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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. It's doubtful that laws against weight discrimination and "body positivity" movements will have any effect on ballet companies. There are many professions where weight has no impact on employees' ability to do their jobs. Dancing in a ballet company is not one of them. The law can't compel the owners of thoroughbred horses to employ two hundred and fifty pound jockeys either. There's nothing positive about morbidly obese people risking serious injury trying to execute leaps and pointe work. There are a number of cringe-inducing videos on YouTube of overweight people in ballet class, unable to close fifth or relevé on straight knees. Of course Ashley Bouder is nowhere near that heavy. But from what I've seen, she can no longer fit into her old costumes. Under Actors Equity rules, gaining so much weight that your costumes need to be rebuilt is grounds for firing. Actors are required to maintain the same look from the day they are hired until the end of their contracts, because it can cost a production thousands of dollars to refit costumes. ( I don't know if there is a similar provision under AGMA rules.). Company directors still can't be compelled to hire dancers that they don't want, no matter what they weigh.
  2. What's amazing is how much it resembles the Black American "Hambone". Here's an example:
  3. What's amazing is how much this authentic Roma dancing resembles Black American "Hambone". Here's an examp!e: v=PLmySQ5CuY0
  4. What people will cringe over in the future is a popular subject in creative circles, but I don't think we'll have to wait a hundred years. I love the musical Hadestown, but much of its music definitely falls under the "quasi-ethnography" umbrella, as does Once on This Island, a show I actively dislike. The same with The Little Mermaid, with Calypso songs like Under the Sea and Kiss the Girl. These are not mediocre songs. In fact they're brilliant. But I was surprised by how ambivalent they now make me feel, because I know that their composers come from privileged white backgrounds far removed from the worlds they seek to portray. Then I remember the minority actors who get a good payday performing this "inauthentic" material, which isn't demeaning on its face. Imagine a Black actor today singing When I See an Elephant Fly from Dumbo. A great song, but oh my God!
  5. Was it the company that changed Tzigane to Errante, or was it the Balanchine Trust? There must have been some discussion In all the years that I watched this ballet I never connected the title to anything negative. Of course that doesn't mean that others didn't find it offensive. A few years back, Actors Equity changed the name of the iconic robe that is passed from show to show on opening nights for good luck. "Gypsy Robe" actually referred to ensemble dancers who have the good fortune to go from show to show, and had nothing to do with the Roma people, and I was unaware of any complaints, so maybe there was a bit of overreach on the part of someone. We were never given the option to put it to a vote, which was not how Equity operated. ( I was a long time Councillor for Equity and we deliberated long and hard on far more trivial matters. ) I believe that at least one current NYCB dancer is actually of Roma descent, so perhaps the change began there.
  6. Lorraine Graves, dancer and rehearsal director for Dance Theater of Harlem, has passed away. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/31/arts/music/lorraine-graves-pioneering-harlem-ballerina-dies-at-66.html?ugrp=u&unlocked_article_code=1.hE0.6KS1.QmKwWe9Kr2TL&smid=url-share
  7. The NYCBallet opened with a dinner and a six o'clock performance tonight at the Harris Theater. The Harris is a unique venue with only the box office lobby at ground level. From the outside it looks like there's no there there, but the large theater is underground - you walk down to the second balcony. The early curtain worked out well for me, although I felt a little shortchanged. The program, with pauses but no intermissions, ended at about 7:40. My Lower Balcony ticket was $155.00 before tax. The opening ballet was Serenade, with Sara Mearns, Emily Gerrity, Indiana Woodward and Taylor Stanley. It has been years since I've seen it live and I found it thrilling, especially the Waltz. The orchestra sounded fantastic. The quality of the string playing was at a very high level, far better than in years past. Next came Christopher Wheeldon's Liturgy. While it was beautifully danced by Unity Phelan and Chun Wai Chan, I didn't find it particularly engaging, and the lighting was so dark it was hard to just see it. The last piece was Justin Peck's Partita. I'm not the target audience for a sneaker ballet, even one as well danced as this one. I was impressed with Indiana Woodward's ability to knock off double outward pirouettes in attitude in those clunky white shoes, and India Bradley and Alexa Maxwell also stood out. But the old dance captain in me was preoccupied with what a nightmare it must be to teach and maintain this piece. I was thrilled to see the company again here in Chicago. I'm sure it could play here for a much longer run, even with just one ballet, like Jewels or Midsummer Night's Dream. The audience reception was rapturous.
  8. I became a fan of Shakirova through YouTube videos. Besides her outstanding musicality, precise placement and technique, she expresses such joy in her dancing. I hope we get to see her live in the near future, although given the current political situation that seems unlikely to happen.
  9. I have to confess, I'd kind of want to hate watch that! There are now plenty of dancers of color (not my favorite term) on NYCB's roster. No need to bring in outside talent to virtue signal. They just need to develop the dancers they have.
  10. I'm genuinely curious - what is it about this article that you like? Because if I'm being honest, as a Black American, the optics are terrible.
  11. Unlike the Great Men of the past, Leonard Bernstein left behind a wealth of recorded material as a conductor and a television performer. Future generations won't have to wonder what he was really like (publicly). In last year's film Tar, where Cate Blanchett portrayed a sort of venomous female version of Bernstein, one of the few moments that depict her as vulnerable and human was when she returned to her childhood home and caressed her collection of videos of LB. Bradley Cooper did a great job in my opinion, but his performance isn't going to supersede the actual image of Bernstein.
  12. Roger Ebert often said that it was the obligation of the critic to review the film that the writer and director made, not the one the critic wished they had made. Of course viewers whose opinions aren't going to appear in print or on a website have no such restriction, but I've read so many opinions on Maestro written by specialists who can't accept that, like it or not, Bradley Cooper told the story he wanted to tell. Before this film, I'd never heard of Tom Cothran, and now that I have heard of him, I wouldn't necessarily have been interested in his relationship with Bernstein any more than what we see in the film. Maestro is about Lenny and Felicia. I am left wondering why the Bernsteins married each other in the first place. Lots of women find out their husbands are gay years after the wedding, but Felicia knew that from the jump. The Fancy Free/On the Town sequence indicates that they found each other dazzling and irresistible. At first. Maybe that was enough at the time.
  13. I can't take credit for it. The lack of recognition for a three time Tony winner from the NYTimes was a hot topic of discussion on Broadway boards, especially because there were three articles on the great Chita Rivera. The two had careers that followed the same trajectory - the Jones-Haywood ballet school, SAB, unexpected big break on Broadway.
  14. Hinton had had some years of ill health prior to his passing. Hinton was a Broadway star, the recipient of three Tony Awards. He also appeared on television on occasion. But I will always remember him as a dazzling ballet dancer, with impeccable technique, extraordinary musicality and ease of movement. I am not exaggerating when I say that he could have held his own with any of the great male stars of the recent past. But as a darkskinned, unambiguously Black American, Hinton was born too soon. We'd already had Arthur Mitchell, and then as well as now to some extent, there was only room for one at the top at a time. Hinton was an Army Brat, born in Germany, but growing up in DC. Like Chita Rivera, he was trained at the Jones-Haywood school and received a scholarship to SAB. (Not many ballet schools can boast of alumni like that.). I first met him when I was in a pre-Broadway run of a show with his sister. He was around fifteen, goofing around in his street clothes, and tossing off turns, leaps and sky high extensions that left me open-mouthed in wonder. Who was this kid! I later did two shows with Hinton, and "this kid" was such a gentleman, unfailingly polite and considerate, an absolute pleasure to work with and be around. I can't claim to have been a close friend of his, but I'd like to recognize someone who was - Leah Bass, who cared for Hinton through years of illness, including the cruel loss of both legs to diabetes. Leah is what we call "a real one". Apparently the New York Times has not published an obituary for Hinton, which is an outrage. Hopefully they will do so in the near future.
  15. Interesting interview with the Bernstein children, mainly because of what they don't say. They present an image of idyllic family life, with parents who "adored each other", and never fought in front of them, although they did " sense some tension" at times. No mention of LB leaving their mother to live with a male lover, which had to have been painful for them.
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