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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. Interesting as usual Bart. Glad to see you still fighting the good fight! I am also gratified to see how the idea of "appropriate" topics for a contemporary story ballet has also been freed up from where it was stuck a few years ago
  2. I don't know Danny Tidwell, but understand you are trying to gently let me know there is not racism lurking around every corner. I take your point. I do think however, it is unfortunate that a dancer like Danny or the young ladies in the video too often become lost to the ballet world for whatever reason. Even if it is by their own choice, sometimes a wiser, older, and experienced mentor can make a big difference. Here is where the scarcity of role models may be relevant. Being colorblind will ensure the attrition of such dancers. Only extraordinary effort beyond "business as usual" will ever change the status quo. As I have said many, many times, I truly am not about assigning blame. I am about making positive changes, and discovering what these might be. Are there effective, creative ways to prevent or minimize the departure of promising dancers of color (especially African-Americans) from the overwhelmingly--possibly even increasingly--homogeneous world of ballet? I continue to believe only by going the extra mile in an open-minded and even a creative way, a firm commitment, and possibly pro-active (even preferential) treatment will ultimately make a difference against the inertia, misunderstanding, and challenging practices that pervade the ballet world. Every once in awhile I convince myself that this forum may be one of the places where people of different experiences and perspectives can have a frank (if sometimes less than lovely) discussion without getting feathers too ruffled. Inevitably I do come back to my senses, and back off and learn to leave things as they are. I promise not to continue to pursue this any further, raise any more troubling questions, or engage in any more idle speculation until such time as I regain my idealistic delusions once more. Then, all bets are off, and I may assume my gadfly role again. Everyone is safe for the moment, and you can count on my continued silence for the foreseeable future.
  3. No Hans, my concern was not where he placed in the competition. The fact that Tidwell was in this competition at all should have been a red flag, and to some it was. I haven't been able to track what was during that time a long discussion, not just of the contest itself, but of the fact that a former ABT dancer with an apparently bright future wound up in this forum. I suspect we will just have to agree to disagree yet again. Maybe someone better at navigation on Ballet Talk can locate this discussion. (Thank you in advance). I did notice that a search under Tidwell's name on this site produced several threads where he is mentioned in discussions updating his current 'work,' going back to his ABT days, and everything in between (including SYTYCD). Maybe the longer discussion was on the sister board: Ballet Talk for Dancers. I wonder what you thought about the two classically trained dancers (flanking Beyoncé) who landed in the commercial dance video? PS Beyoncé sang at the pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, and an inaugural ball the following evening. Her performance in the recently released feature film "Cadillac Records" has also received decent reviews. Let's hope the dancers were well paid. I suspect they were.
  4. American soccer is dominated by whites and it's not referred to as elitism. So is figure skating, hockey, Irish dance, curling and many other sports dominated by whites. People refer to the culture of ballet as being elitist for a reason. We can't ignore that. I was a poster on some of the threads Mel mentions. #1 I actually have heard soccer, curling, etc. referred to as elitist or overly white, but as you mention, the commenters were themselves usually not white! Probably most in these sports activities neither noticed the lack of a black presence nor missed it much. #2 It is very disappointing for young black dancers already having endured the scarcity of other black dancers in the training years to find out it is even worse when in pro auditions and settings. In addition, skin tone counts with lighter skinned blacks faring better, and darker more noticeably black dancers being viewed as less acceptable. #3 Until ballet is a more pure meritocracy concerning race, the ballet world will be vulnerable to this charge. Many say the dancers are simply not out there, no interest, etc. (see the discussion Mel provides the link for). Please note the fate of Danny Tidwell a long thread on "So You Think You Can Dance" as well as the fact that the most popular (I think the younger hip people call it "viral) dance videos on You Tube includes Beyonce and two other dancers both of whom were exceptional young ballet-trained dancers. Why are they in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrnNC5toyeo rather than a ballet company you have patronized lately? The answer to this question says it all... PS I apologize to patrons of the particular contemporary ballet company that does include one of the dancers (the Boston Ballet trained one!) on the "Single Ladies" video. You do patronize her company and you know who you are. By the way, the director of this company is both non white and not from the United States! This atypical company director does have a much more diverse group of dancers than most US companies. Also please note the contemporary/classical distinction. These dancers' early ballet training included typical classical and neoclassical training (full scholarship to SAB summer for the other young lady who is not the Boston trained one). I rest my case.
  5. There was a time I would have made a lengthy reply to this thread. That time is over. I no longer hold out hope that the American ballet community will become a non-race conscious meritocracy anytime soon enough to make a practical difference in the lives of dancers and companies I currently care about. Having said that, I would love to be proven wrong! I continue to hope that in some future time, this will become the conventional reality. These days, however, that's all the time and energy I am willing to devote to this. You live, and you learn. I would highly recommend Wilkinson's Ballet Review interview to anyone with serious interest on this topic. It is clear, nuanced and frank.
  6. Another bump here. After seeing a lovely Sugar Plum pas with a Latino Cavalier and an African American Sugar Plum recently, I was wondering if anyone has had any concrete results or any other experiences with any of these efforts at inclusion. Has anyone else seen such diverse casting in their local Nutcrackers? Just curious.
  7. Glad to see this thread is still active and open. I reviewed the many posts and was alternately encouraged and dismayed both by what happened then and where we are now. I hope we all continue to think about these inequities in as clear-sighted, creative, and compassionate a way as possible. I also hope everyone continues to notice that the lack of diversity has remained fairly constant, and to continue to ask and think about why this has changed so little, and if we are happy with that state of affairs. If the only faces of color you see are deployed as Arabian in Nutcracker--I suggest, that is not enough. Happy holidays to everyone and here's to finding an accomplished African American Sugar Plum Fairy on many more stages in the coming years.
  8. ditto carbro!!! ...and let's hope that genuine enthusiasm helps his popularity appeal with the now all powerful audience I stand corrected on the Jaimie assessment. Let's hope the Sabra wishers get their request soon like the Lacey-Danny wishers did this past week. I'll be watching...
  9. I also think that smile is a secret weapon: dazzling, confident, yet sweet and somehow a bit bashful. You are not melting alone carbro! I think his other secret weapon may turn out to be Jamie (sp?) who is also without a partner now. I suspect, the best is yet to come.... I hope
  10. I'm weighing in as a no counter. I can't count and fully enjoy at the same time. Also, just in general, I personally find a little less attention to the technique (suspending disbelief--unless it's an egregious lapse--), and a healthier dose of the naiveté and wonderment that first reeled me into being a fan of ballet, always serve me well in live performances. My feeling: it's a performance, after all, not class. I guess that means I'll never be a critic, but I'll still be a happy camper.
  11. Like dirac, I am a Comcast subscriber who lost access to Ovation despite my written and verbal requests and complaints. It was wonderful to have Ovation and we watched it regularly. Classic Arts is my refuge as well. I also wonder like bart, why not just broadcast videos/dvds? As well as why there is such a dearth of ballet even on PBS? The broadcast of Jewels was so infrequent and strangely scheduled, I am sorry to say, we missed it altogether. I have had it explained to me so many times why ballet is expensive to produce, film, everything, as well as the lack of demand. Yet many people are often transported by their first limited live exposure to ballet, but this exposure, too often, never occurs. Then, no audiences. If ballet is an aquired taste, how do we make sure it is acquired? In times of financial contraction and scarcity, with programming choices ruled by a short-sighted view that's determined by the bottom line after it is married to the lowest comon denominator...It's hard even to figure out how to hope. Darn that Gresham!
  12. Thanks Hans for the follow up, and to bring this back on track, I have sometimes observed that dancers of color, particularly AA, are advised to try their luck in Europe. This environment is described as one where they are more likely to be judged on their merits. Never having been to Europe, I have no idea how valid this may be. The existence of companies like "Ballet Black" suggests there may be similar obstacles in Europe comparable to those in the US. Does anyone have first hand information on this race, culture, and ballet issue outside the US context?
  13. Hans, I certainly agree with you about ABT being 'top of the line;' the reason I say possibly unsatisfactory, is I don't know why he didn't wait for the solost roles to ripen into a solist promotion. Maybe he knew something we don't know. I find it hard to believe he did not have a conversation with the powers that be prior to deciding to leave ABT. As noted above, Complexions did not work out either. Baffling. On the hours thing, I am aware of minimum standards for pre-pro in the US, and was just observing it's not an automatic formula more hours=better training. I thought from other threads here and on our sister board, that there were some significant differences by age in hours and intensity of training between US and schools outside the US. One of the differences I thought was "day one" being a later age than some US schools. By the way I am unaccountably fond of inelegant expressions , including the particular one you use (even though I consider myself a friend of all felines! ).
  14. A few quick thoughts-- #1-I wonder if Danny Tidwell was attracted to "So You Think You Can Dance" by the pull of his muse, or pushed by his (possibly unsatisfactory) range of alternative choices? #2-Whether training inside or outside the United States, if dancers of color (even AA, the original recent thread discussion of the "black swans") are not visibly and noticabley distinct, they would have a greater opportunity to 'blend in' and would not face the same issues in the admittedly 'lookist' world of ballet where appearance is so important and capricious (subjective and fickle, but not arbitrary or random) for all dancers. The concern might not exist in the same way as it does for visibly non-traditional dancers. #3-I would also relate this question back to others raised on this thread--if dancers of color need to be twice as good to get half as far (as several have asserted on this thread), maybe they should all be training in Europe or Russia. It would seem they need every advantage. #4-Does anyone know how these diversity issues play out in other countries? Is there the same lack of diversity (missing swans, for ex.) at all levels, and is there the same problem retaining dancers of color during training? By the way, at the studio that "bent over backwards" with so little success, who decided on the methods of retaining dancers? I was just wondering could some of the attrition be attributed to business as usual methods? I would base my strategy on what had worked for dancers (like the consultants I mentioned earlier) who did manage to follow through to careers. #4-Do more hours automatically equal better training? Also do the Europeans and Russians train more at later stages and less at the early stages when so many dancers here (not just minority dancers) are already burning out? I also was excited to see a professional company associated school making apparently strenuous (albeit ineffective) efforts to attract and retain a diverse group of students.
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