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Misty Copeland - Divided ViewsWas, ABT on Tour - Casting for Austrailia


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#46 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:43 AM

I wish there were ballet companies out there in which racial diversity is part of the aesthetic. 

 

Barring that Never-Neverland fantasy, I wish there were more predominately black companies like DHT or Ballet Black. More self-segregation may not be the best or the ultimate goal, but not having to deal with every kind of race issue has got to be a relief for all concerned. 



#47 Plisskin

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 10:11 AM


In any case, most role assignments aren't based solely on talent or suitability for the role. Just look at Seo's Fouettes, or Boyleston's gangly elbows . How much were those role assignments and promotions based on powerful patrons or one man's taste in dancers? I admire Misty for taking her future into her own hands.

 

Misty would probably be even more underutilized than Stella Abrera if she didn't promote herself. And the bolded is why I can't bash her for it. You have dancers in the principal rank who have glaring technical and artistry issues. Since role assignments are obviously not based on talent, why not campaign for a Swan Lake?



#48 kfw

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 01:16 PM

More self-segregation may not be the best or the ultimate goal, but not having to deal with every kind of race issue has got to a relief for all concerned. 

 

Maybe not a relief to Copeland, who has used race to promote her career. Every artistic director in the country with any sense, not to mention human decency, is surely eager to hire and promote deserving black dancers. Copeland has created her own race issue by ginning up outrage from people who have no basis to know whether or not her accusations have merit because they haven’t even seen her dance. That’s one career strategy.



#49 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 02:22 PM

I don't understand why in an art form with an undeniable history of racial bias, people who complain about its lingering effects are slammed and frequently accused of playing the race card. 

 

Yet, AD's and other gatekeepers of the art form are always given the benefit of the doubt that the lack of black women on their rosters means there simply were and are no black women who are good enough.  Case closed. 

 

Carlos Acosta is one of the  greats of classical dance.   When you consider his privileged position in the ballet world, one wonders why he doesn't just sit back, shut up and reap the awards and accolades coming in as his career winds down. 

 

But even though it does him absolutely no good personally to rock the boat, Acosta has nonetheless expressed a belief that subtle bias continues against black women in classical dance.

 

Why should he stick his neck out for what many believe is nothing more than racial paranoia unless he really thinks bias against black women  is a thing? 

 

 

 



#50 miliosr

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 02:31 PM

I can't fault Misty Copeland for being an aggressive self-promoter, and I think the ballerina situation at ABT extends far beyond Copeland getting a Swan Lake over Stella Abrera and Sarah Lane (i.e. guest stars vs. homegrown talent, Boylston/Seo promotions, Part only getting matinees, etc., etc.)

 

Every artistic director in the country with any sense, not to mention human decency, is surely eager to hire and promote black dancers.

But where is this movement to find, develop and promote black female dancers in the American ballet world?  I would be much more amenable to criticisms of Copeland if the American ballet world in general and ABT in particular had a sterling track record in this record.  In its 75 years of existence, how many black female principals (or even soloists) has ABT had?  How many has New York City Ballet had??

 

I can only speak for myself but I can't get too worked up about Copeland getting an out-of-town tryout in Australia.  As others have said, it's not like that tryout was going to go to Abrera or Lane.



#51 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 02:33 PM

 

 

I think the problem isn't Misty taking a role away from someone more "deserving" (which I agree that there are better dancers in the soloist rank, most notably Stella Abrera), but the complete lack of opportunities for soloists and corp de ballet dancers to dance in these roles. In companies like the Mariinsky, Bolshoi, or the Royal Ballet it is not an anomaly to see soloists and corp de ballet members dancing lead principal roles like it is for ABT.

If it wasn't such an anomaly I think people wouldn't be so hard on dancers they consider "less than" being given a chance. But then, that opens up a whole other can of worms with ABT like the lack of adequate coaching. If Misty had proper coaching to fix her issues, would she be considered a dancer only accomplished in modern works? It makes me wonder.

 

Exactly. Misty didn't take the opportunity away from Sarah or Stella because THEY WERE NEVER GOING TO GET IT. Mckenzie's actions have made it very,very clear that he doesn't see those dancers as O/O. I'm sure he doesn't see Misty as O/O either, but she forced his hand by going out and developing her own following, by creating demand. In addition to the appearances & Payless deal she has been a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance 5 times so far this season. 5 times! Do you know how big that audience is? McKenzie didn't need a small O/O, Hammoudi is a big guy. If he hadn't given her the O/O he would have given a second performance to Part or Hererra. It wouldn't have gone to Stella or Sarah.

 

Also, I think Misty is quite fine in terre a terre classical work. She was a good Gamzatti (barring the performance just coming back from that horrendous leg injury) and an excellent Gulnare. I just don't think she's particularly suited to O/O, but with the right coaching, who knows?

 

In any case, most role assignments aren't based solely on talent or suitability for the role. Just look at Seo's Fouettes, or Boyleston's gangly elbows . How much were those role assignments and promotions based on powerful patrons or one man's taste in dancers? I admire Misty for taking her future into her own hands.

 

Misty would probably be even more underutilized than Stella Abrera if she didn't promote herself. And the bolded is why I can't bash her for it. You have dancers in the principal rank who have glaring technical and artistry issues. Since role assignments are obviously not based on talent, why not campaign for a Swan Lake?

 

Amen to that.  ABT is just too obsessed with nabbing the latest superstar to nurture what they already have.



#52 sidwich

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 02:37 PM

 

 

Copeland will finally get to dance an iconic role after seven years as a soloist, and that won't hurt any other female dancer in any way. Nobody who is brilliant  or even just  good, will be held back because of Misty.   

I beg to differ.  If they were going to pick a short soloist for SL, it should have gone to Lane, not Copeland.  Lane is a superior dancer, and has also performed the role with Corella Ballet.  Merit should win out, but it doesn't.  Do we really want ABT to become a company where roles are based on a popularity contest  instead of quality?  This is a very slippery slope. 

 

 

But casting is a popularity contest.  It's based on whoever is popular with Kevin McKenzie, and it's obvious that dancers can be popular with him for reasons that bear little to no relation to their abilities onstage.  Some clearly fit into a particular dance aesthetic he has, but others may play the political game better, some may be able to bring him financial patronage, some may be easy/inexpensive to work with, some may bring in more audiences/press for whatever reason, and some he may just like for personal reasons and nothing more than that.  

 

At least, Copeland is promoting herself in ways that are ballet-positive, ABT-positive, and even positive to non-traditional bodies in ballet.  I actually think there is merit to that.

 

I also think it's indicative of how few opportunities there are at ABT that there's this much angst over the casting of a veteran soloist in a Wednesday matinee performance on tour.  I do find it interesting that there isn't nearly as much discussion over Hammoudi's casting when his technical shortcomings are probably on par with Copeland's.



#53 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 02:43 PM

 

I can't fault Misty Copeland for being an aggressive self-promoter, and I think the ballerina situation at ABT extends far beyond Copeland getting a Swan Lake over Stella Abrera and Sarah Lane (i.e. guest stars vs. homegrown talent, Boylston/Seo promotions, Part only getting matinees, etc., etc.)

 

 

 

Every artistic director in the country with any sense, not to mention human decency, is surely eager to hire and promote black dancers.

But where is this movement to find, develop and promote black female dancers in the American ballet world?  I would be much more amenable to criticisms of Copeland if the American ballet world in general and ABT in particular had a sterling track record in this record.  In its 75 years of existence, how many black female principals (or even soloists) has ABT had?  How many has New York City Ballet had??

 

I can only speak for myself but I can't get too worked up about Copeland getting an out-of-town tryout in Australia.  As others have said, it's not like that tryout was going to go to Abrera or Lane.

Yes!  I couldn't agree more. Copeland is being scapegoated for the AD's casting and promotion practices. A wednesday matinee performance by Copeland in Oz does not wreck Lane and Abrera's careers.  



#54 maps

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 04:03 PM

ABT sponserships:

http://www.townandco...ll-cole#slide-3



#55 kfw

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 04:42 PM

I don't understand why in an art form with an undeniable history of racial bias, people who complain about its lingering effects are slammed and frequently accused of playing the race card. 

 

Yet, AD's and other gatekeepers of the art form are always given the benefit of the doubt that the lack of black women on their rosters means there simply were and are no black women who are good enough.  Case closed. 

 

Carlos Acosta is one of the  greats of classical dance.   When you consider his privileged position in the ballet world, one wonders why he doesn't just sit back, shut up and reap the awards and accolades coming in as his career winds down. 

 

But even though it does him absolutely no good personally to rock the boat, Acosta has nonetheless expressed a belief that subtle bias continues against black women in classical dance.

 

Why should he stick his neck out for what many believe is nothing more than racial paranoia unless he really thinks bias against black women  is a thing?  

 

Has Acosta said Copeland deserves an ABT Swan Lake? I have no opinion on whether she does or not, although I hope she dances well in Australia. I just think that if skin color should have nothing to do with casting, then skin color should have any thing to do with casting, Why the presumption that hers is a case of "lingering effects," when in fact people who know her dancing disagree about her merits?



#56 kfw

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 04:50 PM

I can't fault Misty Copeland for being an aggressive self-promoter

 

I can't either, not when that's how the game is played today. Still, modesty's a winning (charming) virtue.



#57 canbelto

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 05:27 PM

I also can't fault Copeland for aggressive self-promoting. I can't fault anyone in ballet. Recently there was a Russian ballerina whom I greatly admire who gave an interview that really turned me off. She went on at some length about how devout she was and how much she went to the Russian Orthodox Church. Given how aggressively the Russian Orthodox Church has been imposing its values on the Russian population, it seemed so calculated to me, for her to mention that prominently in the interview. But again, can't fault her. 



#58 vipa

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 06:05 PM

I also can't fault Copeland for aggressive self-promoting. I can't fault anyone in ballet. Recently there was a Russian ballerina whom I greatly admire who gave an interview that really turned me off. She went on at some length about how devout she was and how much she went to the Russian Orthodox Church. Given how aggressively the Russian Orthodox Church has been imposing its values on the Russian population, it seemed so calculated to me, for her to mention that prominently in the interview. But again, can't fault her. 

I agree canbelto.  I don't fault Copeland for her aggressive self-promoting.  She is making a name for herself outside of the ballet world.  How much that will translate into creating a wider audience for ballet is anybody's guess.    

 

I believe the AD gave her a Swan Lake - a matinee in Australia - to see if it was not a disaster.  If it isn't he will give her shot at it in NY in order to cash in on her self promotion.  If she was a black dancer who was not an ambitious self promoter, it wouldn't have happened.  If she was an ambitious, publicity seeking white, hispanic or asian dancer with a marketable, sympathetic backstory story who was an aggressive self promoter, that person would have been given the opportunity.

 

For me the sadness is that it is obvious to so many of us who've watched Copeland dance over the years that Swan Lake isn't in her range.  We can't cheer that she was given the opportunity.  

 

As an aside, I read someone talk about Copeland as a "different body type in ballet."  I don't agree.  None other than Ashley Bouder said in a post that she wished she could have Copeland's feet and legs for a while just to see what it felt like (paraphrasing).



#59 kfw

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 06:33 PM

If she was a black dancer who was not an ambitious self promoter, it wouldn't have happened.  If she was an ambitious, publicity seeking white, hispanic or asian dancer with a marketable, sympathetic backstory story who was an aggressive self promoter, that person would have been given the opportunity.

 

 

Which, if that's the case, is indeed the problem, in my opinion. Talent and aptitude - not backstories, corporate or individual - deserve dance opportunities. 



#60 sidwich

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 07:54 PM

 

As an aside, I read someone talk about Copeland as a "different body type in ballet."  I don't agree.  None other than Ashley Bouder said in a post that she wished she could have Copeland's feet and legs for a while just to see what it felt like (paraphrasing).

 

 

That was me, and yes, I have seen Copeland cited as a non-traditional body type in ballet.  It was actually on these boards, where I've seen comments ranging from "That bust does not belong on a ballet stage" to "She's ballet's answer to Jessica Rabbit."




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