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Minorities in Ballet

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Dirac, I think stereotypes are only a problem when they’re false. In any case, to say that African-Americans have been the major jazz innovators is not at all to say, as in your paraphrase, that African-American jazz musicians are simply better at jazz than whites. The latter implicitly attributes quality to nature, never mind nuture. The former looks at individual achievement in this field and notes that it has has fallen along racial lines. It doesn't say one race is better, it says one race has achieved more in this particular field.

But in regards to your skepticism, if I may ask the question Saul Bellow was pilloried for: who is the Proust of the Papuans? Just a different people have different strengths, so do different cultures (how could it be otherwise)? so there is one obvious reason that African-Americans dominate the history of jazz in almost every telling. Today we recognize diversity as beautiful, but the flipside of what we celebrate is that my culture may not excel at something my neighbor’s excels at. C'est la vie.

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ok,first,for KFW, why do you suppose it is that black dancers just aren't as good as whites or others? Don't you think people improve with encouragement?

Everyone assumes that a black persons' body is not suited for ballet, so whenever one enters a ballet class,they might not be given the same attention initially because they don't look the part...

One of the things about a company like Dance Theatre of Harlem is that Arthur mitchell has tried to send the message to his students and dancers is that you can dance ballet no matter what your race is.

I don't know...In this time especially, there should be more effort to try to encourage the black students to succeed. Pillates is a perfect vehicle for molding body types and gaining strength without overdeveloping muscle. ( a common issue with the African American body type)

If a black girl came into a studio and had a nice, but athletic build, ok feet extension,she could turn. and jump was attractive.....what will eventually happen to her? The same thing that has happened to so many of us when people say..."Why don't you join Alvin Ailey"?

That's just it.There shouldn't just be two companies that black students could ever hope to get a job in and succeed.

There are plenty of white people and others that have horrible feet and many of the same structural "defects" that black people have nad yet they succeed.I don't understand that. Does it just show up more on black people?

I guess I iwsh it didn't matter,but ti does because times haven't changed.

As for the number of Whites attending Alvin Aliey and such to the number of blacks attending The Kirov. I agree,it is unbalanced and having asked the African Americans with means that I know, ther answer is always the same...They don't want to support and organization that will not support black dancers the same way everyone is supported.

In the case of Boston Ballet, there has only been one black woman for years.There was a black boy last year, but he is gone.I am curious about next year to see if the numbers increase or decrease.

Many people think it is a matter of "shut up and dance"... but I think it is too important for that.It has to change.A black person should not fear losing their job just because they want to dance and want to be treated equally. Many people think we should be happy to have a job and that shouldn't be the case.We shouldn't sit back and watch people around us getting opportunities that we are just as suited for and be expected to just let it happen.

The few black dancers that make it into companies other than Alvin Aliey or DTH have always have the misfortune of being under utilized and that has to change.

I'm waiting to see an Artistic director who will throw the status quo out the window. If a black person joins the company and doesn't quite have something , then work with them. Don't just assume it is all they have and ignore them...

The same should go for any race, from Caucasian to Asian to Latino and more...Everyone deserves the chance to prove ther worth.

Of course my plight is for the African American since I am one and i know the struggle to succeed and I have whitnessed success in someone close to me.

I will leave with this thought. ...

Race should be nothing more that and address.Look at the person and and not the street that they live on and you will discover far more than you imagined...

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Eland (and dirac), you might be making the common mistake of letting your expectations shape your perceptions. Eland, where did I say that black dancers aren’t as good as whites? “For the sake of argument” means “as a thought experiment,” and I was taking on your claim that ballet companies should be integrated. When I spend $60 and upwards for a ticket, whether for Dance Theatre of Harlem or New York City Ballet, I don't want to see black dancers or white dancers, I want to see the best dancers. Choreographers and directors should use integrated casting when and only when it makes for the highest quality of dancing.

King dreamed of a world where color would not be an issue. So yes, African-American dancers should certainly be encouraged to succeed. But I applaud affirmative action in the arts when (and only when) the particular white and minority dancers in question have equal talent and equal dedication. When African-Americans make up a relatively small proportion of the American population, and when for a host of other reasons (some unfortunate, yes) a significantly smaller proportion even take beginning ballet classes, it's to be expected that few will so much as make it into professional companies.

So no, it's not a matter of shut up and dance, but perhaps it should be a matter of demonstrate your claim if you have a case to make, or else re-evaluate your presumptions. What contemporary acclaimed minority dancer has been passed up for promotions given to lesser white dancers? I'm sure there are isolated cases of racism, and I'm sure that in the light of past discrimination, those loom all the larger emotionally to those who witness or experience them. And I understand why minority dancers might perceive racism where none exists.

But Trent Lott doesn't own the New York press, and the dance world, from all indications I've seen, is socially liberal. If there is a scandal here, why haven't we all heard about it?

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OK, everybody, step right up, get yer patent whips right here for flogging the dead horse! We've charged back and forth over the same field for 80 posts now, and we're still no closer to a solution than when we started although we've all had a nice vent. We can agree that we want to see the best dancers, but the methodology of gaining talent from across the full spectrum of the population seems to elude us. With attitudes like that, change will come, but it will be slow, slow. To spare future effusion of bandwidth, this thread is closed.

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