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Leigh Witchel

Boston, Boston, Boston. . .

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I'm not sure about the Asian girl, but one of the two black girls lost her job, and the other one was on the "reprieved" list. I've heard tell that the "reprieved" girl has an activist mother. Perhaps this had something to do with it - seeing how they were busy purging the company.

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Bijoux said, in the Boston X 3 thread:

When Bruce Marks was the director,he had a platform."Diversity" was a big issue with him,not only with who was onstage,but with what was being danced. The company did Twyla Tharp and Paul Taylor as well as they did Swan Lake and Giselle and he seemed to make it clear that his company reflected the city of Boston.

So. . . .

Should companies reflect the tastes and experiences of their home cities or should they aspire to a higher (or at least more universal) aesthetic?

[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited March 25, 2001).]

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Originally posted by salzberg:

 So. . . .

Should companies reflect the tastes and experiences of their home cities or should they aspire to a higher (or at least more universal) aesthetic?

Well said. Art that reflects a city's tastes CAN also reflect a universal aesthetic, but when we get to "Gosh, we've got to have a ballet about X group because they're now 5% of the demographics," that's a long way from art.

On ballet companies staging modern dance, Mr. Marks, who had as much to do with anyone as popularizing the practice, has now recanted -- or, at least, did. For those who are new to the board, I haven't posted this link for awhile. It's to an interview I did with him for the first issue of Ballet Alert! (the newsletter), called "The King of Crossover Crosses Back."

http://www.balletalert.com/magazines/BAsam...mpler/marks.htm

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There is an one-page letter by Maina Gielgud in the April issue of "Dance Europe". I've seen it this afternoon at the POB boutique, but unfortunately I just had a look at it at the intermission and didn't have enough time to read it fully...

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If it's the same one, she's been circulating a letter "correcting" what she considers "errors" in newspaper articles about her. On some, I think she has a point, but on others -- well, let's say she's presenting her side of a situation, which she has every right to do, but I don't think it rises to the level of Truth. (She may want to think that the Danes got rid of her because she was a woman and a foreigner--and I don't want to go through that issue again; we've had several discussions about it--but there was much more to it than that.

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Alexandra, this seems to be the same letter you mention. (I remember the part about the RDB- well, it made me smile a little bit... wink.gif )

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Wow,an activist mother?hmmm Actually I asked someone about the girls because that "activist mother" comment intrigued me.(Can a Ballet company actually sustain itself on the whims of a parent?If they do,they're worse off that I thought)I do know that the black girl who they kept trained in the school(in fact, so did Jennifer Gelfand .(Do you suppose her mother had something to do with her job?HaHa) so she is only one of a handful of people who have made it to the company from the school.(perhaps that is the reason she was retained)Her mother has been a pianist at Boston Ballet for several years.Perhaps some frustrated mother started this activist rumor to cause more trouble,but I tell you if it got back to the girl,she would be crushed.to be honest,there is actually nothing wrong with the way she dances,so why get rid of her?For the record,people who know her mother regard her as a friendly woman(hardly the description of an "activist).Things are bad enough at the ballet without extra nonsense.

Originally posted by felursus:

I'm not sure about the Asian girl, but one of the two black girls lost her job, and the other one was on the "reprieved" list.  I've heard tell that the "reprieved" girl has an activist mother.  Perhaps this had something to do with it - seeing how they were busy purging the company.

[This message has been edited by bijoux (edited March 25, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by bijoux (edited March 25, 2001).]

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I'm not saying that a company should hire or retain a person just because they fit a certain ethnic profile. What I am saying is that a good dancer should not be discouraged because he or she doesn't have the same ethnic makeup as 99.9% of the company.This is America and as much as I hate to admit it,things will never be racially balanced,but people should at least try.If Boston Ballet doesn't want minorities in their company,then they should get rid of their inner city program.Why give a child hope when it won't be a reality?The question is not whether a minority who is not up to classical standards is not hired ,the question is where do the minorities who are up to standard go?Europe seems to always be the answer,but shouldn't it be somewhere in the states?

Originally posted by alexandra:

Well said.  Art that reflects a city's tastes CAN also reflect a universal aesthetic, but when we get to "Gosh, we've got to have a ballet about X group because they're now 5% of the demographics," that's a long way from art.

On ballet companies staging modern dance, Mr. Marks, who had as much to do with anyone as popularizing the practice, has now recanted -- or, at least, did.  For those who are new to the board, I haven't posted this link for awhile.  It's to an interview I did with him for the first issue of Ballet Alert! (the newsletter), called "The King of Crossover Crosses Back."

http://www.balletalert.com/magazines/BAsam...mpler/marks.htm

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i would hope that the posting wasn't meant to give that information (whether true or not) as justification for considering letting the girl go, but rather as a ridiculous reason for something that they may have considered doing even though they didn't eventually do it.

i know who you are talking about, however, and i met the mom a few times and she is a friendly woman, and the girl is a perfectly capable dancer. scary thing though is that in my opinion, the same could be said about the whole lot of them, so it makes less and less sense for anyone to have suffered from whatever tortuous decision-making process (or not, perhaps it was arbitrary as it seems)!

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My only implication in mentioning an "activist mother" was because IF the company had let go BOTH of their African-American dancers and did not replace them, it is not inconceivable that a discrimination law suit COULD have been brought. Given everything else that has gone on with this company, I really don't think that this is what they would want. I have no way of knowing how Gielgud felt about either or both of the Black dancers. She may not have liked either - for reasons completely unrelated to ethnicity - and wanted to not rehire either. (Difficult to say who made what decisions and when - given what Gielgud and the Board and everyone else connected with the company are saying) Now this does not reflect in anyway on how well either of the girls dance - given that principal dancers also were not rehired and that Jennifer Gelfand was also one of those almost not rehired. It IS possible that, given that auditions had not been completed, so there was no way of knowing the capabilities of those who planned to audition, SOMEONE decided to 'play safe'. I would bet that that person was NOT Gielgud: not having lived in the US, she was probably unaware of the sensitivity of racial issues in this country. As far as the "reprieved" dancers go, it is difficult to tell what their future in the company may be like. IF it was GIELGUD who wanted them gone then they can all breathe a sigh of relief that she is gone. If it was people still attached to the company then their positions are more tenuous.

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Does the musician's union give you any breaks when your interim artistic director is a conductor?

I'm not sure, Jeff, about reflecting one's home cities tastes being a bad thing... after all, didn't NYCB reflect NYC in some way that American Ballet Theater didn't? Didn't Diaghilev's original presentations reflect the Russian scene to the west? Picking up on one's local environment might lead to interesting developments. Isolation can be a bad thing or a good thing depending on what kind of talent is involved.

[This message has been edited by Amy Reusch (edited March 29, 2001).]

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