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Tapfan

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Posts posted by Tapfan

  1. from today's NY Times - interview with Amar Ramascar. “I have never really thought about race, just what I could do as an artist,”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/arts/dance/amar-ramasars-unlikely-path-to-becoming-a-prince-for-city-ballet.html

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. That is a good question.

    But I think it is related in a way to the question of why there aren't more Russian or Eastern European dancers with NYCB?

    I think there is only one Ukrainian dancer at NYCB but she never promoted out of the corps. And there is one man from Albania. Also I see there is only one Asian female dancer in the Corps. All of them received the bulk of their formative training at schools other than SAB.

    Russian dancers are all about the classics. And although I see Balanchine works gaining popularity with stagings in Russia...no one is really clamoring for more. And I think Asian dancers share the same desire of pure classical dancing. NYCB just isn't on their radar.

    But then again...should it be? Maybe we are biased. To everyone in New York, NYCB is the end all and be all. But it probably isn't. And since they don't tour all that much (a company of happy NY hermit crabs), most people only know them from old ballet videos they see on TV or youtube.

    I must say the last time I attended a performance at NYCB there were a lot of Asian ballet fans present. I didn't notice a lot of Russian fans. It could be true that our view of NYCB is inflated...greatly.

    But no one is going to be able to tell me they aren't the best! yahoo.gif

    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.

  5. So an 84% attrition rate in Dance Chance means only about 20 students will try to make a career in dance. If you add SAB to the same rate, only 74 students will try to make a go of a professional career.

    20 against 74 is a hard requirement. Plus there are other major schools adding their own into the mix.

    Even the small number auditioning for companies is still too much for the business. When Courtney Lavine was accepted to ABT, only 2 other dancers were accepted with her. So 3 out of an example size of 94.

    I hesitate to force companies to give minority dancers priority over their own artistic requirements.

    The only recourse would be to pump up the applicant numbers from Dance Chance's 125 to compete with SAB's 450. More numbers in the game means more success.

    Also we have to examine why Asian and Hispanic students are in ballet in greater numbers over Black students. It isn't skin color. A great many Asian and Hispanic minorities have very dark skin.

    I disagree that a great many Asian and Hispanics in classical ballet have very dark skin. Most of the dancers of Asian descent are as fair or fairer than many Caucasians, as are many of the Latin dancers who consider themselves to be "brown." And of course many Latin dancers ARE Caucasian like Tamaro Rojo and Angel Corello.

    And you might be surprised to know that some of us who champion the ideal of racial diversity in ballet, aren't about greater black representation only.

    I'd like to see more people of all races and ethnicities in major companies. And I truly believe that artistic integrity need not be compromised to do so.

    Seeing an encouraging number of Asian and Asian American dancers in companies in Western Europe, the Antipodes, Canada and across the U.S., led me to ask in this thread, why there wasn't better Asian representation in NYCB. Not because City Ballet should want to look politically correct, but because people of Asian descent are over represented elsewhere.

  6. The Affirmative Action argument is affirmed by fans on this board (unconditional support for her lousy technique) and by McKenzie himself on the 60 minutes episode. Everyone has to feel sorry for Copeland, she had it rough. Let me tell you, in the performing arts EVERYONE has it rough. Especially if they don't come from families with money. The arts attract broken people by the truck loads. Some are extremely talented and many are mediocre. What determines who makes it is, for the most part, pure chance. But mostly it is talent OR savvy glad-handing. Copeland has chosen the latter because obviously she doesn't have the technique to wow people with her dancing. Everyone is caught up in her being the first black principal with ABT. That is all they see, the actual dancing is secondary.

    It would be good for more black principals. I've even stated that I would support Courtney Lavine's direct promotion straight to principal. She has the talent to back it all up and she has perfect classical technique. A blind person can see it. Yet we never hear about her. Its always Copeland acting as if she is the only black dancer in recent dance history to get anywhere. Which is false.

    But isn't it possible to like Courtney Lavine as a dancer, want to see black female principles and still be too hard on Copeland?

    It's not that I think Misty or any dancer is above criticism. It's that I see much of the criticism directed at her as being excessive when you take into account to what she's actually doing.

    Yes, she is a tireless self-promoter whose hardscrabble story has grown bit stale for anyone who's been paying attention for any length of time, including me.

    But...........

    1)To me, the accusations that she's constantly crying racism, are greatly exaggerated. She doesn't speak about racism any more than any other black person who finds themselves in an occupation with few people that look like them.

    2)The accusations that she's taking opportunities away from other dancers, is bizarre when you consider the rent-a-star business model of ABT and the fact that despite her heavy self-promotion, she's still a soloist.

    3)There's the fact that by no means is she universally viewed by dance writers OR balletomanes as being technically and artistically lacking. But to hear her detractors say it, you'd think this idea was a measurable fact that everyone agreed was true.

    4) The implication that her co-workers hate her and are always talking smack about how much they hate her. With the ubiquity of social media, how could this even be possible nowadays and we not constantly see it?

  7. Today's digital version of the NY Times reports that tonight's edition of 60 Minutes on CBS will carry a feature on Misty, her childhood struggles and rise to soloist at ABT. If there are people in this country who don't follow ballet (and there are many), but do watch this always top 10-rated TV program, they too will now know her story. After this nationwide exposure, how can she not be promoted to principal?

    "and there are many"

    The truth is that MOST people in the U.S. don't follow ballet or any other classical performance art. And most don't feel they are missing out on anything when they don't.

    As to Misty making principle, she says it's still her goal, but even if she doesn't make it, she says she's found that her mission in life is to expose more girls of color to the art form.

    No matter what happens in her career, that will always be her biggest accomplishment and I think she now realizes that fact.

  8. The fact that ABT was able to get the title America's National Ballet Company, or whatever the exact words are, I'm sure has everything to do with their relationship with Caroline Kennedy and her influence in Washington. Really, do you think ABT has sold even one additional ticket because it had that silly designation?

    Excellent point.

  9. NYCB can only take a small percentage of the graduates from SAB. There are only a few open slots every year. The fact that Lavine got into SAB, and didn't have to head out to some small struggling company or to a regional company for a ballet job is indicative of her talent level.

    Added: As noted below, ABT might have been her first choice anyway.

    NYCB not a dancer's first choice? The devil you say?! :wink:

  10. Congress needs to rescind that "National Ballet Company' title ABT lobbied and/ or payed for and give that to NYCB.

    I'd prefer they give it to San Francisco Ballet. Or The Joffrey. Or PNB. Or Houston Ballet. Let's face it. Almost all ballet companies in the U. S. have international rosters. But most allow consistent advancement from the corps de ballet, except for clunky ABT.

  11. Indeed. ABT marketing is like its stuck in the 90's, and relies heavily on commercials in the tivo/ playback era where people fast forward through them. If no one wants to see ABT dancers it's their fault not the dancers. And it's not because guest artists are superior either. Who wants to see Sarah Lane, Stella Abrera, or Isabella Boylston when, other than diehard ABT fans, no one knows who they are? People know who Vishneva, Cojocaru, and Osipova are mainly because of DVD/ Bluray and live broadcasts of their dancing. People also know the companies they dance for because of this reason as well. You can barely and sometimes not at all, find any video's of ABT dancers other than people like Gomes and Hallberg. And that's only because they performed at the Bolshoi, where they actually market and record performances. I think it is a crime that all of the wonderful performances of one of the partnerships at ABT in decades, Gomes/ Vishneva, has not been recorded and put on DVD/ bluray to this day.

    This is also the reason why Copeland can sell tickets and someone like Sarah Lane can't. Not that nonsense that ABT staffer was saying.

    So many problems with this company it's sad.

    Preach!

    Their marketing is an abomination. They seem to think people should come to see them just because they're an institution. And those stars they count on so much to fill the Met are famous mainly because they've made their names elsewhere.

  12. " SAB and NYCB organizations as being at best, indifferent and at worst, hostile to new people and/or ideas. And that this is all done under the guise of protecting a cherished legacy when it's really about protecting their cushy positions."

    For another point of view, I've had experience with both organizations for 8 years and I've never found them to be be hostile or indifferent nor have I ever heard of any instance where they've been hostile or indifferent. In every instance, they have been devoted, wise and honest. Nor would I characterize the devotion they have to Balanchine and Robbins as being a "guise" so they can "protect their cushy positions". Could you please provide evidence of that?

    Honesty can be upsetting but to reach the goal of dancing in the premiere Balanchine company in the world, a dancer relies on the honesty of the SAB teachers -otherwise, it would be impossible to achieve the speed, clarity and musicality of the NYCB dancer. And that's a goal few can reach no matter what the hue of your skin.

    True, but Tai was trained at SAB and she danced at a company that was heavily influenced by NYCB. She's not exactly foreign to the Balanchine style.

    While training at SAB doesn't mean you'd automatically be a good instructor, it's not like her skills as a teacher and coach were completely unknown. She'd been doing both long before injury ended her dancing career.

    I suspect many people wonder, why are they interested in her now? Why'd they let prestigious schools in the Boston area scoop her up?

    To those who already view NYCB's so-called outreach with a suspicious eye, waiting 10 years after her retirement to ask her to sit on some committee, smacks of an organization that intends on tinkering only around the edges of the diversity issue.

  13. It's possible to give individuals the benefit of the doubt in lieu of evidence to the contrary. What evidence is there that Martins is using the panel as an excuse and isn't serious?

    Seems unfair that Martins should be given the benefit of the doubt about his motives but Misty frequently isn't. Copeland is constantly being accused of playing the race card to steal other people's opportunities and get unwarranted attention.

  14. Well, the frequently mentioned BA favorite Virginia Johnson, feels that quality of movement trumps body type almost every time. She also feels that slowly but surely, that attitude is taking hold across the ballet world.

  15. It's possible to give individuals the benefit of the doubt in lieu of evidence to the contrary. What evidence is there that Martins is using the panel as an excuse and isn't serious?

    Based on numerous statements made over the past few years in both old and new media by several classical dancers of color, it's clear that fair or not, many see the folks the SAB and NYCB organizations as being at best, indifferent and at worst, hostile to new people and/or ideas. And that this is all done under the guise of protecting a cherished legacy when it's really about protecting their cushy positions.

    Their supposed unhealthy insularity is seen this way: Balanchine was a genius. I worked with him directly. So therefore, I'm important and I'm above criticism.

  16. I have no opinion about the letter, but If NYCB and SAB are irrelevant, then ballet might as well be irrelevant, not because they are the whole picture or, for that matter, bastions of ethical perfection (not likely), but because they are such an essential, influential, and creative part of the picture.

    If ABT comes to play the leadership role in expanding and diversifying ballet's current talent pool--then more power to ABT of course...And, to return to topic, Copeland is playing her part for sure...

    You can think they are an important part of ballet history with a treasure trove of of important works that have been contributed to the classical cannon and still think that many of their people and practices are far too insular or stuck in a perfect past that never was.

    The fact that people jump to their defense at even the mildest criticism, indicates that some folks feel that their Balanchine and Robbins legacy means that they can do no wrong.

  17. Who has been held back by A or B? C doesn’t make any sense as far as I can see – ADs won’t promote dancers who take opportunities ADs offer them? Likewise, I can't make much sense of D.

    With D), I was attempting to say that no ballerina tasked with being the first black woman principle in a world-class company, is going to be good enough to please everybody.

    There will always be some who say, "She's not good enough. I would have chosen ________ instead." Or why didn't they wait until someone better came along?

  18. and all these dancers that you mention (Copeland, Adams, DePrince, Jimenez, Johnson) have and have had wonderful careers. If you asked any dancer, they would say they were bypassed for roles they wanted but also would say they were not "right" for every role. Being "right" for a role goes way beyond skin hue. and having any kind of a career in ballet (being paid) is an achievement for any dancer - that's the perspective I have. Also, if we are authentically talking about skin color - then please include (among others) Asians, Polynesians, Arabs and Cubans (Hispanics) in that list.

    I agree that people of color other than black women have obstacles to advancement.

    However, many people of East Asian and Latin heritage are as fair or fairer than some Caucasians with Celtic heritage.

    But black, Asian and Latin people who are darker are seen by some as interrupting the harmony of the corps de ballet.

  19. What is the manner they supposedly have to behave in?

    A) Never mention race/color as being an additional hurdle for women of color in ballet, particularly the darkest women. It makes people feel uncomfortable and everyone knows that race is no longer a factor in ballet because all the people who run it and support it monetarily are political liberals like the Koch brothers. :sarcasm:

    B) Never appear to be anything less than completely humble about your talent or grateful for your opportunities. Anything less means you think that you and you alone are worthy of attention and professional advancement.

    C) Don't take advantage of opportunities afforded to you by the AD because you can advance only if you prevent others from doing so.

    D) Have the good sense to know that just around the corner is Black Balllerina Supergirl who should be promoted to the senior ranks of a major company before other black ballerinas get a chance. It's only fair because all white women in the senior ranks of ballet companies are gifted and universally admired as being beyond brilliant.

  20. The few online performances I've seen of Hee Seo, have left me scratching my head. She seemed to be struggling to get through her solos as if she were exhausted and undernourished.

    But other folks love her as a dancer.

    I don't doubt they see qualitites in her dancing I have yet to discover. But I don't think she was promoted to fill some quota just because I don't see what's so great about her.

  21. You don't have to like Copeland, and you are entitled to your opinions, which, again, are that: opinions.. That doesn't make them facts. There are many knowledgeable people who believe that Copeland has perfectly fine, if not stellar, classical technique, and that her ranch is full and her herd thriving,. (Maybe it's apt then that she's been cast in Rodeo.)

    Given the predominance of full-lengths at ABT, she's easy enough to avoid, if that's your wont. There are plenty of dancers at ABT that I avoid during my visits, but that doesn't make them bad dancers. They just don't interest me. And, given how few performances that any of the leads get in any rep, there's no danger of any one dancer dominating the rep or opening nights, which often happens in smaller regional companies or which happened in the Farrell era because Balanchine could and did.

    Once again, let the church say amen!

  22. What other American joined the Bolshoi (as opposed to guesting) before David? I know Precious Adams was there (can't remember if she's American or British) but I believe she joined after David.

    Precious attended the Bolshoi school. She was never a member of the company.

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