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WSJ Article on Possible Misty Copeland Promotion

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While most dancers' promotions receive barely any coverage in the mainstream press, the potential of Copeland getting promoted to principal gets an entire article in The Wall Street Journal.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/misty-copelands-possible-promotion-at-american-ballet-theatre-is-talk-of-dance-world-1434924908

In case we weren't already aware, Copeland's promotion would be groundbreaking from a racial standpoint.

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In case we weren't already aware, Copeland's promotion would be groundbreaking from a racial standpoint.

clapping.gif i couldn't find the rolling on the floor laughing icon...

nothing in this article mentions her performing at a principal dancer level, only taking on a principal dancer work-load. Shouldn't ABT have standards to uphold?

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While most dancers' promotions receive barely any coverage in the mainstream press, the potential of Copeland getting promoted to principal gets an entire article in The Wall Street Journal.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/misty-copelands-possible-promotion-at-american-ballet-theatre-is-talk-of-dance-world-1434924908

In case we weren't already aware, Copeland's promotion would be groundbreaking from a racial standpoint.

Robert Greskovic's excellent reviews notwithstanding, how often do we see an article about dance in a mainstream publication like the WSJ. While we who follow this world with very close attention have been talking (sometimes enthusiastically and sometimes acrimoniously) about her career for as long as she's had one, this is news (that is, something that isn't yet known) to most of the Journal's readers. It is indeed a big deal.

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this is news (that is, something that isn't yet known) to most of the Journal's readers. It is indeed a big deal.

What is the "news," exactly? That some people think something should happen, which hasn't happened yet? That's called a whisper campaign -- it's not news. And it becomes much more than a whisper campaign when you get someone in the WSJ to write an article about it. It becomes pressure publicly exerted.

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Honestly, to the vast majority of the WSJ readership, the news is that ballet companies have ranks, that women are not all "prima ballerinas," that there have been other people of color who have danced in other ballet companies, and that it is indeed possible someone of color might be named to the top rank of one of the ballet companies in NYC.

We spend so much of our life parsing small details in the dance world -- most people wouldn't recognize a boulder as it ran them over.

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Honestly, to the vast majority of the WSJ readership, the news is that ballet companies have ranks, that women are not all "prima ballerinas," that there have been other people of color who have danced in other ballet companies, and that it is indeed possible someone of color might be named to the top rank of one of the ballet companies in NYC.

We spend so much of our life parsing small details in the dance world -- most people wouldn't recognize a boulder as it ran them over.

It's true that's all unknown to a lot of people outside the dance world. That doesn't make it "news," or worthy of an article. Let her get promoted; then write the article. Then the actual "news" will have happened. No reason why this article couldn't have appeared a month from now -- except if you're working in p.r.

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What is the "news," exactly? That some people think something should happen, which hasn't happened yet? That's called a whisper campaign -- it's not news. And it becomes much more than a whisper campaign when you get someone in the WSJ to write an article about it. It becomes pressure publicly exerted.

I'm surprised at Pia:(

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It's true that's all unknown to a lot of people outside the dance world. That doesn't make it "news," or worthy of an article. Let her get promoted; then write the article. Then the actual "news" will have happened. No reason why this article couldn't have appeared a month from now -- except if you're working in p.r.

It read to me like a well-informed piece that instructs readers of the WSJ on an aspect of the ballet world they probably don't know too much about, with a focus on one ballet dancer who has been in the news recently. I have no idea why this is a bad thing.

The Telegraph interview has already been posted on the Misty Copeland discussion thread.

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I think this story is on the same order as all the stories that have been written recently about which hot conductor will be hired by which major orchestra, and who people are rooting for. Or to give another example, going further afield, stories about how the Supreme Court is likely to rule on a couple of hot button cases this month. As Catton writes, the ballet world really is abuzz about the probability of Copeland's promotion. Add to that the history-making factor that she's African-American, and the probability of her promotion is a real news story.

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If the WSJ wanted to do a non news fluff piece, why not point out that Stella Abrera has been a long serving soloist who has been doing principal roles and who would be the first Phillipino American principal at ABT if she were promoted. Oh wait, I know why. Because Stella doesn't have a PR team.

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I think this story is on the same order as all the stories that have been written recently about which hot conductor will be hired by which major orchestra, and who people are rooting for. Or to give another example, going further afield, stories about how the Supreme Court is likely to rule on a couple of hot button cases this month. As Catton writes, the ballet world really is abuzz about the probability of Copeland's promotion. Add to that the history-making factor that she's African-American, and the probability of her promotion is a real news story.

The story would have been far more newsworthy and had far more of an impact in the days following Misty's likely promotion. The WSJ could very well have waited a few weeks and published it then. At that point, actual events would have occurred that would constitute news. This is a classic PR move, and it forces McKenzie's hand (as if it needed much forcing at this point). If he passes over Misty for promotion now, he looks even worse than he otherwise would have, and in the eyes of an even wider audience.

I have no idea why this is a bad thing.

If I'm right, and if the woman who handles Misty's PR (who has shown herself to be quite excellent at her job in the past) played a role in getting this piece published at this time, this is "a bad thing" (though nothing very new) for journalism and for the integrity (or what remains of it) of ABT's decisions about promotion, but it's a brilliant move for Misty. And that's true even if you think (as I do) that her promotion is inevitable at this point -- because this means it will make an even bigger splash when it comes, which only boosts her PR even more.

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If the WSJ wanted to do a non news fluff piece, why not point out that Stella Abrera has been a long serving soloist who has been doing principal roles and who would be the first Phillipino American principal at ABT if she were promoted. Oh wait, I know why. Because Stella doesn't have a PR team.

Well, that's the value of a PR team. A whole lot of what passes for journalism is nothing more than the transcription of a press release, and arts "journalism" (yes, I'm using scare quotes) is no exception. (Note: I'm excluding reviews from arts journalism proper. Reviewing is reporting of a kind -- it's an eyewitness report / analysis of something that happened -- but it's not the kind of investigative reporting that surfaces issues and documents the facts surrounding them.)

ABT's CFO made it clear that putting butts in seats via the company's "Star Strategy" is an institutional imperative; are we really surprised that savvy dancers might have taken note and acted accordingly?

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The likelihood of Abrera being promoted is much lower, however, Filippino-Americans have not endured the same long, vicious and storied discrimination, and however we feel about Copeland's PR, it's worked, while Abrera is unknown outside of ballet circles, except perhaps among others of Fillipino descent. Copeland is already news, and the fevered speculation as to whether she'll be promoted is news now, not after the fact.

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Well, that's the value of a PR team. A whole lot of what passes for journalism is nothing more than the transcription of a press release, and arts "journalism" (yes, I'm using scare quotes) is no exception. (Note: I'm excluding reviews from arts journalism proper. Reviewing is reporting of a kind -- it's an eyewitness report / analysis of something that happened -- but it's not the kind of investigative reporting that surfaces issues and documents the facts surrounding them.)

ABT's CFO made it clear that putting butts in seats via the company's "Star Strategy" is an institutional imperative; are we really surprised that savvy dancers might have taken note and acted accordingly?

Not surprised. Just disappointed that PR has become more important than artistry and skill.

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Also, Copeland's PR people may have suggested this story, but I doubt they had to. My guess is that the Culture desk of every media outlet in New York has long known the timing of Copeland's likely promotion.

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Not surprised. Just disappointed that PR has become more important than artistry and skill.

In the realm of classical music and opera, PR has been a driver of performance bookings and recording contracts for lo these many years. I can think of a number of singers, solo instrumentalists, and even conductors who have filled halls based as much on carefully crafted buzz as on their talent and musicianship. The belief that certain careers are the product of good PR and nothing else has fueled online opera flame wars for two decades.

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Not surprised. Just disappointed that PR has become more important than artistry and skill.

From the article:

Former Ballet Theatre principal Angel Corella, who is now artistic director at Pennsylvania Ballet, said making the decision of whether to promote a dancer can be a balance of art and commerce.

“It’s a very difficult position. You have to keep your integrity,” he said. “But you have to be thinking about what the audience wants.”

I do not mean to suggest that Copeland's promotion, when and if it happens, will be an example of the type of balance Corella is describing here. Corella is simply acknowledging that many different factors are at play in promotions.The implication that by hiring a flack Copeland has somehow sullied a pristine world where nothing ever mattered but artistry and skill is dubious, at best. And it wouldn't matter, because simply by speaking out the way Copeland has, she would be the target of such criticism even if she had spent her non-dancing time in a corner with a bag over her head.

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Personally, I have a much greater faith in Corella's ability to properly balance integrity and commerce than I do in McKenzie's ability to strike that balance.

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From the article:

I do not mean to suggest that Copeland's promotion, when and if it happens, will be an example of the type of balance Corella is describing here. Corella is simply acknowledging that many different factors are at play in promotions.The implication that by hiring a flack Copeland has somehow sullied a pristine world where nothing ever mattered but artistry and skill is dubious, at best. And it wouldn't matter, because simply by speaking out the way Copeland has, she would be the target of such criticism even if she had spent her non-dancing time in a corner with a bag over her head.

Yes, but ideally artistry and skill would be what matter in this art, and they would be what build "commerce" (audience interest). So while Copeland’s rise is good in another respect, in that one she’s done it no favors. Her “speaking out” was bound to engender some kneejerk criticism, sure – and some kneejerk support too.

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The point was that such decisions aren't made in a vacuum and never have been. It doesn't sound to me (not having seen a lot of her dancing) as if Copeland's promotion, should it happen, will be grave violence done to the general principle of merit, but plainly there are differences of opinion out there.

My patellar reflexes haven't been making themselves known during the discussion, but others should feel free to report any unusual activity they're experiencing.

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The point was that such decisions aren't made in a vacuum and never have been. It doesn't sound to me (not having seen a lot of her dancing) as if Copeland's promotion, should it happen, will be grave violence done to the general principle of merit, but plainly there are differences of opinion out there.

My point was that “lots of other people have done it” is no defense. One doesn’t need to have seen someone dance to know a PR offensive that includes accusations of racism and a false claim to singularity is an appeal to something besides merit, or to know that accusations of racism and racial groundbreaking are highly effective today.Copeland may have earned a promotion solely on merit (i.e. in McKenzie’s opinion may deserve it), but now we’ll never know. I think that’s unfortunate.

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My point was that “lots of other people have done it” is no defense. One doesn’t need to have seen someone dance to know a PR offensive that includes accusations of racism and a false claim to singularity is an appeal to something besides merit, or to know that accusations of racism and racial groundbreaking are highly effective today.Copeland may have earned a promotion solely on merit (i.e. in McKenzie’s opinion may deserve it), but now we’ll never know. I think that’s unfortunate.

Very well put.

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My point was that “lots of other people have done it” is no defense. One doesn’t need to have seen someone dance to know a PR offensive that includes accusations of racism and a false claim to singularity is an appeal to something besides merit, or to know that accusations of racism and racial groundbreaking are highly effective today.Copeland may have earned a promotion solely on merit (i.e. in McKenzie’s opinion may deserve it), but now we’ll never know. I think that’s unfortunate.

To observe that decisions about promotion are not made in a vacuum is merely to note a simple reality. The assertion that Copeland has made accusations of racism as part of a PR offensive is quite a harsh one, as others have said, and one with which many would disagree. "We'll never know" suggests that there will be for ever a question mark over Copeland's promotion, should it happen, and that may be so -- for some. That may indeed be unfortunate, but perhaps not quite in the sense you intend.

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Well, the accusations are a matter of record and the PR campaign is a matter of record, so I’m not sure exactly what you dispute. That in light of her PR campaign, there is reason to think it might have worked? I have mixed feelings about Copeland, admiring some things and not others, and I’ve said as much. But when criticizing her even for telling an obvious falsehood (that she was the first black ABT soloist), draws objections, it’s clear that politics is at play. Anyhow, I hope she wows’em tomorrow, and makes absolutely clear she deserves that promotion.

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