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racial tensions?


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I missed this thread until now, and have a few comments:

1. Administrative: re: some posts that have been removed, do not discuss the discussion.   This doesn't mean you can't agree or disagree with something that is posted, but you're not hosting your own show.

2. I think the disconnect in the discussion came between describing police violence and murder of mostly black men in the US and that racism is as strong in Canada as the US.  Blatant racism in Canada doesn't manifest itself through police and RMCP violence against (mostly) black men in Canada: it manifests itself in police and RCMP violence against indigenous peoples, especially women and girls, although indigenous men are killed at an alarming rate.   Whether the powers that be at NBOC should make the connection between black (mostly) men being killed in the US and racism against black people in Canada is another question, but I've been seeing those blind spots across Black Lives Matter protests around the world, in places that have serious racism issues of their own.  

I agree that people at NBOC would more likely associate the death of George Floyd with the death of [the latest indigenous person to be killed by law enforcement.], if they are making any connections at all  And murders of black people at the hands of law enforcement doesn't erase the persistence of murder of Native Americans in the US.

3. In Canada, the performative aspect goes a lot deeper:  while in the US people break out their AK-15's before the last syllable of the word "reparations" is spoken, in June 2019 Canada published the exhaustive and damning "Final Report of the National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls", which PM Justin Trudeau clarified as genocide.  The justification for not implementing systemic change was attributed by the Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett to COVID-19, this June but there were nine months between the report being issued and the outbreak of COVID-19.

4. If the NBS isn't officially affiliated with NBOC, there's no reason to think that wanting to dance for NBOC is as strong a goal for its graduates than for company-affiliated schools.  Given the number of Canadians and Americans dancing in companies across Europe, the visa issues don't seem to be as fraught.

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10 minutes ago, Dégagé said:

According to the current company website, 43% of their total dancers are from the national school.
Of the principal dancers, the percentage drops to 31%.

Is the percentage of Principal Dancers from NBS falling?  Rising? The same?  

Unless you take over a company and you slash and burn, like Corella at Pennsylvania Ballet, it takes a while to impact those percentages, especially as Principal Dancers tend to have longer careers and tend to leave less often.   The more Principal Dancers on the roster that were hired directly into a Company, the longer it takes for spaces to open up for internal promotions.  Both San Francisco Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet have gradually filled it's Principal ranks with more and more home-grown dancers from at least their Professional Division school ranks, as well as with local dancers who joined the regular school ranks and transitioned to the Professional Division.

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Unfortunately, I do not know the answer to this. I only have the current roster to reference. It sounds that, at least a couple of decades ago, there were significantly more graduates in the company. I think your point about the two organizations not being officially affiliated (and therefore the same level of “interest” not being there) is sound.

Ultimately, the fact that NBS graduates are dancing in world-class companies around the world speaks for itself.

Being more familiar with San Francisco Ballet I can definitely see what you mean about the time it takes to nurture home-grown talents. It does not happen overnight but it is possible. And what a treat for an audience to witness such development and growth.

Edited by Dégagé
Clarity
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35 minutes ago, Helene said:

. I think the disconnect in the discussion came between describing police violence and murder of mostly black men in the US and that racism is as strong in Canada as the US.  Blatant racism in Canada doesn't manifest itself through police and RMCP violence against (mostly) black men in Canada: it manifests itself in police and RCMP violence against indigenous peoples, especially women and girls, although indigenous men are killed at an alarming rate. 

Police violence against black people is a problem in Toronto just as in other North American cities.  Here's an article about the horrific case of a black woman thrown or driven to her death by the police from a twenty-four story building in Toronto a few months ago:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/regis-korchinski-paquet-toronto-1.5596811

From the article:  "A CBC News investigation found black people made up 36.5 per cent of fatalities involving Toronto police, despite accounting for just 8.3 per cent of the city's population, in the period from 2000-17."

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31 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

From the article:  "A CBC News investigation found black people made up 36.5 per cent of fatalities involving Toronto police, despite accounting for just 8.3 per cent of the city's population, in the period from 2000-17."

Words fail to describe how horrifically unjust and unacceptable these figures are. There needs to be systemic change. 

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Yes indeed. But in fairness there is very little the National Ballet of Canada can control outside the confines of the Walter Carsen Centre or the Four Seasons Centre.

About the school, Celia Franca co-founded it with Betty Oliphant with the intention that it should be a feeder school for the company. Oliphant was associate artistic director of the company for six years. The school's studio complex is called the Celia Franca Centre. It's not as though the institutions are disconnected.

Edited by volcanohunter
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5 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

Yes indeed. But in fairness there is very little the National Ballet of Canada can control outside the confines of the Walter Carsen Centre or the Four Seasons Centre.

About the school, Celia Franca co-founded it with Betty Oliphant with the intention that it should be a feeder school for the company. Oliphant was associate artistic director of the company for six years. The school's studio complex is called the Celia Franca Centre. It's not as though the institutions are disconnected.

and I would say most NBS students think of the NBOC as "their" company and dream of dancing as part of it.

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I watched the initial videos that Nicolas Rose posted and have followed most of the ensuing videos and discussions that are ongoing, mostly thanks to a younger extended family member who is more plugged into the social media scene. Rose was one of many Black voices in the arts calling out for "less talk and more action" when it comes to the pain felt by so many after the tragic killing of George Floyd--and linking it to the overarching problems of a lack of valuation, representation and opportunities for Black people in many aspects of their lives.   

I felt that Rose was eloquent in honest sharing of his own experiences, not only at NBoC, but at several schools where he trained, and in his willingness to let his emotions show; many other dancers and dance students were doing the same (and still are). Thanks to social media, I've watched many such outpourings that have come out in the arts, media (broadcast and print), industry, academia, and other spheres all across North America because the "soft racism" that works against Black people has been too long dismissed by those that don't want to see it or downplayed as not that bad compared to more blatantly racist actions. 

I don't see it as just a Nicholas Rose problem or just an NBoC problem. Systemic problems like racism require systemic solutions and participation from the greater society. I hope that the arts--including fans, patrons, and donors--can embrace this call for change in terms of action and practice and not just in terms of rhetoric and PR strategies. Times are changing and for the better, IMHO! But the process is uncomfortable for many who are/were very comfortable with the status quo.

Also, thank you to On Pointe for sharing your input and experiences here; I appreciate your willingness to engage in this emotional and personal labour (and probably for the 64,000th time with yet another group of people).

 

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Maybe I've become cynical and emotionally exhausted by the events of the past months,  but I can't believe that Theresa Ruth Howard's detailed and passionate call to action will actually make much difference in the ballet world or any other arts organizations.  It's too much work,  and the upside isn't going to be sufficiently rewarding (at first).  There was an illuminating article in the New York Times about similar problems in the opera world:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/arts/music/opera-race-representation.html

I was particularly struck by this:  Ms. Slack’s demand, she said in the video, amounted to no more than “humanity”: “I’m not asking for your seat. I’m asking that you move over so I can sit in mine, and you be OK with that.”

Arts organizations are reflective of the world at large.  Ballet and opera companies are not going to become more progressive than society in general.  

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If the first step is admitting you have a problem -- which I don't think any of the general, generic statements that companies and businesses have been publishing  do , I am guardedly optimistic about the way PNB has treated the outspokenness of PNB's only black ballerina, Amanda Morgan, who has spoken at least one protest.  PNB just linked to an article in Real Change, Seattle's local "street"* newspaper which describes PNB's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan and Morgan's dissatisfaction with the pace of improvement and the Euro-centric classical rep.

https://www.realchangenews.org/2020/07/15/ballet-bias?fbclid=IwAR1LF8wjR6xjZe05AkCGp4TLgat065xogDQevFAwf97HVDlL7XKESvALUmI

*Sadly, due to COVID-19, not being able to be sold on the street by economically marginal vendors.

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Kudos to Amanda Morgan for the work she's doing.  But she,  and Nicholas Rose,  are taking big risks.  Speaking out can put a big target on your back.  I'm sure that they would prefer to "just dance".  Black people in largely white organizations are often judged as "disloyal",  not sufficiently grateful for being hired if they point out inequities in the workplace.  Company heads don't like being chastised for their shortcomings by their employees,  especially when they are black.

 

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For Morgan, it would be  "just dance" + "just choreograph" + "just put together a wide range of projects", but I understand your point.

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