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Where is Meunier?


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Well, take second or third-hand information for what it's worth, but I asked the very same question of a woman at the Ballet Guild concession counter, and she said Meunier was out of Walpurgisnacht because of a recurrence of a chronic hip injury. While I hate to spread anything which might be considered "gossip," I do think it's not inappropriate for her many fans (of whom I number myself) to wonder where she's been, and to feel a certain relief that her absence is due to something as concrete as an injury (however awful that injury might be) instead of something as intangible as the whims of an artistic director.

Professional sports teams always have lists of who's on "injured reserve." While nobody bets on the results of ballet performances (now wouldn't that be a hoot?), I still think it might be welcome and useful for companies to occasionally let us know why certain favorites are absent. Of course, that may mean that we'd just read about various permutations of Kchessinska's infamously euphemistic "mal a genue," but nothing's perfect, is it?

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Dale, our resident sportswriter, has raised the point of an injured list before, and I think it's a good one. I don't understand why they can't say "she took a hard fall in the coda of Tchai pas last night and will be out for three games -- weeks -- with a sprained ankle." The problem with that is that there are some situations that aren't quite injuries, nor quite directorial whims. (A directorial whims list would be even more fun. "Maestro is still pouty about that little interview s/he gave a couple of years ago," or "ever since he did that guest stint with Rival X last year, we've begun to question how he fits in with the company's mission statement." smile.gif (I do NOT mean to imply that either is operative in the present situation with Ms. Meuneier. Just giving a hypothetical for instance smile.gif )

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I'd wonder if dancer X had an ankle sprain and then was a little in turns after that, if that would then be "excused" because we knew she had the previous injury.

I also think it's dangerous from the dancer perspective of there is already enough pressure and an injury only magnifies it. Well if X hadn't been injured Y wouldn't have had the opportunity. It's a sensitive topic.

[ February 25, 2002: Message edited by: Calliope ]

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Calliope, I think people would guess that dancer Y was dancing because dancer X's injury because there would be a change on the casting sheet. But an injury list would explain why, for example, Meunier was cast for only one night in the last month and had to be replaced in that lone performance. Other wise, like many of us, people would just be thinking, "Well, they don't like her" etc... I think it clears things up.

I don't think an injury report would work in ballet because it would glaringly show which dancers were not dancing due to injury but because they are out of favor -- they wouldn't be on the injury list and still wouldn't be cast. However, in sports, players are benched for all sorts of reasons (attitude, lack of production, they just don't get on with the coach or other players) and it is accepted. But, ballet is art, not sport, so perhaps an AD having to answer questions from a pack of reporters after the performance as to the state of the company would be strange. Can you imagine? "Peter, Lillian wobbled on that series of turns in the 2nd movement, do you think you'll take her out of the Tchiakovsky pas de deux Friday night? How are rehearsals going for Agon? I heard there was a disagreement between the principals on a missing step, can you comment?"

Reviewers are sometimes told about injuries. Perhaps if they were to incorperate a few heads-up in there reviews than the public would be better informed. I would certainly welcome it when it comes to Monique as she is one of my absolute favorite dancers. I think she brings so much life to the theater (at least for me) and things are a little less bright when she's not performing. Dancers deserve their privacy, definitely, but she's a special performer and I hope she finds a balance between health and performing. Unfortunately, having an injury (in ballet and sports) is like getting off a speeding train. It's just going to keep going while they are on the sidelines and it's hard to get back on in the place where they've been.

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Perhaps also there should be a difference between "big" and "small" injuries? It seems to me that it would be reasonable to expect the company to announce, for example "Dancer X will be absent from the stage for the rest of the season because of a broken leg" (if the dancer agrees with such an announcement, of course), but on the other hand, with less serious injuries, it sometimes is hard to know how long it will take to be back in shape, and sometimes the dancers try to rehearse the roles as much as they can before finally cancelling their performances...

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All good points, I think. But when a principal, and a beloved one (Meunier certainly has devoted followers on this board!) is absent for awhile, then announced and doesn't dance, people wonder and worry -- and just want to see her dance! I wish there were a way for companies to let us know, "There's an injury but we expect X to be back for the spring," or something of that sort. Something similar happened with Alicia Graf, where there WAS a serious injury and at first, it was thought she'd be back in a season, but now it's been three. There's a difference between probing for fun or gossip and really wanting to know; it should be possible to do it without violating the company's or the dancer's privacy. I think people would be fine with "He decided to take a break from ballet for the season but we hope he'll be back in the fall," or "it's a torn ligament. The doctors are hopeful, but we don't know when or if s/he'll return."

Estelle, I think your distinction between serious and relatively minor injuries is an important one. I also think if it were announced how many dancers routinely danced with injuries -- wasn't it Fonteyn who said the only people who could like ballet are those who like bullfights? (if they knew the physical pain involved).

Dale, I love your idea of press briefings. I think, in the long run, it would be a good thing. A director might like the opportunity to say, "Falling or missing a step doesns't lose you a role in this company" or "there have been disagreements in company philosophy and yes, we're taking a wait and see policy on Apprentice Y."

[ February 25, 2002: Message edited by: alexandra ]

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On second thought, I wouldn't mind seeing a weekly press conference from AD's!

I remember watching Bravo's profile of Peter Martin's and there's footage of him talking to Ansanelli about an injury, I believe it was her foot or ankle, and he asked "why does it still hurt" making me wonder if they'd ever be able to give us accuracy with injury reports.

I think if you report specific injury, you run the risk of dancers who have different recovery times being compared (well the other dancer only needed 3 weeks to recover) It may also (like in sports) play into a dancer choosing to leave a company and going to another one knowing they may be "damaged goods".

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