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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. In Broadway or jazz dance, that step is closest to a "hitch kick", although my ballet teacher called it "jeté passé".
  2. I have no issue with Gordon revealing his personal life. Obviously opinions vary, but while someone may refer to someone as a boyfriend in everyday speech, to me it seems juvenile, even trivial, in an artist's profile in the newspaper of record. In the same edition of the NY Times, in the story on West Side Story, Ivo Van Hove's set designer is described as his "romantic partner". I'm not at all confident that the editors at the Times checked with either party as to what term they preferred.
  3. I'm not sure that article did anybody any favors. The accompanying photo is not compelling, and the video is downright silly. It looks like a comedic interpretation of ballet. Joseph Gordon graciously credits Darci Kistler for encouraging him, but the writer includes gratuitous information about Peter Martins and Kistler's departure from the school. Did we really need to know that another principal dancer is Gordon's "boyfriend"? That struck me as juvenile. I love Joseph Gordon's confident virtuosity and I'm sure he has a brilliant future. Dancers get far more media attention now than in the past. It would be beneficial if Gordon exerted control over his public image, perhaps with the assistance of a public relations professional.
  4. If what the kids wear is not makeup, what is it? I can see that they're wearing dark tights and gloves, but what about their faces? Yes, some characters have darkened skin in Bayadere. But not Nikiya, Gamzatti, Solor or the Shades.
  5. This is Robert Downey Jr in the very funny comedy Tropic Thunder: http://www.strangecultureblog.com/2008/11/how-badly-do-they-want-to-nominate.html The photo on the right is Downey without makeup, the photo on the left is him playing a white actor who is made up to look like a black man. As you can see, the makeup is very realistic. This is NOT blackface. Compare that to the photo of the Russian girls. I liked Tropic Thunder, I got a big laugh out of Downey's Australian method actor who tried to be black even when he wasn't acting. The political climate has changed a bit and although Tropic Thunder is an obvious farce, it might be difficult to get it made today. It is possible to make up performers so that they realistically look like an actual person of another race and not a racist caricature, but you better have a damn good reason for doing so. Angelina Jolie played Marianne Pearl in A Mighty Heart because Pearl, who is of mixed black ancestry asked her to. Here they are side by side: https://atlantablackstar.com/2014/05/31/6-real-life-black-characters-that-hollywood-cast-as-white-people-instead/ It's hard to do this kind of makeup in ballet because of the sweat factor and because so much of the body is exposed. But if the Russians see no need to darken the lead ballerinas in Bayadere, the world wouldn't end if they got rid of the blackface "golliwogs".
  6. I took a look at Misty Copeland 's Twitter to try to understand the outrage her comments seemed to have engendered, as I felt that the statement she made directly was quite innocuous. It was an eye-opening experience, not because of what Misty posted, but because of the racist invective sent her way by the girls' defenders, especially from Russians. I now believe that the "little girls" were fully aware of the racist connotations of their costuming, and that they found it amusing. In my opinion, they should have realized that you're safest when you keep your bigotry under wraps, among like-minded individuals. But they were old enough to know that Instagram goes out to the world, and blowback was forseeable and expected. The singer Camila Cabello's racist posts have seriously damaged her career, because while anti-black racism is common among Cuban-Americans, she was considered old enough to know better than to go public. She was around the same age as the Russian girls at the time. If Misty should apologize, the Russians should apologize as well. But we all know they won't because all they regret is the threats they're getting. Any sympathy I had for them is limited.
  7. Just to clarify, to black Americans like me, whose ancestors have been in this country since decades before the American Revolution, anyone whose family arrived here in the last thirty years or so is considered a recent immigrant. As she was adopted at age four by a white family, I don't necessarily consider Michaela DePrince an immigrant at all. (I have read her book, and her account of her early life is harrowing. She still appears to suffer from PTSD.) Precious Adams was discriminated against at the Bolshoi school, although her teachers seemed to be dedicated to her success. They refused to cast her in vital end-of-term school performances, even though white Americans were cast. She seems to be doing well at ENB, where her decision to stop performing in pink tights went over better than it probably would have at ABT or NYCB.
  8. I'm curious - what did Michaela DePrince say about racism? Her life story is so unique I'm not sure that anything she has to say applies to anyone but herself. (African Americans generally dislike being conflated with recent African immigrants. It has become something of a hot button issue.) I'd heard about it, but that photo made me sick to my stomach. You seem to be implying that Misty Copeland is the one acting with malign intent, and that she intentionally wanted to make those girls' lives hell. I believe that a principal dancer has more important things to do.
  9. I don't believe that blackface and yellow face are equivalent, but I recognize that others disagree. But she did. Misty said, "this is the WORLD I live in". She did not say anything about the girls. I believe that a reasonable person would infer that she was making a comment about the institution of classical ballet, not two young girls whose identity is completely obscured. Do people set themselves up as spokespersons, or do leaders emerge? When he was alive it was Arthur Mitchell. Could be that, considering the endless vitriol hurled at Misty, other black dancers are reluctant to put themselves out more in the public eye.
  10. "However, imagine receiving a message from a famous dancer wanting to talk to you about your photo... I can only imagine they would have been thrilled!" When did Misty Copeland send such a message? The choreography is not a point of contention. Are you equating performing steps with the image of a white person daubed in sooty makeup as a representation of a black person? The Bolshoi could present Bayadere without blackface and without changing a step. Interesting that although the ballet is set in India, none of the principals ever perform in even slightly darker makeup. Misty Copeland is allowed to have an emotional response to an image without being responsible for the reaction of the various nutjobs who attack with the slightest provocation. I don't believe that the over-the-top harassment was entirely forseeable. Misty has said far harsher things about ballet institutions. She's also not required to be the perfect spokesperson for racial issues. Doesn't Instagram bear responsibility for images it allows on its platform? If the Russians just couldn't imagine that the photo was offensive, somebody at Instagram should have known better and taken it down with a warning.
  11. The old USSR used to emphasize the history of slavery, Jim Crow and the civil rights struggle in the US, including demeaning images of black people, because it made America look bad. Perhaps the curriculum has changed over the years, but Russia is not some clueless backwater where people are totally unaware of what goes on elsewhere. In Europe, the Netherlands specifically, there is an ongoing debate about the tradition of blacking up to portray Black Peter at Christmas time. Europeans know these depictions are controversial at the least, Russians included. https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/netherlands-blackface-christmas-tradition.htm It's useless to speculate about the intent of the girls in the photo. But it's a safe bet that Misty Copeland doesn't spend her days combing through Instagram images of Russian ballet students looking for someone to harass.
  12. Does anyone know how the Instagram post came to Misty Copeland's attention? (Maybe someone thought it would be "fun" to send it to her to see how she would react.) Any number of people could have seen the photo and the Instagram handles without Misty. And a lot of people love to threaten and intimidate on the internet, no encouragement necessary. ETA If you post a photo that is very offensive to a large chunk of the world's population, you shouldn't be surprised that a lot of people don't like it. If you still think that all of this is Misty Copeland's fault, and everything would have been acceptable if she hadn't done anything, nothing I post here will have any meaning to you, but I am interested in knowing what you believe her punishment for being offended shouod be.
  13. While the dancers are young, I wouldn't describe them as "little girls". Of all the costumes in a massive ballet like La Bayadere, I have to wonder why they chose to showcase these. You can't even see who they are, which is kind of the point. They are depicting things, not people who think and feel and love. Of course they didn't find the costumes offensive. (Note to Russian costumers - black people don't have black palms.). They are "traditional", and it's not like it was their ox being gored. I can even imagine the incredulous response they would get from management if they protested having to participate in this racial degradation. Because that's what it is - degradation. People should be free to express ideas and opinions that are abhorrent to others. But freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from the consequences of their actions. I'm sorry the girls got their feelings hurt. Now imagine what a young black ballet student feels when one of the world's great ballet companies puts that image out into the world. I'm glad that Misty Copeland said something.
  14. "And this is the reality of the ballet world." Am I missing something? This is, as far as I know, Misty Copeland's only remark. Where is the " violence"? If the other side can't hear her, it's because they don't want to acknowledge the truth of her statement, which is actually very mild. The Russians are not claiming ignorance about the significance of blackface in the US. They are saying in effect, "This is the way we've always done it and the way we will continue to do it in our production , American sensibilities be damned". All the verbal violence is on their side. They could use a few courses in public relations. Buying tickets to the ballet, like posting offensive photos online, is an optional activity.
  15. If the presentation of offensive racist caricatures is "out of their control" when a foreign company performs on their stage, the theater could add a warning and a disclaimer when tickets are sold, and in the program itself. That's in their control. It's common for theaters to advise ticket holders when there will be smoke, flashing lights or gunshots in a production, as these can trigger strong negative physical and mental responses in some people. The sight of white children in blackface, comp!ete with white eye circles and red lips, definitely would trigger most black Americans! If anyone wonders how and why, I recommend the Spike Lee film, Bamboozled, especially the last few minutes. It's a darkly humorous look at the use of black caricatures and as a p!us, tap phenom Savion Glover is the star.
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