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


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#61 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 07:58 PM

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?

 

To my knowledge, Acosta has never discussed Copeland. And we actually agree that skin color shouldn't have anything to do with who gets cast in certain roles.

 

Where we differ is our perceptions of whether that actually happens. 



#62 Tapfan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:14 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. 

 

And we know that always happens. And when it doesn't, it always generates the same amount of indignation as Copeland dancing a  Swan Lake matinee on the road. 



#63 sidwich

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:17 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.

 

  

But is that modesty?  Living on the West Coast, I don't see much of this aggressive self-promotion which is apparently happening all over the place.  If Copeland is self-promoting herself to the degree it seems, it's still not on the scale of what I'd see in London during the 1990s where it seemed Sylvie Guillem, Darcey Bussell and/or Viviana Durante were plastered on every street corner in the city between public transport, magazine covers, newsstands, posters, etc.

 

I think of modesty as humbleness, and I haven't seen Copeland claim to be the best dancer ever, a shining light of dance, or the savior of African-American dancers. What I've seen is her participating in non-ballet projects and getting ballet, ABT and her own story out into the general public.   I don't see that as mutually exclusive with modesty.

 

Or do you think of modesty as hanging back and not trying to get noticed by management at all?  Because I don't see anyone at the company doing that.  I'm sure they all campaign for roles and opportunities in their own way.  Please... it's not like we haven't discussed Julie Kent's "special status" at ABT.

 

I also think Misty Copeland is in a difficult place.  Some may find the self-promotion distasteful, but if she were not publicizing her unusual success in the media, I feel there would undoubtedly be those who would say that she was not being responsible as a good role model for the African-American community.

 

A friend of mine is an African-American female surgeon, a species almost as rare as female African-American ballet dancers at major companies.  She regularly gets invitations to professional events, and of course, must decline some of them.  It's not unusual for her to get a follow-up on her declines, asking if she would still come if only to take a picture at the event (and then leave if she must).  It's that important to some members of the African-American community to show that kind of success, that it can be done and to show examples of that success to younger people.  So where some people may find aggressive self-promotion, it may also be a responsibility to the African-American community at large as well.



#64 abatt

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 05:14 AM

 "If Copeland is self-promoting herself to the degree it seems, it's still not on the scale of what I'd see in London during the 1990s where it seemed Sylvie Guillem, Darcey Bussell and/or Viviana Durante were plastered on every street corner in the city between public transport, magazine covers, newsstands, posters, etc."

 

There's a big difference, Guillem, Bussell and Durante became famous because they were great dancers, not because of their race, ethnicity or personal history. Their great fame and fortune followed on the heels of their marvelous performances and ecstatic reviews from the critics.  In contrast, Misty's celebrity is based on race and an unusual personal story.  She is not famous for the exceptional  quality of her dancing. 

 

Re Hamoudi,he is not ready for this role either.  I think they made a big mistake in promoting him to soloist over certain other tall men like Tamm and Forster, and now they are trying to figure out what to do with him. 



#65 Barbara

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 05:38 AM

A personal impression and nothing to do with Misty's O/O: I appreciate her appeal to African American youngsters who are now considering the world of ballet but I wonder what the parents of these children feel about the steady stream of titillating photos she posts from various photo shoots. For me it doesn't compute.



#66 kfw

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 08:21 AM

Tapfan, I'm glad we halfway agree about something. smile.png

 

sidwich, you make a good point. I guess I'm like those Lake Woebegonians gently mocked by Garrison Keillor; when I look at some dancer's Twitter page and see links to rave reviews, and reposted tweets by worshipful fans, I feel a little embarrassed for the dancer. Whether Copeland does that or not, I don't know. I was thinking of others who do.



#67 ABT Fan

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 09:49 AM

A personal impression and nothing to do with Misty's O/O: I appreciate her appeal to African American youngsters who are now considering the world of ballet but I wonder what the parents of these children feel about the steady stream of titillating photos she posts from various photo shoots. For me it doesn't compute.

 

That's a big problem I have with her Twitter feed.  Many of her photos are in scantily clad outfits in very suggestive poses.  I don't see those as positive images for children when someone claims to be (and wants to be) a role model for children.



#68 ABT Fan

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 09:52 AM

sidwich, you make a good point. I guess I'm like those Lake Woebegonians gently mocked by Garrison Keillor; when I look at some dancer's Twitter page and see links to rave reviews, and reposted tweets by worshipful fans, I feel a little embarrassed for the dancer. Whether Copeland does that or not, I don't know. I was thinking of others who do.

 

Copeland definitely does that.  https://twitter.com/mistyonpointe

 

So many of her "feeds" are re-tweets of compliments from others.  I get this is a way to draw attention to her dancing (and hence to promote herself for good reasons), but for me it's too much.  So, I now stay away from it.



#69 vipa

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 11:54 AM

 

 

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."

 

Wow - I missed those comments.  To me her body type is not out of the range of what is typical in ballet.  Obviously some people disagree with me. Her feet and legs are amazing and as there have been other "full figured" woman in ballet. NYCB has a few at the moment.  Way back in the day ABT had a gorgeous dancer named Naomi Sorkin who was quite busty 



#70 sidwich

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 12:42 PM

 "If Copeland is self-promoting herself to the degree it seems, it's still not on the scale of what I'd see in London during the 1990s where it seemed Sylvie Guillem, Darcey Bussell and/or Viviana Durante were plastered on every street corner in the city between public transport, magazine covers, newsstands, posters, etc."

 

There's a big difference, Guillem, Bussell and Durante became famous because they were great dancers, not because of their race, ethnicity or personal history. Their great fame and fortune followed on the heels of their marvelous performances and ecstatic reviews from the critics.  In contrast, Misty's celebrity is based on race and an unusual personal story.  She is not famous for the exceptional  quality of her dancing. 

 

 

So are you saying that you approve of dancers becoming self-promoting publicity machines (and actually publicity machines on a much, much greater scale than Copeland) as long as you approve of their dance skills?



#71 nanushka

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 12:51 PM

 


 

So are you saying that you approve of dancers becoming self-promoting publicity machines (and actually publicity machines on a much, much greater scale than Copeland) as long as you approve of their dance skills?

 

 

I'm guessing what abatt is saying is that Guillem et al did not become famous because they were "self-promoting publicity machines" but rather because of their excellence as dancers.  Even your own description suggests this:

 

"in London during the 1990s where it seemed Sylvie Guillem, Darcey Bussell and/or Viviana Durante were plastered on every street corner in the city between public transport, magazine covers, newsstands, posters, etc"

 

That doesn't sound like mere self-promotion, it sounds like fame.



#72 abatt

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 01:06 PM

Bussell, Guillem and  Durante were among the greatest dancers of their generation.  It's ridiculous to speak about Copeland in the same breath.  Yes, thank you for clarifying the point Nanushka.



#73 canbelto

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 01:31 PM

Ok as I said before, and I'll say it again: everyone is free to self-promote. Instagrams, Facebooks, Twitter handles are often little more than self-promotion tools for many celebrities. The ultimate test is whether anyone buys into the self-promotion.

 

I think Misty is an attractive dancer who is obviously proud of her body and maybe has a healthy self-regard. She's using the tools she has to promote her own career. ABT's mismanagement of talent is an altogether separate issue and we shouldn't blame Misty for promoting herself when the larger issue is that Kevin McKenzie repeatedly wastes a lot of talent. 

 

I don't find Misty's method of self-promotion any worse than what I've seen from other dancers. As I said, I recently read an interview with a Russian ballerina I greatly admired where she went on and on about her devoutness to the Russian Orthodox Church. Considering the harsh stances the Russian Orthodox Church has taken against various religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities in Russia, I found the comments rather distasteful/insensitive and also a rather obvious attempt at pandering. But I know enough people in Russia to know that celebrities often feel obligated to express their loyalty to the Church and to Putin. They've replaced the Communist Party. So I can't blame her. But it did make me disappointed.



#74 sidwich

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 02:26 PM

I'm guessing what abatt is saying is that Guillem et al did not become famous because they were "self-promoting publicity machines" but rather because of their excellence as dancers.  Even your own description suggests this:

 

"in London during the 1990s where it seemed Sylvie Guillem, Darcey Bussell and/or Viviana Durante were plastered on every street corner in the city between public transport, magazine covers, newsstands, posters, etc"

 

That doesn't sound like mere self-promotion, it sounds like fame.

 

I think it's both.  I think all of those dancers are famous because of their dancing, and I think they've also sought it out, Bussell especially.  There are plenty of famous people, even strikingly beautiful ones, who do not grace major magazine covers like Darcey Bussell.  (Actually, Bussell's self-promotion machine is very similar to Copelands with magazine spreads, books,  and reality show judging, so I think it's very apt comparison).

 

The point I was trying to make is that if you don't mind the publicity machines that those dancers (and as I said, especially Darcey Bussell) are, then what must irk you is the origin of Misty Copeland's fame, what makes her noteworthy.  I do not disagree at all that she is not the dancer that Guillem, Bussell and Durante are.  Her accomplishment is because of what she has been able to accomplish being who she is.

 

Now, you may not think that it's noteworthy that she is the only African-American dancer of her stature and seniority at a major company, but a lot of people do.  Or it may be that you don't think that that's enough of an accomplishment to achieve the level of fame that she has.  I'm just trying to puzzle out what it is that bothers people so that she gets compared to Kim Kardashian.

 

I'll give you another example:  Elvis Presley.  Presley didn't really accomplish anything noteworthy musically on his own.  He didn't write any original music.  His music and stylings were derived from music that had been performed by African-American performers for quite some time before he broke on the scene.  If you were to take who he was out of the equation (white), he was a fine performer but not someone who rises to the musical importance of many pioneers like say a Chuck Berry.  So if you ask popular musicians who were your influences, he doesn't get brought up in the same way that someone like Berry, Hendrix, Lennon & McCartney, Phil Spector or Brian Wilson do.

 

But is Elvis Presley noteworthy?  Of course he is!  It's because of who he was, when he was and the music that he brought to white audiences.  

 

I'm not trying to say that Copeland is Elvis.  But there are a number of female ballet superstars.  If you look at my earlier example, the Royal Ballet alone had Giullem, Bussell and Durante during the 1990s.  There's still only one African-American female dancer at her level in the ballet world.  Personally, I think that does make her exceptional in some way.



#75 vipa

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 06:35 PM

Personally, sidwich, I don't think your Elvis comparison holds up.  He brought something to middle America that was new to them.  Americans were not exposed to people like Chuck Berry on the Ed Sullivan show and the other few mainstream venues that existed.

 

As far as Copeland being exceptional - an African-American woman who is a soloist in a major ballet company makes her exceptional in terms of race.  I think the discussion has to do with why she is cast in a role that seems beyond her, when others are not afforded that opportunity.   Why, at the age of 30, is an AD suddenly casting her in Swan Lake?  The answer is ticket sales.  Unfortunately, IMO those ticket sales have nothing to do with putting the best possible product on stage, and will not translate into expanding the audience.  Others will disagree and say that an African American woman in Swan Lake will create an audience that will come back again and again.  That's not the way I see it.  I know so many people of different races and ages that fell in love with ballet upon seeing Agon at NYCB, regardless of the cast.    

 

Oh and by the way with marriage, re-marriage etc. my family is a silly mix of many races.




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