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Simon G

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Everything posted by Simon G

  1. I didn't imply that at all, I said it was the logical import of your (false) claim that a black child doesn't grow up with these Disney images, bleached white stories feeling that they in any way shape or form can relate, there is nothing there to relate to [ . . .] I'm basing this on first person testimonies I've read many times from countless black men and women talking about growing up black within a white society. But since you wish to speak of logic it wouldn't be illogical to take on board the "notion" that people are taught and identify with stories and images through the media and
  2. Well, no, rap is predominantly a black genre discussing black issues and history, certain white rappers who have a contribution to make have succeeded within the genre, however popular music is such a large genre that there are many genres within pop music which are exclusively white. Taking rap out of context to be the whole of popular music and equating the understandably predominant black focus of the artists and equating that with an institutionalised culture of not allowing black ballet artists on stage with the major companies, is a bit crass. And given that the majority of the music ind
  3. "I can't relate to fairy tales because they're full of white people" is the same feeling as "I can't relate to a black Sugar Plum Fairy." If one is racist, so is the other. In fact, young kids have to be taught that skin color matters. They're not natural racists. Where is the evidence of racist balletgoers? I thought the problem was that ADs weren't casting black dancers, so audiences didn't get to see them. If there is a pool of black talent not getting onstage, that's everyone's loss. If a black dancer devotes her early life to ballet and skin color holds her back, that's a tragedy. But
  4. Black popular music, rap, r'n'b, soul are billion dollar businesses. The influences of these music genres pervade all aspects of popular music genres, Adele, currently the best selling artist in the world, would be nothing without soul. Kanye, Jay Z, Beyonce, Eminem etc music is played in every country throughout the developing and developed world, with a few exceptions and the music and videos are viewed and downloaded globally. There is absolutely no way one can make an argument that in its own way the reach and affect of ballet on modern culture is as universal and influential as popular bl
  5. Except that as a caucasian art form it was one of the ruling classes, aristocracy, reactionary politics and excluding everyone except the exclusive. The stories told were fairytales, the audience unconcerned with greater societal issues and largely unaffected by them and the art intended for a very small sector of society. Rap was a product born of poverty and strife, and the history of music making at a folk and roots level is about inclusivity, carrying on an oral tradition for generations. Certain genres of music are deeply rooted in ethnicity and the greatest proponents remain that ethnic
  6. Christian Rap is essentially a black art form which dates back to West Africa over a century ago and centered around music made by slaves, it's a language and art form of storytelling and exclusion and deeply rooted in black cultural history, experience and exclusion. And indeed much of rap today is about the ongoing struggle of cultural identity, racism and essentially the black experience. That the music has a widefound appeal is moot, the running joke of wiggahs, white middle class boys keeping it real to Lil Wayne is pertinent because it's a wrongfooted approximation of what rap is about.
  7. I didn't say it in the context of a definite, I said it from a hypothetical standpoint of looking at the thousand or so dancers dancing within the top seven ballet companies with schools attached, there are currently two black male dancers, 1 mixed race female dancer and 1 asian male spread amongst all those companies. Given too that all three black dancers are now in their thirties and will conceivably be retiring within the next few years, there are almost no representations of ethnic diversity within those companies. What I meant was were I a parent of a talented child and was being asked
  8. I've been to several jazz clubs over the years and every time there's been a far larger ratio of black to white punters than at many events I've been to. It's purely anecdotal, but to suggest that jazz a black art form doesn't have a strong, firm, committed and large African American or Afro Caribbean audience, I really have a hard time believing. There are thousands of Jazz venues throughout the US, considerably more than ballet or dance venues, can you or anyone honestly say they've been to EVERY jazz venue, concert and festival and been able to successfully note and quantify the audience a
  9. You find the same sort of thing in jazz clubs, at least in the U.S. - whites and Asian tourists, but very few African-Americans, even when everyone on the bandstand is black. And you base this statement on an exhaustive list carried out from surveys, polls and statistics from the thousands of Jazz clubs throughout the US, in every city, every performance 365 days year over how many years? Thank goodness for European & Asian tourists, without whom the doors of jazz clubs would be closing throughout the US.
  10. On the subject of Ash, here's a couple of interesting things: Her blog site talking a great deal about black women in ballet: http://theblackswandiaries.blogspot.com/ And a paper talking about black women in ballet, including Ash, Graf, Tai Jiminez, Anderson etc http://www.performingartsconvention.org/diversity/id=39 Interestingly there are several posts about how Ash was told repeatedly that her body was too muscular, too "black" and her dieting etc in order to try and conform to the white ideal. E said that he saw her as being a prototype Balanchine physique, her bosses didn't. I also t
  11. Hi Vipa I wasn't suggesting that there was some kind of conspiracy of silence in place keeping Copeland away from principal status, I know full well that many dancers stick at certain levels, regardless of talent and that's their career. The reason why I discussed this in terms of Copeland is because she's the first and only black female dancer to be officially recognised with a title above corps in one of the world's top companies. This is the problem one's hardly spoilt for choice in finding examples of ballerinas - there have been four black female dancers in all the histories of those co
  12. You present as a fact your feelings and views regarding this issue. Whereas for someone coming from a different angle the "facts" as such are very different. As Leigh pointed out "feelings" have nothing to do with it, but empirical evidence derived from data would be the overriding concern within a court of law to prove any allegation. Perhaps it's sad how divorced ballet is from society that a culture of seemingly obvious discrimination has never been deemed important enough to be argued anywhere outside of ballet boards. For the record I don't think the state of ballet nor ethnic mix will e
  13. I disagree. It's not racist to you, a white middle-class man. It is however an issue of race and discrimination to a black woman. This is such a contentious issue precisely because the institution of ballet uses the rigid current aesthetic of body shape to make a case that it's nothing to do with physical traits of a person's race. To the person excluded it's quite a different matter. Actually, I'd like to clarify my statement with a caveat "The issue of body size & shape isn't intrinsically racist" but it becomes so depending on who you are and which side of the fence you're on. Again
  14. Take it from the point of view of a black woman. You're told, the very fact of what you are makes you unemployable within our institution. Whether or not there's transparency is immaterial. And we're not talking "fat" "big boned" or any of those criteria which are used against white women, we're talking athletic, with breasts, a bottom that is quite plainly there. A whole ethnic group is excluded because of a "current" aesthetic which they are told will not change - but it can change, that's the issue. And of course for the very very few, indeed one, who has been allowed past the physical c
  15. I think the thing is though, in order to fully tackle the issue one has to get away from the worst connotations of a racist individual carrying out an act of hatred, to the more fluid concept that racism is and often can be an internalised, normalised outlook from a specific institution. That while doesn't actively seek to promote marginalisation, nonetheless presents it as a norm. If we're talking about the "great" companies, who between them have a history of some 2000 years plus, with tens of thousands of dancers passing through their institutions over the years, to only be able to count
  16. With all due respect both to you and DePrince, DePrince is no Sara Mearns. I agree with Helen that she has some very bad habits and is stuck at the moment in that adolescent phase of thinking ballet is all about sky high extensions, often at the expense of everything else. She's a very young dancer who needs to develop her technique especially the use of her upper body and arms. Also using terms such as size zero isn't helpful, size zero being that egregious fashion term to validate borderline anorexia within models as being a desired norm "you're not nearing organ failure, you're a perfect s
  17. Well, institutions are made up of and directed by people, of course, so what you're doing here is calling all those ADs and their school directors racist. The number of successful dancers of color doesn't tell us anything definitively - we have to look at raw talent. So the best place to look for racism would probably be the schools I think maybe someone who loves the art form and isn't surprised that white roots have produced a white trunk. So you think that this particular aesthetic taste is racist? Do you honestly, honestly think that's what I'm saying?
  18. I think sadly this argument also carries a strong counter argument. Sadly race and specifically skin colour is an issue in itself, you can't say it shouldn't matter when the very crux of the argument is that ethnicity is the issue. With suspension of disbelief also comes the crux that ballet has never concerned itself with socio/political and economic realities. Neither in much of the content of the classical canon, nor it's audience members, who if they are to believe they're watching a temple dancer, ghost of a maiden, princess turned into a swan etc also don't want to focus on what actuall
  19. I think the real question here is will a black ballerina ever dance with one of the world's top companies: Paris Opera, Mariinsky, Bolshoi, Royal Ballet, Royal Danish, ABT, New York City Ballet. In all those companies histories combined there have been two black women corps members and one black soloist. Two black male principals, two black male soloists, 1 black male sujet and three or four black male corps de ballet members. (Not counting Carlos Accosta whose position is fairly unique in the ballet world.) Of those combined numbers six belonged to NYCB, one to ABT, and 2 who both belonged
  20. I think that the issues surrounding black men and women in opera are far more complex than just audience familiarity. Black culture is indelibly linked and ingrained with music. Moreover there is a richness and timbre to many black voices which is unique and crosses race boundaries or perceived boundaries within the high arts. That's a slight exaggeration. There have been several productions with interracial casts and really they have been non starters for exactly the reason that it's a director imposing a racist issue on a play that isn't about race. The Capulets and Montagues can't even r
  21. Hey Bart, The music part I was generalising. Jokes and frolics aside, what I've see of Scarlett's work is really pretty, he knows how to make a nice dance, admittedly I've only seen two of his works, but then he's only done two or three. I think the problem is you compare the one act works which are being produced today and often they're put on bills with a Balanchine, an Ashton, Robbins etc and the "contemporary" work is just left in the dust. You see why Ashton is Ashton, Balanchine, Balanchine etc there's just a genius that courses through the work, whether or not Scarlett is given the t
  22. The problem with Scarlett's work is that it suffers from that generic "meh" politeness that a lot of choreography by new choreographers tends to do. It's like ballet chow mein, a bit of fancy footwork to show you've got Ashton down, (especially important if you're Royal Ballet trained) a pas de deux or two where people seem to be having a really hard time of it for no clear reason in a nod to Macmillan, some fancy syncopated jazz groups to give it that Robbins flava, the obligatory gynaecological crotch splitting camel-toe extensions and a couple of lifts turning women upside down with their
  23. I didn't misunderstand. I was choosing to be a bit obtuse. In truth though this strain of argument went from 0 to scary in sixty seconds. Rape, gross misconduct & severe sexual harassment, conspiracy cover ups and cultures of silence - I'm not sure if we're talking about ballet or the Catholic church here. There have been a few cases of gross misconduct and harassment and in all cases the AD was fired very quickly, I think it's also worth noting that an AD is an employee of his organisation an arts organisation which couldn't afford huge lawyer fees to keep rapists instated in jobs even i
  24. That's an issue in itself and has often been discussed that for a Balanchine ballerina there are (or were) few options once she'd left Balanchine for no other reason than she'd been trained in such a specific style, school to dance such a specific repertory that without that company & repertory she wasn't viewed as a ballerina. In those lists that people draw up of the world's great ballerinas etc Farrell if or when she appears more or less always comes with a caveat that being so deeply identified with Balanchine's rep she can't be properly assessed. Kirkland also wrote about how career o
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