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On Pointe

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About On Pointe

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    Bronze Circle

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan, dancer, choreographer
  • City**
    Chicago
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
    IL

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  1. On Pointe

    Opening Night 1/22/19

    I must say that I was disappointed in the Taylor Stanley piece in the New York Times. I feel that I know less about him as an artist and a human being than before I read it, which is quite an accomplishment. Profiles of performers usually include far more background material on their training and rise through the ranks. People complain about the copious coverage Misty Copeland gets as a rare black principal dancer. (I don't - more power to her.) There are a few others out there - a very few - who no doubt also have interesting stories to tell. Maybe it's just me, but I found the photos accompanying the piece disturbing, with his face out of focus and the closeup of his and Tiler Peck's hands. In my opinion, there should have been full body photos of TS as Apollo with his Muses.
  2. On Pointe

    Nutcracker 2018

    Sorry for the confusion. I refer to the dance which is linked in canbelto's post above. It is a Russian company, not the Royal Ballet. In this version, the soloist isn't a soldier. He is a mouse king, with a darkened face and a crown on his mouse head. But the way the headpiece is fitted, you see more of his face than you should, making it reminiscent of blackface. Then they repeat the bars at the end of the dance for a damsel-in-distress pas de deux with the girl doll from the first dance, until the men at the party shove the mouse king back into his box. The Russians tend to be insensitive when it comes to racial stereotyping onstage. As for the Royal's blond wigs, maybe it doesn't concern them because they are accustomed to light colored wigs on dark people - nearly all of the Caribbean and African countries that were part of the British Empire retain the custom of judges and barristers donning white or gray wigs in court.
  3. On Pointe

    Nutcracker 2018

    Boy, could that second doll dance in the Royal version be problematic in the US! I know it's supposed to be the Mouse King, foreshadowing his appearance later in the act. But the dancer looks like he's in blackface, and when he tears the little white lady doll away from her cavalier, it evokes images from Birth of a Nation. Maybe I'm overreacting, but that's the first thing that I thought of when I saw it, exacerbated by the menacing tone of the score.
  4. On Pointe

    Nutcracker 2018

    The original male solo seems akin to current male belly dancing, which is very popular in the Arab world. Here's an example: For a whole host of cultural reasons, I can't imagine an American ballet company staging anything like this.
  5. On Pointe

    Nutcracker 2018

    I recall reading that Tchaikovsky based the Danse Arabe on a Georgian lullaby rather than on actual Arabian music. In the days before sound recording, it's likely that he had little opportunity to become familiar with Arab musical themes anyway.
  6. On Pointe

    Nutcracker 2018

    Yes, it is. I was kidding about the solo. It made a great impression on me as a child. This was aired at a time when the mere appearance of someone black on television caused all other activity in black households to cease as we stared in wonderment. I'm amazed that this sexy solo made it to air. Segregation was still the law of the land in a large swath of the country. I believe this was the broadcast where Balanchine changed the grand pas de deux to give the Sugar Plum Fairy four Cavaliers, one of whom was Mitchell. He wanted to make a statement about racism, a very gutsy move at the time.
  7. On Pointe

    Nutcracker 2018

    Oh my goodness - cultural appropriation, black exploitation, implied homoeroticism - what's not to love! What really makes it politically incorrect is those puffs on the hookah that seem to have a narcotic effect. Who knew that Nutcracker could be so problematic? (I do "appreciate" Arthur Mitchell's torso, although I could never say so out loud these days!)
  8. On Pointe

    Nutcracker 2018

    When I was a child - long long ago - Coffee was a solo for Arthur Mitchell. The current "belly dancer" version was supposedly devised to keep the daddies in the audience from being bored, but that story might be apocryphal.
  9. On Pointe

    Job posting for artistic director

    Every Broadway show is recorded for archival purposes, with the cooperation of the multiple unions' members involved, and the express condition that only scholars and theater professionals be allowed to access them. (In the age of the cellphone camera, bootleg copies of hit shows abound, but they're taken down from the Internet as soon as producers get wind of them.) Did the archivists or the dancers give permission for Clifford to post their coaching session on the internet? Some things are not meant for the eyes of the general public.
  10. On Pointe

    Job posting for artistic director

    Yes, it does. It's rather impolitic of him to coach two principal dancers, both of whom have been with NYCB longer than he was, as if they were students in need of "correcting", as opposed to giving notes to mature artists. It might have been a better idea to make his points with up-and-coming corps dancers.
  11. On Pointe

    Sara Mearns Weds Josh Bergasse

    I have a close friend who discovered that her relationship of many years with a Broadway star, had apparently ended when she read the New York Times' featured coverage of his wedding to another woman. She would have appreciated a bit more candor on his part.
  12. On Pointe

    Sara Mearns Weds Josh Bergasse

    They've had a few brides who chose pale pink for their gowns, and one Indian bride who tried on white dresses but had her style made in red, the traditional color for Indian weddings. They even had a "Beetlejuice" style dress custom made in black.
  13. On Pointe

    Sara Mearns Weds Josh Bergasse

    Marc Happel could develop a nice little revenue stream on the side by designing a capsule collection of wedding dresses, although he probably doesn't have time. One of my guilty pleasures is watching Say Yes to the Dress on TLC, a show that consists of nothing but monied women and their entourages deciding on which over-the-top gown to choose. Most popular are Cinderella-like ballgowns and form-fitting "mermaid" looks. Interestingly, the one time they had a professional ballerina on the show, she was adamant that the last thing she wanted was to look like a princess on her wedding day, because as she put it, "I dress like a princess every day." She chose a modern architectural style dress.
  14. On Pointe

    Job posting for artistic director

    Daniel Day-Lewis, dedicated actor that he is, spent a year working with Marc Happel in NYCB's costume shop in preparation for his role as a couturier in The Phantom Thread. (Surely the most peculiar "love story" ever filmed.) That experience could make a compelling documentary by itself. One wonders if the costume makers and the dancers knew who he was? It certainly was not common knowledge that he was there. Day-Lewis seems to be enamored with craftmanship. He took a considerable amount of time off from acting to work as a shoemaker. I'm not sure what to make of John Clifford's latest letter to the world. It's hard to believe that he thought he was seriously in the running to become AD, but his disappointment seems real. If his concern is preserving the Balanchine legacy, there's no reason why he and others who worked with Mr. B can't stage and coach his works. (Suki Schorer, Rosemary Dunleavy and Susan Pilarre apparently don't count to him, even though they're in-house and worked with Balanchine far longer than he did.) But if that session with Clifford and Mimi Paul is representative, his coaching methods could use some work. You can't throw that much information at dancers in one rehearsal and expect good results. It's like trying to direct a play in one day. The dancers need time to absorb the valuable insights being given to them, and to discover how to build them into their personal understanding and interpretation of the work. My ballet teacher used to liken the process to the old commercial for Sunshine seedless prunes - "Today the pit, tomorrow the wrinkles!".
  15. On Pointe

    Former dancer Runsheng Ying

    When Lindsay Fischer joined NYCB as a principal, his wife Mandy-Jayne Richardson, who had been a soloist with the Royal Ballet, was also invited to join the company in the corps.
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