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Spring 2015: The Sleeping Beauty


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It's a pretty common term in the field of art history, is it not?

It is, and as Helene pointed out, you see it used in decorative arts particularly.

Japonisme is another related phenomenon.

Orientalism would be another term that you would see used. None are offensive although some of the underlying tendencies behind trends like orientalism may be.

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It is, and as Helene pointed out, you see it used in decorative arts particularly.

Japonisme is another related phenomenon.

Orientalism would be another term that you would see used. None are offensive although some of the underlying tendencies behind trends like orientalism may be.

Right. The difference between studying what people (often, though not exclusively, in the past) did with other cultures vs. doing it oneself.

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This is from The Free Dictionary (online):

"Usage Note: Oriental is now considered outdated and often offensive in American English when referring to a person of Asian birth or descent.While this term is rarely intended as an outright slur, and may even be thought polite by some speakers, it is so associated with stereotypicalimages of Asians as portrayed in the West during an earlier era that its use in ethnic contexts should be routinely avoided. However, Oriental retains a certain currency in referring to Asian arts, foods, and practices, such as traditional medical procedures and remedies, where it is unlikelyto give offense."
I think this is the distinction we are trying to make above. I don't think that Chinoiserie, applied to a style of art, would carry the undercurrent of political incorrectness.
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This is from The Free Dictionary (online):

"Usage Note: Oriental is now considered outdated and often offensive in American English when referring to a person of Asian birth or descent.While this term is rarely intended as an outright slur, and may even be thought polite by some speakers, it is so associated with stereotypicalimages of Asians as portrayed in the West during an earlier era that its use in ethnic contexts should be routinely avoided. However, Oriental retains a certain currency in referring to Asian arts, foods, and practices, such as traditional medical procedures and remedies, where it is unlikelyto give offense."

It's considered offensive thanks to Edward Said, yes, and has been replaced by Asian. Fine and good. But I'll bet a dollar to a dime that whoever used the term chinoserie meant no offense and no belittlement, and I think that for all but terms that have historically only been used to offend or belittle, a good rule of thumb is not to take offense where none was meant. (I realize you did not take offense).

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I don't want to take this too far off on a tangent, but we have numerous examples of evolving language and just have to do our best to pay attention to current sensibilities. The distinguished U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall insisted on being called Negro, as he thought that was a term of respect paralleling Caucasian, and he loathed the then-emerging "Afro-American" or black or colored. Yet today, "Negro" is considered offensive and "people of color" respectful. I once met a group of University students from eastern Europe who had been taught that "black" is taboo - but had never been taught that the "N-word" is in fact taboo.

We used to refer to American Indians, until we concluded that Native American was more respectful. Then we noticed that "Native American" includes Native Hawaiians and Native Alaskans, so we went back to American Indian. We have similarly evolving language in how we refer to "handicapped" or "disabled" or "challenged." The LA Times conducted a survey of readers in the 1980s about whether they should use the term Hispanic or Latino/a and opted for the latter (especially as many do not have heritage from Spain). The way we talk about people from the continent of Asia has similarly evolved.

Everybody just needs to be as sensitive as we can and not take offense when somebody seems to be straying from our expected norms. Depending on context, I think it's often appropriate to correct somebody's usage and explain why (as I did with those university students).

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Using the term orientalism is completely different from using the term oriental. I think a lot of what's being said here is irrelevant once you know what orientalism is and means. The term orientalism is not considered offensive thanks to Edward Said. Said titles his own book Orientalism. Using the term orientalism is simply naming the act of fetishizing or "other-izing" that which is perceived of as "oriental." (Which for Said typically means not "Asian" but more broadly "Eastern" -- or more narrowly "Middle Eastern.")

The same is true of using the terms chinoiserie or japonisme. They're all references to what may be offensive acts, but the terms themselves (like "racism") are not offensive.

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Ok well since I was the one who raised my eyebrows at the term "Chinoiserie" I'll just say that I find the idea that only in "Chinoiserie" would an Imperial dancer bend his elbows (but never in Aurora's variations) a rather offensive stereotype about how Chinese people use their arms and hands.

And for the record I love Madama Butterfly and have never sat through that opera without crying but I always cringe when a Cio Cio San comes onstage with bent knees and elbows bent, hands together, as if that were the only way anyone from the East moves.

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Said titles his own book Orientalism.

Yes, but he uses it to condemn what he means by it. Sensitivity is just a form of courtesy, of course, which is itself a form of respect. But when respect goes both ways, people are slow to take offense.

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Yes, but he uses it to condemn what he means by it. Sensitivity is just a form of courtesy, of course, which is itself a form of respect. But when respect goes both ways, people are slow to take offense.

My point was that he condemns the act of orientalizing, not the use of the term orientalism. It's like condemning the act of racism but not the naming of something as racism.

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My point was that he condemns the act of orientalizing, not the use of the term orientalism. It's like condemning the act of racism but not the naming of something as racism.

I see. Sorry to have misunderstood you.

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In Act III, Sarah executed the unsupported backbend perfectly. Her balance was finally on. Wow!

This was a breathtaking moment! Thanks so much for your insightful, spot-on review, DeCoster (#109 back on p. 8).

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Oh Boy, I had a good laugh...

Do protest Chinoisserie in front of Schermerhorn Hall at Columbia U. (That is where the Art History Dept is located), LOL

Japonisme too why not, Orientalism? you could start at the Literature Department Dept, with a bondfire of Lord Byron books of poetry. Oh the insensitive brute...

OMG, should I lough or cry? Prof. Said - the epitome of all knowledge...

in Stalinist Russia people got sent to Siberia for naming their dog Samba (politicaly incorrect - no not racist, but pro western enough to be considered a spy.

The madness continues...

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Re the term "Native American," my son, who documented in pictures a Rolling Thunder motorcycle trip from California to Washington D.C. for a book on patriotism in America a few years ago, spent two weeks on reservations out west. He asked various people at these reservations what terminology they preferred. Every single one said "Native, not Native American" as the word "America" comes from the Italian explorer/navigator Amerigo Vespucci.

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I am supposed to see Sarah and Herman next Thursday but after reading some of these reviews, I'm having second thoughts. Should I switch to a different night? And if so, which one?

I say stick with it. From everything I've read (I only saw Sarah and Herman, so I can't compare), it sounds like Herman's performance of the Act III variation was the most masterful -- no matter how he looked in the costume, his dancing was superb.

And Sarah, while she looked small onstage amidst all the hoo-haa, and while she slipped up in the Rose Adagio, seemed perfectly suited to Ratmansky's take on this ballet.

They were both superb. As I noted above, read DeCoster's long review on p. 8 of this thread for a very astute take on their performance -- which was their very first in this production, and so will very likely be improved upon in performances to come.

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I say stick with it. From everything I've read (I only saw Sarah and Herman, so I can't compare), it sounds like Herman's performance of the Act III variation was the most masterful -- no matter how he looked in the costume, his dancing was superb.

And Sarah, while she looked small onstage amidst all the hoo-haa, and while she slipped up in the Rose Adagio, seemed perfectly suited to Ratmansky's take on this ballet.

They were both superb. As I noted above, read DeCoster's long review on p. 8 of this thread for a very astute take on their performance -- which was their very first in this production, and so will very likely be improved upon in performances to come.P

Personally I'm sticking with my tickets for the Lane/Cornejo show. A rocky Rose Adage does not make or break a performance for me (I saw Makarova hop around on pointe to stay up there). It's unfortunate that Lane/Cornejo had their first shot at it on the Met stage. I'm confident the their second performance will iron out any kinks. I'm excited to see it.

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I am supposed to see Sarah and Herman next Thursday but after reading some of these reviews, I'm having second thoughts. Should I switch to a different night? And if so, which one?

Never pass up the chance to see Sarah Lane in a leading role, especially with Cornejo. The opportunities for this teaming are few and far between, and who knows how much longer either one will be with ABT. You can always see Hee Seo or Boylston or some revolving-door visitor from Europe; why waste the opportunity to see some really great, gorgeous dancing from a ballerina who is a soloist in name only? She gave a tour-de-force performance as Aurora two years ago which should have brought her a promotion; this is a great role for her and shouldn't be missed.

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Never pass up the chance to see Sarah Lane in a leading role, especially with Cornejo. The opportunities for this teaming are few and far between, and who knows how much longer either one will be with ABT. You can always see Hee Seo or Boylston or some revolving-door visitor from Europe; why waste the opportunity to see some really great, gorgeous dancing from a ballerina who is a soloist in name only? Completely She gave a tour-de-force performance as Aurora two years ago which should have brought her a promotion; this is a great role for her and shouldn't be missed.

Although I'm also seeing Vishneva, I agree completely with laurel. I saw Sarah last night in a small role in Bayadere and she has such a pure, classical line and is a terrific turner. She didn't fall out of even one pirouette. And Herman's wonderful. But he's not getting any younger and keeps getting injured. Last night as Gamzatti, I thought Gillian looked tired and (I hate to say it) old. She's not getting any younger, either. So I would stick to Lane/Cornejo, I have tickets to both but my husband only agreed to see Sarah (and he generally loves Diana).

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I saw Vishneva/Gomes SB in LA. They were so brilliant and superb. Their chemistry was really moving and especially Gomes' interpretation was very convincing -- not a boring young man, but a romantic prince who looked for a true love(I wonder why no one discuss about interpretations in this board).

Vishneva was so strong and her Rose Adagio was secure. I also saw Hee Seo's Aurora and her technique was far behind Vishneva, as we all know.

Gomes' brise vole was flawless and joyful, and his beautiful one-hand-catch of fish dive was just jaw-dropping.

So I recommend their SB unless they got injured after that performance (I haven't seen both of them yet this MET season) .

However IMO SB is neither dramatic nor serious and there are lots of element for children, so it' not a satisfied production to enjoy their great artistry.

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am just reading the Broadway World review of this production, http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/BWW-Reviews-ABTs-THE-SLEEPING-BEAUTY-at-The-Met-20150601-page2, in which the writer insists on using the spelling "faerie" for fairy. can someone who's seen the performance program please let me know if this is also the spelling used for the fairies in the actual production, or is it just BWW being pretentious. Thank you.

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am just reading the Broadway World review of this production, http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/BWW-Reviews-ABTs-THE-SLEEPING-BEAUTY-at-The-Met-20150601-page2, in which the writer insists on using the spelling "faerie" for fairy. can someone who's seen the performance program please let me know if this is also the spelling used for the fairies in the actual production, or is it just BWW being pretentious. Thank you.

I was at opening night May 29. The ABT printed program says: "The Fairies."

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