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Ballerinas with only 'cats and memories'


dirac

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does anyone take umbrage anymore?

i certainly did after that 'cats and memories' remark. and i have neither!

found it rather obnoxious, or at least silly and self-absorbed. i'm not talking about her experience or that of any other mother now, just about the remark. :mad:

Not to flog the dying horse, but I did, too, I admit. As I said earlier, I'm sure Fournier did not mean to hurt or offend, but I do not see how you can interpret the phrase any other way or accuse the reporter of putting words in her mouth. The ownership of cats is the standard joke aimed at single women or women sans children, and the remark, however offhand, suggests plainly that these unfortunate ladies have nothing else in their lives, having failed - for whatever reason - to reproduce, and Fournier has been saved from this dire fate.

(I have two cats and a very tolerant dog. I feel certain they are not child surrogates. I would say more but I have to take them to soccer practice.)

Thanks to all, BTW, for providing a lively discussion on very complex issue - I've enjoyed reading all the contributions to this thread!

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(I have two cats and a very tolerant dog. I feel certain they are not child surrogates. I would say more but I have to take them to soccer practice.)
Hmmm... My cat has been looking for a soccer team to join.

But California is a long way away, so I guess he'll have to be content with kicking used toilet paper rolls alone.

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Hmmm... My cat has been looking for a soccer team to join.

But California is a long way away, so I guess he'll have to be content with kicking used toilet paper rolls alone.

there are worse things they could kick around. Believe me, my cats have found some.

:mad:

what I'll never understand is why balled up tinfoil is so infinitely more entertaining to them then cat toys.

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(Edited to add the following):

The following sentence of the journalist is quite controversial too:

Dance is like a husband, whom they cannot live without for long. It is central to their identity.

No one has commented on this part since Estelle added it, so I thought I would.

Seriously. Besides the obvious offense of the concept of a woman "unable to live without a husband," I wonder how their actual husbands feel about that.

Can one imagine reading of a male dancer that "dance is like a wife (or husband), whom they cannot live without for long"?

I don't think so.

I certainly see some of the points people have brought up (about their being unusual difficulties, even now, with being both mother and dancer), but there are a lot of concepts presented in the article which make me feel that rather than the positive spin on modern experience which I believe it means to convey (look, ballerinas can now have their cake and eat it too!), the view of womanhood it presents is a decided throwback to an era I thought we'd moved a bit further beyond.

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Thanks Marga, as always, for your beautiful thoughtful comments. I was struck by the amount of weight the dancers gained---47 lbs?; 40 lbs? In my day you dared not gain more than 20 lbs. I know the medical profession has revised that but I would think someone wanting to return to a dancing career would have been more astute.

As Helene said, it is a tricky thing, and also from what I've been told during my own pregnancy a few months ago, in general women with a low weight before the pregnancy often tend to gain more weight than women with a higher weight (the "ideal" number of pounds to gain depends on your BMI before the pregnancy- but of course it is not something very predictable, as there are so many factors...) And one can gain a lot of weight and lose it easily: when my mother was pregnant of my brother, she gained 20 kilograms (44 pounds- and my brother was born 3 weeks earlier than planned), but lost 95% of it very quickly and without any special diet...

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(Edited to add the following):

The following sentence of the journalist is quite controversial too:

Dance is like a husband, whom they cannot live without for long. It is central to their identity.

No one has commented on this part since Estelle added it, so I thought I would.

Seriously. Besides the obvious offense of the concept of a woman "unable to live without a husband," I wonder how their actual husbands feel about that.

Can one imagine reading of a male dancer that "dance is like a wife (or husband), whom they cannot live without for long"?

I don't think so.

You know, until Estelle and you mentioned it I had completely forgotten about that line from Ms. Hampson. She must have been reading Byron:

Man's love is of man's life a thing apart,

'Tis woman's whole existence. :mad:

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On Monday morning shortly after reading the article you are discussing I sent the following letter to the Editors at the Globe and Mail. It appeared only in the print edition of the Tuesday edition. It read

In her article "Think you feel pressure to the lose the baby fat?" Sarah Hampson quoted me as saying that if ballerinas do not have children all they have left is "cats and memories". I was speaking about our profession in historical terms, of a time when ballerinas having a family was seen as incompatible with the rigorous demands placed on them by their career. I was horrified that my words implied anyone who doesn't have children lives some sort of lesser existence. I don't believe anything of the sort. I was referring to those who at one time did not have that CHOICE, who were expected to sacrifice that right.

After reading some of the comments on the board i would also like to add that my somewhat defensive remarks about how being a mother has made me a better artist and person were in response to Hampson's assertion during the interview that Georgia O'Keefe felt being a mother resulted in a loss of creativity and that a woman had in effect to choose between being an artist or a mother. That has simply not been true for me. Careful readers will also note that the words "all they have are" do not appear in quotation marks.

In the article there is no mention of how our profession has changed its attitudes toward dancers having children but to me that is implicit in any discussion of ballerinas with babies. Isn't that exactly why people are now writing articles about it? It would also have been impossible to imagine when I was a young girl that dancers could one day get a degree while still dancing as a recent NYT article discussed. Can you still achieve greatness with a term paper due the next day or a sick baby that keeps you at home?? I'm not sure about that and while I would never place myself in the category of great dancers I don't know if I could have danced as long or with the same drive if I had had a child earlier in my career . It is a very interesting topic for discussion but no one can deny that there was once a day that dancers were not encouraged to give much thought to a life after dance .

As anyone who knows me will attest my two greatest role models have been Suzanne Farrell and Karen Kain-not only do i adore them as people but could not hold them in higher regard as ballerinas and artists. That my comments in any way could be seen as a slight towards them or any ballerina without children has caused me great personal pain and an impression I would desperately like to rectify.

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Thank you for your very thoughtful, beautifully expressed explanation.

I have seen enough ballerinas blossom artistically after returning from maternity leave. I have never needed to be persuaded that the experience enlarges the soul.

Welcome to BalletTalk, and congratulations on your babies! :mad:

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Thank you for for the clarification, Ms. Fournier. Your response is well-put and appreciated.

As you said, the juggle between the demands of career and motherhood are still a topic for discussion; and I hope we'll continue to discuss the issue while taking into account Ms. Fournier's explanation of how she was quoted.

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Careful readers will also note that the words "all they have are" do not appear in quotation marks.

Apologies for any remarks ill-placed here due to this unfortunate occurrence, and thank you for clearing it up. I think we did know that 'all they have are' was not in quotation marks, but still find it nearly impossible to believe that journalists will take that sort of liberty, no matter how many times we've been proved wrong. I know I cannot imagine how writers with serious responsibility and with prestigious jobs see fit to do this. I think it was worth it to go through this process to find out a number of things, and journalistic sloppiness and falsification is something I'm always anxious to expose. You've rendered the coup de grace here, and this should give other interviewers pause if they look at what happened as a result of absurd liberties taken. One wonders if it's a matter of fact or nuance they think they are tampering with. I'm beginning to think they don't know the difference.

Interesting that a remark by Georgia O'Keeffe would have stimulated all this. I'm a huge fan of her, but she clearly said things that were meant to be provocative--and all of us who do this get it right a certain amount of time, and wrong the rest, with the ratios differing. Ms. O'Keeffe's use of language can be understood from Joan Didion's excellent essay on her from 'The White Album', which you may know. She describes her as 'a hard woman', that the usual words like 'crusty' and 'tough' (I believe she included that one as well, although I don't have the book at hand) were not sufficient to apply. There's also a documentary with her last companion, I think it's sometime in the 80's in New Mexico, in which she said that the people who saw in her paintings sexual imagery that might somehow reflect on her own sexuality 'are just talking about themselves.' It was not really clear that that was so, certainly not always, but that's just the way she talked. She was asked why she stayed in New York so long, when she obviously preferred the country and describes herself as a 'country person.' She just said 'Because Stieglitz was there.'

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I'm a huge fan of her, but she clearly said things that were meant to be provocative—

I don’t think O’Keeffe intended that particular remark to be provocative, just what was for her a statement of fact. Sometimes taking care of children, especially young children, is an impediment to work. (Yes, yes, it’s also wonderful, life enhancing, etc.) Men, however, usually have women back of them to mind the kiddies and perform domestic duties, and traditionally men are not expected to be primary caregivers for children.

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Well, this post is not nearly as topical as it was when I first started trying to wrestle with technology and post it!! When I first saw the article I did what I always do when I see something that interesting, spend a few seconds with google and get some context. A quick search on SARAH HAMPSON revealed a great deal. My favourite is the globe & mail article below. Note that cats feature prominently in this article as well. "Ms. Paget, who, 51 and once married and divorced, now enjoys a live-out boyfriend and a live-in 20-pound cat called Mr. Freddie. I could hear him meowing for her attention in the background of her Los Angeles home." And one reader says "This article sounds like it was written in the 50's." There is a very good possibility that the article would have sounded like that no matter who was interviewed - the journalist seems to have her own ideas.

http://dangerouslyinept.files.wordpress.co...ex-expanded.pdf

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To add a little about the author of the article: Sarah Hampson is a veteran Globe and Mail columnist. She usually interviews prominent individuals ("The Hampson Interview") and is quite well known for her in-depth profiles. That she lets her own personality seep into her articles is almost inevitable given the amount of hours she normally spends with her subjects and the comfort level and familiarity she thus develops with them. Add to that the years she's been pounding the same beat and you're bound to come up with plenty of fodder for criticism. She has interviewed a vast number of celebrities and otherwise provocative people and I quite enjoy reading her stories.

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I rather thought that the dance world and young children both demanded full time attention... making a conflict at some point all but inevitable...

but isn't there a lot of buzz right now about Paula Radcliffe winning the NY marathon... athletes coming back after giving birth...

creativity & exhaustion... never sure how those two intermix...

Can kids trip up her career drive? Maybe it depends on the kids, the career, and the support team the mother has available to her.

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