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miliosr

With a Chance of Rain

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If you now want to make an issue about why this "vulgarity" suits Copeland, we can do that as well I'm sure...

Yes, then my other argument could be dismissed on moral grounds, with no need to deal with it on its merits. In fact, we don’t know if Whiteside and Copeland liked the movement or hated it, but your other argument rests on the presumption that human beings lack free choice and have to do what they’re told, even when they have moral qualms. Apparently we need a BA field trip to see “Selma.” smile.png

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If you now want to make an issue about why this "vulgarity" suits Copeland, we can do that as well I'm sure...

Yes, then my other argument could be dismissed on moral grounds, with no need to deal with it on its merits. In fact, we don’t know if Whiteside and Copeland liked the movement or hated it, but your other argument rests on the presumption that human beings lack free choice and have to do what they’re told, even when they have moral qualms. Apparently we need a BA field trip to see “Selma.” smile.png

I didn't say they couldn't choose not to do it, I said it was unlikely.

People may have free choice, but if you chose not to do what your boss tells you to, you usually have to face consequences, whether that is losing an assignment, or even your job.

Dancers are used to doing what they are told by teachers and choreographers, as I stated before, and tend to do so nearly unquestioningly. They are artists, but they are also instruments.

This is a form of movement. They are not seeing it in "moral" terms (how is twerking "immoral" by the way?). I really doubt a single dancer in ABT has "moral" objections to twerking. I'd love to see you poll them on this...just to see the reactions. Dancers usually love to experiment with other movement qualities outside classical ballet, even ones you find vulgar.

Lastly, I don't appreciate your condescending tone ("we need a BA field trip to see Selma") especially given our discussion history on here.

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Selma is an excellent and topical example of people facing consequences for doing what they think is right and refusing to do what they think is wrong when the consequences utterly dwarfed those of refusing, as up-and-coming (powerful) dancers, to do a certain passage.

Yes, the movement does sound vulgar to me. I make no apologies for that.

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Selma is an excellent and topical example of people facing consequences for doing what they think is right and refusing to do what they think is wrong.

Yes, the movement does sound vulgar to me. I make no apologies for that.

Just out of curiosity, did you see "With a Chance of Rain"? If not, you might have gotten the impression from this thread and others that the pas in question was nothing but 10 minutes of Whiteside pawing at Copeland's boobs while she shook her ass, and that is definitely not the case. We're talking about something like maybe 15 seconds of choreography buried in a rather more complicated duet, which was itself part of a much longer work.

"With a Chance of Rain" is simply not the kind of moral hill one must choose to die on to defend one's honor.

[ETA: I'm not suggesting that time alone is the determining factor when it comes to the artistic merit of boob-pawing and ass shaking. An awful lot of pawing happens in Prodigal Son and we all seem to deal with it just fine.]

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Selma is an excellent and topical example of people facing consequences for doing what they think is right and refusing to do what they think is wrong when the consequences utterly dwarfed those of refusing, as up-and-coming (powerful) dancers, to do a certain passage.

Yes, the movement does sound vulgar to me. I make no apologies for that.

Yes, what they think is wrong--but what we are talking about here is not a social injustice but a dancer being asked to do a dance movement.

Are you honestly comparing these things?

The consequences are different, but so are the things being discussed.

We are talking about dancers being asked to do a dance movement that we have NO IDEA if any of the dancers objected to on any level.

And if they did object, as I asked above, I'm not sure how that objection would be a moral objection.

I have no problem with you thinking the movement is vulgar and did not ask you to apologize for it.

We, however don't even know that any of the dancers found it vulgar. Many of the young folk out there (ahem) don't.

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Just out of curiosity, did you see "With a Chance of Rain"? If not, you might have gotten the impression from this thread and others that the pas in question was nothing but 10 minutes of Whiteside pawing at Copeland's boobs while she shook her ass, and that is definitely not the case. We're talking about something like maybe 15 seconds of choreography buried in a rather more complicated duet, which was itself part of a much longer work.

"With a Chance of Rain" is simply not the kind of moral hill one must choose to die on to defend one's honor.

[ETA: I'm not suggesting that time alone is the determining factor when it comes to the artistic merit of boob-pawing and ass shaking. An awful lot of pawing happens in Prodigal Son and we all seem to deal with it just fine.]

I misspoke! The boob-pawing and ass-shaking wasn't "buried": it was an isolated, italicized gesture that seemed to be part of a (deliberately?) lame joke that also involved homophobia. "Buried" suggests that the movement was somehow part of the dance's fabric, and it wasn't. If it was vulgar, I think we were intended to see it as such.

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I previously wrote:

How much do a few seconds of vulgarity really tell us?

I'm aware that the passage was short. No, the choice of whether or not to do the passage (presuming for the sake of argument that they objected to it, but Aurora's right, they may not have) wasn't a moral hill to to die on - they were highly unlikely to have faced grave consequences.

You make an interesting point about Prodigal Son though, and here's where my not having seen the Scarlett does enter in, specifically in regards to your belief that he meant that passage to be offensive (just as Balanchine meant to depict degeneracy and degradation).

Aurora, the two different choices are of much different magnitude. That's my point. If demonstrators can risk their lives for what they think is right, dancers can risk a choreographer's displeasure for what they think is right. But I agree, we don't know if they did. I'm just responding the argument that they had no choice in the first place.

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The choreographer obviously bears the chief responsibility for the steps, and it's true we don't know what went down in the studio. But we do know, as the different versions of the passage demonstrate, that we all have free choice.

Well, sort of.

As a freelance writer, it's true that I'm not compelled to write on certain topics or take a certain approach to something by an employment agreement. But what this means in the real world, is that I'm free not to work.

Which means, of course, I'm free to not make any money.

Speculate all you like about our working conditions -- either the dancers in the studio or the writers at their desks. Just know that the abstract world you discuss is only partially related to the specific world we work in.

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The choreographer obviously bears the chief responsibility for the steps, and it's true we don't know what went down in the studio. But we do know, as the different versions of the passage demonstrate, that we all have free choice.

Well, sort of.

As a freelance writer, it's true that I'm not compelled to write on certain topics or take a certain approach to something by an employment agreement. But what this means in the real world, is that I'm free not to work.

Which means, of course, I'm free to not make any money.

Speculate all you like about our working conditions -- either the dancers in the studio or the writers at their desks. Just know that the abstract world you discuss is only partially related to the specific world we work in.

I wish there were a "like" button on this forum. Anyway, sandik, "Like".

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The choreographer obviously bears the chief responsibility for the steps, and it's true we don't know what went down in the studio. But we do know, as the different versions of the passage demonstrate, that we all have free choice.

Well, sort of.

As a freelance writer, it's true that I'm not compelled to write on certain topics or take a certain approach to something by an employment agreement. But what this means in the real world, is that I'm free not to work.

Which means, of course, I'm free to not make any money.

Speculate all you like about our working conditions -- either the dancers in the studio or the writers at their desks. Just know that the abstract world you discuss is only partially related to the specific world we work in.

I take your point, but in regards to Copeland and Whiteside, Copeland's an up-and-coming dancer with a popular following. It's 10-1 she could have expressed discomfort with the move and had Scarlett change it, as he may have for Lane, without suffering consequences. To be specific and not abstract, what good options would McKenzie or Scarlett have had? It wouldn't have been in their interest to take her out of the piece or not cast her elsewhere.

Of course it's true she may have had no objections, but I'm responding to the argument that she had no choice in the matter.

ETA:

The better analogy might be to your being asked to tout something you found morally offensive. How many of us would, at the boss’s behest, do something we found offensive? If we did, that would be on us as well as the boss. And to the people who call this Misty-bashing: my argument would stand, and the question of responsibility interests me, no matter who we’re talking about.

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Since Copeland has been outspoken about many controversial topics, I would find it odd that she would have suddenly become bashful if she objected to Scarlett's instructions regarding the choreography.

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I do know that this is in Boston's AGMA contract: "Right to Refuse – Artists shall not have the right to refuse to appear in any dancing role as assigned by the Artistic Director except when morally unacceptable to the Artist (e.g. nudity)." And, I will say that when Boston performed Kylian's Bella Figura, the dancers were given the right of refusal. There were women who did refuse to appear in the piece. But, there were those, who although they did not feel comfortable with the nudity at first, jumped at the chance to do the piece.

So, I would imagine ABT has some sort of clause in their contract that says dancers cannot refuse roles. Most dancers are used to doing what the choreographer says. Were Misty and James uncomfortable with it? Maybe. Maybe not. Could Misty have taken herself out? Maybe, but at what cost? These dancers do want to keep their jobs. The fact that Lane did it differently may mean they toned it down after the initial evening, or even that she just could not do it in the same manner.

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I do know that this is in Boston's AGMA contract: "Right to Refuse – Artists shall not have the right to refuse to appear in any dancing role as assigned by the Artistic Director except when morally unacceptable to the Artist (e.g. nudity)." And, I will say that when Boston performed Kylian's Bella Figura, the dancers were given the right of refusal. There were women who did refuse to appear in the piece. But, there were those, who although they did not feel comfortable with the nudity at first, jumped at the chance to do the piece.

So, I would imagine ABT has some sort of clause in their contract that says dancers cannot refuse roles. Most dancers are used to doing what the choreographer says. Were Misty and James uncomfortable with it? Maybe. Maybe not. Could Misty have taken herself out? Maybe, but at what cost? These dancers do want to keep their jobs. The fact that Lane did it differently may mean they toned it down after the initial evening, or even that she just could not do it in the same manner.

The most offensive part consists of the female dancer standing facing the audience while the male dancer stands in front of her, puts his hands on her breasts and manipulates them. There is no skill involved and no actual action on the females part. Somehow I think Lane could have managed that if she wanted to and since Copeland/Whiteside continued to perform it that way throughout the run it was not toned down after the initial performance.

The shame of it is that I really like this ballet including that specific pas de deux except for those few seconds. Unfortunately that part is so jarring and off-putting that that it was really impossible to put it out of mind and enjoy the rest. And let me add that the Lane/Forster version was less offensive but it still did not make a good impression - it looked really stupid. If only Scarlett could be convinced to change that part I'd love to see ABT revive it. But not the current version.

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I do know that this is in Boston's AGMA contract: "Right to Refuse – Artists shall not have the right to refuse to appear in any dancing role as assigned by the Artistic Director except when morally unacceptable to the Artist (e.g. nudity)." And, I will say that when Boston performed Kylian's Bella Figura, the dancers were given the right of refusal. There were women who did refuse to appear in the piece. But, there were those, who although they did not feel comfortable with the nudity at first, jumped at the chance to do the piece.

So, I would imagine ABT has some sort of clause in their contract that says dancers cannot refuse roles. Most dancers are used to doing what the choreographer says. Were Misty and James uncomfortable with it? Maybe. Maybe not. Could Misty have taken herself out? Maybe, but at what cost? These dancers do want to keep their jobs. The fact that Lane did it differently may mean they toned it down after the initial evening, or even that she just could not do it in the same manner.

I doubt there is any reason to suspect that they were uncomfortable with it.

Certainly not Whiteside!

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Despite their outside lives (Misty and James'), and whether or not they felt comfortable with it, they listened to the choreographer and his wishes. I cannot speak for Misty, I do not know her personally. I will even say that I don't always enjoy her dancing. And I don't agree with some of what she has said. I have minority children and I would not want them to use their minority status in the way she has. But, I do know James. He is a hardworking and intelligent young man. He is a caring partner and was often requested by the women of Boston, and is now often requested by the women of ABT. What James does off the ABT stage does not necessarily mean he would be comfortable with it on the ABT stage. After all, he wants to keep his job. Remember that Liam is a peer, in fact, in some cases, a friend to these dancers. He had something to say, and they did what he asked. I don't blame them. I am sure that staff (there is always a ballet master or mistress in the room with the choreographer and dancers) and even K.M. saw it before it went to stage. They could have changed it, but they didn't. Goodness, think about Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun and the commotion it caused.

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its the mom, that's a touching tribute to Whiteside. In regards to that AGMA contract proviso though, "e.g.." as you may know, means "for example, so if ABT has the same thing, the dancers could have opted out.

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Yes, I know what "e.g." means. And I do know people who have opted out of ballets with movement they thought inappropriate. And, guess what? They never got the opportunity to work with the choreographer again. If the movement was so offensive, even when Lane and Forster did it, I blame the staff for not pulling it. Maybe not in the case of Copeland or some of the "stars" at ABT, but dancers' jobs are very precarious.

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But Copeland (and Whiteside) are who we're talking about, so I don't know what your point is. Also, they wouldn't have had to opt out of the whole ballet, just do a few seconds of it the way the other cast did. Anyhow, if Kathleen's right about Scarlett's intentions, that puts their agreeing to do it into a whole other light.

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None of us know the intention, unless Scarlett explains it publicly. I was referring to nysusan's comment, "And let me add that the Lane/Forster version was less offensive but it still did not make a good impression - it looked really stupid."

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Whatever Scarlett's intention was, the boob grab and twerking made the ballet seem juvenile, even if it occupied only a small portion of the ballet.

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Twerking is a young persons thing and is generally regarded as a fun 'in your face' cheeky thing to do and has a global appeal (they hold the world Twerking championship in Jamaica). The fact that most people over the age 30ish find this kind of thing discusting is just another reason why twerking practitioners enjoy themselves.

I think Liam Scarlett's juxtaposition of twerking and contempory ballet was meant to be both humourus and shocking, it stretches the narrative in an unexpected way and thats why he used it. I didn't see the Copeland/Whiteside twerk, but it must have been good to create all this fuss, and I dont think that Misty should be critisised for being a good/bad twerker or Sarah for being a relucted one. Copeland/Whiteside's twerk was obviously more shocking than humourus, Lane/Forster more to the humourus. Liam and Tom Forster were both contempories at the Royal Ballet School and graduated in the same year, they would both understand the more restraint humour, and Liam seemed pleased with the results. Copeland /Whiteside went for the full twerk and Liam was also pleased with that version. It's his call, he is the choreographer and was happy with both cast's, why have a go at the dancers.

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I second it's the Mom about James. I have followed him an Twitter for years, since he was at Boston Ballet. I spoke to him once at an intermission of NYCB before he joined ABT and he was very nice.

Whether the different casts did or did not want to do the boob jiggle/twerk the responsibility lies with Scarlett. I'm just afraid he was stretched too thin this fall; a debut at NYCB (Funerailles) and this at ABT. I think he also may have done a piece for the RB.

ABT has not made good choices about new ballets for the past 10 years, IMO. They have also not nurtured their inhouse dancers. The last 2 really good promotions McKenzie made were Cornejo and Gomes and those were almost 15 years ago. As a result, last spring, every time we saw NYCB (after ABT) it was like a breath of fresh air. I simply don't see this problem remedied without a new AD. The board at ABT must either be blind or very lazy because Ethan and Angel are around and ready for the job. I once read that an AD should be able to accomplish their mission in 10 years. KM has had more than 20. He is not Peter Martins, who is both preserving a legacy while still breathing life into the company. I don't always like what Martins has done but he sure has kept NYCB and SAB alive and well. The same cannot be said of McKenzie. He needs to go. Then let's see where ABT is at.

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Anyhow, re the twerking: I recall reading an interview with Debbie Allen when she referred to twerking as "African isolations," and I thought that was interesting. Maybe some are reading vulgarity into the Scarlett choreography because it is not situated within the European classical/neoclassical tradition that we expect from ballet. As aurora mentioned, the real vulgarities are things that are actually triggering, like a rape scene or gratuitous violence.

And I don't agree with some of what she has said. I have minority children and I would not want them to use their minority status in the way she has.

Also, I don't think that Misty as really "using her minority status" to get anything. She is continuing a relevant conversation that other great dancers like Raven Wilkinson and Lauren Anderson began.

I do agree that this tangent probably needs to be relocated to a different thread, though.

[Edited by Admin] There are numerous threads where this is being discussed, including the Misty Copeland thread in the Dancers forum: http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/index.php?/topic/39465-misty-copeland/]

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I didn't see the Copeland/Whiteside twerk, but it must have been good to create all this fuss...

I didn't see the work in question, but I'm pretty sure we've spent more time discussing it than they did performing it!

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I didn't see the Copeland/Whiteside twerk, but it must have been good to create all this fuss...

I didn't see the work in question, but I'm pretty sure we've spent more time discussing it than they did performing it!

I think it was all over in a couple of shakes.

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