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Posts posted by Tapfan

  1. But City Ballet still looks like a 1950's coed New England prep school.

    Principal Amar Ramasar looks nothing like any New England prep school students I'm aware of. He is of Pakistani origin, I believe

    Mr. Ramasar is just one guy.

    As to ethereal not being the stereotype for Balanchine ballerinas, didn't he make dances showing all aspects of womanhood? The ballerina in Serenade is NOT like the ballerina in Rubies.

    As to Asians not being interested in dance because they are supposedly encouraged to only want to be doctors or computer engineers, well, Frances Chung says her parents were just like the stereotype we have of all Asian parents who push for academic excellence and higher education in a top-flight school. But she was so determined to become a professional dancer that they decided not to stand in her way. She was so focused that it was actually a compromise just to get her to finish high school. But she's currently attending college.

    And Yuan Yuan Tan butted heads with her father who wanted her to study medicine. But she says her mother was always supportive because she saw her passion.

  2. I'm not implying that all the dancers and students in the City Ballet nexus are affluent.

    But the racial makeup just seems odd when compared to say, The Royal Ballet or San Francisco Ballet. After all, City Ballet is a major company and New York is a major international city in a heavily populated and diverse metropolitan area.

    Conspiracy is too strong a word. And I know that the chief task of an arts organization like NYCB is to get the best programs and dancers on the stage regardless of race.

    What I don't understand is why more of the dancers don't happen to be Asian. They are amongst the best everywhere else.

  3. I know that City Ballet's primary source of hires is their feeder school. If SAB has few Asians or Asian Americans at the school, why is that the case?

    In many companies in North America and Europe, people of Asian descent seem to be slightly overrepresented when compared to the population at large. Why is that not the case in NYCB?

    In Ian Spencer Bell's Ballet Review article about women of color at SAB, dancers Paloma Lorenzo and Nikkia Parish made statements that made the post-Balanchine powers that be at City Ballet and SAB sound like a reactionary cabal that was practically hostile to women that didn't look like Wendy Whelan.

    Is there a possible culture there wherein the Balanchine disciples who run the place think that way?

    I know what the stereotypes are about black women and SOME non-white Latinas. Too muscular or fleshy. Can't control their power. Flat feet.

    But East Asian women? Even if you go by what are admittedly offensive and hoary stereotypes, they still are the very definition of the ethereal, female ballet dancer.

  4. When you look at the rosters of companies like NBC, SFB, PNB, ABT, companies across Western Europe and even many companies in America's heartland, you see men and women of East Asian heritage, many in prominent roles.

    But City Ballet still looks like a 1950's coed New England prep school.

    Considering the appreciation for, study of and a history of mastery of the high Western arts (classical music and dance) amongst people of the East Asian diaspora, it's next to impossible to believe there isn't a motivated and talented pool of people who meet the qualification standards for acceptance into the City Ballet arts organization.

    This lack of Asian representation I find as puzzling as if there were no people of East Asian descent studying at Ivy League schools. The mere idea is preposterous.

  5. But, the question is, what does everyone think they should do?

    They should promote from within. If none of the lower-ranked dancers are good enough to some day be principals, then what are they doing in the company? Aren't dancers hired for their potential to grow as artists?

    Surely McKenzie doesn't expect all his principals to be international superstars.

  6. McKenzie seem like nice guy, or at least as nice as any AD can be. But ABT is mired in mediocrity. Is there any company in the world outside Russia that is more determined than ABT to perform the same damn classical ballets over and over? And on those rare occasions that the monotony is broken up by a new piece, it's usually a substandard work. Even Ratmansky has had fewer hits than misses.

    They need new leadership. I say one of the retired POB stars like Laurent Hiliare or Nicholas LeRiche should be recruited as AD. I've seen videos of both these guys coaching and they seem to be naturals at developing young dancers. And both have got to be smarting at having been passed over for the position of POB AD.

    I'm sure there are qualified women from POB who'd be great as well, yet I've never seen any of them coach. .

  7. Well, the whole post wasn't meant as a joke. I was attempting to be puckish and feign outrage at ballet's supposed "sexism, " when I mentioned the male dancer assisting the female dancer during the adagio.

    But honestly, other that the point work in this Swan Lake adagio, I truly don't know how to appreciate most of the ballerina's movements.

    Yes she's certainly strong, and limber, but to my untrained eye, she looks like she's doing stretching exercises that many very fit non-ballerinas could manage.

    I honestly would like to know what I'm missing.

  8. Are the opening sections of classical pas de deux in which the ballerina is supported by her male partner, very difficult for the ballerinas to perform?

    I ask because when I've observed these movements - with my admittedly untrained eye - I've been l somewhat underwhelmed. I know that world-class female ballet dancers are incredibly graceful, strong and flexible. But so are many people who practice yoga and other physical activities at high levels. Other than the wondrousness of Viengsay Valdes-type balances, I'm at a loss as to what is so special in adagios.

    I realize these sections are meant to display the female dancer's grace, line and balance. But isn't such a display redundant considering all the abilities she has already shown in allegro?

    Also, the fact that a ballerina needs a male partner to show off is a bit sexist, is it not?

    Do male dancers need women to show all aspects of their virtuosity?

  9. Thanks to everyone for your responses. I realize that on the list of really important things, the dearth of active, black, female classical dancers is pretty low.

    And it's not as if my wee one doesn't love ballet dancers who happen to be white or Asian. It's just that we can't resist checking the head shots at major company sites hoping to find young, black, women who were obviously bitten by the ballet bug at my youngster's age.

    Our little one knows about Raven Wilkinson, Lauren Anderson, Tai Jimenez and Victoria Johnson. But their careers can seem like ancient history to children and adults alike.

    We also were aware of Kimberly Braylock at San Francisco Ballet, Christina Spigner at Miami City Ballet, Misty Copeland and Courtney Lavine at American Ballet Theater, Erica Lynette Edwards and Dara Holmes at Joffrey and Katlyn Addison and Whitney Huell at Ballet West. But somehow, we missed the fact that Miss Boisson had been hired at NYC Ballet.

    Baby steps! Yea!

  10. I find it sad and frustrating that the only time that ballet is mentioned in the American mainstream media, is when the artistic director of a major company has acid thrown in his face.

    Can and should there be another ballet boom that gets people other than knowledgeable devotees interested in this art form?

    And to experience said boom, must there be another perfect storm of Balanchine, Baryshnikov and Kirkland-level talent, all performing in a media capital like NYC?

  11. Not the first time team Beyonce has been accused of brazenly taking credit for the creativity of others.

    From her career's infancy to the present day, Beyonce has stolen from been "inspired" by a long list of talented songwriters, choreograhers, directors and even set designers.

    And poor Bey is just so busy conquering the world of entertainment that she sometimes forgets to acknowlege these sources of inspiration until someone reminds her. :wink:

    But even the intimidating might of her take-no-prisoners father and manager Matthew Knowles wasn't enough to secure her a co-writing credit for the Oscar-nominated original song "Listen" from the movie Dream Girls.

    Rumor has it that Papa Dear had a way of insisting on co-writing credits for Beyonce on almost all her songs, even when her input was as minimal as suggesting a hand clap or finger snap on a recording take. Most songwriters, not wanting to anger the powerful Mr. Knowles and craving hits, would reportedly swallow their pride and agree.

    But apparently Mr. Knowles was out of his depth when he went up against the older-than dirt and scarier-than-hen's-teeth members of the music branch of the AMPAAS. They reportedly taught him a thing or two about treachery when he tried to get his supposedly underserving daughter credit as co-writer.

  12. I'd never heard of Debra Austin.

    I must admit that I learn something new and have my petty assumptions challenged time I come to these boards.

    I never knew that New York City Ballet had employed any black female dancers before Aesha Ash and Andrea Long, let alone one during Balanchine's lifetime.

    Based on having read the anecdotes of several black female dancers, I assumed that City Ballet was/is almost hostile towards black female dancers.

    And googling Debra Austin led me to discover that she's a ballet mistress with Carolina Ballet - which I had recently been pooh-poohing for being so darned pale.

    Shame on me.

  13. According to this New York Times article, there have been two black female principals in major U.S. companies, Lauren Anderson with Houston Ballet and Tai Jimenez with Boston Ballet.


    Also, Anna Benna Sims along with the previously mentioned Nora Kimball, preceeded Misty as an African American female soloists at ABT.

    My only reason for starting this thread was to open a discussion as to whether a dancer who fits all the criteria for a position at a major company except the "right" skin color, might be denied a spot because of it.

  14. Sorry. Didn't mean to sound as if I was attacking you or anyone.

    And yes, I know that diversity has been discussed here many, many times before.

    I was just wondering how do the AD's take the first step to getting past colorism?

    I worry about young dancers like Michaela DePrince, who shows great promise but who may make some folks uncomfortable because she has dark skin.

    Will she be told to do modern dance or contemporary ballet even if she has the chops to do classical? Dance Theater of Harlem and Ballet Black have only so many slots.

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