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On Pointe

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Everything posted by On Pointe

  1. Like nearly every other Black female dancer employed in a major company, Ms. Lopes Gomes is lightskinned. If the company that hired her gave her hell, what are the prospects for brownskinned dancers, who mostly aren't hired at all? I've been impressed by the very young dancers whose videos keep popping up in my Youtube feed. This little girl is just thirteen. Will she have a chance to perform when she's eighteen?
  2. Fascinating that Dudamel considered watching ballet an important aspect of his musical education as a conductor. Now he'll get to conduct for the great Paris Opera Ballet, or, as the article dubs it, "the in-house dance company".
  3. Western Symphony seems an odd choice for a Japanese ballet company. One could say it's a clear case of cultural appropriation! Just kidding - I don't care. And American Westerns are popular all over the world, just like Asian martial arts movies. Bugaku is problematic because it isn't top tier Balanchine. It can be done without. Certainly Porgy and Bess would have been jettisoned long ago if it didn't have those glorious songs. A
  4. Could be that heading an American ballet company is similar to heading an American symphony orchestra - most musical directors of major orchestras are Europeans, with a few Latinos in the mix. Nobody seems bothered by this. It would be great to have a woman in the position, American or not.
  5. The problem with Levine was not his homosexuality, but his harassment and exploitation of musicians under his authority. Several major conductors have been fired for similar behavior towards women. However Levine was also notorious for abusing underage boys of color. Adults can fend for themselves, but why didn't any of those decrying Levine now protect those children, his coaching and conducting skills notwithstanding? Why didn't the New York Times run an exposé on him when he was alive? He was allowed to get away with it.
  6. I can't think of a dancer today with a physique similar to Moira Shearer's. I'm intrigued that this photo is by Gordon Parks, the legendary Black American photographer not known for photos of dancers. I suspect that the taste for high retirés and near 180 degree a la secondes has caused today's dancers to have thicker, more muscular waistlines than ballerinas of the past.
  7. It's obvious that bodies in general have changed over the years, and not just ballet dancers' bodies. For example, when a filmmaker wanted to recreate the look of the TV music show Soul Train, it was impossible to find extras as thin as the actual dancers of the 60s and 70s, even in weight conscious LA. It's fascinating to watch Classic Arts Showcase's short ballet excerpts from years past. Moira Shearer and Ludmilla Tchernicheva were much tinier than most current dancers, and it wasn't just their weight, it's their narrow ribcages and the general look of their skeletal structure. Women today cross train and aren't afraid to put on muscle. But European dancers, especially the French and the Russians, seem much thinner than American dancers, and Americans working in Europe, like Sarah Lamb, tend to take on that look. However Lauren Lovette is the "total package", an exceptionally pretty young woman, slim but not gaunt, with beautiful legs and feet. It's definitely depressing to find out that she feels insecure about her look! She could be racking up a fortune in films and commercials.
  8. On Pointe

    Julie Felix

    Interesting piece in The Guardian about Black British dancer Julie Felix, who couldn't get a position with a company in England, but danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem for ten years. https://www.theguardian.com So many of the Black dancers who tell similar stories of rejection are light-skinned, biracial or both. ABC did a stoty on a brownskinned ballet student's delight in finally getting shoes that matched her skin tone. (Actually they didn't - they were too dark and the hue wasn't quite right - but baby steps, at least they weren't pink.). If pale dancers who can blend in easily are getting rejected, her chances of a major career are even slimmer. Colorism is a bigger problem than racism. (For some reason I can't paste the entire link, but the story is one of the top ten in "Culture".
  9. Lately the YouTube algorithms have sent me numerous videos of youngsters auditioning for summer intensive programs, especially for SAB. While it's interesting to see talented, and not so talented kids from around the country, posting their auditions publicly strikes me as a very bad idea. It's like reading the college entrance essays of high school seniors. Some of the videos even have the comments enabled, which could be devastating to a young dancer's sense of self. (One sweetly earnest little girl is morbidly obese.) Because of Covid, video auditions are necessary, but I think they should be private. Does SAB require students to upload to YouTube? What about DropBox or Google Drive?
  10. With all this praise and accomodation for a male student studying pointe, PNB has put itself in a tough position. They almost have to hire Ashton Edwards, even if there is very little for him to dance in their repertory. Even if they had no intention of hiring such a small male dancer at all. And if they do give him a contract, will they cast him in female roles? (I realize how unpopular my views are here, but rest assured Black balletgoers would consider a Black male dancer being cast as a woman to be a profound insult and a major turnoff.). Or will they engage a choreographer to create a role just for him? He's a unicorn, and for a company with financial challenges - which is all of them these days - it's hard to justify the expense of taking on a dancer of such limited utility. (BTW I wish that Mr. Edwards had corrected the NPR interviewer who referred to pointe shoes as "torture boxes" with wood inside.)
  11. Yes, there's are many examples of men disguised as women for comic effect. Joe E. Brown's closing line to Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot is considered to be the funniest in movie history by many film enthusiasts. There are very few instances of women dressing as men for laughs, with the notable exception of Saturday Night Live. When they want to bring down a powerful male figure, they have him portrayed by a female cast member, for example Kate McKinnon as Rudy Giuliani. (Until recently, the show has had very few Black women. They made a special effort to find more when Black actor Kenan Thompson flat out refused to portray women anymore, thereby providing opportunities to several Black female comics. Thompson has been on the show longer than any other performer so apparently he could make such a demand and not get fired.)
  12. Again, you're twisting my words to fit your mindset. Mr. Edwards, like Billy Porter, can do whatever he wants, wear whatever he wants, identify however he wants. I don't care about his motivations. My concern is the hypocrisy of a school and company championing a Black male dancer who dances on pointe and has a feminine presentation, but has never hired a Black female dancer of similar appearance.
  13. Mr. Edwards is capable of defining himself. As he has not called himself trans, why should we? Nothing I have written dismisses gender queer people. I don't say they shouldn't appear in media. I say that Black people sometimes sense an agenda when and where they do. I sincerely do not understand individuals who are so fragile that the mere thought of someone having a different point of view is perceived as an attack. How do they get through life?
  14. If nothing else, the events of the past week have demonstrated that Black Americans do not receive the same treatment, or necessarily have the same world view, as other Americans. The sexuality and sexual identity of Black men, and women, is under constant attack. This is a hot button issue that white Americans might be totally unaware of. There is definitely a strong conviction that feminized Black men are being thrust into the spotlight, and rewarded, to the detriment of the community. You may disagree, or even find it silly, but you cannot tell Black people how they should feel. Through the centuries, men have used wearing dresses, drag and other forms of "womanface" to get a laugh. Presumably because they wanted to. That's not the same as being told you have to do it, whether you like it or not. But that's not the gist of my skepticism. There are many talented young black women in ballet who, in this day, have very limited prospects because they have skin that's closer to Ashton Edwards' complexion than Misty Copeland's. They dance on pointe, too. But it's the Black boy who takes on a feminine persona who gets the attention. (If PNB hires him, would they dare cast him in female roles? Would they let him dance male roles wearing earrings with his hair in a bun with bangs? Most companies don't allow their male dancers to even have facial hair.) These days, no matter what the word or the subject, all roads seem to lead to transphobia. Mr. Edwards is not trans. Trans is not part of the discussion.
  15. I never said that it was a media blitz. But being featured on the local news is far more attention than most ballet students get, not to mention the Go Fund Me which has raised a considerable sum.
  16. That's not at all what I am saying and I don't know how you could come to that conclusion from what I wrote. While there is a diversity of ethnicity at PNB, the entire company looks about the same skin color. A Black woman with Edwards' look, has never been hired by PNB. (Nice publicity, but Edwards is a student at their school and there's no guarantee that they will actually hire him, let alone let him perform on pointe.). He's being otherized and exoticized. Black Americans know a bit about oppression. Not being a fan of Black men in media in makeup and earrings is not it.
  17. No. Ashton Edwards can present himself however he likes. But there is a long history of mainstream media putting forth feminized images of Black men, who have long been considered hypermasculine and sexually aggressive, especially dangerous to white women. Broadway star Billy Porter's career did not take off when he dressed conventionally, but he has garnered enormous praise, and bigger roles, since he began wearing elaborate gowns and headgear at red carpet events. He was just as talented when he wore suits. Black comedians talk about how they are constantly pressured to "just put on a dress, it'll be hilarious". Dave Chapelle, who was the creator and star of the biggest show on Comedy Central, has often spoken of how he was needled to wear a dress by his own white staff. It's a bone of contention in Black media. My concern with the coverage of Edwards is how he is being " signal boosted" and praised for being non-binary and dancing on pointe, when an equally talented Black woman, with the same skin color, would get very little attention. Contrary to widely-held belief, notably by white liberals, Black Americans are not rabidly homophobic. But I'm certain there isn't much desire to see yet another talented Black man in earrings and a tutu. White people love the image a bit too much for our taste.
  18. Colorism - favoring white and lighter shades of skin over darker shades - is rampant in the ballet world, as in other aspects of society. So forgive my skepticism over the media promotion of a darkskinned "non-binary" Black dancer. There are only a handful of Black female dancers in major ballet companies, and nearly all of them are lightskinned. While Ashton Edwards looks to be a tremendous talent, he justifies the suspicions of Black Americans of the ongoing efforts to emasculate Black men in entertainment and the arts. I don't want to see him or any other male-bodied dancer cast in a female role. If men want to dance on pointe, choreographers need to stage new ballets specifically for them.
  19. Well I just saw a recent video of Khoreva as Queen of the Dryads in Don Quixote and I was impressed by her performance. She and her fans tend to post videos of her in roles where her youth and immaturity put her at a disadvantage, like the Diamonds pas de deux. There's a new game show on called The Chase where contestants pit their knowledge against three Jeopardy super champions. When a contestant was asked who was considered " the first American prima ballerina", he obviously didn't know the answer (Maria Tallchief according to the show), but he shrugged his shoulders and said "Copeland". I could just imagine the heads exploding throughout ballet land!
  20. Being active in social media requires a great deal of time and effort. Establishing oneself as an "influencer" is harder than it looks. (Although the payoff can be spectacular.). Khoreva is willing to do the work to elevate her brand. As a dancer, she, like her younger sister, has extraordinary facility and the "right stuff" physically, from a Russian point of view. But she has been given an extraordinary number of big roles for someone so young, and while it's unfair to judge her strictly by her Youtube excerpts, she strikes me as just scratching the surface of most of them.
  21. I watched Soul last night and I think I need to see it again. I don't know quite what to make of it. Some critics have deemed it a masterpiece. It really deals with profound themes and is not a child's cartoon at all, although children will probably enjoy the scenes with the cat. Pixar had an unofficial African American consultation group which became official as production went on, and those cultural aspects struck me as unusually authentic for a Hollywood film. It's not a holiday feel-good film, but it does make you feel, and think.
  22. Well Maria Khoreva is giving Copeland a run for the money. She has dozens of videos on Youtube, demonstrating technique as well as excerpts from her enormous repertoire, and apparently has a promotional deal with Nike. She speaks excellent English. While Copeland is more known to the general public, Khoreva is going after the bunheads first.
  23. But the only reason someone would call a dancer "straight outta compton" is if the dancer is black. It's a racist remark, making assumptions about someone's background because she's black. I'm not trying to beat up on you, but tiptoeing around reality is not helpful. The young lady who plays Neveah has said that every race-coded remark in the script has been said to her or about her in real life. ("Neveah" is an odd choice for a black character. That name, which is "heaven" backwards, is usually associated with working class whites.) I don't know if Misty Copeland is the most famous ballerina in the US. But her presence means that black dancers are not automatically excluded when a ballet themed story is being cast, and that's a big plus.
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