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On Pointe

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About On Pointe

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan, dancer, choreographer
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  1. I'm not a fan of comic book movies as a genre, and I've only seen one Batman movie, The Dark Knight, which is damn good. I had no expectations of Joker when I went to see it, but I was intrigued by the dissonance of the critics reviews vs.the audience reaction. (The vitriol flung at this movie by some critics bordered on hysteria.). I didn't think of it as an origin story at all. Young Bruce Wayne makes a token appearance, but there is little to tie it to the Batman franchise. More than one reviewer has noted similarities of Joker to Boon Joon-ho's brilliant Parasite. Both films are about the revenge of the underclass. Maybe that's what scares so many critics, although unlike Joker, Parasite is savagely funny as well.
  2. Because of his makeup and the masks his followers wear, I expect Joaquin Phoenix's Joker to be a popular Halloween character this year, although it's not a Halloween movie per se. I was mesmerized by Phoenix's dancing. If he had decided to dance instead of act, he would have been one of the greats.
  3. Maybe. One oddity is the overlap in casts - some of the dancers in the film are also cast in the stage production. (The other oddity is Spielberg reaching out to Puerto Rican activist groups to assure them of a respectful representation of their culture, then casting non-Puerto Ricans in the leading Puerto Rican roles.)
  4. You are correct - in economic terms, only a handful of shows are truly successful. If you make a career in theater, there will be occasions when you pour your heart, soul and body into a beautiful work that does not run. I've done that, and while I can look back in pride at having been part of the creation of a work of art, it didn't change the fact that the investors lost their money and I was out of a job. Some shows fail on Broadway but succeed in regional productions. Seussical and Be More Chill are two of the most produced works in the US. But those are original musicals. The Van Hove De Keersmaeker West Side Story may do very well on a national tour, but odds are against it running a long time on Broadway, as they are for every show.
  5. Because four out of five Broadway productions do not succeed. I'm speaking from a business point of view. Like many a show before it, the critics and a large segment of the public may consider it an artistic triumph, but with its large cast, it may be unsustainable over the long run. West Side Story is now a classic. Whether on stage or film, it has a fan base that loves Jerome Robbins' original conception. When done well, it's exciting to see his choreography danced by today's young dancers, especially as there are now plenty of Latino artists to cast as the Sharks. (Although it must be said that, like black Americans regarding Porgy and Bess, many Puerto Ricans have a love-hate relationship with WSS and resent that the best known, best loved representation of their ethnicity is a show that casts them as knife-wielding gang members.) I hope that Amar Ramasar can use WSS as a springboard to new endeavors, as I suspect he will not be offered a new contract with NYCB. (I'd love to be proved wrong.)
  6. For Ramasar's sake I hope West Side Story has a decent run, but I truly doubt that it will succeed. With the Spielberg film version coming, could be that the public is not in the mood for yet another WSS, especially since there's nothing wrong with the original. At any rate, I doubt that Ramasar will dance with NYCB again. I'm sure TPTB were determined to get rid of him by not renewing his contract after the humiliation of losing the AGMA arbitration.
  7. I'm not offended by Porgy and Bess, and I especially enjoy it when my friends are singing the lead roles. But portraying stereotypes can be wearing. I was generalizing when I said that black Americans don't identify with black people from other countries. Of course we do, on an individual basis. But like Chinese, Korean and Japanese dancers, we're not interchangeable just because the majority thinks we look alike.
  8. It's kind of a hot button issue right now - black Americans do not identify with black people from other countries. So a black character in an opera set abroad doesn't "ping" with us. Speaking of Jeannine Tesori , one could consider her Caroline or Change an opera more than a musical. But with a book by Tony Kushner, based on his childhood with a black housekeeper in New Orleans, it's another example of white artists commenting on black culture. I want to love it but I don't. The black women in it are depressed and depressing and don't seem "authentic" to me at all. It's being revived on Broadway this spring with black British leads from an acclaimed overseas production, adding yet another layer of alienation.
  9. Thanks to all for the information on operas with black American characters. Time will tell if they become part of the operatic canon, but at the present time, none are as beloved or performed as much as Porgy and Bess. I was really intrigued by this as I performed in a workshop under Tazewell's direction. I had no idea he composed as well and maybe he does, but the opera Blue was written by the prolific Jeannine Tesori and staged by him. (I also had no idea that he had such a tragic, challenging early life. He never gave any hint if it. As Socrates said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.")
  10. Gershwin insisted on actual black singers because he didn't want Porgy and Bess to ever be presented as a minstrel show, with singers in blackface. There is far more realistic makeup available now that he might have found acceptable. Porgy is indeed great music, and it can be sung by singers of any race. Renée Fleming and Bryn Terfel have sung Bess You Is My Woman Now (although to be honest, Terfel sounded great but looked very uncomfortable, like he was caught doing something naughty). But the language of the score and the libretto is problematic. As far as I know, Porgy and the far less known Treemonisha by Scott Joplin are the only representations of black Americans on the opera stage. The rehearsal video of Bugaku reveals how much of it Balanchine borrowed from Apollo. I happened to be watching it while in a restaurant with a loud sound system playing hip hop and the movements fit the music perfectly!
  11. Presenting Bugaku today as Balanchine intended is potentially so problematic it might not be worth the effort. It's not really a Japanese ballet. Like Porgy and Bess, it is a work that comments on a culture by someone who isn't a part of that culture. Casting it with Asian dancers doesn't make it more appropriate, just as staging Porgy and Bess with black singers doesn't make it an authentic portrayal of black American life. (I know a number of singers, including two ex-roommates, who have performed in multiple productions of Porgy. They are gifted, highly-educated people, who speak fluent German and French, who are most reliably employed as ghetto stereotypes. The music is beautiful, but this eats at the soul.) While a general American audience might view Asian dancers as interchangeable (visually, at least), Chinese and Korean dancers might be uncomfortable in Bugaku given their countries' long histories of animosity with the Japanese. Yet if a company with Asian dancers casts them, refusing the roles could be awkward and not helpful to their careers. (I realize that some might not care at all.) It could be interesting to strip Bugaku of its Japonaiserie and present it as a leotard ballet. Let it succeed or fail on the merits of the choreography. I remember that long ago when it was programmed regularly, some critics found it vulgar.
  12. "After the allegations were made public last week, the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing opera soloists, choristers and ballet dancers, announced that it had contacted opera companies to demand investigations and that it would “closely monitor this situation, making the safety of our members our first priority.” No doubt AGMA would have acted sooner if any of the women affected had made an official complaint. And their cases would be stronger if any of them had kept Domingo's obsessive messages. At least they told other people. Your union exists for your protection. (Just doing a little Monday morning quarterbacking.)
  13. I got the impression from the article that Domingo's behavior was ongoing and current, not that it was confined to decades ago. Patricia Wulf, who is no longer active, was the only one willing to go public, but apparently there are plenty of others who are still fearful of Domingo's influence. Otherwise why would the story explode now?
  14. A lot has changed in thirty years. For one thing, social media didn't exist back then. At any rate, I'll be interested to see if this revelation about Domingo inspires arts writers to publish condemnatory articles about the culture of the opera world similar to the way that ballet was attacked.
  15. Doesn't the opera company have a board of directors and legal counsel? A singer could complain to them. Or she could file a complaint with AGMA. Or drop a dime on Domingo anonymously with an ambitious journalist.
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