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Helene

Misty Copeland

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Here's my take on Copeland as a dancer. Her body is gorgeous and amazing. I've seen her in many roles as a soloist. She does the steps, is with the music and seems to be well coached. Nice as a soloist. I don't see an exceptional technique, deep musicality or creative imagination. There is nothing that separates her from the pack as far as I can see. Promoting her may be useful to ABT and certainly Copeland has not been shy about wanting to be the first African American principal at ABT. It would have been amazing if Copeland had expressed appreciation that she is a soloist, and sent the message that if minority kids took an interest, one day a black principal dancer would emerge.

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Hallberg got his publicity/ journalist wanting to interview him for, like all of the tag lines have said, being the first principal dancer American with a top Russian company. Not his dancing.

Edit: Besides being signed to a management company he has a publicist too? Well then, I think that puts to rest that all of those offers presumably fell in his lap with no effort on his part.

But he got his shot in Russia because of his dancing, not his self-promotion. Do we even know he had a publicist before his Russian adventure?

Canbelto, I think the difference is that Copeland's story - black woman overcomes adversity and discrimination - was a sure-fire hit.

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Which he wasn't either.

What other American joined the Bolshoi (as opposed to guesting) before David? I know Precious Adams was there (can't remember if she's American or British) but I believe she joined after David.

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I don't like that she spots to the audience in her chaine turns. I've never seen another dancer do such a thing. It's tacky and turns it into a show about her Copeland not the story or character the choreography is trying to convey.

NYCB dancers (Balanchine style trained) frequently spot to the audience on pique turns, soutenues, and chaines. He felt it opened the dancer to the audience. It's not an easy thing to do. Some like it, some don't. When done correctly, it can be very exciting, very refreshing. That said, I've also seen City Ballet dancers spot the corner.

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Michael Shannon graduated from the school into the company in 1989.

http://articles.latimes.com/1989-11-18/entertainment/ca-1313_1_bolshoi-ballet

Wow, I never heard of Michael Shannon before. I wonder how long he was with the Bolshoi. Also unusual that he joined as a soloist as opposed to corps member. Then it's really not right that David let it slide about him being the first American to join the Bolshoi. Someone ought to have corrected the record in a public way back then or should do so now.

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No, Tapfan

There are plenty of black ballet dancers now who are more deserving than Copeland. Courtney Lavine is 10x her worth. If she was promoted straight to principal, I would have no doubts as to her ability to dance well. And she would be the politically correct choice that everyone seems to be demanding. Copeland is inept in everything but her marketing.

As far as defending Copeland by other dancers, she has herself beyond reproach now since she is on TV almost everywhere you look crying martyr. What dancer would shoot themselves in the foot by critiquing her honestly?

If Lavine is a capable dancer in your eyes, why would you consider her promotion to be a politically correct choice?

If ballet is this great and true art form that people go on about, then it can't be something that white people own and are benevolently allowing black people to participate in IF they behave themselves in a manner that pleases some of the art's gatekeepers.

It's wrong to think that Jazz is owned by black people or ballet is owned by white people. Instead, both arts forms belong to anyone who can master or appreciate them.

Would anyone say that a white musician who made it into say, Wynton Marsalis' Jazz group was a politically correct hire? Or would they assume he must be pretty good to make it in to such an esteemed organization? Yet people with without a trace of irony, will imply that any black female dancer they personally happen to dislike, is someone who is undeserving. Since when did hiring and promoting dancers become like solving a math problem that has one answer? Since when did subjectivity in judging art and artists die?

And people keep building their arguments on hypothetical situations. Lavine isn't in a position to be promoted to principle. So the point is irrelevant.

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What other American joined the Bolshoi (as opposed to guesting) before David? I know Precious Adams was there (can't remember if she's American or British) but I believe she joined after David.

Precious attended the Bolshoi school. She was never a member of the company.

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If Lavine is a capable dancer in your eyes, why would you consider her promotion to be a politically correct choice?

It became a politically correct issue when Copeland herself put her story out there that she was laboring under racism. You can pull up numerous youtube interviews of Copeland talking about "White" ballet. So obviously SHE thinks that ballet is only for white people and that there is some nefarious conspiracy to keep her out of performances.

Lavine is just a better all around dancer. She has true classical technique that Copeland sorely lacks. She has a graceful appearance that anyone, if they are honest, knows that Copeland doesn't have. Copeland has a modern physique that would suit any number of modern ballet companies, modern dance companies. Heck I could even see her as an actress. She isn't a classical ballet dancer. But she will prevail because she has this huge juggernaut, PR wave that she created for herself.

Yet people with without a trace of irony, will imply that any black female dancer they personally happen to dislike, is somoneone who is undeserving. Since when did hiring and promoting dancers become like solving a math problem that has one answer? Since when did subjectivity in judging art and artists die?

I don't like Copeland because I don't think she has the talent that matches the abilities of ABT female principles in the past nor current dancers in other companies from NYCB, SFB etc. and even European companies. She is all hat and no cattle.

Again subjectivity died with Copeland when she put herself out there stating that the whole ballet world is against her due to racism. ABT is in such a position now that if they do not promote her this year, they will be excoriated by Copeland's PR team creating a scandal du jour.

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You don't have to like Copeland, and you are entitled to your opinions, which, again, are that: opinions.. That doesn't make them facts. There are many knowledgeable people who believe that Copeland has perfectly fine, if not stellar, classical technique, and that her ranch is full and her herd thriving,. (Maybe it's apt then that she's been cast in Rodeo.)

Given the predominance of full-lengths at ABT, she's easy enough to avoid, if that's your wont. There are plenty of dancers at ABT that I avoid during my visits, but that doesn't make them bad dancers. They just don't interest me. And, given how few performances that any of the leads get in any rep, there's no danger of any one dancer dominating the rep or opening nights, which often happens in smaller regional companies or which happened in the Farrell era because Balanchine could and did.

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I was keeping an open mind about Copeland's SL, and whether I would buy a ticket. Upon reading the professional reviews I decided I was not interested at this time in seeing it, since it is apparently a work in progress. That's not surprising, since she's only done the role twice. My feeling, moreover, is not unique to Copeland. I have avoided seeing Boylston in a number of roles. Ditto Hee Seo. I ended up seeing Hee Seo's SL by default, when she became the last minute fill in for Cojocaru. I felt that Hee Seo's performance was underwhelming (and I seriously doubt it's going to improve much more, since she is not a novice).

My point is that McKenzie is now casting home team dancers in lead roles in which they need a lot of work. I guess some do not mind seeing works in progress, and even find it exciting, but personally I feel it is not a useful use of my time and money. While there are a lot of complaints about seeing guest artists at ABT, I would much prefer to see a profound and thrilling guest artist performance than a work in progress from a home team player. As Helene said, it's relatively easy to avoid the dancers you don't want to see at ABT given the full length rep that dominates at the Met season (except of course for last minute switcheroos).

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You don't have to like Copeland, and you are entitled to your opinions, which, again, are that: opinions.. That doesn't make them facts. There are many knowledgeable people who believe that Copeland has perfectly fine, if not stellar, classical technique, and that her ranch is full and her herd thriving,. (Maybe it's apt then that she's been cast in Rodeo.)

Given the predominance of full-lengths at ABT, she's easy enough to avoid, if that's your wont. There are plenty of dancers at ABT that I avoid during my visits, but that doesn't make them bad dancers. They just don't interest me. And, given how few performances that any of the leads get in any rep, there's no danger of any one dancer dominating the rep or opening nights, which often happens in smaller regional companies or which happened in the Farrell era because Balanchine could and did.

Once again, let the church say amen!

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The few online performances I've seen of Hee Seo, have left me scratching my head. She seemed to be struggling to get through her solos as if she were exhausted and undernourished.

But other folks love her as a dancer.

I don't doubt they see qualitites in her dancing I have yet to discover. But I don't think she was promoted to fill some quota just because I don't see what's so great about her.

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"If ballet is this great and true art form that people go on about, then it can't be something that white people own and are benevolently allowing black people to participate in IF they behave themselves in a manner that pleases some of the art's gatekeepers."

for heaven's sake, who the heck thinks this?

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My point is that McKenzie is now casting home team dancers in lead roles in which they need a lot of work.

From the William Taylor presentation, which has been removed from YouTube, that seems to be, if not the deliberate strategy on ABT's part, the logical result of their personnel strategy. An Osipova, Semionova, Obraztsova, or Vishneva has cut her teeth on most, if not all of the principal roles with other companies before dancing them at ABT. They come in with a lot of experience, even if the productions differ. They can do one performance of this or that with a solid basis.

Good for the ABT ballerinas who go to other companies for the experience of the major roles. Their own institution is putting up a wall against their development at home, and it's a win/win for them and the audiences. It might not be so great for the hometown ballerinas, though, because someone always loses in this equation.

"If ballet is this great and true art form that people go on about, then it can't be something that white people own and are benevolently allowing black people to participate in IF they behave themselves in a manner that pleases some of the art's gatekeepers."

for heaven's sake, who the heck thinks this?

If you look at the Artistic Directors, company staffs, school staffs, and ballet boards of directors, what else would you conclude?

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Wow, I never heard of Michael Shannon before. I wonder how long he was with the Bolshoi.

Only a few years. He moved around a lot during his career, retiring, I believe, as a principal dancer of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

There are plenty of dancers at ABT that I avoid during my visits, but that doesn't make them bad dancers. They just don't interest me.

ABT also has a track record of pairing together the not-interesting-to-me dancers, which makes avoidance that much easier. devil.gif However, I worry that soon there will be practically no one left worth making the trip to see.

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Yes, ABT is pairing the newbie and not-interesting-to-me-dancers together frequently, which makes the choice of not attending that much easier. Mr. Abatt used to jokingly refer to my ABT season as 7/8ths, meaining that I would want to see 7 out of 8 performances of a particular ballet. That percentage is now way down. Nothing more frustrating than watching a half-baked performance. The good news is that the lack of terrific casting at ABT has left plenty of time for Royal Ballet viewing this season. Also attending a lot more NYCB spring performances than in the past. happy.png

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"If ballet is this great and true art form that people go on about, then it can't be something that white people own and are benevolently allowing black people to participate in IF they behave themselves in a manner that pleases some of the art's gatekeepers."

- for heaven's sake, who the heck thinks this?

If you look at the Artistic Directors, company staffs, school staffs, and ballet boards of directors, what else would you conclude?

What is the manner they supposedly have to behave in?

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I don't see much inclusiveness in conventional ballet companies among dancers, choreographers, and staff, even in neoclassical or contemporary ballet rep. (I don't mean the small number of companies that are dedicated to what is called contemporary ballet, where there is more diversity.) There doesn't seem to be the same issue in some European companies like Dutch National Ballet, and certainly not in Cuba.

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with all respect, I must disagree - for the last 12 years I've personally watched the progress of many talented dancers (both light and dark skinned - though I say that only because this discussion seems to demand it) through many pre-pro programs and then into companies and then on to developing their careers. I've never seen a well-trained dancer who also is musical and has good proportions fail because of their skin color. In fact, I've seen Artistic Directors and teachers encourage and challenge them. I respect all opinions on this difficult topic but I wish posters would point to specific instances to support their point of view.

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With that kind of response, I doubt that Tai Jiminez will be invited back to SAB in any capacity.

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What is the manner they supposedly have to behave in?

A) Never mention race/color as being an additional hurdle for women of color in ballet, particularly the darkest women. It makes people feel uncomfortable and everyone knows that race is no longer a factor in ballet because all the people who run it and support it monetarily are political liberals like the Koch brothers. :sarcasm:

B) Never appear to be anything less than completely humble about your talent or grateful for your opportunities. Anything less means you think that you and you alone are worthy of attention and professional advancement.

C) Don't take advantage of opportunities afforded to you by the AD because you can advance only if you prevent others from doing so.

D) Have the good sense to know that just around the corner is Black Balllerina Supergirl who should be promoted to the senior ranks of a major company before other black ballerinas get a chance. It's only fair because all white women in the senior ranks of ballet companies are gifted and universally admired as being beyond brilliant.

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A) Never mention race/color as being an additional hurdle for women of color in ballet, particularly the darkest women. It makes people feel uncomfortable and everyone knows that race is no longer a factor in ballet because all the people who run it and support it monetarily are political liberals like the Koch brothers. :sarcasm:

B) Never appear to be anything less than completely humble about your talent or grateful for your opportunities. Anything less means you think that you and you alone are worthy of attention and professional advancement.

C) Don't take advantage of opportunities afforded to you by the AD because you can advance only if you prevent others from doing so.

D) Have the good sense to know that just around the corner is Black Balllerina Supergirl who should be promoted to the senior ranks of a major company before other black ballerinas get a chance. It's only fair because all white women in the senior ranks of ballet companies are gifted and universally admired as being beyond brilliant.

You forgot that if you do mention racism, you have to somehow provide proof, otherwise your a liar. I'm not sure how De Prince, for instance, could provide proof that 1 of her ballet teachers told her she could no longer dance the lead because the audience wasn't ready for a black Aurora.

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I respect all opinions on this difficult topic but I wish posters would point to specific instances to support their point of view.

It would be far easier and less time consuming to list them than to link to the full-time professional ballet companies' and company-affiliated schools, rosters, artistic staffs, and teaching staffs to show their racial composition. Board members would take a bit more doing, but I'm sure there are photos on the internet that would show the same. The three black dancers who have spoken publicly -- Copeland, Adams, and DePrince -- have described racism they faced and/or racist comments either directed at them or spoken in their proximity. Jimenez and Johnson have spoken about it, and there have been panel discussions and academic symposia about the issue.

The results of whatever behavior is happening are right there on stage and in schools.

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