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AOL On: Cityballet.comexecutive produced by Sarah Jessica Parker


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#31 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 02:56 PM

 

going after the wrong part of the stereotype. 

The right part of the stereotype is?? 

 

 

Well, I'd hoped it would be understood that I didn't think any part of the stereotype was "right." 

 

ETA: What I tried to convey, but perhaps didn't, is that tackling the whole "all male dancers are gay" stereotype by hauling out the counter-examples seems to me like a misguided effort to accommodate a presumed squeamishness about sexual orientation.  



#32 Buddy

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 03:29 AM

I could lift quotes from the series for quite awhile. From the most recent of the ongoing clips (Tuesdays and Fridays), Sarah Jessica Parker interviewing Peter Martins: 
 
Peter Martins on George Balanchine:
 
"He would sort of break rules. Two or three hundred year rules.
 
"There are many stars at the New York City Ballet. There's not one prima donna….I give George Balanchine credit for that."
 
Sarah Jessica Parker:
 
"It's not just an intellectual endeavor. If you think that you don't know the world of ballet and it's daunting to you, seems rarified….What you don't know doesn't matter."   (in essence, you can 'just enjoy')
 
 
Added comment:

Paul, in further reference as to whether dancers are interesting to talk to, it would be great sometime to hear about "how I made my port de bras so interesting." happy.png

 


#33 Ray

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 05:21 AM

 

Ah, but how refreshing it might have been to hear a male dancer say something like "Yeah, when I was a kid I was worried that my classmates might think I was gay. But guess what: its OK to be gay! That's what I learned in ballet class." I'm mostly peeved with the production team for going after the wrong part of the stereotype. 

 

Refreshing, but maybe a little didactic at the same time, since most people choosing to watch the show have probably already learned that for themselves. Better perhaps if they’d felt free not to touch on the stereotype at all.

 

It's clear to me--and shows like this just point it up--that even if some individuals have "learned that for themselves" (and I have known many conflicted individuals in the dance world on that score, btw), the PR depts. are not interested in sharing that knowledge with audiences.  It is part of life, especially in a dance (or any performing arts) ensemble; it's notable and infuriating when it's omitted; and it shows up yet another way in which the ballet world (or at least its public face) can be out of touch with the reality of human lives.

 

Or--simple solution:  just show more dancing!



#34 kfw

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 07:16 AM

 

 

Ah, but how refreshing it might have been to hear a male dancer say something like "Yeah, when I was a kid I was worried that my classmates might think I was gay. But guess what: its OK to be gay! That's what I learned in ballet class." I'm mostly peeved with the production team for going after the wrong part of the stereotype. 

 

Refreshing, but maybe a little didactic at the same time, since most people choosing to watch the show have probably already learned that for themselves. Better perhaps if they’d felt free not to touch on the stereotype at all.

 

It's clear to me--and shows like this just point it up--that even if some individuals have "learned that for themselves" (and I have known many conflicted individuals in the dance world on that score, btw), the PR depts. are not interested in sharing that knowledge with audiences.  It is part of life, especially in a dance (or any performing arts) ensemble; it's notable and infuriating when it's omitted; and it shows up yet another way in which the ballet world (or at least its public face) can be out of touch with the reality of human lives.

 

Or--simple solution:  just show more dancing!

 

 

I really appreciate your perspective as a former dancer.



#35 Quiggin

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 09:45 AM

 

 

Or--simple solution:  just show more dancing!

 

 

 

Or more discussions about particular ballets and how each dancer approaches them, such as in the episode on "Swan Lake" with Tersea Reichlen, Ashley Bouder and Sarah Mearns, which I found the most interesting (though I did enjoy them all). 

 

In addition to the emphasis on normalizing heterosexuality, there seemed to be far too much focus on "getting ahead," as if the dancers were bankers or copywriters in an ad agency – and as if they thought of nothing else – rather than particular roles they'd love to do. It would also give an idea of what company they were in and what repertory the company specialized in and why the dancers were there (rather than ABT or the Royal Ballet).



#36 Ray

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 11:47 AM

 

In addition to the emphasis on normalizing heterosexuality, there seemed to be far too much focus on "getting ahead," as if the dancers were bankers or copywriters in an ad agency – and as if they thought of nothing else – rather than particular roles they'd love to do. It would also give an idea of what company they were in and what repertory the company specialized in and why the dancers were there (rather than ABT or the Royal Ballet).

 

Excellent point--yes, the ways in which these shows represent competition in the ballet world often rings false.  Sometimes things change very slowly in a company; "big breaks" are rare, I think. 



#37 Helene

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 12:24 PM

The slowness of most careers is why the obsessiveness rings true in the context of many dancers' stories, especially the ones who weren't recognized very early, like Tallchief and Kent, or talented men like d'Amboise, who fulfilled the need for partners, too. Merrill Ashley's book sounds like a long saga of the same: always looking over her shoulder, always wondering what every glance meant, always comparing herself to Colleen Neary and Redpath when they were all soloists, always trying to read into where she stood. It was exhausting to read.

Then you have Martins and Sklute talking about always being under the microsocope, no complacency, constant judgement, not to mention the judgement of outside choreographers and stagers. In very few professions are people that much under the microscope; even in the most competitive ones is there so little room for error, at least in the minds of perfectionist doers. In most competitive profssions, there's a second chance or another firm, and especially in service industries, there's enough outside contact and relationships that employers think twice about removing a well-thought-of contact, because that indicates instability, which does not seem to be an issue with ballet companies. Also, in many businesses, the head doesn't even know who most people are, let alone make day-5o-day direct decisions about their future. And work isn't allocated on the constant basis as in a ballet company: the dancers are aware every time a cast list comes up or a rehearsal schedule goes up where they stand, not to mention yearly contract renewals.

Ballet is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

#38 California

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 12:28 PM

I just watched the entire series and loved it. My naïve question: I can't find the photo credit for the still shot in the background on the right of the female dancer in lavender. It seems to be Sarah Jessica Parker and we know from her bio that she was in the ABT corps for a time when she was younger. Do we know when/where/by whom this photo was taken?



#39 pherank

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 02:49 PM

I just watched the entire series and loved it. My naïve question: I can't find the photo credit for the still shot in the background on the right of the female dancer in lavender. It seems to be Sarah Jessica Parker and we know from her bio that she was in the ABT corps for a time when she was younger. Do we know when/where/by whom this photo was taken?

 

Looks like Bouder to me ( but I could be wrong).



#40 pherank

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 03:05 PM

Ah, but how refreshing it might have been to hear a male dancer say something like "Yeah, when I was a kid I was worried that my classmates might think I was gay. But guess what: its OK to be gay! That's what I learned in ballet class." I'm mostly peeved with the production team for going after the wrong part of the stereotype. 

 

This all points to the question of audience (and why I mentioned that it looks like a recruitment tool): Who exactly is the audience for these presentations? Ballet 'fans' will certainly take interest, but I got the feeling watching the videos that NYCB is definitely trying to talk to Middle America as well. Whether or not the videos speak effectively (and responsibly) to the general public is another matter, but I do think this is a kind of outreach effort - beyond the dance community.



#41 California

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 03:25 PM

. . . I got the feeling watching the videos that NYCB is definitely trying to talk to Middle America as well. Whether or not the videos speak effectively (and responsibly) to the general public is another matter, but I do think this is a kind of outreach effort - beyond the dance community.


At the Friends luncheon last winter, when Parker made a presentation about this series, she said that she is trying to figure out how to get tourists who always take in a Broadway show to venture a little farther north to Lincoln Center and take a look at the NYCB. I do think that was the primary audience for the AOL series.

#42 pherank

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 05:14 PM

 

. . . I got the feeling watching the videos that NYCB is definitely trying to talk to Middle America as well. Whether or not the videos speak effectively (and responsibly) to the general public is another matter, but I do think this is a kind of outreach effort - beyond the dance community.


At the Friends luncheon last winter, when Parker made a presentation about this series, she said that she is trying to figure out how to get tourists who always take in a Broadway show to venture a little farther north to Lincoln Center and take a look at the NYCB. I do think that was the primary audience for the AOL series.

 

 

If that is the case then I think she's at least mostly succeeded in striking the right tone. Now it's all about finding a way to those 'Braodway tourists'. Perhaps they are exactly the ones to use AOL.   ;)

 

I'm curious - now that forum members have seen a number of episodes, what is missing? What would you like to hear more about? Quiggin mentioned the Swan Lake episode being strong - should they focus on particular masterworks?



#43 California

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 05:37 PM

Now it's all about finding a way to those 'Braodway tourists'. Perhaps they are exactly the ones to use AOL.   ;)


One thing NYCB is doing right: At the 1/2 price TKTS booth at Time Square, I noticed last spring some NYCB performances on the big list of available tickets. Lots of tourists are on tight budgets and only go to things they get from TKTS, at least from the huge crowds I saw, many of them young.

#44 pherank

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 06:39 PM

 

Now it's all about finding a way to those 'Braodway tourists'. Perhaps they are exactly the ones to use AOL.   ;)


One thing NYCB is doing right: At the 1/2 price TKTS booth at Time Square, I noticed last spring some NYCB performances on the big list of available tickets. Lots of tourists are on tight budgets and only go to things they get from TKTS, at least from the huge crowds I saw, many of them young.

 

 

Just about every regional company has to be wondering how they can tap into the tourist market, so it will be interesting to hear what kind of effect this effort has on ticket sales and general interest in NYCB.



#45 Amy Reusch

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 09:29 PM

Please may the next ballet they focus on after Swan Lake not be tue Nutcracker? (she typed with a sinking feeling about the odds in that regard).

So.. Thinking of the middle America target... What would reach out to bring them further rather than pandering to what they already seem to like... Rubies? Prodigal? Agon is very photogenic... How about Serenade?


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