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Baryshnikov's NYC Think Tank


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#46 Mel Johnson

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Posted 05 January 2003 - 04:06 AM

I'm afraid you've provided me with yet another example of rose-colored hindsight, Amy, plus a little example of the subtleties of "what a difference a decade makes". Actors were indeed able to afford and manage a rent-controlled apartment in the 1970s with a supplement of waiter wages. By the mid-1970s, though, dancers were already taking more and more classes and becoming members of small performing ensembles at a higher rate than ever before. Restaurants were loth to hire dancers because most of their time was already spoken for, and if and when they did show up on time, they were half-dead. Actors and singers had it easier. At least their schedules were more predictable, and they weren't likely to have hurt themselves during their chosen vocational hours, so that they could still wait tables!

Even with rent control, the dancer was not so fortunate, and the days of the sixties, when a dancer COULD pull off an apartment in Christopher Street and did have the time to use for a second job, were over by the seventies.

Ballet dancers now are availing themselves of college and university educations more than ever before. It's just that they're doing it after their performing careers have started to wind down as part of Career Transition for Dancers. You will always have the mind; you will not long have the body for ballet!

#47 Amy Reusch

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Posted 05 January 2003 - 09:42 PM

Mel, restaurants may have prefered actors & singers, but I knew many many many dancers & choreographers who were waiters & waitresses & bartenders. True, few of my friends could afford a space as posh as Christopher Street, I meant merely a place somewhere on Manhattan isle, not the west village... although some were there, more often the upper west side, spanish harlem, alphabet city, soho, etc. They were much too late for rent control, but rent stablization was still available... and regarding always having the mind... there's something that seems to happen to dancers when they drop out of school... I don't know what it is... but the pre-professional dancers all seemed to be top students with very high grades... I didn't run into the "dumb dancer" stereotypes until the professional level and then mostly in ballet... it's as if they decided they'd never have to think again, or they weren't socializing with intellectuals or what... I don't know, but there definitely is a dumb dancer type out there and it is very sad... 4 years seems like a terribly long time to a young person, but in retrospect... I wonder how many of those dancers who went to college and went on to a professional career regret having done so before their career instead of afterwards? (although hopefully they have no compunctions about going back to university afterward either).
I really resent being told my personal experience is some rosy colored recollection. It wasn't all that rosy, as I recollect.

#48 Alexandra

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Posted 06 January 2003 - 06:47 AM

I think this subdiscussion has run its course. I would like to state, though, on behalf of the board, and for the benefit of the many dancers who read us, that college attendance and intelligence are not the same thing.

We have a policy that when two posters are locked in a disagreement that seems unlikely to be resolved that they take it to email.

Please return to the topic, which is Baryshnikov's new Think Tank.

Thank you :)


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