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Misty Copeland, Part Deux


Helene

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4 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Why did she have only four days to learn the role? Even here on BA, there was a report that she'd be dancing this as early as May 28 (above).

I guess I missed that. Where was she supposed to perform the role in May? Did she perform it?

I think part of the issue may be that the Teatro Colon version is different from the Bournonville version (at least that's what the article says). 

I'm glad to have the information provided by the article, but I agree with @Helene that the article is doing quite a bit of speculation, though they admit they are ("Extraoficialmente...").

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6 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

I guess I missed that. Where was she supposed to perform the role in May? Did she perform it?

I think part of the issue may be that the Teatro Colon version is different from the Bournonville version (at least that's what the article says). 

I'm glad to have the information provided by the article, but I agree with @Helene that the article is doing quite a bit of speculation, though they admit they are ("Extraoficialmente...").

Sorry, I meant there was news as early as May (see above) that she'd be performing this. In other words, it wasn't a last-minute engagement.

The Lacotte is indeed completely different from the Bournonville, but I don't see why she would have had only four days to learn the part. Even if that's the only time she had remaining once she arrived on site and was able to start working with the coaches there, she could have arrived having pretty much learned the role on her own. I remember an interview with Joseph Gorak — who really was engaged at the last minute to dance Cinderella for the first time, following another dancer's injury — in which he said he learned the role in his living room watching a video. Obviously, there'd still be much to master after that, but I'd think a dancer could do quite a lot on their own.

Edited by nanushka
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I guess this is a very basic question, but honestly I have no idea about how this works in the ballet world. Is it usual that a guest dancer should know the part he/she will have to perform? Or is it possible that he/she just joins the company and learns the role with the choreographer or ballet master? Perhaps there are different possibilities and that's part of the contract they sign?

Of course, I'm not thinking of every little detail, but the choreography/steps, generally speaking.

It may be important in cases like this, since I understand that the Schneitzhoeffer-Lacotte Sylphide is not a staple in the usual repertoire, at least not as much as the Lovenskjold-Bournonville

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It's highly unusual for a publicity representative to issue a statement regarding a dancer's withdrawal from an engagement due to injury.  I'm assuming that Copeland and her team have taken note of the negative comments by her fans when she cancels, which has occurred with frequency in recent times.  ("Scheduling conflict", flu...)  I'm anticipating that she is now letting Ms. Squires do the talking and she will not address this cancellation directly on her social media.

Edited by abatt
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I'm the one who spotted the Teatro Colon's announcement about Copeland's planned La Sylphide, posting it here. I thought "how interesting" this was, as Lacotte's ballets in the Romantic style feature a lot of difficult terre-a-terre taquette style dancing...spinning lace with the feet. I was wondering if Copeland was up to it, although I've no reason to think that she cannot. Fast footwork, quick pointe work is different from  fouettes and such. 

Evgenia Obraztsova is a genius in such Romantic-era roles and is a particular favorite of Lacotte. I was looking forward to Copeland displaying some of the same qualities. Maybe at a later time.

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Everything about this man rubs me the wrong way for so many reasons. His arrogance is astounding. It’s not the job of a white man to tell a minority woman the appropriate response to racist imagery. He also commented on one of Skylar Brandt’s Instagram videos (of her doing pirouettes) that her placement was wrong but that he could help her fix it. 

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2 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Who is this person?  His presentation is a textbook example of ineffective communication.  It's work trying to listen to him.

Agreed entirely on the communication!

He is someone who never danced but studied teaching later in life. 

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This is weird.  I had never heard of Eric Conrad - never - and since I posted on this thread,  my Youtube suggestion list is full of videos of him working with Misty Copeland and various Russians,  and dissing the online advice from a former Royal Ballet soloist.  You know,  a person who actually made a living as a ballet dancer.

Conrad appears to be the latest ballet guru.  They tend to pop up from time to time.  It's almost a given that these coaches are people who were not notable dancers themselves  and not good enough as teachers to impart technique to an untrained child.  For some reason,  highly-accomp!ished dancers fall under the spell of these persons who convince them that everything about their dancing is wrong,  but not to worry,  they and only they possess the secret of true artistry.   I'm not saying Conrad's advice is valueless.  But he seems more about mystique than technique,  and it takes him forever to make a simple point.

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Conrad had an extensive YouTube presence as early as 2012, at which time there was a discussion on BA! about his comments when Hallberg was hired to join the Bolshoi Ballet, and his contention that Russian companies only took foreign students as cash cows.  

There was also a discussion on Ballet Talk for Dancers -- one of several, since he and his business have popped up a number of times -- in which, while there isn't much respect for him, a poster (on BT4D/BA!) who is familiar with training and credentials posted on BT4D "through his studies at GITIS," I'm just not sure how extensive his training was at one of the great teaching institutes in the world.  Even if his training there was extensive, that doesn't mean he's a good dance teacher, but, if I'm reading this correctly, it's not like he's got a certificate in auto mechanics and is passing it off as certification in preparing pufferfish.  ("Perfectly Normal" reference.)

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Solid ballet training is one of the few commodities the Russians can sell which has international value.  It makes sense for them to take in foreigners willing and able to pay.  They still have to audition and meet rigorous physical criteria.  As it is,  I believe the Bolshoi charges about $18,000 per term,  peanuts compared to American college tuition.

If Mr. Conrad has been teaching here since 2012,  he should have at least four or five beautifully-trained advanced students he can present as proof of concept for his methods.  Okay,  so where are they?  

BTW wasn't David Hallberg also trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School,  the originator and some would say pinnacle of ballet?  If he was good enough for them surely he was good enough for the Russians.

Edited by On Pointe
Further thought.
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25 minutes ago, Leah said:

It’s controversial because instead of calling out the Bolshoi she specifically targeted a 14 year old Russian girl on Instagram who then had to delete her account and apparently suffered a breakdown because of it. 

EXACTLY.

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Someone in Russia suffered a breakdown because someone in the US didn't like a photo on her Instagram?  Russian ballet teachers are pretty tough on their students.  How ever did she make it that far?  This strikes me as villainizing Misty Copeland beyond all reason.

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This isn't to say it hasn't happened before in ballet, but this is the first I've heard of rabid fans turning on a dancer or student dancer like this via social media.  It is, sadly, too common in figure skating, where there is a perpetual argument about whether a skater, whose fans are behaving badly to inhuman, should take a public stand and tell them to stop and to disassociate themselves from their fans' behavior.  The argument against is that the type of fans who would make death threats could do a 180 and then threaten their original hero, making "Fatal Attraction" look like a walk in the park.

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This is a sad situation all around.  But I do think that Misty Copeland could have handled this differently by directly calling out the company versus posting a photo of young ballet students.  In my opinion, Misty has every right to be upset and speak out about it but these students probably had no idea it is upsetting to many people and most likely were  just very excited to be performing in such a big ballet.

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I don't think Copeland  could have effectively made her point without using a photo of what she was referring to.  Perhaps if she could have posted the photo but not identify whose Instagram account it was taken from, that would have been the most appropriate solution.  Given that Copeland has been the victim of very negative statements on certain social media platforms, I'm surprised that she wasn't more sensitive to the fact that these were young teenage girls that would suffer the  backlash.

 

By the way, I recall the Bolshoi bringing Corsaire to the Kennedy Center about 10 years ago.  However, I don't think they employed the use of black face during that tour. 

 

Edited by abatt
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54 minutes ago, abatt said:

By the way, I recall the Bolshoi bringing Corsaire to the Kennedy Center about 10 years ago.  However, I don't think they employed the use of black face during that tour. 

They did not, and in the fallout from this controversy Tsiskaridze told the Russian press that when the Bolshoi took Bayadère to the United States, they were advised to leave out the blackface, and they did. So Urin's protestations that the Bolshoi has always used this makeup and Vaziev's insistence that no one has ever complained about it are a giant crock.

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I believe we discussed this last fall. When the Bolshoi did Bayadere in Berkeley last fall, they used blackface. I was surprised that the Berkeley theater tolerated this. When I saw them at the Kennedy Center, they most definitely did not, and my understanding from the press at the time was that the Kennedy Center said: no way!

https://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Berkeley-Ballet-says-dancers-disinvited-from-14809292.php

Alexei Ratmansky criticized black face on his public Facebook a few weeks ago. The way to publicly discuss it is by focussing on the company, not on individual dancers, especially minors, who really have no choice in this.

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Not long ago,  one often heard about the "ugly American".  (Not that they're all gone now.). This described an American bashing his way through foreign cultures with no regard for the customs and sensibilities of people in other countries.  This was a phrase of derision.  Americans now are constantly admonished to be respectful of the history and mores of others.

It works both ways.  They can do what they want at home.  But if Russians want to play in the US and rake in American dollars,  they need to be respectful of our culture and our mores.  Blackface is extremely offensive in American society.  Certainly I find that photo of the two young dancers absolutely repulsive.  It's possible to wear dark makeup that looks somewhat natural,  but those kids don't even look human.  If you insist on presenting this image in the US,  you might get tears,  you might get walkouts,  or you might get punched in the throat.

It's unfortunate that the young dancers got bullied,  but that's on the bullies,  not Misty Copeland.  Posting the most innocuous material on social media can unleash an unhinged response from troubled individuals.  Those girls are old enough to have been warned about a possible reaction.  (Maybe I missed it,  but where did Misty reveal their names?).  For some years there have been racist incidents in Russia and the former USSR,  mostly against African students,  and there is a thriving skinhead movement,  so the Russians can't claim that they had no idea of the offensive nature of blackface.  They know and they don't care.  Fine.  So keep Bayadere at home when they travel.

(By the way,  the Bolshoi had black female dancers before ABT and NYCB,  most notably Marjorie Scott,  whose father was an American tap dancer.  At any rate,  they have seen black people before,  and they know that the depictions in the photo are crude caricatures.)

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5 hours ago, California said:

When the Bolshoi did Bayadere in Berkeley last fall, they used blackface.

Just to be clear, I think you're referring to a Mariinsky tour. The Bolshoi hasn't brought La Bayadere to the United States for quite some time.

2 hours ago, On Pointe said:

They can do what they want at home. 

You're being more generous than I would be. It's sort of like saying that you can be a sexist at home behind closed doors. I may use an objectionable expression completely innocently and without intending offense. But once it's been pointed out to me that what I'm saying is offensive to certain people, I think I'm obliged to stop using the expression. I don't think the "but it's not offensive in our culture" argument holds water.

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