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Everything posted by Tapfan

  1. How is speculating about ABT's motives for instituting the program any different than speculating that race or color may be one factor in the lack of black females in classical dance, especially when there is known history of bias? It's all speculation that assumes the worst.
  2. I disagree that Project Plie' is some cynical attempt by ABT to deflect accusations by big, bad, Misty Copeland that the ballet world is crawling with unreconstructed racists. First of all, in my opinion, Misty's implications of racial and color bias in ballet are far more nuanced than her detractors imply. She's spoken of mostly small instances of subtle racial insensitivity that add up over time. She hasn't said that someone called her the N-word or burned a cross in front of her apartment building. She never said that all of the barriers she's faced in her career have been due to race. She said her late start in studying ballet, her family's lack of financial means, her unsettled family life and curvy body type have all been barriers she had to overcome. I don't think any of the people who sit on the Project Plie' advisory board would waste their time on an organization that was just for show. http://www.abt.org/education/projectplie/video/ And if the organization does just exist to keep people from thinking ABT is racist and nobody really expects it to amount to anything, then someone should tell Rachel Moore. http://www.danceinforma.com/USA_magazine/2014/08/08/reflecting-project-plies-first-year/ Finally, someone should also tell the four regional companies that have become affiliated with the program since the program began. They started with 7 regional companies and now have eleven.
  3. Just as there is the race card, there is also the denial card. Just as some people can and do interject race into situations where it has no bearing, there are people who can and do automatically dismiss any and all racial grievances. There is a long history of denial of racial bias going back to times when it's obvious it existed. I'm talking about the 50's, 40's, 30's and even further back.
  4. I don't believe that those people on the PP advisory board would waste their time with something that's being done just for show. If it is being done just for show, a lot of people have been suckered into participating. Three or four more companies have become affiliated with the program since it's inception. Black men have actually have had quite a bit of success in the ballet world - I agree with you in that sense. Black women are the ones who still face barriers. I used Finlay as an example because his fast (and controversial) ascent to the principal ranks was largely based on potential. And he and Martins are essentially cut from the same danseur noble cloth. Saying that Misty "embellished" her memoir still suggests that she is not being completely honest/is being hyper-sensitive about her experiences. I feel no reason to doubt her story unless some other compelling evidence emerges. I don't get why it's okay to say it's unfair to criticize the ballet establishment without concrete evidence of racial bias, but it's fair to accuse Copeland of embellishing her tales of adversity without proof.
  5. Once again, people ignore the fact that those are BLACK MALES. The issue is lack of opportunity for black females.
  6. You'd better not let Virginia Johnson see that remark. Based on interviews I've seen her do, she definitely thinks that prior to its hiatus, DTH was a top-tier company, even if many ballet fans disagree. As to Graf's lack of SAB training, couldn't her skill as a dancer be considered a game-changing factor? And weren't Balanchine works a significant portion of DTH programming? Even if she wasn't trained in Balanchine technique, she most certainly had experience dancing his pieces.
  7. Copeland isn't so young anymore (30, I believe). She and her PR team knew exactly what they were doing in playing the race card, and it appears to have worked. Alicia Graf always let her dancing do the talking, and she was always rewarded with ecstatic press reviews. Misty should give her PR folks a big bonus for all they have accomplished on her behalf. Actually, Alicia was quoted in that 2007 New York Times article about the lack of black female classical dancers that SOME folks found offensive and off-the-mark. She personally didn't complain, but her situation was used to highlight the fact that that talented, black, female, classical dancers weren't being given the chances they deserved. When Dance Theater of Harlem shut down, Alicia took class with ABT and submitted some of her reviews to both ABT and City Ballet in hopes that she could secure a job with a New York ballet company. ABT told her she was too tall and City Ballet said "Thanks, but no thanks." That's when Alicia switched to modern and started dancing with Alvin Ailey. She didn't whine about nobody wanting her in NYC, but Virginia Johnson complained on her behalf. Johnson was irritated that City Ballet didn't hire her because according to Virginia, Graff was the very definition of a Balanchine ballerina - tall, leggy, with impressive technique and great plasticity. Virginia said that she just didn't understand how City Ballet could pass on such a great ballerina and that Alicia was being wasted at Alvin Ailey.
  8. As a huge fan of musicals, I commend these classical dancers for stepping out of their comfort zones. Apparently they feel that the time lost in their short classical dance careers is worth it in order to experience another type of artistic fulfillment. Broadway gypsies probably don't see their field of dance as a waste of anyone's time, even a classical dancer's. Not all Broadway dancers are frustrated classical dancers. Some folks actually prefer show dancing. Baryshnikov danced other forms of dance during his prime years and seems to have no regrets.
  9. NYC Ballet reminds me of that movie Pleasantville. Everything there seems to be so insular and conformist. I feel the same way! Please, come sit next to me! At least, metaphorically!
  10. Well, I guess I got my posterior handed to me! My honest apologies if my tone was seen as dismissive. That wasn't my intent. In fact, I thought the tone was already implied as somewhat argumentative when I was challenged as to why I felt NYC had a prep school vibe. I get that that this is a Balanchine-centric site and you don't go to Rome and complain that all the food is Italian. Ironically, I went on the offensive because I thought people were being dismissive of my views.
  11. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates ballet the same way. And while nobody's gonna ask people like me who are new to the art form to write about it professionally, we can't really care about the art form and NOT have opinions. Even if they are uninformed. I prefer more of what I've seen in Forsythe to Balanchine.
  12. City Ballet can't just order up great works, as the Diamond Project showed. What widely admired choreographers are languishing for lack of commissions? What great contemporary ballets should it import? Great dancers are best shown in and are in part formed by the demands of great material, and Balanchine and Robbins provide it. New dancers can make old ballets fresh again. So too, in a lesser degree, can new costumes and sets, although at City Ballet those frequently seem to be worse (costumes for Symphony in C and Who Cares, sets for Jewels). I know that great choreography can't be ordered like a pizza. But I seriously wonder if any other dance makers can be be fully appreciated by some folks because, well, if it's not Balanchine, why bother? I thought Petipa was the Shakespeare of Ballet and Balanchine was more like Tennessee Williams or Eugene O'Neill. Has Balanchine been dead long enough to declare him the greatest of all time? I feel that Balanchine's fans are sometimes too defensive. It's as if nobody is allowed to appreciate anything or anyone outside the City Ballet nexus or it's offspring companies if you don't want to have your taste, if not your sanity questioned.
  13. I agree. But I also agree with Sarah Kaufman when she says that those people who love Balanchine and those who are in charge of his legacy, frequently get stuck at worshiping what he made instead of being inspired by it. To me, that supposed commitment of preserving the old works and creating new ones, seems to be in reality, more heavily weighted towards caring for and re-staging the old. The most praise of City Ballet these last few years, has come due to the emergence of great dancers, NOT great works.
  14. I was indeed attempting to be somewhat ironic. It appeared to me that having such a treasure trove of legacy works at their disposal, many of City Ballet's biggest supporters and fans really weren't interested in seeing anything new. So why waste money and time on new works if you know that the critics and audiences are predisposed to hating them simply for not being Balanchine or Robbins? Yes, they almost hired him but let their rival ABT hire him. If he was so great, and City ballet is all about presenting great works, why'd they let him get away?
  15. The SAB specific training is one of the reasons and yes, I know that most major companies have affiliated schools. And of course, I'm not talking about them having high standards. Who would complain about that? Nor am I talking about uniformity of style. I like that about companies like POB. I'm talking about the feeling that us outsiders get that the City Ballet/SAB nexus is a very exclusive club that tightly controls who gets into the club, who should care about the club, why they should care or even who watches the club. It seems that everybody who works or teaches there is only important by way of their relationship to Balanchine. It's always about Dancing for Mr.B or designing costumes for Mr. B.,cooking with Mr. B., fighting with Mr. B., staging Mr. B's works, marrying Mr. B or picking up Mr.B's cleaning. It's like,"Look at me!, I'm relevant because I had contact with Mr. B!" There's a whole industry that's sprung up for cashing in on having come in contact with his genius. These folks make up a sort of priesthood in the church of Balanchine and they lay their much-sought-after blessings on the dancers/priests too young to have known Balanchine. As to their new works, the only ones that seem to matter to the Balanchine faithful are those that come from in-house. Robbins, Peck and Wheeldon are or were all members of the Church of Balanchine. That thing with the artist and Lil' Buck? Puleez. Horrible pandering all around. Its failure surprised nobody. And have you seen Peter Martins in the City Ballet Web series with Sarah Jessica Parker? Geez, the man acts like he's the first and only person to ever run a ballet company. As to Balanchine himself, like Jesus Christ, I have fewer problems with the man himself than I do with some of his followers.
  16. Jasmin Perry is a dancer. She went to SAB.
  17. NYC Ballet reminds me of that movie Pleasantville. Everything there seems to be so insular and conformist.
  18. Misty's Mom was a former NFL cheerleader so somebody more like Carmen Ejogo. For Susan Failes Hill, Paula Patton. For Kevin McKenzie, Peter Gallagher. For the woman who discovered Misty and was her first mentor, Sutton Foster. For Misty herself, I don't like the idea of people playing themselves, so I'd say an unknown. Maybe Jasmine Perry who was featured in the Teen Vogue series about SAB. Beyonce?! Good Lord no!
  19. It appears that there's a film producer who thinks that Misty's life story would make a good film. I suspect this forum will become the home of debates about the worthiness of this topic, that are far more entertaining than a film could ever be. I actually would prefer a story on the life of Raven Wilkinson.
  20. The thought of Marcelo bare-chested is lovely. But those feathered pants aren't flattering on anyone. They make even lean, and very fit young men look like they have birthing hips.
  21. Exactly. I read somewhere that in the U.S., ballet's ratio of male to female is the reverse of the military. In the armed services, you have roughly 10 men for every woman. For people trying to make it as ballet dancers, you frequently have 10 women for every man. There's less pressure on the men because there's less competition. (That's not to say that the men don't work hard.) I know that ALL women - including white women - who make it as classical dancers have it rough. But you don't have to be wallowing in victimhood to acknowledge that women of color can have additional hurdles.
  22. While I agree that there are many factors other than racism that contribute to the lack of black women in classical dance - lack of access, few black role models, cost - I feel that body type is probably one one of the elements that is emphasized too often. Yes, most African American women are of West African decent, but it's not like that racial subgroup consists of only one heavily-muscled athletic build. As the saying goes, "I've been black all my life," and I can assure you we have our share of ectomorphs who eat like lumberjacks and still look like Alex Wek. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. And those who are willowy or any other shape, don't seem to think about ballet
  23. Of course not, because none of them had anywhere near as high a profile as Copeland. She's arguably the most famous ballet dancer in the country of any race. I can understand why that might irk some balletomanes who feel that based on talent, she's undeserving of such fame, but it doesn't explain the level of vitriol directed at Copeland. Copeland isn't to blame for the fact that dancers who are better than her aren't better known or that ballet doesn't get the respect or attention from the great, unwashed, masses that balletomanes think it deserves. And Lord knows it's not her fault that Abrera and Lane's careers are stuck at the soloist level. And why do Copeland's detractors keep bringing up black, male, dancers? The controversial issue is the lack of black, female classical dancers.
  24. I think Jeremy Lin's case is a really interesting comparison with Misty Copeland. Here's a guy with a 4.2 GPA at Palo Alto High School, the most elite public high school in the state, captains the team to to the state Division II title and is Division II player of the year, and has NO NCAA Division I athletic scholarship offers. He's evaluated as a Division III college player. After a standout college career at Harvard, he's still undrafted by the NBA but perseveres against the odds and makes it into the league. For Asian-Americans, him breaking into the NBA was a big deal because it was a big statement not only on sports, but the fact that an Asian-American could hang in elite sports, something that is very not in the model minority stereotype of engineers who play the violin. More than one coach has come forward and said since, that they should taken him more seriously as an athletic candidate, but quite frankly, he wasn't African-American or white and despite the objective statistics, they just didn't see him as a candidate for big-time sports. For arts, in which there is no baseline statistical measure, I can only imagine what the implications could be if you just don't fit the expected "look". It's also a big deal in that Lin's journey was seriously hampered by not getting that initial scholarship offer. Once he was turned away from an NCAA scholarship, the odds were seriously against him ever making it to the NBA. Going to Harvard is great, but it's not really someplace scouts take seriously as a breeding ground for NBA players. So the chance than an Asian-American could make an impact as an NBA player is seen as big deal so that the next kid might not be dismissed quite so easily. Yes! Yes! Yes! Sidwich, you beautifully expressed what I was struggling to say. Lin and Copeland are so admirable because they are both so darned scrappy! The mere fact that both made places for themselves in unlikely fields, is in itself, a victory. Many people identify with with that.
  25. I don't think that any of the black women who take on the difficult task of pursuing careers as classical dancers do so because they've seen other black woman do it. The task is just too great. They do it because they love ballet. But they draw strength and a sense of pride from other black women who came before them who managed to have careers when doing so was even more difficult than it is today. Of course, Identity politics or tribalism or whatever you want to call it, is a bad thing when it's used as a crutch for failure or to hurtfully exclude or make people outside a particular group feel inferior. But it CAN be benign. It's natural to want to see people from your group do well whether you're rooting for your school football team, pulling for your country's World Cup soccer or Olympic teams or hoping that someone from your home state who's up for an Oscar, wins. No African Americans would be successful at anything if black role models was the only thing that accounted for their achievements. And as a black woman, my hoping that a black woman reaches the apex of the ballet world, doesn't mean that I've reduced her to being nothing more than her race and ethnicity. It just means I see a rare, but more familiar reflection of myself in her. That's not weird. And yes, I have seen reflections of myself in non-black performers. In fact most of the artists I identify with are non-black. When Linsanity hit, I was amused because, frankly, I didn't see why so many Asian Canadians and Asian Americans were so exited. Why would people who are the so-called "model minority," care that this guy was making a splash in the NBA? Wasn't it more impressive that he was a Harvard grad or a proudly devout Christian? Then I read some columns by Asian American sports writers who said that he was getting folks so exited because his run was so unexpected. It seems that Asian Americans like everyone else, don't like being put in boxes that say they care only about studying medicine or the violin. They want to be free to be as individual as anyone else. That includes jocks in America's most freewheeling major sport. When you turn a stereotype on it's head, people who are the victims of that stereotype love it. So many black women who are frequently stereotyped as super athletic, hyper-sexual, and grace-challenged, love it when one of our tribe makes it in the field that is synonymous with feminine grace.
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