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Helene

Misty Copeland, Part Deux

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 I agree that in our culture it's a good sign that businesses consider dancers to have attained a level of public recognition that makes them attractive shills for some industries. As mentioned, it's also nice for the dancers, who are only an injury away from losing their livelihoods. I also think that ad campaigns like the "I Will What I Want" series for Under Armour reflect a positive change in the images of women that corporations believe will sell their stuff - Copeland was presented not only as beautiful but as powerful and strong in that beauty. I just don't think there's anything particularly praiseworthy or edifying in the whole business, and sometimes it's intrusive, as canbelto observed. 

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It was a very nice review, and she wouldn't be the first dancer who was asked to review a book.

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The reviews are written in an excellent language and a clear, informative manner, with wisely selected quotes. What a joy it is that Misty is not only a ballerina with accomplished physical and artistic abilities, but also possesses a high intellect.

I will buy the Jacobs book on the strength of Misty's review. Thank you very much for posting the links to the reviews.

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I'll be looking for both of these -- thanks for the heads-up, and the link to the review.

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There was an ESPN special that aired tonight, Sunday, February 24, called "Unapologetic: The Black Female Athlete," and it included Misty Copeland.

Here's the trailer; Copeland is in it:

http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=26073046

Here's the press release:

https://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2019/02/unapologetic-the-black-female-athlete-espn-black-history-month-special-airs-sunday-night/

 

Did anyone see it?  I don't have cable.

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That link seems to lead to more than the trailer now--but to the show itself. (I didn't have time to watch more than a couple of minutes though.)

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27 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

Is anyone else following this?  He uploads each session with her.

 

Absolutely horrid. Why would she want to work with him???

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17 minutes ago, FireDancer said:

 

Absolutely horrid. Why would she want to work with him???

What are your reservations?  I'm just curious- I have no background in ballet training, so I'd love to hear the specifics of what's wrong with his teaching.  I'm very interested in this topic because I have a daughter who is training in ballet.

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I hope she finds some help through this training, but I am distracted by the tension in her hands during these exercises - especially her left hand. 

 

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It's painful to watch and she seems somewhat paralyzed. Based on a couple of short videos, I don't want to comment on the training itself. The proof will be in the pudding. If she has an amazing Met season, we'll know it works for her. I am dubious, of course.

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5 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

What are your reservations?  I'm just curious- I have no background in ballet training, so I'd love to hear the specifics of what's wrong with his teaching.  I'm very interested in this topic because I have a daughter who is training in ballet.

Well this would be a very long post which I don't currently have time for, but in short: 

_ His attitude is just awful. He is so condescending and rude, always, and even to Misty, who is a principal dancer. He treats her like she has no idea what she's doing, the way he does everyone. For that alone, I couldn't work with him, even if he knew his stuff. 

_ On the technical side, he is so wrong about most of the things he says and does. For an easy example, just look at how he has Misty (and his wife and son) do first position. They have their feet so far apart and they are completely sitting in their hyperextension and their heels. Not to mention, there's no way to lift one's leg while between 2 legs, let alone let go of the barre. So his whole "it's all about placement" is true, HOWEVER he has no idea what correct placement is. I can tell you from experience that the teachers at the Bolshoi Academy where he claims to have taught (riiiight) have the students stand with their heels together even if they have crazy hyperextension because that is exactly what teaches one to stack the bones of the standing leg and pull up out of one's hyperextension as is necessary to dance. 

He never danced: he was in the tech industry until he decided to study dance as an adult. Since he had the means to do it, he studied in Moscow but that doesn't mean he understood it properly. He hasn't felt ballet in his own body and that is necessary to be a teacher and to pass on the art of classical dance, especially its technique.

His poor wife could be so much further along than she is if she had a proper teacher. She wouldn't need to cry the tears of frustration featured in a recent video. She can't do it because she's not on her leg!!!

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for your reply.  I do wonder though, how he came up with the heel apart for hyperextension thing if not during his years in Russia??  Svetlana's turnout during plies is pretty incredible though, I can't argue with that result.  I agree he's very rude; there was a particular episode that he was really talking down to his wife, *cringe*.

Edited by Balletwannabe

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Just now, Balletwannabe said:

Thank you for your reply.  I do wonder though, how he came up with the heel apart for hyperextension thing if not during his years in Russia??  Svetlana's turnout during plies is pretty incredible though, I can't argue with that result.  I agree he's very rude; there was a particular episode that he was really talking down to his wife, *cringe*.

The thing is it doesn't matter if she can turn out if she can't even stand on one leg or let go of the barre while doing a plié... And it's not that it'll come later, it's that it would have to be retaught...  

As for the heels, he may very well be making an assumption that since their legs are hyperextended then they should have their heels apart, and/or, sure, it's possible someone in Russia may have told him the heels could be apart. But I can't imagine anyone ever said one could basically be in a (bad) second position. 

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Ok, I hear what you're saying.

The only reason his teaching interests me is because what he said about injuries.  It's absolutely true that injuries are on the rise in young people.  He really has no credibility though, so I can't make any judgement about his methods, yet.  I'm interested to see if Misty improves.

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Regardless of whether or not he is good at what he does, I admire Misty for her decision to work on her technical issues by going back to the absolute basics. Such a hard thing for a principal dancer to do! 

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Actually, I think dancers may go back to basics more often than we realize. I read Sara Mearns' instagram now and then, and she takes instruction from a teacher she met on tour in Denmark whenever this teacher is in New York.  The video Mearns posted involved correction of some basic issues.

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53 minutes ago, vagansmom said:

Regardless of whether or not he is good at what he does, I admire Misty for her decision to work on her technical issues by going back to the absolute basics. Such a hard thing for a principal dancer to do! 

Unfortunately, if it makes one worse, what's the point? One has to be discerning when choosing a teacher.

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1 hour ago, abatt said:

I read Sara Mearns' instagram now and then, and she takes instruction from a teacher she met on tour in Denmark whenever this teacher is in New York.  The video Mearns posted involved correction of some basic issues.

Lynne Charles, with whom Mearns works on pointe technique, was a principal with the Hamburg Ballet for many, many years. That makes her very different from Copeland's teacher. 

I'm glad he's posting the sessions where ABT can see them. If Copeland has fallen prey to a charlatan, hopefully the company will intervene. 

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Susan Jaffe once gave an interview describing a mid-career reboot of her technique with Kolpakova. So it happens. It still seems brave for a dancer of Copland's prominence (and who attracts as much heated commentary as she does) to do this and to allow the videos to be posted -- one wonders if that isn't something Conrad wanted since it brings a great deal of attention to his method.

48 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

I'm glad he's posting the sessions where ABT can see them. If Copeland has fallen prey to a charlatan, hopefully the company will intervene. 

One would hope so.

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5 minutes ago, Drew said:

It still seems brave for a dancer of Copland's prominence (and who attracts as much heated commentary as she does) to do this and to allow the videos to be posted -- one wonders if that isn't something Conrad wanted since it brings a great deal of attention to his method.

I hope she is charging him.

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12 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I hope she is charging him.

That was my thought (and others I know)... He must be paying her a boatload. 

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Wow, my legs hurt just watching that video.  He's having her sink into her hyperextension so much, her weight isn't remotely over her feet.  Her tendu placement is totally off - they aren't remotely in front or behind her.

Not to mention, her epaulement looks totally stiff, and her hands look really tense.

I know there are other ABT dancers who seek outside coaching (ex: Skylar Brandt with Irina Dvorvenko) but based off of this video, I'd be shocked if this improves Misty's dancing at all.  In fact, I worry this will hinder her even more and put her at risk of more injury.

 

For reference, lots of Bolshoi/Vaganova dancers have extreme hyperextension, and none of them sink into their hyperextension this much.  I know this video is a little grainy, but here's Svetlana Zakharova (another dancer with pronounced hyperextension) in her graduation exam, not sinking into it at all.

 

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