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Ed Waffle

Ballet Barbie is here

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This must have been discussed here before, but today's (2/9/01) Wall Street Journal has an article "Barbie Learns Ballet and Launches a Movie Career".

"The 84 minute direct-to-video feature stars Barbie as Clara in "The Nutcracker" and puts her and boyfriend Ken (he's the Nutcracker) in highbrow company: New York City Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins will choreograph the ballet segments of the video, and the London Symphony Orchestra will perform the music..."

"The Nutcracker will be accompanied by a book, eight Nutcracker themed dolls, sleepwear and a Hallmark Christmas ornament.

"Mattel's Nutcracker is certainly not for traditionalists. The video will feature only 12 to 15 minutes of actual ballet [EW note--WSJ term "actual ballet"] with the bulk of the movie being a story designed to entertain children aged three to eight years old.

"Mattel has added a generous dose on new charcters that readily translate into toys as plot twists allow Barbie, in the role of Clara, to emerge as a modern heroine."

"For example, Clara comes across a series of six friendly characters....(which) will be sold separately as dolls"

"(Martins) will work with five dancers from the New York City Ballet who will dance on stage using optical sensors...a computer generated Barbie model will be superimposed on top of the dance images."

"(Martins) goal is to provide them (Mattel) with what they need and hopefully have some integrity at the end."

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A few questions from this part of the peanut gallery:

What will Wendy Wasserstein say? (WWWWS)?

What is a "Ballet Master in Chief". Sounds more like a military rank than anything else.

The video is scheduled to go on sale October, 2001. How tired of it will parents be by November?

Most importantly, will it help or hurt attendance at the zillion "Nutcrackers" around the country next Christmas season?

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It is on page B1 of the print edition. WSJonline is subscription only.

------------------

"Happy are the fiery natures which burn themselves out,

and glory in the sword which wears away the scabbard:

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS

Writing of Pauline Viardot

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I can't wait to see what will be next... a line of Barbie dolls for Giselle ? And will they sell ALL of the Wilis for the second act together, or will you have to buy each one seperately ?

I don't know if I like this idea of a Barbie doll Nutcracker or not- but it is pretty funny.

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leibling, I think you should contact their marketing department. They don't know what a gold mine they're sitting on. Barbie Ballet Gold would include, in addition to Nutcracker (the entry-level doll): Swan Lake, Juliet, Agon (with big hair). Now, could there be an Isadora Barbie? Nah. But we could sell lots and lots of costumes.

I love the idea of having to buy each Wili separately. A family with three little girls could do it if they each got one for birthdays and Christmas.

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Hi,

I saw Mattel's entire toy line-up for this project (and its very tacky looking!- They were debating on whether or not to put Ken in tights!?)about 6 months ago (I'm a graphic artist and Mattel is a big client for the commercial printer I am employed at). They are spending a fortune on its budget regarding advertising alone.

They will have no problem selling these either since Barbie is Mattel's No 1 seller.

Better get in line at ToysRUs!

-Peter Modaffari

[This message has been edited by mod-squad (edited February 09, 2001).]

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I suppose that ballet Barbie will also be flogged (excuse me, sold) at the concession stand (or rather gift shop). At least it will be some sort of an antidote to dancers as flat chested! I do hope that Mattel sponsors at least one of the galas. I would love to see people come dressed as Barbies, with huge hair and lots of rhinestones. With this and the NYCB exercise video, I suspect that the odds of retaining some artistic integrity are pretty slim.

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No, thankfully we have seen nothing of that promotion over here - well, living in the backwoods next door to Siberia, I fervently hope it will not come, but I am not so sure.

All I can say is that the mind boggles...

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I just realized- after reading the not Bambi thread- why not have a ballet for and about Barbie ???!!!!???? I can only imagine...

[This message has been edited by leibling (edited February 09, 2001).]

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Isn't Barbie getting to be a bit too old to start a career in ballet? Surely by now the ballet should star Barbie and Ken's daughter. That way Barbie can dress up as much as she wants for the premiere and the size of her, ah, chest won't matter. And think if the cool rehearsal clothes they can sell to go with the doll: woolen warm-up tights complete with holes - $13.99, a frayed practice tutu skirt - $29.99, a specially designed leotard with most of the back cut out - $6.99, pointe shoes scuffed in genuine rosin - $8.99. Then there could be the dance bag accessories: a tiny towel, bottle of water, hair clips, a teeny antiperspirant stick, teeny bandaids, teeny elastic ace wraps for when Barbie has an injury, etc. Ken could have his own bag, too. We won't go into that here. :-)

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felursus,

I like that idea!

Or how about some sort of product promo tie-in?

Like Barbie with her Diet Coke and her Kool Menthols?

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All great ideas. We should hire out to Mattel as consultants.

Since one of the points of Barbie is that you have to have a different doll for every outfit, rather than one doll with lots of outfits, perhaps Ballerina Barbie will be specially made? The Boobless Barbie, and those hips would have to be lopped off, too. I was given a Barbie, who ended up thrown in a dresser drawer (I hated dolls generally, and really hated this tiny little thing with deformed feet and ghastly hair and, truth to tell, a really snitty little face). I remember really being grossed out, in the language of the time, by her feet. They were cut to fit the high high heel shoes, and the soles of her feet looked like three steps of a staircase.

I love the ratty rehearsal clothes idea, though. There was another doll in vogue when I was a child called Poor Pitiful Pearl. Her hair looked like the After photo for lice treatment, she snivelled, and her clothes were in tatters.

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I thought that there was already a 'Ballet Barbie.' But, this idea, to me, is horrible. What can a 60 year-old surviver of complete and utter plastic-surgery be doing at the ballet? The idea of Barbie herself should be bagged. Aside from Britney Spears and FOX, Barbie is on my no.1 list for corrupting little girls. The grotesque little toothpick of a doll in ballet? I don't know, considering the pink-obbsessed children who buy these toys.

The Nutcracker doll idea will not introduce children to ballet. It will introduce ballet to children - in the wrong way. They will grow up thinking of tutus and pointe shoes as fashion statements. They will go to see Nutcracker thinking it will be a summer Disney cartoon, and to Swan Lake expecting Odette to look like an icicle, and Siegfried to look like a new member of *N'SYNC. Really, those who support this idea aren't thinking about what it is.

I, for one, am annoyed that they try to use a figurine that screams 'Surrender yourself!' to children, as a gateway to the arts. It won't work.

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I imagine that close on the heels of the Ratty-Practice-Clothes Barbie we'll have the Eating-Disorder Barbie, with accessories best left to the imagination.

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I imagine that Barbie already has an eating disorder by now. How else could she possibly be that thin?

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CygneDanois

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Because she doesn't have time to eat naturally with her schedule. Lets go down the isle at Toys R Us (or better yet my 7 year old daughters room) and see.

She is a teacher,cop,doctor,cheerleader,ballet dancer,race car driver,dentist,vet,consruction worker,pilot,hired killer(?),astronaut, Navy Seal...

[This message has been edited by mod-squad (edited February 12, 2001).]

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mod-squad wrote: "She is a... hired killer(?),"

A Hitwoman Barbie. I had no idea. Perhaps inspired by the Kathleen Turner character in "Prizzi's Honor".

Who could her target be? Raggedy Ann, perhaps?

------------------

"Happy are the fiery natures which burn themselves out,

and glory in the sword which wears away the scabbard:

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS

Writing of Pauline Viardot

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I've got a little list. . .they never will be missed. . . .

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I dropped about $60 on a ballet Barbie last Christmas for my niece. Ballerina Barbie was far too busty and if you put her in the usual tank top and pedal pushers you ended up with plain old Barbie -- not Gelsey, not Natalia or Suzanne.

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I'm not sure that a Ballerina Barbie that was anatomically accurate would sell too well -- can't see much of a market for Flatchested Barbie with Bunions.

I remember a few years ago that a couple of Barbies called Trailer Trash Barbie and Hooker Barbie were circulating. Mattel sued, I think.

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Off the subject of ballet, but on the subject of gender roles - from 1994:

The Manhattan-based Barbie Liberation Organization claims to have performed corrective surgery on 300 Teen Talk Barbies and Talking Duke G.I. Joes---switching their sound chips, repackaging the toys, and returning them to store shelves. Consumers reported their amazement at hearing Barbie bellow, "Eat lead, Cobra!" or "Vengeance is mine!," while Joe chirped, "Will we ever have enough clothes?" and "Let's plan our dream wedding!"

Here's the whole article: http://www.levity.com/markdery/barbie.html

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Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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I think there should be a Barbie Ballet. My teacher and a few members of our company were talking about it. It could be to that song- "I'm a Barbie Girl, in a BArbie World..." and all the girls could be in platinum blonde wigs......

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Ooh Allegro, I like that. But they'd have to have padded costumes! Question: do we pad out Ken too?? Naughty, naughty.

and thanks to the person who pointed out my omission of the bunioned feet.

In the Barbie Ballet do we have Barbie in a different career in each scene? This would be a great boon to the costume business. By the way, do we end it with Barbie celebrating middle age and retiring to Florida? The dancers will all have to have special training in order to cope with the 3" heels - at least once Barbie graduates from high school and gets out of her cheerleading shoes.

Alexandra, I remember Poor Pitiful Pearl - although I never had one. My first love in terms of ballet dolls were all paper dolls. I had several sets: there was one that had fabulous costumes, but most of the others had those "powderpuff" tutus, and if I remember correctly, I rather think the dolls all had oddly sickled feet.

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I have never, ever, seen a female dancer who had the slightest trouble navigating in 3" (and higher) heels. One of the nice things about ballet training is that you learn how to balance.....

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On this day in history:

03/09/1959 - Barbie, the popular girls' doll, debuted; over 800 million have been sold.

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On the movie itself, I was talking to Charles Askegard a few days ago, it seems that he and Maria Kowrowski are providing the movement models for Barbie and Ken. You won't see either of them at all, it is just their body and movement that will be studied and sampled to create the dances in the film for the animated dolls. And yes, we had a good laugh over this.

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Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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