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Everything posted by Tapfan

  1. This article found in The Amsterdam News has a few notable factual errors like the one that gets the timeline wrong as to when New York's biggest ballet companies launched their diversity initiatives. ABT for instance, had established Project Plie two years before Misty Copeland became a principal, NOT as a result to her having been promoted as the article suggests. Also, City Ballet did not have representation at the International Association of Blacks in Dance-sponsored auditions for women of color that were held in January. Dance Theater of Harlem was the only New York-based company with representatives present, according to the IABD's own website. But these mistakes aside, what is most notable about the article is that a prominent leader in the arts community, Darren Walker, publically accused NYCB of bias against women of color. To those of us who follow black dance and dancers, the accusation itself was not surprising, but the fact that it was said publicly, was. For years, many black female dancers have quietly, but bitterly complained that they have been on the receiving end of a culture at City Ballet that fosters what comic Chris Rock has referred to as "Sorority Racism," a subtle, smile-in-your-face, hard to quantify type of racism that can frequently be found in liberal circles. It's the petty, cliquish kind of prejudice displayed in this statement; "We like you Rhonda, but you're just not a Kappa." Those folks who dare claim that such bias exists, are frequently dismissed as paranoids who love wallowing in victimhood or losers who can't face their own shortcomings. It's true that not everything is about race. Some of the black women who've complained about being rejected or overlooked by City Ballet may not have been good enough. But it's highly unlikely that none were.
  2. To those folks who use the argument that " Nobody complains about the NBA being too black, so why pick on ballet as being too white?," well, that is indeed a specious argument. Nobody before or since has systematically barred whites from being in the NBA. Indeed there was a time many, many, years ago when it wasn't a majority black league. Ballet like other classical performance arts, DOES have a history of denying access to training and employment to people of color in this country. That's not a fairy tale. It's a simple fact. Just snapping your fingers and declaring that the playing field is now level is absurd. I admire the stones of those folks who one minute complain that we're all just Americans and if ballet remains overwhelmingly white, it's only due to lack of interest, some sort of racial inadequacy or lack of finances on the part of people of color. Yet when folks of color form arts organizations of their own to prove otherwise, they get accused of being segregationists. Can't have it both ways. Also, why is ballet supposed to get off the hook for it's lack of diversity just because other art forms and sports do a poor job at diversity? That's hardly a mature attitude. It sounds like a thirteen year old complaining about being called on the carpet for getting into trouble because "Johnny did it too." And if diversity is unimportant, then why do all arts organizations pay lip service to it? Why give in to the "oppressive p.c. police" if diversity isn't important to the health and vitality of the art form?
  3. I'm not surprised to see that Hayward and Golding have a different attitude than Misty when it comes to navigating the world of identity politics in ballet. It's definitely a generalization to say this, but many black and and black/white mixed-race Brits seem to have much more relaxed attitude concerning race in the UK than most African Americans have in the U.S. Neither philosophy is wrong, They're just different. I think our vastly different histories and experiences have a lot to do with it. Golding and Hayward's comments remind me of Thandie Newton's remarks when she first gained attention in Hollywood. She, like Ms. Hayward has a black African mother and white English Father . Hollywood found this black version of the English Rose actresses they so love, to be fascinating. Quite a fuss was made over her beauty, talent, and posh education. I don't recall how the subject came up, but when Thandie was asked in an interview if she thought that being a woman of color might put limitations on the roles she was offered, she said "People in the U.S. are so race conscious. I wasn't raised that way." I understood what she meant and totally agreed that she shouldn't put limitations on herself and should go for all the roles in her age range. After all, most Ingenue roles aren't race-specific. And it a perfect world, it wouldn't matter. But neither Hollywood nor America is perfect and I'd seen far too many women of color who were just as beautiful, talented, well-educated and ambitious disappear without a trace because there were no roles for them to play and they weren't given the chance to compete with white actresses for parts. I pulled for Thandie to break through to major stardom. God knows I did. But when I saw her in that Eddie Murphy monstrosity, Norbert, I knew she just wasn't getting the chances she deserved. If you asked her today, she'd probably say that along with talent and ambition, a level playing field DOES make a difference. Other talented Black Brits who thought America was the acting promise land, have found the obstacles in Tinseltown to be frustrating. (See Idris Elba and David Oyellowo.) It's not because Hollywood is filled with racists. It's because the men who are in charge, make movies they want to see about characters they can relate to. People never think out of the box because of fear or simply due to a lack of imagination. Likewise, I think the overwhelming female whiteness of most ballet companies isn't due to blatant racism . Nor is it only due to a lack of exposure to the art form in minority communities, the high cost or the quality of training or because women of color supposedly don't show up to audition. I think many folks in positions of power, simply find it easier to say they never can find talented ballerinas of color. Unconscious bias wins because diversity isn't a priority. But as America becomes more diverse, that makes no sense.
  4. I'm hoping for more recognition for Ashley Murphy of Washington Ballet, She is a gorgeous classical artist who was with DTH for 13 years. Although I miss her at DTH, she definitely gets more exposure at WB. Poor DTH. They are frequently ignored by those who write about classical dance. And on those rare occasions when they are mentioned, it's only as that company that Arthur Mitchell founded and where Virginia Johnson danced. The end.
  5. Even if this film wins rave reviews, ballet insiders are bound to loathe it. Ballet has such a small, pop culture footprint, that many people who love it, tend to be bitterly disappointed when the few ballet films that are made, fail to be unadulterated hagiographies about the people of the art form they love. Many classical dance people remind me of some members of racial minority groups who become upset when Oscarbait films about minority lead characters inevitably fail to encapsulate the totality of that group's experiences in this country. (See The Help, Driving Miss Daisy, Dances with Wolves, The Joy Luck Club) Any honest film about a man as revered AND complicated as Balanchine, is just a crap storm waiting to happen. I suppose the film makers are counting on controversy to sell the film.
  6. Bronzer isn't typically used in an attempt to "pass" as a member of another racial group.
  7. What's frustrating with so many of the black female classical dancers like Precious Adams and Kimberly Braylock, is that they dance in the corps de ballet and it's next to impossible to follow their careers.
  8. I thought the trend was for most female principals to be on the tall side, between 5'6" and 5'9." Is that wrong?
  9. Interesting article on related subject matter. The lack of U.S. classical dancers of African descent is sometimes attributed to wrong body type as if all black women in the U.S. were built the same. This is a mistake that even many black people make. But there are plenty of lanky black women like the one mentioned in this article.
  10. Where was Ms. Galloni rehearsing? That didn't look like the POB rehearsal spaces. And i don't know her nationality, but that young woman couldn't be more French if she tried, from her attitude to the tres chic outfit with the sky high boots.
  11. Nashville Ballet's Kayla Rowser rehearsing . Yes, there are black female classical dancers other than Misty. And hopefully her high profile will spark interest in some of them.
  12. This artlcle in Atlanta Black Star highlights other black ballerinas. Believe it or not, some of us black folks are interested in other black female dancers other than Misty, but because it's hard to get info on ballerinas of any color, for ballet dancers of color, it's next to impossible. I'm proud to say I'd heard about all these dancers except the young woman from POB. And even she was on the radar of some black ballet fans because we saw her in the POB defile du ballet.
  13. The publicity generated by Copeland's camp that some folks in these parts see as so intolerably vulgar, doesn't hurt ballet in any way. All your favorite performers are still dancing your favorite pieces and are still getting an overwhelming majority of the attention of those people who write about classical dance.
  14. Of course he has the right to free speech. It was just kinda hazy that this youtube post was just him, not his company.
  15. Of course there are basic skills that everyone must master before they can call themselves a ballet dancer. But perfection of body isn't always paramount, Margot Fonteyne would never have had a career otherwise.
  16. We seldom hear from people on this board who like aspects of Misty's dancing. It's nice to be reminded that when judging art and artists, it's ALL just opinion, not fact.
  17. Hmmm. It came up when I googled NYCB videos. I thought Devin was into photography and twitter where he's pretty funny in a smug sorta way. And I thought City ballet had some control over what is posted concerning their organization, especially after Devin joked about Martins' DUI on social media.
  18. Lots of pool parties. And raves. And the youtube comment section is where I got the idea.
  19. Now tell me doesn't look like a suburban Connecticut prep school or worse, an episode of HBO's "Girls." I hate that show. Bunch of entitled whining ninnies. NYCB needs better PR.
  20. There's not really anything in this article that hasn't already been said before in all the other articles on diversity in classical dance, but at least Virginia Johnson seems hopeful for the future.
  21. Where any of these schools' black females? Because that is the problem within a problem. When people speak about African Americans that they see in schools or companies, more often than not, they are talking about MALE dancers.
  22. Well good for him. And just because there are black ballerinas who have made mention of the additional hurdles they face because of race, doesn't mean that's all they think or talk about. Most love their jobs despite the additional challenges.
  23. I've never believed or stated that lack of racial diversity in ballet was due to racism only! There are many contributing factors, ALL of which must be addressed. But race is such a thorny issue in ANY context, that when it's brought up, people get defensive and claim it's a problem that no longer exists in ballet or one that can't be solved without hurting the quality of classical dance.
  24. Tapfan

    Courtney Lavine

    Am I the only person who cringes whenever the characters of Puss and Boots dance in most productions of Sleeping Beauty? The hip action that strains to look playfully naughty, always looks like dancing that was composed by someone who's heard about but never actually seen any popular social dance beginning with the twist. Geez it makes my teeth hurt with faux cuteness. As to Courtney Lavine, she is thin but she's not that diffrent in body type than many other dancers. She's not exactly some unicorn against whom all other black female ballet dancers should be measured. There are other black classical dancers who are thin, musical, well-trained, charismatic and elegant. Dara Holmes and Ashley Murphy come to mind.
  25. I've wondered why more Asian and Asian American ballet students aren't attending SAB. Also, if pushes for diversity are nothing but politically correct fascism from the left as some maintain, why do the people who don't like it and their supporters, capitulate? After all, most major U.S. companies at least claim to have some type of diversity initiative. For those folks who think such initiatives are a waste of time and money and are patently unfair, well, claiming that they are afraid of being called racists by opposing such programs, is a pretty lame excuse. Since they claim they are being called racists anyway, why not stake out the high moral ground and fight the good fight? Since they don't care about or even see color (which I guess means that they, like Stephen Colbert, don't see color because everyone defaults to white) they should be happy in the knowledge that nowadays, everyone that is hired and promoted by a ballet company is absolutely the best dancer because they've all been hired using that numerically measurable and universally accepted criterion for classical dancers that totally exists. Whew! What a relief to know that everything will always be merit-based in ballet.
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