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Misty Copeland


Helene

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That was my point as well, all things being equal, subjectivity still comes in to play more times than not. Even at sainted NYCB.

You can't know there was subjectivity involved if you don't even know what the objective factors were.

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What are you referring to?

I'm referring to Macaulay's adoration of Sara Mearns and the fact that Mearns does not have anything like a classic Balanchine body, as well as Tapfan's phrasing "Try telling that to Abrera and Lane fans," of which I'm one.

I think that people's perceptions are highly subjective, and when one person is making the final decision of (a) whom to promote or (b) whom to praise, that subjectivity is something that cannot be ignored.

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Sofiane is pretty thick. No way her body is a Balanchine body.

Sofiane Sylve is tall, not thick. She's currently the tallest ballerina at SFB. Sofiane is well proportioned and looks very much as a Balanchine ballerina. I am quite surprised by such unflattering characterization of her, especially when it's not true.

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Thick is NOT a derogatory term. At least not as I use it. Her limbs and torso are not as thin as most Balanchine dancers I've seen. But that doesn't mean she's overweight, out of shape or has an unattractive body.

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Glad to hear that qualification, but I'm not sure what else you think would make people out and out hate her. And how you know they do?

What could make people dislike her? Them feeling that she's hogging attention that they think belongs to someone more deserving.

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I'm referring to Macaulay's adoration of Sara Mearns and the fact that Mearns does not have anything like a classic Balanchine body, as well as Tapfan's phrasing "Try telling that to Abrera and Lane fans," of which I'm one.

I think that people's perceptions are highly subjective, and when one person is making the final decision of (a) whom to promote or (b) whom to praise, that subjectivity is something that cannot be ignored.

Let the church say, "Amen!"

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I'm referring to Macaulay's adoration of Sara Mearns and the fact that Mearns does not have anything like a classic Balanchine body, as well as Tapfan's phrasing "Try telling that to Abrera and Lane fans," of which I'm one.

I think that people's perceptions are highly subjective, and when one person is making the final decision of (a) whom to promote or (b) whom to praise, that subjectivity is something that cannot be ignored.

Subjectivity is always a factor, but it's one that's difficult to measure, and to assume that it worked against dancers of East Asian heritage at NYCB is effectively to accuse the powers that be there of racism, a charge that only people privy to the decision-making process there are qualified to make.

Sure, Macaulay (along with everyone else) loves Sarah Mearns, but he also recognizes and talks about the Balanchinean ideal. That ideal isn't arbitrary, it relates to many of the ballets Balanchine made, and with how he wanted them danced. It's not subjective, which is what I was saying to Tapfan.

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What could make people dislike her? Them feeling that she's hogging attention that they think belongs to someone more deserving.

Racism has nothing to do with it then?

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Racism has nothing to do with it then?

Not all criticism of President Obama is racially motivated. But some of it most certainly is and unambiguously so. Same with Misty.

One need only read the comments section of some articles about her to find blatant, unmistakable racism.

I've never felt Copeland or any other artist is above criticism. Heck, I've criticized her. What I have a problem with is the substance of much of the criticism aimed at her. It's just so over-the-top, IMO.

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Sure, Macaulay (along with everyone else) loves Sarah Mearns, but he also recognizes and talks about the Balanchinean ideal. That ideal isn't arbitrary, it relates to many of the ballets Balanchine made, and with how he wanted them danced. It's not subjective, which is what I was saying to Tapfan.

I, for one, do not love Sara Mearns.

There is also such a thing as unconscious racism, something outside one's awareness, but residing in the limbic system from the environment in which one grew up. I doubt many people would openly confess to being racist, but I think there are realms in which it exists in people nevertheless. For example, one could argue, objectively, that the corps de ballet in ballets such as Swan Lake must have a uniform appearance, that that is the reason not to bring someone into a company. Is that racism or an objective artistic decision?

I think it's wonderful that companies are becoming more diverse, albeit s-l-o-w-l-y. Perhaps diversity will become the new normal.

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I, for one, do not love Sara Mearns.

Well there had to be someone. smile.png I'm sure you have your reasons.

There is also such a thing as unconscious racism, something outside one's awareness, but residing in the limbic system from the environment in which one grew up.

That is true. And there is also such a thing as unconscious bias the other way, also often derived from one's environment, where criticism of minorities is presumed or at least suspected of being racist.

I think it's wonderful that companies are becoming more diverse, albeit s-l-o-w-l-y.

Seems to me that most everyone does,

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I have too many nested quotes, and have to break this up, hence the multiple posts in a row.

I feel so cheerfully smug because I actually had heard of many the people listed on the roll call. wink1.gif Yay!

But gosh, did it ever take some effort to acquire this knowledge.

Information online about black ballerinas past and present, is sparse indeed.

When I stated on this forum that I was emotionally invested in Misty's career because she was so high profile and there was so little information out there about other black ballerinas, someone sweetly, and helpfully, mentioned the names of other black ballerinas.

Fortunately, I already knew that other black ballerinas exist. I know where most of them are and where they've been.


Online information about ballet dancers of any gender, race, or ethnicity is sparse, indeed. The four main sources of online info are:

1. Company websites. Unless a dancer is on the current roster or is a staff member, the bios tend to go "poof" as soon as the dancer leaves the company. The only bios I can remember that discuss a dancer's ethnicity are when that dancer receives an award from an ethnic, race, or religious organization or, like in the instance of Sar, where the dancer was discovered doing national dance.

2. Reviews, previews, and feature articles in the mainstream media that are published online. Previews rarely mention specific dancers unless they are star attractions or hometown or returning dancers. Feature articles are almost exclusively about a. Stars b. Rising stars c. Hometown dancers, usually in the Picayune Gazette, or d. Someone who gives the editorial department/publisher a hook, often at the behest of staff or outside PR. Very few of these dancers are corps members, and they are rarely soloists.

3. Wikipedia articles. Often the first to come up in search engine results, these are written by people who have an interest in the subject and/or feel that an important subject is missing or neglected, and, if the articles are any good, they are the result of time and effort by people who care.

4. Online reviews, only some of which are considered valid sources for Wikipedia articles

Secondarily are online book reviews, articles that mention dancers in other contexts, and online books available to the public.

Of these, 1 and 2, as well as reference books and other books on dance historically and the mainstream media, are controlled by outside sources: the companies, editors, and publishers. Books are now self-published fairly regularly.

3 and 4 are open season for anyone who wants a subject to be known.

You've done a lot of work to learn who the dancers on the list are. Great. You have the choice to write or supplement online articles using that research to get it out there, or not. Wikipedia is hardly perfect, but it is a low-barrier and incrementally cheap means to get cite-able information out to the greatest audience. The only real barriers are when the community at large decides that the subject isn't encyclopedia-worthy, which might be the case for an article about the first black student to join the open track at School of Ballet Arizona, for example, and the occasional fights with people who have an agenda, which is most often limited to political subjects.

But since few if any are in senior positions in major companies, it's next to impossible to follow their careers as artists.


I'm being totally honest when I say that I'd love it if other deserving black female classical dancers were better known. But practically all such women are either in the corps de ballet of major companies ( Precious Adams/ENB, Michaela DePrince/DNB, Olivia Boisson/NYCB, Courtney Lavine/ABT, Kimberly Braylock/SFB and Christina Spigner/MCB) and are thus out of the limelight, dance with regional companies which don't get much national attention (Kayla Rowser/Nashville Ballet, Katelyn Addison and Gabriel Savatto/Ballet West, Whitney Huell/Kansas City Ballet) dance in companies with no dancer rankings ( Dara Holmes/Joffrey) or dance with companies that critics don't take seriously any longer like DTH.

It's practically impossible to follow the careers of these women.

Exactly which ballerinas outside those senior positions in major companies who aren't black or, occasionally, defectors, are you able to follow, aside from the occasional one, like Carla Korbes, who started her career at NYCB and had a following of ballet insiders and the public?

How were you able to follow Miriam Mahdaviani's career? Nicholas Ade's? Rebecca Johnston's? Barry Kerollis'? (Just a token sample of the best dancers with corps rank I've ever seen.) Barry Kerollis from the last few years on, because he has a web presence as a freelance dancer through his excellent blog, but his dancing at Houston Ballet or PNB? Possibly the others through Ballet Alert! or other discussion boards. What do you really know about Principal Dancers outside NYC, the Mariinsky, the Royal Ballet, the Bolshoi, the Paris Opera Ballet? What do you know about the Mariinsky, Royal Ballet, Bolshoi, or Paris Opera etoiles, unless they danced opening night and got the one and only review? If Arlene Croce didn't see multiple casts throughout a season and have a platform like "The New Yorker," you wouldn't know half of the NYCB or ABT or DHT dancers ever stepped foot on a stage. People complain about Macaulay, but he writes about multiple casts either through the space he's given or across multiple reviews. (Sandra Kurtz can write about multiple PNB opening weekend casts, but has a far more limited space angry.png. )

The two drivers for Wikipedia articles are interest and the amount of work authors are willing to do. To the first point, people's interests, especially those of young people who've been weaned on the Internet, tend toward the contemporary, not the past. Patrick Chan might be a great figure skater, but compare the length and depth of the article on him is disproportionate to the length and depth of the article on John Curry. Curry's legacy is discussed more widely on figure skating discussion boards, and while there has been a recent bio of him, too, nothing from the extensive bio has been added to his Wikipedia article, as much information from physical books has not.

Before the internet became a ubiquitous tool with low barrier to entry through access and mobile (phones, laptops) or public computers (libraries, for example), not many dancers got any notice in print or pixels. Aside from many people being interested in what is contemporary, the biggest reason most Wikipedia articles focus on more detailed information about contemporary performers and athletes is that the sources are online. You're going to get the details of every one of Chan's competitive programs, because they've all been described online and the online sources are out there, including the programs he skated when he was 14. Only Curry's 1976 Olympic year programs are listed in his article.

Unless Nora Kimball was reviewed in the NY or other mainstream media that's online, or has been described or mentioned in a book you read, you're not going to know what her dancing is like or even what she looked like. If her race wasn't mentioned, unless you went to ABT when she was dancing, you wouldn't know she was a black ballerina.

The number of young baseball players who 15 years after his free-agency suit who had never heard of Curt Flood, who was all over the mainstream media in his time, was legion. Ballet is a notoriously oral art-form, and that includes the history, and many dancers are quite nose-down during their training. Did anyone grab Misty Copeland's arm when she joined ABT to tell her about the other black ballerinas in the company? There are people, some of whom were in the recent ABT Works & Process presentations last weekend, who are still affiliated with the company and were also there in the '80's and the '90's. Did anyone during her training years tell her about other black ballerinas? Certainly she learned about Janet Collins, whom she cited as a hero during her "Time" cover speech.

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The only times black women are mentioned within a ballet context, is as a problem to be solved.

I could interpret this in several ways, but I'd think that if people realize that something is amiss if there are so few black ballerinas, especially when they've described the racism they encounter, this is a positive thing.

Some ballet folks are that way about Virginia. Liking her excuses their ignorance about any other black dancers.

Many ballet folks only know dancers from what they've seen live or on DVD's. Virginia Johnson starred in both Dance Theatre of Harlem DVD's, as Lizzie Borden in "Fall River Legend", and as "Giselle." The clips are on (and sometimes off) YouTube. For me it seems impossible that her excellence wouldn't be recognized, but there are also people who have no idea who Violette Verdy or Mimi Paul were, because they aren't on the "Emeralds" performances from the 1970's. Once in a blue moon there are dancers who are legendary despite not having been featured on film or gotten opening nights, like Alla Shelest, who was only a rumor to those in the West who weren't able to visit the Soviet Union to see her live, since she didn't get the state-sponsored broadcasts.

Also the same people who are quick to hold up Virginia Johnson as a great talent and a font of wisdom on many things concerning ballet, conveniently ignore the fact that she has said repeatedly that she thinks Misty deserves to be promoted to principle based on her ability NOT her color. Why is this woman who is thought to be so wise about other things in ballet, so wrong about Misty?

Being a great talent does not mean being a great judge of talent. If people's respect is for Johnson's dancing, then her opinions may or may not matter.

Respecting people as a font of wisdom is not 100% or none at all. it means taking that person's view into consideration. Irina Kolpakova, from film, one of the greatest ballerinas I've ever seen, and a long-time and well-respected coach at ABT, thinks the world of Alina Somova. I disagree with her. sandik, whose opinion and knowledge I have the ultimate respect for, and I had to agree to disagree about one of PNB's recent Odette/Odile's. (We just didn't see the same things in the same dancer.)

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I have no trouble believing that there are and were other black women who are just as if not more deserving of being made principle as Misty.

But Jackie Robinson wasn't generally believed to be the best black player available to integrate Major League Baseball. He was one of the best but not the best. The absolute best was probably Satchel Page. However, Robinson did have advantages that other black players didn't have. He was a college graduate AND he was lucky enough to be on the minor league farm team of an owner who was ready to take the big step of integrating the sport.

First, Jackie Robinson wasn't the first black player in white professional baseball: that was either Bud Fowler in 1878, if you count exhibition games only, or Moses Fleetwood Walker of the American Association in 1884, if you start counting from actual games. Here's how the Baseball Almanac puts Robinson's firsts:

10-23-1945 Jackie Robinson is the first black player to sign a formal / major league contract : Montreal Royals.

04-18-1946 Jackie Robinson is the first black minor leaguer (International League) in a game: Royals versus the Jersey City Little Giants.

04-15-1947 Jackie Robinson plays his first major league game as a Brooklyn Dodger becoming the first modern black player.

As false starts go, that was 69 years between Fowler and Robinson's first game as a Dodger or 63 years if you start counting from Wheeler. In the meantime, black players played in segregated leagues or the Mexican league. There's little excuse for ballet having had several false starts in the 20th and 21st century, but baseball had its issues too.

Jackie Robinson was chosen by a white owner for that role, because being the first in MLB was not only going to be difficult, it was going to be done on the public stage, with tens of thousand of people who could incite physical violence, including assassination and lynching threats that could have played out. Branch Rickey set parameters him, and Robinson agreed, for the most part, to follow them. Robinson was not simply college-educated: he went to a primarily white university, and had already encountered many of the social issues he'd encounter among white peers, including whether they'd recognize him as such. He was older and wasn't about to be rattled.

Branch Rickey also had done his homework and groundwork to know who on the Dodgers would be supportive, since he knew he had blatant racists on the team, too.

I never want any dancer to get a part or be promoted because of their skin color, but because of their ability and hard work. These other dancers, my own included, have indeed faced racism, and have not been cast in certain roles with little explanation except, "You are not right for the part." But rather than cry "foul," they move forward working even harder, proving they are worthy. Please, do not hear what I am not saying. I do not discount Misty's life and hardships. I welcome more attention to this issue, as well. However, I grow weary. As one ballet mom I know put it, "I am tired of having Misty jammed down my throat, as if she is the only minority dancer who has ever faced hardship." There may be those who do not like what I have to say. Sorry.

Somebody has to be the first. And while Misty may not be to everyone's liking, who exactly would be? That superballerina that everyone loves doesn't exist in ANY color.

We'll all be dead waiting on that woman to come along.

Robinson had the advantage (or "advantage") of having been chosen by the forward-thinking white guy as an official Representer. Unlike most dancers in the ballet world, who wait until someone recognizes them and anoints them, Copeland took risk and did the work to take that role on herself. She's smart, she's savvy, she's well spoken, she stays on message -- which is broader than generally represented -- and all evidence to date shows she has a thick skin. (Her history might be imperfect, but then, so is the "Jackie Robinson was the first black player in an integrated professional league" crowd, which is practically everyone.) There are other black dancers who had that chance, but didn't. There are other black dancers, like Precious Adams and Michaela DePrince (and her mother) who have spoken about racism they've encountered, and in the case of DePrince, has written a book and was one of the main characters in a documentary, and whose AD had to put a moratorium on interviews, but, somehow, Copeland is the lone whiny loudmouth attention seeker playing the race card, which also shows how media is focused almost exclusively on the two big NYC companies.

The AD's have had the opportunity forever to show that they were willing to hire black ballerinas, by making it clear to the faculties on their schools that limited teaching resources would be spent giving corrections to -- ballet-speak for investment in -- black students. When DTH disbanded, AD's had a prime opportunity to snatch up beautifully trained dancers, trained by certified white people, like Tanaquil Leclercq and Karel Shook if anyone questioned their schooling, with ballet bodies, who were all dumped on the free market at once. And they didn't.

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But the major question balletomanes ask is Misty a better ballerina than Stella Abrera (who is Asian) or Sarah Lane, the two soloists she is vying with for a principal spot? And to that we give a resounding "no". Both of those other dancers have nicer lines, more nuance to their dancing and, in some respects are just technically better (Sarah is the only soloist capable of dancing that killer ballet T&V and the only soloist Ratmansky trusts to perform Aurora in his new SB). I'm sure that given all the publicity that surrounds her, Misty will be made a principal. But many will think she got that promotion for reasons having little or nothing to do with her dancing.

I didn't realize there was an Academy of Balletomanes that made these judgements. From what I've read, some balletomanes would give a resounding "yes," other balletomanes would give a qualified "yes," other balletomanes would give a qualified, "no", and other balletomanes would rank Copeland between Abrera and Lane, in either order.

Sarah even had her own PR opportunity to exploit with the whole Black Swan movie dance double controversy. That was surely enough good publicity to give the AD a chance to promote Lane if he so desired. Yet despite all Lane's supposed superior skill and the publicity she got for not being properly credited for her work in that film, she still wasn't promoted. Instead , Isabella Boylston sailed past Misty, Stella and Sarah to the principle ranks.

Yes.

But for some reason, only Copeland is resented and blamed for Stella and Sarah's lack of career advancement.

Huh?

Merrill Ashley wrote in her book about how crushed she was when her partner, Robert Weiss, was promoted to Principal, and she was taking on all of the technically difficult roles, a bit like Lane, but for many more performances. She wrote that she thought that Balanchine had three soloists who had all come up together -- her, Christine Redpath, and Colleen Neary, whose sister had been a NYCB Principal and for whom Balanchine had made roles -- and he was hesitant to raise one over the other. Of course, there was no way to prove that, and eventually Ashley was promoted over them, but it is possible that McKenzie is thinking of them as a group for a reason.

One might be keeping a bunch of the involved audience, involved.

Given how quick people like yourself are to attribute "hatred" and racism to people who don't think she deserves it, what are the chances that people in the ballet world would speak up and disagree? (When does anyone in the ballet world publicly criticize a dancer anyhow?)

If you're talking about ballet insiders, since when has anyone in ballet world cared about allegations of racism? How many people have had no shame in saying, "They just don't have the bodies." "They just thicken up/get fat/get too muscular." Now the PC public-facing response is, "The schools just don't give us a chance."

If you're talking about the greater ballet world, I don't see people shying away from arguing with Tapfan.

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Perhaps the reason that there are so few black ballerinas is also the same reason that there are so few black tennis stars. Tennis court time and first rate instruction costs a lot of money. Serena and Venus Williams have been celebrities and role models for quite a number of years. While you do see more black players now, there has not exactly been a sharp rise in the numbers. Tennis is an expensive sport, and to the extent that minorities of all stripes are unable to afford the requisite basics, it is an exclusionary sport. Same issue with golf. Tiger Woods has not inspired an influx of young black golf stars. Golf is a very expensive sport that most people simply cannot afford. Similarly, ballet instruction is expensive and there are many hurdles, including having an adult available to shuttle a kid to class assuming you can even afford the class in the first place. So maybe the explanation isn't racism, but economic factors that are barriers to meaningful entry for many youngsters. Lessons for kids in piano, ballet, tennis or whatever are a luxury for most families.

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Well there had to be someone. smile.png I'm sure you have your reasons.

,

Not just one, kfw. Many. . Dance is a visual art and every viewer discriminates according to his/her own concepts of beauty. That said, I love how Mearns moves. Just don't put her in a classical tutu, please. Other wonderful dancers of Mearns' look who I didn't care for in classical tutu roles were Watts and Meunier); loved them in practically everything else.

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Not just one, kfw. Many. . Dance is a visual art and every viewer discriminates according to his/her own concepts of beauty. That said, I love how Mearns moves. Just don't put her in a classical tutu, please. Other wonderful dancers of Mearns' look who I didn't care for in classical tutu roles were Watts and Meunier); loved them in practically everything else.

Seems I've been too sweeping with my generalizations. biggrin.png I understand how you feel. Then again, Angelica doesn't seem to love Mearns, period. To each his own.

Helene wrote:

If you're talking about ballet insiders, since when has anyone in ballet world cared about allegations of racism? If you're talking about the greater ballet world, I don't see people shying away from arguing with Tapfan.

I'm talking about ballet professionals, excluding critics for obvious reasons. I think people care about allegations once they're made, and as far as I know, racism in ballet was not much discussed in the media - certainly wasn't a big issue in the media - until Copeland made it one. As others have pointed out, it's unfortunate that when Copeland gets her promotion, there will always some doubt about whether her PR and her allegations played a role - about whether McKenzie, being only human, cared.

How many people have had no shame in saying, "They just don't have the bodies." "They just thicken up/get fat/get too muscular."

Would it some shameful for, say, the head of a classical company to have said of [a specific white dancer], she'll become "hefty and barrel-chested" and so I can't use her? Then why would be it be shameful to say something similar of a black dancer if it's true? If it's said of any and every black dancer, that's another thing, obviously.

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I'm talking about ballet professionals, excluding critics for obvious reasons. I think people care about allegations once they're made, and as far as I know, racism in ballet was not much discussed in the media - certainly wasn't a big issue in the media - until Copeland made it one. As others have pointed out, it's unfortunate that when Copeland gets her promotion, there will always some doubt about whether her PR and her allegations played a role - about whether McKenzie, being only human, cared.

Ballet professionals rarely talk about any dysfunction in ballet: injuries that chew up and spit out students, eating disorders, sexual harassment, racism, sexism, psychological and physical abuse, etc., or about things like nepotism or use of political connections, which are/were accepted outside North America. It doesn't much matter that Mathilde Kschessinskaya was the mistress of the Tsar-in-training and a Grand Duke, or that Toni Lander was married to Harold Lander or Antoinette Sibley to Michael Somes, or that half? most? of the men in the Ballet Russe slept with Diaghilev.

I'm sure there are people who think that Adam Sklute fast-tracked Rex Tilton and Beckanne Sisk and promoted Alilson DeBona because they became media stars through "Breaking Pointe," even though their talent was obvious from the show.

Had Copeland said nothing and become Principal, there would be people who think she was promoted because she is black and that McKenzie only cared about the ensuing publicity and goodwill. If her narrative and the media attention she's gotten influence McKenzie and result in a promotion, then maybe it counteracted racism that held her back.

If Copeland is promoted, she will be a Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theatre. There won't any asterisks in the rosters, on any official website, and, if I were she, I wouldn't lose any sleep about anyone who has their own personal asterisks, as there are for any dancer who is promoted anywhere.

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I'm not sure what any of that has to do with my original points, Helene, which were that a) some people who haven't even seen Copeland dance are sure she deserves a promotion, and b) when any criticism is presumed to be racist, many if not most people won't make any criticism.

I wouldn't lose any sleep about anyone who has their own personal asterisks

Good. Because some people have said they'll have them, and it needn't have been that way.

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To be honest, part of the reason this conversation is so heated is because Copleand dances with ABT, a company which (for better or worse) promotions and manager favoritism are viewed as often trumping individual talent, and several dancers have recently left under less than friendly terms, accompanied by scathing exit interviews which talk extensively about low morale, arbitrary casting, and a general bad work environment.

Kevin McKenzie's management (or mismanagement) of talent are the real asterisks. That's not Misty's fault.

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I'm not sure what any of that has to do with my original points, Helene, which were that a) some people who haven't even seen Copeland dance are sure she deserves a promotion, and b) when any criticism is presumed to be racist, many if not most people won't make any criticism.

My point is that racism is hardly the only negative topic on which ballet professionals won't make criticism. On the whole, ballet professionals either don't address criticism directly, or, on occasion, either deny it or claim that it isn't as bad as it used to be and point to a program.

Good. Because some people have said they'll have them, and it needn't have been that way.

I disagree. She could have been passive, and had she been promoted, there will be people who would think she got it on account of race because McKenzie couldn't resist the publicity or the chance to be the one who made the first black Principal Dancer at ABT.
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My point is that racism is hardly the only negative topic on which ballet professionals won't make criticism. On the whole, ballet professionals either don't address criticism directly, or, on occasion, either deny it or claim that it isn't as bad as it used to be and point to a program.

I disagree. She could have been passive, and had she been promoted, there will be people who would think she got it on account of race because McKenzie couldn't resist the publicity or the chance to be the one who made the first black Principal Dancer at ABT.

I'll take your word for the first point. I don't think I've said anything contrary to it. I can also imagine that some people might have doubted a black dancer no matter what route she took to principal. But she took a route that has already made others doubt as well. It's the way people do things these days - the self-promotion, the triumph over adversity story, the I-just-want-to-be-a-role-model line. In that respect, she's not a ground breaker.

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Thick is NOT a derogatory term. At least not as I use it. Her limbs and torso are not as thin as most Balanchine dancers I've seen. But that doesn't mean she's overweight, out of shape or has an unattractive body.

I'm glad to know that wasn't your intention, since in the general readership it's a pretty standard definition.

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To be honest, part of the reason this conversation is so heated is because Copleand dances with ABT, a company which (for better or worse) promotions and manager favoritism are viewed as often trumping individual talent, and several dancers have recently left under less than friendly terms, accompanied by scathing exit interviews which talk extensively about low morale, arbitrary casting, and a general bad work environment.

Kevin McKenzie's management (or mismanagement) of talent are the real asterisks. That's not Misty's fault.

I don't know enough about the inside workings of the ABT artistic staff to have an opinion about this aspect (and even if I did, that wouldn't really be a topic for discussion here) but I did get a chance to listen to the interview with their CFO (before the video was pulled from YouTube) and his continual insistence that "stars" were a necessary commodity to fill seats at the Met would seem to imply that personal charisma is a big part of their criteria.

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