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dirac

"Where are the Women in Ballet?"

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28 minutes ago, Helene said:

And the lavishly funded festivals...

 

Well, we got Ratmansky's witty, wicked, wondrous Namouna out of one of those. But we certainly didn't need a festival to get it.

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12 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 

"But first, a school." 

 

I dunno. Millepied's been a choreographer for about as long as the Carlisle Project was in existence, and has probably run through about as much money all told. Has he generated even a few works of distinction? Three decades of lavishly funded Martins has given us what, maybe three works of distinction? And one of those is a production of Sleeping Beauty. 

 

I like his Three Movements, and his recent Appasionata was impressive.  But it takes time for someone to learn to make dances, as well as the other resources.  There are some choreographers who are wonderful out of the gate, but most of them go through a learning curve.  I'm happy to watch that process, but I want to see more people in the ballet world take that on.

 

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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I like Millepied's Neverwhere, but I gather there aren't many members of that club. 

 

 

Haven't seen it, so can't say one way or the other.

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Ratmansky just posted this to his Facebook page:

"if the question about women choreographers was part of the discussion conducted by the NYTimes, I am sure each of us - Christopher, Justin and myself - would have more to say about the subject. but it wasn't. it was added post factum and I had to text in response between the rehearsals. why not to have a proper conversation? if my words were unclear I am glad to elaborate. just don't like reading comments that turn what I meant upside down."

 

The reporter should have let us know that the question was NOT part of the in-person interviews, but came later by e-mail.

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1 hour ago, California said:

The reporter should have let us know that the question was NOT part of the in-person interviews, but came later by e-mail.

 

The article does mention that there was email follow-up, but not what that specific part of the discussion contained.  I'm sorry that this has become such a messy element -- I appreciated reading their comments on style, and especially on musicality.

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Generally, asking questions by e-mail allows the interviewee more time and thought to respond, not less,  but perhaps that was not the case here. However, Ratmansky is claiming that his words were turned upside down. Given what he said, it's hard to see how  Sulcas did that. The context supports a straightforward reading of "I don't see a problem." Anyway, Ratmansky's on Facebook and he's using it -- if he wants to elaborate on what he said, he's got a forum.

 

Quote

The reporter should have let us know that the question was NOT part of the in-person interviews, but came later by e-mail.

 

She's under no obligation to do that, as long as she indicates that some questions were asked by e-mail, which she did.

 

Millepied's Daphnis and Chloe was well received, I understand and may have some staying power.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, California said:

Ratmansky just posted this to his Facebook page:

"if the question about women choreographers was part of the discussion conducted by the NYTimes, I am sure each of us - Christopher, Justin and myself - would have more to say about the subject. but it wasn't. it was added post factum and I had to text in response between the rehearsals. why not to have a proper conversation? if my words were unclear I am glad to elaborate. just don't like reading comments that turn what I meant upside down."

 

The reporter should have let us know that the question was NOT part of the in-person interviews, but came later by e-mail.

oh please.
"comments that turn what I meant upside down" !!!
his exact words: "I don’t see it as a problem... I’m sure that if new, interesting talent arrives and is a woman, she will have equal opportunities"

hey buddy, there's no way to misinterpret that. It's the old argument that he's not sexist, he just sounded sexist.

I'm also skeptical of the facile suggestion that women start "throwing some rocks."
I'm assuming these are metaphorical rocks?

I was just rereading Martins' (hilarious) version about how he came to be cast in Tzigane. If his account is accurate, he basically accosted Balanchine and politely, then less politely, insisted that he be cast in a new ballet--when Balanchine demurred, he wouldn't take no for an answer and pretty much showed up unasked to the rehearsal, though Balanchine clearly objected and was even angry about it.

Can you imagine Balanchine's response if a woman had tried this?

Then I'm also reminded of Farrell's and Martins' very different attitude toward taking over NYCB if published accounts can be read as anything approaching the truth.
Passivity is encouraged and rewarded (reinforced) in women throughout their careers, in a way that simply doesn't occur for men. Then by the time they're 40 it's just a way of life. Any women who breaks the mold and tries to throw rocks is not going to find herself with a choreographic commission. It's a silly suggestion that reveals a lack of familiarity with the realities of the subtle machinations required in ballet, or any profession.  

I think it goes without saying that there is misogyny, both overt and hidden, in ballet, and Im totally unsurprised that Wheeldon professes to be unaware of this.

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16 minutes ago, jkr3855 said:

I was just rereading Martins' (hilarious) version about how he came to be cast in Tzigane. If his account is accurate, he basically accosted Balanchine and politely, then less politely, insisted that he be cast in a new ballet--when Balanchine demurred, he wouldn't take no for an answer and pretty much showed up unasked to the rehearsal, though Balanchine clearly objected and was even angry about it.

Can you imagine Balanchine's response if a woman had tried this?

 

I didn't know that about Martins. It reminds me of the much-publicized escapades of actress Sean Young and her attempts to be cast as Catwoman. Admittedly, her career trajectory and accomplishments have not exactly paralleled Martins' but one wonders how men are treated in similar situations. Here's one of many on-line reports about her:

http://ew.com/article/2007/01/30/agony-and-ecstasy-sean-young/

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The Tzigane anecdote is from Martins' funny and enlightening memoir Far From Denmark, written with Robert Cornfield. One of these days I hope Martins gets around to another one.

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35 minutes ago, jkr3855 said:

oh please.
"comments that turn what I meant upside down" !!!
his exact words: "I don’t see it as a problem... I’m sure that if new, interesting talent arrives and is a woman, she will have equal opportunities"

hey buddy, there's no way to misinterpret that. It's the old argument that he's not sexist, he just sounded sexist.

 

If his answer wasn't directly to that question, but to a followup question or comment, ie not in exact context, then it would be a just complaint.

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Commentary by Courtney Escoyne for Dance Magazine, which includes comments by Luke Jennings on Twitter.

 

Quote

And with that, Twitter went mad. NYT chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay laid out a seven point rebuttal critiquing Jenning's response, then parlayed with Jennings on several of the points. Other NYT dance writers also chimed in, as did notable critics from other publications and a number of Dance Magazine contributors. The threads quickly became sprawling.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Helene said:

If his answer wasn't directly to that question, but to a followup question or comment, ie not in exact context, then it would be a just complaint.

sure, but do you really think they asked him a different question, and then published his answer as though it were in response to this particular question??

I know the NYT is declining but even they have journalistic standards to uphold :)

The "comments" he references are, I think, the comments that people are making, after the fact, about him, in response to the interview.

Edited by jkr3855

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I've been following this debate with some interest for a few days.  I think what is most depressing is the rush of well known names reassuring Ratmansky on his facebook page that what he said was perfectly fine.  They are all so stuck inside a conservative, conformist ballet world that they seem to think that the only possible motivation for criticism must be a personal attack so that there is no need for reflection on the status quo.  Once the waggons have been circled in this way, it is very difficult to see useful discussions happening that might actually facilitate change.  

 

I had some hope that people like Tamara Rojo (who certainly has a wider, modern view on these issues - although sometimes I don't know how she maintains her cool in the face of some of the idiocy spouted around her) can quietly work to change attitudes from within the ballet edifice, but I fear that there are too few Tamaras and too many Martins/O'Hares in the ballet world for big shifts in thinking to be expected any time soon.

 

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4 minutes ago, Helene said:

If his answer wasn't directly to that question, but to a followup question or comment, ie not in exact context, then it would be a just complaint.

 

Then Ratmansky should direct his frustration to the NY Times and not to those critiquing his comments. If Ratmansky wanted to have a "proper conversation" about this topic and didn't have the time to respond thoughtfully since he was in the middle of rehearsals, then he shouldn't have responded. He knew that anything he said could be printed.

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I'm surprised this got so much attention! but at least that in itself is a sign of progress.

[Not sure I agree with Macaulay's assertion that there is no misogyny in ballet. I think there's some evident in the ballets themselves, for one]

In any case, I think we need to look to the Fox-O'Reilly debacle, and the pulling of advertisements.

I truly think this is the way forward--capitalism and the profit line, rather than these heartfelt discussions with male choreographers. They don't have to believe in equality, and they probably never really will, they just have to believe in the advantageous profit margin. "It's not good enough" is subjective and can be used to argue against female choreographers, masking the sexism of an AD. But "it's not profitable enough" is a clear directive and can be fixed. People like novelty. They might come to see five female neoclassical choreographers.


One thing I find surprisingly encouraging: it is Martins' approach toward bringing in the cash flow. The man has a remarkable feel for market fluctuations. he's the Mitsubishi in the Fox-O'Reilly debacle. If he thinks a senseless, amorphuous ballet with a score by Paul McCartney will sell tickets, he'll put it on. If he thinks costumes that  look like Mandrill baboons will sell tickets, he'll put that on. If he gets the idea that a festival of five female choreographers has suddenly caught the fancy of the public, I think he would not hesitate to put that on. It's not quite the same as cultivating new talent, but at least he doens't show that reflexively defensive attitude that, I really think, betrays a resistance to women choreographers and which I think is somewhat evident in Ratmansky and Wheeldon's replies (not to single them out, they're hardly the only ones).

[ETA: not that this approach is without its pitfalls, of course; allowing the profit margin to determine our principles and standards is always a bit dubious]

 

Edited by jkr3855
counterargument

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32 minutes ago, dirac said:

Commentary by Courtney Escoyne for Dance Magazine, which includes comments by Luke Jennings on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for posting this. I had no idea Dance Magazine, Twitter, etc were all ablaze with this topic. I thought Ratmansky's comment on Facebook (thank you California for copying/pasting) was directed at our discussion here. I'm not on Facebook so I can't view his thread.

 

Dance Magazine and Jennings make many valid points. I don't see how they can be disputed, but apparently they are with gusto.

 

Now I can't wait to read the other comments and Macaulay's retort. I may need a stiff drink first.

 

 

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Macaulay is the only person being aggressively nasty.  I suppose Jennings' original response to the article could have been phrased slightly more gently but he was clearly making an argument against a culture rather than the three choreographers as individuals.

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The Met Museum just announced that for the first time it will have a choreographer, (woman!) Andrea Miller, be its artist in residence next season.

 

I'm not familiar with Ms. Miller so I must check this out.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/arts/dance/dance-off-the-wall-coming-next-season-to-the-met-museum.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fdance&action=click&contentCollection=dance&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

 

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I happen to like Andrea Miller's work. She's from the not-ballet precincts of the dance world, where it is not at all unusual for a woman to start her own company, make her own dances, and get her own funding without asking for permission first. Nobody's making much money, but they are making dances.

 

Go here to visit her dance company's website.

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3 hours ago, jkr3855 said:

sure, but do you really think they asked him a different question, and then published his answer as though it were in response to this particular question??

I know the NYT is declining but even they have journalistic standards to uphold :)

 

It wouldn't be the first time, and not always in bad faith by the interviewer, since I believe they still have editors, although I might be wrong.

 

I'm not arguing that this happened, but responding to your question.

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2 hours ago, variated said:

Macaulay is the only person being aggressively nasty.  I suppose Jennings' original response to the article could have been phrased slightly more gently but he was clearly making an argument against a culture rather than the three choreographers as individuals.

 

but he was clearly making an argument against a culture rather than the three choreographers as individuals.

 

True. I'm afraid I did laugh at what Jennings said about Peck's comment, which inspired interesting mental pictures for this reader. (“If we feed the women bananas at regularly scheduled intervals while their minds are still impressionable, we can encourage them to make steps.”)

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14 minutes ago, Helene said:

It wouldn't be the first time, and not always in bad faith by the interviewer, since I believe they still have editors, although I might be wrong.

 

I'm not arguing that this happened, but responding to your question.

Posting his response to a particular question as though it were in response to an entirely different one is journalistic fraud, not an editorial decision. If you think the NYT did this, you might contact them. I think it's totally implausible, frankly. I'm not sure how that responds to my question, "do you really think this happened"

I'm also not sure it's helpful or to the point to find barely possible ways to excuse Ratmansky

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2 hours ago, variated said:

Macaulay is the only person being aggressively nasty.  I suppose Jennings' original response to the article could have been phrased slightly more gently but he was clearly making an argument against a culture rather than the three choreographers as individuals.

Macaulay never seems able to separate personalities from principles--he bases his judgments on personal affinity with a particular performer and then creates his argument on historical precedents and gut reactions. It might make him an interesting critic but a poor debater
I thought Wheeldon's "diversity" comment was particularly infuriating. The implication is that Wheeldon gets his commissions on pure talent, while women get them because directors are bending over backward and making special allowances for diversity hires, out of the goodness of their hearts

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