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Kent, Herrera and Reyes to retire during 2015 Spring season


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I'm older than Herrera and occasionally have mixed feelings about social media and other kinds of self-promotion too...but I think ballet as an art is likelier to be tarnished by the ill discipline Herrera laments in young students.

Perhaps social-media saturation and poor discipline are not unrelated.

But performing artists across genres say the situation can be just as bad offstage, where cellphones are increasingly intruding on rehearsals, auditions and backstage culture.

“I’ve had to scream at dancers in rehearsal,” said choreographer Anthony Rue II, who has worked with major pop singers and their tour dancers. “The moment they have a second to breathe, they run to their phone. It takes them four or five minutes to mentally get back.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/theater-cellphone-woes-extend-offstage-1439305997

In the first series of Big Ballet on Russian television there was even a shot of Valery Lagunov scolding his charge Vladislav Lantratov for scrolling through the social-media feed on his phone rather than paying attention to what his partner Olga Smirnova was doing during a rehearsal.

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Sorry but Paloma Herrera sounds like a bit of a pill. She doesn't use social media, or like to socialize with the "new generation" of dancers, but she sounds very judgmental and even angry. It's odd that she talks about how she had to get away from Olga Ferri because the intensity and overbearing relationship was too much, but she doesn't seem self-aware enough to realize her own rigid mindset and why she didn't get along so much with the newer colleagues at ABT.

I also find it hypocritical that she talks about promoting yourself on social media and then ends the interview with a plug about her own clothing line, and congratulates herself by calling it "classic. A bit like me." Snob.

Next year I want to dedicate more time to teaching, and finally bring out my clothing line, under the brand Paloma Herrera. I had to go through a long legal battle to register my name, because of Carolina Herrera and Paloma Picasso. But my dad is a lawyer, and he fought hard. It’s a great project: casual, everyday clothing inspired by ballet and ballet dancers. Really good fabrics, nice cuts. Classic. A bit like me.
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In fairness, Marina Harss asked Herrera about her plans once she stopped performing. I doubt Herrera went into the interview looking to plug her clothing line. And once it comes out someone, if not Herrera herself, will have to go about the business of promoting it, including on social media.

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Well I just think it's hypocritical for her to criticize her colleagues for having Facebook and Instagram and then promote her own clothing line. She's not endorsing a brand of pointe shoes or dance wear. She's actually starting her own fashion brand, and using her celebrity status in Argentina for people to buy these clothes. What is that if not promoting herself (and looking to make a profit from such promotion)?

I just don't see how, say, one dancer posting pics of their dogs at rehearsal is somehow "tarnishing" their talent and fame, but her asking people to buy her clothing line because it has a Paloma Herrera nametag is A-OK.

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Thank you, volcanohunter, for posting the link to Paloma's interview. I didn't know much about her childhood or adolescence years so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview. Paloma is not only a gracious dancer but also a genial and genuine individual who has great love and respect for her art. There was a tint of sorrow in her words and many on this board found her lament condescending but to me she epitomizes a true artist.

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I just don't see how, say, one dancer posting pics of their dogs at rehearsal is somehow "tarnishing" their talent and fame, but her asking people to buy her clothing line because it has a Paloma Herrera nametag is A-OK.

I think she's talking about two different things. Her objection to revealing the minutiae of rehearsing and performing life is that it's "[t]oo much information. You lose the magic." She doesn't believe ballet benefits from exposing too much of the process, because the theatrical illusion is diminished. The "tarnishing" comes if questions arise over whether a star career has been created artificially through publicity.

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In response to canbelto:

Except that is neither what she said nor the issues that she raised. The examples she gave were dancers posting to social media during performances and tweeting about issues that affect their performances, and the audiences going straight to social media during intermission to read the posts. I see nothing inconsistent about what she said and creating a clothing line. Celebrities have had clothing lines, perfumes, shoes, jewelry, handbags, make-up lines etc. far longer than there was an internet and social media, and even were she to use social media to promote her clothing line, it's not what she had the problem with. You could decide it degrades her brand to have a clothing line, but she would clearly disagree.

There are many people who think these things should not be published, that they affect the illusion of what happens on stage, and that the performance is what it is, and that there is no obligation to take a performer's injury, costume mishap, cramp into consideration, nor how long they had to learn the role.

The way to avoid reading about these things is to not read them, although she might not be able to avoid being asked about them and why she doesn't do the same and/or her opinions about and relationship to social media. There's little way to avoid having the person blocking your exit in a theater from opening up his or her cell phone and announce to anyone within earshot that Dancer A tweeted that he pulled a muscle. Except to avoid live theater.

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Here's my thing. If you are talking to the media, IMO, you are promoting yourself. Otherwise, why are you talking to the media? Who wakes up and says, "Hmm, I want to talk to a reporter" unless there was an element of self-promotion?

Herrera's objecting to one form of promotion, which is actually older than social media. In the old days dancers and singers used to give favorite fans backstage passes and tours of rehearsal space and what not. Actually companies still do this. It's a classic tactic of companies to make fans feel special, that they're getting this access to what goes on behind the curtains. Dancers have just figured out that nowadays you can do the same thing by snapping a few pictures of a rehearsal with your iphone. Gives fans the same feeling of intimacy. A number of dancers used to and still did documentaries which showed them sweating, injured, upset, and whatever. There's a nice film of Edward Villela from the 1960's that shows him in spasms of pain during Tarantella. This Dancers Work Really Really Hard and It Hurts stuff is not a new form of promotion.

Herrera's interview reads as "I'm so great, I'm so wonderful, and oh by the way, I'm also starting a clothing line." She's entitled to that form of self promotion as well.

But Type A promotion doesn't tarnish the mystique or brand more than Type B promotion. Especially when she's also throwing shade on her former colleagues.

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She said nothing against self-promotion. She said nothing against talking to the media. She did not say that dancers shouldn't give any inside information to their close supporters.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Putting words into someone's mouth and/or misrepresenting what they said is another story, but having that done comes with the turf, which is also nothing new.

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I thought the part of Herrera's answer that Stuben quoted did take the discussion somewhat beyond dislike of people taking candid backstage shots, though that is where she started.

Here it is with a few more of the sentences that preceded it:

"My career has been so important to me, and I felt I wanted to end it here, to experience it how I wanted to experience it, fully, intensely. That’s how I want to take my leave, before getting mixed up in all this media. Now, if someone makes it you don’t know whether it’s because they really have talent or because the media helped get them there. I don’t want my career to be tarnished by that sort of thing. I don’t have Facebook or Twitter or any of that."

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I don't understand why Paloma had to be criticized by this interview. I myself enjoy social media and backstage shots by dancers, but Paloma's opinion has a point and tweeting during performances might be just too much. Anyway she has her freedom to express her opinion, and that opinion is not a strange one.

And as the interview was also about her life after ballet, she has her right to talk about her new business and there is nothing there to be criticized about. As Helene said she said nothing against self promotion.

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It's certainly a very interesting and seemingly deeply felt interview--I enjoyed reading it. But Herrera saying she doesn't want her career tarnished by the suggestion that media helped her arrive (which I think she does say, though there seems to be some disagreement) kind of implies she thinks others' careers are tarnished...that's what I was responding to...I suspect that she mostly wanted to convey that she does indeed feel "a dinosaur" (that's from the interview) and therefore that this was the right time to retire -- which the interviewer had asked her about.

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What I got out of was this is more a general statement about the times -

"I began to feel a little bit like a dinosaur. I dont know whether the new dancers have that same passion. Now everything is more light, not just in ballet, but in life. I dont know if I like the way things are going. I dont like the effect social media is having...But now I feel that all anyone wants is to take a picture and say I was there. Theyre obsessed with showing things. Its everywhere. At ABT, everyone has their cell phone; at intermission, theyll tweet things like, the first act went well. ...

It does indeed seem as if the backstory is eclipsing the art - death by a thousand tweets. I too am guilty of following the Instagrams of favorite dancers - they're a little like the panels of the daily funny papers of childhood. i tell myself it's to further my understanding of the source of the magic. But the closer you try to get, the more distant you really find yourself, and the magic disappears into (albeit charming) banality. The dancers are supposed to be there to serve the great ballets, not the other way around.

Also Herrera's take on social media is not so far from Benedict Cumberbatch's when he had to ask his audiences to put their phones down during his performance of "Hamlet" - another example of "I was there"-mania.

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That line about people's career being tarnished by the media I don't agree with and think it's tacky. I guess she's referring to Misty Copeland with it? Nevertheless, she's entitled to her opinion. I never found her dancing compelling at all but interesting interview. I was surprised she didn't have more negative things to say about ABT's handling of her retirement performance.

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That line about people's career being tarnished by the media I don't agree with and think it's tacky. I guess she's referring to Misty Copeland with it? Nevertheless, she's entitled to her opinion. I never found her dancing compelling at all but interesting interview. I was surprised she didn't have more negative things to say about ABT's handling of her retirement performance.

Why would she? She was supposed to have retired with a "Sleeping Beauty". The schedule was set. The fact that SHE decided not to perform in "Beauty" and dance something else probably meant that ABT had to do some very quick juggling. I find it remarkable that ABT was able to give her a slot and in a ballet she preferred. OK, so it was a matinee, but I think they did the best they could, given the circumstances. I can't speak to any thing else regarding her retirement, but her final bow was lovely and well earned. If she was unhappy about the circumstances it certainly didn't show.

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Why would she? She was supposed to have retired with a "Sleeping Beauty". The schedule was set. The fact that SHE decided not to perform in "Beauty" and dance something else probably meant that ABT had to do some very quick juggling. I find it remarkable that ABT was able to give her a slot and in a ballet she preferred. OK, so it was a matinee, but I think they did the best they could, given the circumstances. I can't speak to any thing else regarding her retirement, but her final bow was lovely and well earned. If she was unhappy about the circumstances it certainly didn't show.

I am aware of what happened. I just thought she might have something more negative to say about it. It really isn't any more serious that.

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Why would she? She was supposed to have retired with a "Sleeping Beauty". The schedule was set. The fact that SHE decided not to perform in "Beauty" and dance something else probably meant that ABT had to do some very quick juggling. I find it remarkable that ABT was able to give her a slot and in a ballet she preferred. OK, so it was a matinee, but I think they did the best they could, given the circumstances. I can't speak to any thing else regarding her retirement, but her final bow was lovely and well earned. If she was unhappy about the circumstances it certainly didn't show.

It's really not that remarkable. Paloma was scheduled to appear in the matinee performance of Giselle all along--you can check out the advance schedule in post #2 (dated October 16, 2014, from Dale) of the ABT 2015 Met Season thread. Her performance in The Sleeping Beauty was canceled and her scheduled performance in Giselle became her farewell. Usually, long-time principal dancers are given their own choice for their farewell performance, but it appears that TSB was assigned to Paloma, until she put her foot down.

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There's a difference between the media and social media. Copeland isn't particularly notable for being on social media, like, for example, Kochetkova: she has been embraced by the mainstream media. That is not to deny that she has done the interviews, written the book, done the book tours, endorsed a sportswear line, made appearances, and become part of outreach programs, but people in the media and business were the ones who were interested and willing to give her pixels and contracts, and to publish and publicize her book.

Herrera, in her early career, got what was for the time a lot of press attention, both as a phenom and as part of a contingent of dancers, mostly men, from Latin and South America who became the core of ABT. That is different from social media self-promotion, but it was an important part of her career and important to ABT.

Where she misses the mark is that popularity, name recognition, real-life partners, and stage partners have always played a part in dancers' careers, as well as luck and timing. That early publicity, plus being able to promote a young dancer quickly through the ranks and take credit for his talent-spotting ability that is catnip for AD's, gave her a big advantage. (Ah, if only we were back in the pure times of the '80's, when godlike and objective critics spotted talent, and talent was all that mattered.) She was often seen throughout her later career as a dancer who didn't grow much beyond those youthful performances, and she watched other dancers seize the spotlight, some through mainstream media, some through social media, and some through both.

Her specific criticisms of social media *content* to gain popularity and recognition are different. Hers seem to be a minority view, but not an outlier view. As far as taint is concerned, she could easily feel that dancing should be separate and viewed on its own terms, and that what she does after her dancer career has no retroactive impact on her dance career or reputation as a dancer: the reviews aren't going to change themselves retroactively because of what one thinks of her clothing line, for better or worse. She's also launching a line in her own country, where she is a national cultural hero because of her dance career, which is highly unlikely to change.

As far as her farewell performance, it's clear from her telling that McKenzie tried to convince her on "Sleeping Beauty" through a combination of the importance -- it got a huge amount of attention that nothing else in the rep did -- and the personal -- Do it for Alexei -- and she was convinced to give it a shot, and then decided "No." It might have been complete self-interest on McKenzie's part, since Kent's farewell was clearly at the top of the hierarchy, but he didn't have to "waste" a plum role and limited resources in the most important production of the year on a dancer who was leaving and would neither dance it again or pass on the knowledge through coaching. It was tone deafness on his part that made him and the company look bad and ungrateful, but it wasn't as if he asked her to dance Younger Sister for her farewell.

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Copeland isn't particularly notable for being on social media, like, for example, Kochetkova: she has been embraced by the mainstream media.

Copeland is not less notable on social media than Kochetkova; both use the standart set of services (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and have approximately the same amount of followers. Kochetkova might have a wider outreach simply because she, unlike Copeland, has connections to the dance scene in Europe and Japan.

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Copeland has attracted new followers on social media as a result of mainstream media coverage, and the number of followers does not always tie directly to how much engagement with social media the account owner has or the type of content. Kochetkova's content has been constant, with a lot of backstage and personal content that Herrera criticizes generally in this interview.

I follow a lot of people and companies on social media, and fame often does not tie to the amount or steadiness of content delivered. Inconsistency is considered the kiss of death in social media -- it's a beast that requires constant feeding -- except among people who get plenty of mainstream coverage, like Copeland.

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(Ah, if only we were back in the pure times of the '80's, when godlike and objective critics spotted talent, and talent was all that mattered.)

(snickering into my toast, which makes a mess) You mean, back when everyone was saying "I remember back in the 1940s..."?

Inconsistency is considered the kiss of death in social media -- it's a beast that requires constant feeding

So you think Instagram should be called "Audreygram"?

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It does indeed seem as if the backstory is eclipsing the art - death by a thousand tweets. I too am guilty of following the Instagrams of favorite dancers - they're a little like the panels of the daily funny papers of childhood. i tell myself it's to further my understanding of the source of the magic. But the closer you try to get, the more distant you really find yourself, and the magic disappears into (albeit charming) banality. The dancers are supposed to be there to serve the great ballets, not the other way around.

Also Herrera's take on social media is not so far from Benedict Cumberbatch's when he had to ask his audiences to put their phones down during his performance of "Hamlet" - another example of "I was there"-mania.

This sort of behavior is encouraged by the arts organizations themselves. Shows and exhibits have hashtags. The hosts of cinema transmissions cheerfully encourage viewers to "tweet us your thoughts"--and no doubt will do the same during the transmission of Cumberbatch's Hamlet, although at least he won't be able to see the little blue screens flickering at movie theaters around the globe. Rank-and-file viewers suddenly, however briefly, feel important when they find themselves re-posted or re-tweeted by a dancer, conductor or theater company. Indeed, if audiences believe that organizations are counting how many tweets each performer generates, they may even feel it their duty to give cybernetic acknowledgement of a particularly fine performance (and may not wait for the performance to end before doing it).

For my part, I find myself following an ever-decreasing number of ballet-related feeds. There comes a point where all those photos of dancers in the tub after a performance, or stretching while drinking their morning coffee, or deciding which leotard to wear to class just become tiresome.

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