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About Quinten

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan, balletgoer
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    Los Angeles
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  1. I believe Bolshoi has deleted blackface roles in U.S. performances in deference to American attitudes. I would bet that the little black slaves children will not appear in La Bayadere when it is broadcast next season. At home Bolshoi is unlikely to pay any attention to U.S. attitudes because even if American tourists refuse to buy tickets to Moscow performances that include blackface, there are plenty of Russians and others happy to buy the tickets in their place. Absent pushback from the ticket-buying audience I doubt they'll do anything about it. A fact of life. I believe Bolshoi has three (formerly four) Brazilian dancers who appear to be of mixed ethnicity and there have been a few Asians. They don't dance "ethnic" roles necessarily, as far as I can tell. Here is the gorgeous David Motta Soares, from his Instagram. He most recently danced the part of the Fisherman in Daughter of the Pharaoh. I believe he trained initially at the Bolshoi's school in Brazil and was brought to Moscow to finish his training.
  2. I was responding to suggestions that dark makeup should be eliminated from ballets because it's racist. When compared with other strategies for combating racism in the arts, I don't think that's a very effective way to change peoples' attitudes (if that's the goal). Art itself has more potency, as shown by "Cry", which is an affirmative and incredibly powerful vehicle for countering racism. Back in the early 1970's I had never before seen a black woman like Jamison and if I had any negative stereotypes in my head at the time, they were blown away by the image she projected. I think the creation of art like "Cry" or Blackkklansman is a more effective way to deal with racist imagery than trying to clean up old works of art.
  3. To clarify, I was talking about racism in the arts and used film only as an example of how ballet could have a positive impact on public attitudes towards race. I think that is squarely within our subject matter on this thread. Which is more effective, sanitizing historical or historically-inspired works of art to keep people from having to view racist images that make them uncomfortable/raise their hackles versus using art itself to encourage people to think differently about their racial attitudes? Having been bowled over by Judith Jamison's performance of "Cry" when I was a young woman, I vote for the latter.
  4. Quinten

    Yulia Stepanova

    Yes, it's odd that Semenyaka only mentioned Zakarhova, Meskova (who hasn't performed with the Bolshoi for that past 3 years that I know of) and another soloist. I sometimes wonder how "hands on" she actually is with her dancers. Viewing videos of Gracheva's Aspicia, I also wonder whether Gracheva coached Yulia in that role -- I think I can see Gracheva's influence in Yulia's performance -- and of course, Semenyaka never danced that role. Nevertheless, here is Semenyaka next to Yulia in Yulia's post-Daughter of the Pharaoh photo.
  5. Are the people on this forum really the problem? Today racism is resurgent and uglier than ever, in spite of all the attempts over the last 30 or 40 years to sensitize people to racist imagery. Maybe it's time for art lovers to encourage artists to take a more active role in the fight against racism. Spike Lee is a great example of how that's done -- I recommend his biting and entertaining film BlackkKlansman. Where is the ballet "Charlottesville"? Pressuring American ballet choreographers to address the issue might be a more effective way for ballet lovers to attack racism than criticizing an octogenarian Frenchman or a Russian ballet company, just sayin'.
  6. So what are you going to do about it?
  7. Quinten

    Yulia Stepanova

    https://www.vocidellopera.com/single-post/fille-stepanova I'm not sure where to put this very positive review of Stepanova's Daughter of the Pharaoh performance that appears in the Russian language version of the online journal Voci dell'Opera. Hopefully it will soon appear on the website in English.
  8. I'd say if you can't enjoy a ballet with something you perceive as "blackface", don't watch it.
  9. Well off with his head!
  10. I think the black boys are slaves, actually, provided to Ramse as her own retinue, another indication of her high status. The children are holding their arms in the same position Ali (the Corsair slave) holds his. The shuffling feet are somewhat reminiscent of American minstrel moves but it may also represent a stylized orientalist indication of slave status. It's similar to how the Bayadere blackface children move. Perhaps somebody more familiar than I am with the iconography of "oriental" slavery (as viewed by 19th c. Europeans) could bring some perspective. As a modern American I don't like slavery or mockery of ethnicities. However, I also believe that retaining these old images in art forms is an important way of remembering the past so as not to repeat it. First, we have to understand the images and to recognize the similarity and differences to our own depictions of enslaved people. Many of the images we see in these old works (and obviously also in reconstructions of old works) are multilayered and freighted with more implications than we may at first recognize. Prior to this discussion I had not looked closely at the slave characters in Bayadere, Corsaire and Daughter. Why were they there, just for pageantry or to convey something else. Were the 19th c. librettists disapproving of slavery and showing it as evidence of "oriental" savagery, or using recognized stereotypes to unapologetically convey a hierarchical world view, or as stock images added without thought? And finally -- is American blackface descended from these slave images or does it have different origins?
  11. Reposting MadameP's link. I'm old enough to have seen a lot of Amercan blackface growing up, and it was quite different from what we see here: the object was to emphasize "negroid" characteristics (big lips, whites of the eyes showing around the pupil, ridiculous kinky hair), to show these were poor people via raggedy costumes and bare feet, to make them look stupid through use of stylized dialect and facial expressions. Here and in the other acts the Ramse character looks quite beautiful by any standard -- many beautiful costumes, nice hair, lovely ornaments. She dances sophisticated and charming choreography. As a character, she is a servant, but a resourceful and loyal one. In this scene, her mistress shares the stage with her with obvious affection and regard -- they even mirror each other's steps at times. (Some of Ramse's dancing is out of frame due to the videographer's primary focus on Stepanova 😊 -- see the Bolshoi's the length DOF (it's on YouTube) if you want a better view,) Arguably this is not even a secondary role -- indeed, it is frequently danced by principal dancers, as in this case. The dark makeup, in my opinion, simply helps us remember her origin as an African brought probably against her will to the pharaoh's court who has succeeded in making herself invaluable. I don't see how this character conveys any of the damaging racial stereotypes we all decry.
  12. Quinten

    The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    News is coming out in dribs and drabs. More promotions and other changes could be coming. Among the women, we have 2 Vaganova dancer promotions and one Moscow school. I'm betting on Marchenkova to at least get out of the corps.
  13. Quinten

    The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    According to the Bolshoi website, Jacopo Tissi has been promoted to Leading Soloist, and Alyona Kovalyova and Margarita Shrainer have each been promoted to First Soloist. Congratulations to all.
  14. Quinten

    2017/2018 season

    Thank you CharlieH!
  15. Quinten

    Promotion of May Nagahisa

    Agree. It would be better for sponsors to endow a particular position which would then be occupied by a worthy dancer (or a succession of worthy dancers) appointed by the management with the approval of the sponsor. This is commonly done in symphony orchestras. While the occupant of an endowed chair or position undoubtedly feels some sense of obligation to the sponsor, the perception of some sort of unsavory quid pro quo is reduced if not eliminated.