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Misty Copeland, Part Deux


Helene

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9 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

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.

My apologies! Mariinsky, of course. And it was Mariinsky at the Kennedy Center with Kimin Kim. Which was part of my surprise, that Kennedy Center got their way but Berkeley didn't. 

Ratmansky's Facebook comment, of course, remains important, as he was formerly the director at Bolshoi and worked with them recently on Giselle.

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Here is a report on the Mariinsky production of La Bayadere in Berkeley this past November –

Berkeley Ballet says dancers disinvited from performing in show after concerns about brownface

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

Quote

Dr. Letha Ch’ien, an assistant professor of art history at Sonoma State and a ballet devotee, came to Berkeley for two performances of “La Bayadère.” While she says she did not see bindis on the dancers in the “Dance Manu” scene, she says she did notice what looked like skin-darkening makeup on the company dancers ...

“They’re insisting on a purported originality for only this racial aspect, for possibly the most problematic aspect of the ballet, when they don’t insist on that for other aspects of the ballet,” she told SFGATE. “It’s conflating authenticity and originality for a racist representation. I think that has no place on stages. It’s very disturbing to see Cal Performances give their tacit approval. I don’t think art has to be politically correct, but this is not a controversial subject. I don’t think it should be done.”

Cal Performances did not confirm the use of brownface on Zellerbach stage, but noted it would be out of their control if it did happen.

 

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If the presentation of offensive racist caricatures is "out of their control" when a foreign company performs on their stage,  the theater could add a warning and a disclaimer when tickets are sold,  and in the program itself.  That's in their control.  It's common for theaters to advise ticket holders when there will be smoke,  flashing lights or gunshots in a production,  as these can trigger strong negative physical and mental responses in some people.  The sight of white children in blackface,  comp!ete with white eye circles and red lips,  definitely would trigger most black Americans!  If anyone wonders how and why,  I recommend the Spike Lee film,  Bamboozled,  especially the last few minutes.  It's a darkly humorous look at the use of black caricatures and as a p!us,  tap phenom Savion Glover is the star.

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You can't take context, culture or history out of a situation. Russia is so different than America, hence this situation can't be handled the same. This was a completely ineffective and uninformed way to try to change the world. 

If Misty wants to make a difference, she should take some courses in Nonviolent Communication... The way she went about this ensured the other side would not hear her and would respond antagonistically.

Lastly, including the children's Instagram handles was horribly wrong. She should realize her mistake and apologize but from my understanding, that has not happened.

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For those interested, more about nonviolent communication that speaks right to this:

NVC is a consciousness based on the intention to create positive connection — recognizing that mutually enriching outcomes will emerge from the quality of the relationships. Rather than be motivated by fear, guilt, or any coercion, people give freely and happily when they feel good about each other and trust that their needs matter to the other person. NVC can help you create these kinds of relationships, personally and professionally.

NVC recognizes that how we interact with each other is driven by core human motivators also known as universal human needs. By using NVC in our daily lives, we can identify and transform deeply ingrained "violent" communication methods that get in the way of having satisfying relationships (Key Facts About NVC).

What is Violent Communication?

The basics of Nonviolent Communication involve expressing ourselves with clarity, compassion, self-responsibility, empathy, and the common good in mind, which is the exact opposite of what violent communication is. Violent communication involves threatening, judging, dehumanizing, blaming, or coercing others in order to get our way in a situation. Violent communication creates misunderstanding and frustration, pain and disagreements (Violent v Nonviolent Communication).

What violent communication is, in everyday desired relationship terms, is a way of thinking and speaking that gets in the way of the quality of connection for which we are looking. It can also lead to anger, shame, guilt, depression and, in extreme cases, emotional or physical violence.

Many of us are taught to express our feelings in terms of what another person has "done to us." Unfortunately, we are not taught to take ownership of our feelings and needs in order to ask healthily for only what benefits and is fair to all parties involved.

 

Edited by FireDancer
Added more about NVC which I think is invaluable in life!
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"And this is the reality of the ballet world."  Am I missing something?  This is,  as far as I know,  Misty Copeland's only remark.  Where is the " violence"?  If the other side can't hear her,  it's because they don't want to acknowledge the truth of her statement,  which is actually very mild.  The Russians are not claiming ignorance about the significance of blackface in the US.  They are saying in effect, "This is the way we've always done it and the way we will continue to do it in our production ,  American sensibilities be damned".  All the verbal violence is on their side.  They could use a few courses in public relations.  Buying tickets to the ballet,  like posting offensive photos online,  is an optional activity.

 

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22 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

 like posting offensive photos online

 

To the little girls, these pictures are not offensive. They were celebrating that they got to perform in what is most likely their dream company's production. Nothing more, nothing less. There was no ill intent.

Edited by FireDancer
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19 hours ago, On Pointe said:

It's unfortunate that the young dancers got bullied,  but that's on the bullies,  not Misty Copeland.   

Those girls are old enough to have been warned about a possible reaction.  (Maybe I missed it,  but where did Misty reveal their names?). 

It definitely is on Misty for having kept the text with all their Instagram handles on her repost, instead of the picture alone. As far as I could tell, all but one have deleted their accounts.

She could have tried to start a dialogue with the Bolshoi instead of just shaming these kids (and in turn sending the masses to do the same and more- death threats? How insane is that?!) who most likely had no clue those costumes were offensive in another culture. 

Edited by FireDancer
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PLUS, just think about what a great opportunity she had to educate those girls about how seeing these pictures made her feel... And then the ripple effect from that..

Misty absolutely could have made a difference for the better if she handled it differently. 

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10 minutes ago, FireDancer said:

It absolutely is on Misty for keeping their Instagram handles instead of reposting the picture alone. She could have tried to start a dialogue with the Bolshoi instead of just shaming these kids (and in turn sending the masses to do the same and more- death threats? How insane is that?!) who most likely had no clue those costumes were offensive in another culture. 

She obviously did not "send the masses to do" anything at all.

That said, a woman with 1.8 milion Instagram followers should well know what would happen to the Instagram user whose handle she reposted, given that the image was racially offensive. I'm guessing it was very clear from the girl's profile (now deleted, and I never saw it) that she was quite young and was one of the dancers pictured.

Edited by nanushka
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1 hour ago, FireDancer said:

To the little girls, these pictures are not offensive. They were celebrating that they got to perform in what is most likely their dream company's production. Nothing more, nothing less. There was no ill intent.

While the dancers are young,  I wouldn't describe them as "little girls".   Of all the costumes in a massive ballet like La Bayadere,  I have to wonder why they chose to showcase these.  You can't even see who they are,  which is kind of the point.  They are depicting things,  not people who think and feel and love.  Of course they didn't find the costumes offensive.  (Note to Russian costumers - black people don't have black palms.).  They are "traditional",  and it's not like it was their ox being gored.   I can even imagine the incredulous response they would get from management if they protested having to participate in this racial degradation.  Because that's what it is - degradation.

People should be free to express ideas and opinions that are abhorrent to others.  But freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from the consequences of their actions.  I'm sorry the girls got their feelings hurt.  Now imagine what a young black ballet student feels when one of the world's great ballet companies puts that image out into the world.  I'm glad that Misty Copeland said something.

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No one's talking ng about their feelings being hurt: we're talking about death threats.

No one is saying that Copeland shouldn't have said anything or have been outraged or have posted the photo.  I don't think she should have posted the Instagram handles.

How she handles it is up to her.  I, like anyone else who cares, will come to my own conclusion based on it.

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40 minutes ago, Helene said:

No one's talking ng about their feelings being hurt: we're talking about death threats.

No one is saying that Copeland shouldn't have said anything or have been outraged or have posted the photo.  I don't think she should have posted the Instagram handles.

How she handles it is up to her.  I, like anyone else who cares, will come to my own conclusion based on it.

100%.

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Does anyone know how the Instagram post came to Misty Copeland's attention?  (Maybe someone thought it would be "fun" to send it to her to see how she would react.)   Any number of people could have seen the photo and the Instagram handles without Misty.  And a lot of people love to threaten and intimidate on the internet,  no encouragement necessary.

ETA If you post a photo that is very offensive to a large chunk of the world's population,  you shouldn't be surprised that a lot of people don't like it.   If you still think that all of this is Misty Copeland's fault,  and everything would have been acceptable if she hadn't done anything,  nothing I post here will have any meaning to you,  but I am interested in knowing what you believe her punishment for being offended shouod be.

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

If you still think that all of this is Misty Copeland's fault,  and everything would have been acceptable if she hadn't done anything...

Personally, that’s not at all what I think, and as I read others’ comments on here, I’m not sure anyone thinks that. I could be wrong.

Not every game is zero sum.

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11 hours ago, On Pointe said:

ETA If you post a photo that is very offensive to a large chunk of the world's population,  you shouldn't be surprised that a lot of people don't like it. 

I doubt a 14 year old Russian girl has a firm grasp of the history of racism in America, so it is not fair to presume that the child knew that she was posting a "very offensive" photo to a "large chunk of the world."  I know when I was 14 I was not studying the history of Russia in my classroom in NYC.

 

Edited by abatt
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11 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Any number of people could have seen the photo and the Instagram handles without Misty. 

How many people follow random students of the Bolshoi school?

2 minutes ago, abatt said:

I doubt a 14 year old Russian girl has a firm grasp of the history of racism in America, so it is not fair to presume that the child knew that she was posting a "very offensive" photo to a "large chunk of the world."  I know when I was 14 I was not studying the history of Russia.

Exactly.

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19 minutes ago, FireDancer said:

How many people follow random students of the Bolshoi school?

That photo popped up in my list of suggestions when I went to do a search on Instagram. Copeland's post did not. I don't follow either account. 

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41 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

That photo popped up in my list of suggestions when I went to do a search on Instagram. Copeland's post did not. I don't follow either account. 

Was that after the photo got all the attention it did from Copeland's bringing attention to it? If so, I'm not sure what the implied significance is. Once it blew up, it would obviously show up in the suggested posts for many who follow other accounts with dance-related content.

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Surely intent has to be proved before the children in question can be accused of a racial insult?  If they had no intention of offending their audience they have to be considered blameless.   If the company was aware of such sensitivities and ignored them that is another matter.

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The old USSR  used to emphasize the history of slavery,  Jim Crow and the civil rights struggle in the US,  including demeaning images of black people,  because it made America look bad.  Perhaps the curriculum has changed over the years,  but Russia is not some clueless backwater where people are totally unaware of what goes on elsewhere.  In Europe,  the Netherlands specifically,  there is an ongoing debate about the tradition of blacking up to portray Black Peter at Christmas time.  Europeans know these depictions are controversial at the least,  Russians included. 

https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/netherlands-blackface-christmas-tradition.htm

It's useless to speculate about the intent of the girls in the photo.  But it's a safe bet that Misty Copeland doesn't spend her days combing through Instagram images of Russian ballet students looking for someone to harass.  

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2 hours ago, nanushka said:

Was that after the photo got all the attention it did from Copeland's bringing attention to it? If so, I'm not sure what the implied significance is. Once it blew up, it would obviously show up in the suggested posts for many who follow other accounts with dance-related content.

At the time I was unaware it was connected in any way with Copeland. But if it popped up as a suggestion for me, I could have appeared as a suggestion for her as well, or someone who knows her could have seen it.

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So the controversy is only about the girls being bullied? Come on.  I'm not buying that.  With the ubiquity of American culture seeping into all corners of the world, Russians are pretending that they had no idea that blackface is repulsive.  And since when is something offensive based purely on intent? 

Also, there's proof the Copeland instructed her fans to hound the students?  And she should apologize for what her fans do?  In what universe?

 

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11 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Russia is not some clueless backwater where people are totally unaware of what goes on elsewhere

I obviously can't be certain as I don't know these kids personally, but from personal experience, when you're training in these types of school, your whole life is BALLET. The internet has definitely changed the world (case in point, these girls getting harassed like this), but it still may very well be that the girls had no idea the costumes are controversial as that conversation is not part of their reality. And there's no way they would willingly put themselves in the line of fire- why would anyone do so?

However, imagine receiving a message from a famous dancer wanting to talk to you about your photo... I can only imagine they would have been thrilled!

Edited by FireDancer
Clarification
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