45 PM

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.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):