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Helene

Misty Copeland

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They have!

Totally OT, Drew, but has NYCB managed to get the video itself into the FB newsfeed, or just a link to the video? If the former, even better -- that's how it will have the most ├ęclat.

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They've weathered six years of being accused of racism, and the idea that they'd suddenly be pressured now isn't credible to me.

Six years? She may have been talking about this for that long, but her book just came out a year ago. The big push began a year ago. But you're right of course, the now expected promotion has been awhile in coming.

If she is promoted to Principal, that does not erase her experiences of racism up to that point or thereafter any more than being elected POTUS erased any experiences of racism that Barack Obama faces nor continues to face from those who don't think the reasons for or the people behind his election are legitimate.

If indeed she experienced racism in the company, no. I don't doubt that all African-Americans experience racism. Whether Copeland did at ABT, or whether what she did experience was not outweighed by positive attention to and interest in her because of her race, is another question.

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Six years? She may have been talking about this for that long, but her book just came out a year ago. The big push began a year ago. But you're right of course, the now expected promotion has been awhile in coming.

Copeland's media campaign started around five-going-on-six years ago. Mainstream media coverage did not begin with the publication of her book.

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ABT would have their own stars if their marketing wasn't so stuck in the pre-Internet age. I was surprised when they started a YouTube channel, albeit with less than exciting video and hardly updated anymore. Even San Francisco Ballet, with half of the budget of ABT participated in World Ballet Day with other top companies.

Pacific Northwest Ballet recently participated in that Wallace Foundation project (on how to get new/young audiences into the theater and keep them there) and one of the things they found in the self-assessment part of the process was that their website, which was not that old, was really not doing the job when it came to an audience cohort that expects to see material online before they go see it in person. Fortunately, they had a videographer on staff (doing several other things) and could revamp that part of their marketing fairly easily, but those videos have become a huge part of their public persona. I don't know anything about the communications department at ABT, and what their long-term strategy might be, but it seems to me that their natural counterpart is NYCB, who has put time and energy into that kind of visibility. I think it's ironic that ABT, who seemed so forward thinking when they first developed their web presence (remember how astonished we all were with their video dictionary) has let this part get so stale.

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Totally OT, Drew, but has NYCB managed to get the video itself into the FB newsfeed, or just a link to the video? If the former, even better -- that's how it will have the most ├ęclat.

The former--well, I don't really know how the techology works, but I clicked onto bits of Tombeau de Couperin right on my FB page, wasn't sent elsewhere...

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I have no opinion about the letter, but If NYCB and SAB are irrelevant, then ballet might as well be irrelevant, not because they are the whole picture or, for that matter, bastions of ethical perfection (not likely), but because they are such an essential, influential, and creative part of the picture.

If ABT comes to play the leadership role in expanding and diversifying ballet's current talent pool--then more power to ABT of course...And, to return to topic, Copeland is playing her part for sure...

You can think they are an important part of ballet history with a treasure trove of of important works that have been contributed to the classical cannon and still think that many of their people and practices are far too insular or stuck in a perfect past that never was.

The fact that people jump to their defense at even the mildest criticism, indicates that some folks feel that their Balanchine and Robbins legacy means that they can do no wrong.

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Copeland's media campaign started around five-going-on-six years ago. Mainstream media coverage did not begin with the publication of her book.

In thinking about a time line I think it should be noted that Copeland was sidelined with a serious injury for quite some time.

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They have!

I have heard her talk about this issue not in terms of her woes, but in terms of diversifying ballet's aesthetics. But I also don't find her body wildly outside balletic norms. The super built up calf muscles are not the prettiest to my eyes, at least when I look at still photos, but for the rest I agree with Natalia that she is in most ways more obviously a ballet body than Mearns (whom I adore!!). I will say that I think many dancers today have overly sinewy and/or overly muscular arms for my taste when it comes to classical port de bras...I am trying to adapt my eye since it is a reality of today's bodies, but I certainly have not found Copeland the most trying in that regard...

It does take some getting used to. I tell myself it's actually progress in a sense, because until fairly recently women were not only not supposed to have obvious muscles but too much physical exercise was considered unfeminine. Jane Fonda once said that she began taking ballet classes because it was the only place to go for women who wanted to work up a sweat (gyms catered mainly to men). So for women to be able to flaunt their athleticism is a Good Thing. But there may be limits to how appropriate it is for ballet.

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It does take some getting used to. I tell myself it's actually progress in a sense, because until fairly recently women were not only not supposed to have obvious muscles but too much physical exercise was considered unfeminine. Jane Fonda once said that she began taking ballet classes because it was the only place to go for women who wanted to work up a sweat (gyms catered mainly to men). So for women to be able to flaunt their athleticism is a Good Thing. But there may be limits to how appropriate it is for ballet.

A good thing, yes. I remember an Esquire cover - I thought late 1970's, but I find one from 1980 on ebay - with a muscular woman, and I think there were more such photos inside. At the time, it was certainly provocative. ETA: I don't mean sexually provocative, of course. I mean that it proposed a new form of female beauty.

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There are limits to bulky muscles in ballet because it breaks the line, the geometric shapes the human body makes in this particular art form. Even men in the art form work hard to ensure that they do not develop a Schwarzenegger physique. It not only breaks the line, it inhibits movement.

You can see the problem in Copeland's form, her stiff upper body, the over powered pushes to get her body moving and at times ungainly balances. This is all due to the over muscled look that she favors and wishes to force the art form to accept. The very reason it is not accepted shows in her dancing.

There isn't only a problem of over built muscles, she also has a severe hyperextension in the knee that is frightening to behold. If she doesn't try to correct this problem, it will eventually destroy her career, such that it is. But I don't blame her for the hyper extension fetish, this is a current problem in the ballet world. I see it in many dancers now. It isn't something that should be accepted. Indeed, until recently dancers who showed this deformity were told to leave ballet for health reasons.

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There are limits to bulky muscles in ballet because it breaks the line, the geometric shapes the human body makes in this particular art form. Even men in the art form work hard to ensure that they do not develop a Schwarzenegger physique. It not only breaks the line, it inhibits movement.

You can see the problem in Copeland's form, her stiff upper body, the over powered pushes to get her body moving and at times ungainly balances. This is all due to the over muscled look that she favors and wishes to force the art form to accept. The very reason it is not accepted shows in her dancing.

There isn't only a problem of over built muscles, she also has a severe hyperextension in the knee that is frightening to behold. If she doesn't try to correct this problem, it will eventually destroy her career, such that it is. But I don't blame her for the hyper extension fetish, this is a current problem in the ballet world. I see it in many dancers now. It isn't something that should be accepted. Indeed, until recently dancers who showed this deformity were told to leave ballet for health reasons.

A certain degree of hyperextension has become the norm for a corps dancer to be a Shade in Bayadere. When the women line up at both sides of the stage after the opening adagio of that scene, you can see every dancer with the same degree of hyperextension in the knee as if reflected in receding mirrors. I agree that Copeland's hyperextension is excessive and breaks the line. I have also, for example, found Semionova's upper arm and shoulder muscles overdeveloped. In contrast, despite her purported deficiency in stamina and technique, Seo has the perfect ballet body and a perfect line, which may have helped catapult her from the corps to principal in a heartbeat. As for Boylston, it boggles the mind.

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It's useful to remember that the norms for ballet bodies HAVE changed over the years--with corresponding changes in technical strengths and weaknesses as well, because of course different bodies do different things well and change the look of the line. For better and for worse...and sometimes just for "different."

I remember the first time I saw a photo of Pierina Legnani. I was very young, but knew she was said to be the first ballerina to have performed 32 fouettes, so I studied the photo with interest. I believe I then went over to my mother saying, in some puzzlement, something along the lines of "she's fat..." Arlene Croce hailed the (quite hyperextended) legs of Nadezhda Pavlova as the balletic ideal corresponding to what the old manuals demanded etc.--but arguably N. Pavlova was much rather the beginning of what has become, as several have noted, something of a new norm. She did not look like the other Bolshoi ballerinas on tour with her. Now we have Russian ballerinas who make Pavlova's hyperextension and the way she used it look quite conservative.

For myself, I do appreciate the exquisite body type represented by Seo, but by all accounts (and what I've seen in the theater) her perfect body has, as already noted, proved (so far) no guarantee of perfect technique. I agree that it is likely one reason for her quick rise to the top.

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In thinking about a time line I think it should be noted that Copeland was sidelined with a serious injury for quite some time.

I remember when Copeland came back from that injury. Her dancing was terrible. She struggled to get on pointe and I saw her fall off pointe on several occasions. She fell out of pirouettes, etc. Thankfully her form has improved from those disastrous days but I still find her dancing quite lackluster.

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Tai's letter reminds me of Nikkia Parish's assertion that the NYCB /SAB nexus is composed of a closed-off little cabal of self-appointed Balanchine acolytes straining for relevance.

Tapfan this is highly inflammatory. NYCB & SAB are of course relevant in the ballet world. I don't think I need to go into the details of why. The Balanchine acolytes, as you call them, I assume are people who worked with him. While it's true that not every one of them is wise, they should be listened to just as those who worked directly with Mozart, Petipa or any other genius had to be listened to. These people will be gone soon enough so their thoughts and opinions IMO are to be treasured, even if ultimately rejected.

I've expressed my opinion of Misty Copeland in other posts so I see no need to repeat.

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This is one warning, and one warning only: Ballet Alert! is to discuss ballet and ideas, not each other.

Ad hominem attacks against other members will not be tolerated.

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Tai's letter reminds me of Nikkia Parish's assertion that the NYCB /SAB nexus is composed of a closed-off little cabal of self-appointed Balanchine acolytes straining for relevance.

I don't see any similarity between Jimenez asking Peter Martins to put his money where his mouth was and go straight to action and Parish's statement, which, like many blanket statements that purports to assign a specific motive or behavior to a wide range of people, doesn't mean very much.

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I don't see any similarity between Jimenez asking Peter Martins to put his money where his mouth was and go straight to action and Parish's statement, which, like many blanket statements that purports to assign a specific motive or behavior to a wide range of people, doesn't mean very much.

I haven't read Parish's statement, but what strike's me about Jimenez's is its cynicism about Martins, and it's rudeness or righteous boldness, depending on your perspective, in airing that cynicism publicly.

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Arlene Croce hailed the (quite hyperextended) legs of Nadezhda Pavlova as the balletic ideal corresponding to what the old manuals demanded etc.--but arguably N. Pavlova was much rather the beginning of what has become, as several have noted, something of a new norm. She did not look like the other Bolshoi ballerinas on tour with her. Now we have Russian ballerinas who make Pavlova's hyperextension and the way she used it look quite conservative.

Croce loved what she described as the "s" curve in NP's legs.

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I haven't read Parish's statement, but what strike's me about Jimenez's is its cynicism about Martins, and it's rudeness or righteous boldness, depending on your perspective, in airing that cynicism publicly.

It's easy for me understand why she'd take a public stand in refusing to be part of another committee, when years of committee, panel discussion, and symposia conclusions on the subject have been ignored. It's possible to interpret the enterprise itself as a cynical attempt to look like action is being taken, but actually to avoid doing anything, like creating yet another special panel or commission ostensibly to investigate, but ultimately to put off action.

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What struck me about Jiminez was her arrogance. Even if she is or would be a great teacher, it is clear she has no idea how to behave in a professional manner. Part of being in the work force is knowing how to get along with others, not just being good at what you do.

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It's easy for me understand why she'd take a public stand in refusing to be part of another committee, when years of committee, panel discussion, and symposia conclusions on the subject have been ignored. It's possible to interpret the enterprise itself as a cynical attempt to look like action is being taken, but actually to avoid doing anything, like creating yet another special panel or commission ostensibly to investigate, but ultimately to put off action.

It's possible to give individuals the benefit of the doubt in lieu of evidence to the contrary. What evidence is there that Martins is using the panel as an excuse and isn't serious?

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What struck me about Jiminez was her arrogance. Even if she is or would be a great teacher, it is clear she has no idea how to behave in a professional manner. Part of being in the work force is knowing how to get along with others, not just being good at what you do.

That response did not at all sound like the Tai I knew and I took class with her for years. She was very shy and meek. The other thing that made no sense to me is that she still lives in Boston ( would she really uproot her husband and child for a few hours of teaching at SAB?) The first thing I thought when I saw her response was that letter had been doctored or her blog hacked. Unfortunately, it's very easy to do that kind of thing. My Twitter account has been hacked but luckily someone informed me soon after it happened (I was supposedly selling diet pills, haha).

I just took a look at Tai's post from March 2015. It has a very measured tone. She also talks about her lifelong problems with low self esteem. I simply don't believe that response is from her. You can comment on her blog. I'm sure she'd want to know if something was amiss.

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It's possible to give individuals the benefit of the doubt in lieu of evidence to the contrary. What evidence is there that Martins is using the panel as an excuse and isn't serious?

Based on numerous statements made over the past few years in both old and new media by several classical dancers of color, it's clear that fair or not, many see the folks the SAB and NYCB organizations as being at best, indifferent and at worst, hostile to new people and/or ideas. And that this is all done under the guise of protecting a cherished legacy when it's really about protecting their cushy positions.

Their supposed unhealthy insularity is seen this way: Balanchine was a genius. I worked with him directly. So therefore, I'm important and I'm above criticism.

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Well, the frequently mentioned BA favorite Virginia Johnson, feels that quality of movement trumps body type almost every time. She also feels that slowly but surely, that attitude is taking hold across the ballet world.

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It's possible to give individuals the benefit of the doubt in lieu of evidence to the contrary. What evidence is there that Martins is using the panel as an excuse and isn't serious?

Seems unfair that Martins should be given the benefit of the doubt about his motives but Misty frequently isn't. Copeland is constantly being accused of playing the race card to steal other people's opportunities and get unwarranted attention.

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