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I came upon this article in today's Links section: Leap towards ageism is a backward step in dance

Lewis Segal, The Los Angeles Times' dance critic has as his lead "A Delhi High Court shelves dancers over 45, ghettoizing a generation of India’s most fabled dancers."

Interesting article about how the courts in India are legislating specific age ranges in re the designation of "professional dnacers"... In this particular case, it's all about money - and not wanting to subsidize "older" dancers (those over 45).

Mr. Segal goes into quite a bit of detail about Indian dance forms which I found illuminating as I know almost nothing about this, and I enjoyed getting a glimmer of its style. He also touches on some of our past and present Western dancers... His final statement in which her writes:

"Stalinism in the arts is always bad news, and Stalinism coupled with ageism and the assumption that the classic dances of India ought to inspire body-worship rather than reverence is downright ridiculous. Hindus everywhere believe that the whole universe was created in a dance performance by the eternal, ever-potent god Shiva. If so, it's indeed a blessing for all of us that Sikri wasn't around at the time to check Shiva's ID."
seemed a pretty good ending to me.

I do think that he makes a valid point when he writes about the audience's reactions usually being the key to a dancer's retirement...but I was also wondering what you all might think about the article, the point of view, etc. Is the ballet world subject to its own form of Stalinism, or is this just hyperbole?

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It's such a catch-22. Like getting a driver's license. Just because you qualified at 18 doesn't mean at 88 you should get behind the wheel.

There are so few "stars" nowadays, that some people like to resort to seeing what/who they "know" i.e. Misha. But I think it's partly up to the artist to recognize their limitations.

With the financial difficulties most ballet companies are facing, I don't know if I were a board, I'd want to pay the 45 year old ballerina a hefty salary for going out there once a month and not being able to perform a piece that meets the standards of an audience paying the hefty ticket price.

Which is why I like "character" dancers :(

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Thanks for responding Calliope - I'd pretty much forgotten about this attempt at a thread! ;)

I'm in agreement in re paying a hefty salary to someone who can't perform a role well. I am wondering: do you think that the "character" dancers are only paid per diem - or was that just a nice way of saying that a dancer can go out gracefully by accepting their limitations in certain areas and using what they have in others?

P.S. Now that I'm no longer a youth, I've started to believe that the drivers license age should be raised up a bit at one end and lowered at the other...of course with strict government testing! ;) ;)

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In the "Los Angeles Times" article quoted in the original post, Lewis Segal wrote:

"Stalinism in the arts is always bad news, and Stalinism coupled with ageism...."

and BW asked:

Is the ballet world subject to its own form of Stalinism,  


or is this just hyperbole?


No critic who confuses the practices of Joseph Stalin and his henchmen with the hiring and retention policies of a ballet company in the 21st century is worthy of the space he is granted by his newspaper.

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That's ridiculous. Most dancers have retired by the time they are in their 40s -or have been fired- so usually if they are still around, it means that they still have a product to offer, and that's being still able to dance well. It's very rare for a dancer to make money after they can't dance anymore.

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Hello Marenetha - fancy your finding this old thread! :) Unfortunately the orginal article is no longer available online to read but in this case it is a bit different, for as Segal writes:

Hindus everywhere believe that the whole universe was created in a dance performance by the eternal, ever-potent god Shiva.
In other words, in this culture it shouldn't matter how old a dancer is.

Truly, for the most part, in ours it does. Yet, in times past there were certainly ballet dancers who danced well even in to their early 50's - if I'm not mistaken.

Luckily, if a dancer is a good teacher they can continue to practice their art and get paid for it and reap not just the financial rewards but the satisfaction of passing on their art form. :)

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Thank you for posting, Marenetha, and welcome to the discussion. Isn't it possible, though, that the firings you mention could be age-discriminatory in nature, and wouldn't that complicate matters a bit?

I'd also suggest that the companies who are doing those storybook ballets are more likely to be purely classical in style than those with a modern bent, and thus uniformity in look and strict classical technique might work against minorities in those companies. That would not excuse discrimination, of course, but it does raise the barriers against certain kinds of diversity requirements.

I can't recall that much of Segal's original article, but while we've seen dancers categorized by age before, putting such things into actual legislation would seem to present obvious difficulties....

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