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Ashley Bouder on Body Shaming


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7 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

I’m interested by the variety of opinions and wondering what Ashley Bouder actually said in the first clip. Aside from the board member comment “Your weight doesn’t bother me (us), but why don’t you consider another profession/ why don’t you retire?” I haven’t heard what she actually said.

If it’s not against the posting guidelines, does anyone remember her own words?

This is a screen grab of her initial post. My understanding is that it was a still image, not a video, in her Instagram Stories.

bouder.webp

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I only heard part of it, where she said that shaming over weight was institutionalized.  I don't remember the exact word(s) she used, but it was synonymous for ubiquitous.  I clicked on the link but couldn't watch it at the time, so I don't know how it was presented.  She was clearly in tears during the part I heard.

Alexander Gorshkov, the first Olympic Ice Dance medalist with his partner Lyudmilla Pakhomovam died recently, and two days ago, I saw a YouTube video of an exhibition they did at the 1970 World Championships.    I know that the rules were very different then, but watching her, a slender adult woman, I wondered if she'd have a sliver of a chance now, if she were skating in Russia or a state-run/funded program.  I wonder the same thing when I see videos of Maya Plisetskaya -- and I think she could have taken on just about any present-day choreography -- and think about all of the potential wasted.

 

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23 minutes ago, Helene said:

I only heard part of it, where she said that shaming over weight was institutionalized.  I don't remember the exact word(s) she used, but it was synonymous for ubiquitous. 

 

I listened to/watched the whole thing. I think the idea of shaming over weight being institutionalized, was tied to looks that she says she got from other dancers when she came back to NYCB, causing her to be too self-conscious to take company class. She warmed herself up, came to the theater only for her rehearsals, and dressed in baggy dance wear. It doesn't sound like she opened up any dialogs with the younger dancers, to talk about returning from an injury and weight gain. My guess is she went into self-protective/defensive mode just as many of us would do. 

I just want to add one thing a about the board member's comment, while acknowledging I don't know how the conversation evolved or how Bouder responded in that moment. I follow Ashley Bouder on instagram. For many, many months there have been no postings about dance, dancers or the dance world. There has been a lot about daughter (lots of pics of her daughter eating), college classes, the books she's reading, politics etc. She has every right to post what she wants, and keep private what she wants. Yet, I have to admit that I was wondering if she had her eyes on a life/career outside of dance. That board member could have thought the same. 

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33 minutes ago, Helene said:

Alexander Gorshkov, the first Olympic Ice Dance medalist with his partner Lyudmilla Pakhomovam died recently, and two days ago, I saw a YouTube video of an exhibition they did at the 1970 World Championships.    I know that the rules were very different then, but watching her, a slender adult woman, I wondered if she'd have a sliver of a chance now, if she were skating in Russia or a state-run/funded program.  I wonder the same thing when I see videos of Maya Plisetskaya -- and I think she could have taken on just about any present-day choreography -- and think about all of the potential wasted.

At the world gymnastic competition this year,  which you can watch on YouTube,  one of the most striking aspects was the absence of the little pixie girls who previously dominated the sport.  The competitors were not only taller and heavier than before,  they were much older,  with some being in their mid to late twenties.  If gymnastics can change,  so might skating,  especially since elite Russian skaters reach their sell by date at around seventeen.  Not to mention that their top skater evidently got sloppy with her drugging schedule and got caught using a PED.  The top Russian coach's training methods lead to career-ending back injuries anyway.

I hate it when people call ballet dancers "athletes",  but I was intrigued by this recent article in the NY Times about how female runners on athletic scholarships are hounded about their weight and body composition,  with the goal being to get their body fat percentage dangerously low:

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/10/sports/college-athletes-body-fat-women.html

One would expect the general public to be sympathetic to their plight.  But most of the comments are not,  with men in particular slating the women for " complaining".  They should have known what they were getting into when they accepted the scholarship,  male athletes like wrestlers have to make weight,  too,  etc.  These women are monitored obsessively by their coaches,  but the weird thing is that nobody puts forth any proof that a runner with extreme low body fat is any faster than one with a healthy body fat percentage.  

As to what should happen to Bouder,  if I were running the company,  I would not let her take the stage unless and until she gets in shape and attends company class every day.  If she failed to do so,  I would terminate her contract for cause.  The other option is to put her on stage and let the public and critics have at her.  That article in the NY Post has photos of Bouder in her prime - except one.  The difference is shocking.

There was a recent kerfuffle on Broadway when a cast member of the all female production of 1776 did an interview that slammed the artistic decisions of the directors and producers of the show and claimed that she only gave 75% in her performance,  but her 75% was better than everyone else's 100%.  Only a fool would ever cast this woman in any Broadway show again.  Nobody is that talented.  You don't slam the people who sign your paycheck to the public.  Ever.  Complain to them in private if you must.  I have no sympathy for Ashley Bouder.  She's been a professional a very long time.  It's  long past time for her to act like one.

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Alternately, if I had a member of the company who'd been one of the central dancers in it for nearly two decades, one of the very few who was invited to dance in Russia, which brought prestige to the company, and who was struggling and acting uncharacteristically, I might want to find out what is going on and come up with a plan before I started to issue ultimatums.

 

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I've been a big admirer of Bouder for many years.  I remember the excitement when M. Tracey called out of Firebird and Bouder got thrown in on short notice.  There was always so much excitement over a Bouder debut because she has always been such a wonderful dancer. I'm all for giving her time and space to get back in shape, but it appears that she is not willing or able to do this.   Self-righteous sanctimony is now getting in the way of her career.  

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It's not clear to me what Bouder means by "body shaming." For the fall season she was, in fact, over the normally expected weight for NYCB dancers. Is she saying that any mention of weight by management is "body shaming"? Is she saying that a dancer's weight is irrelevant? If that's what she means, then I as an audience member strongly disagree. Dance is an art form whose medium is, in fact, the dancer's body, and I definitely notice the dancer's shape and I really admire and appreciate slenderness. On the other hand, it's also clear to me that Bouder is in a painful and difficult place, and I hope she comes to some kind of resolution and peace. 

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4 hours ago, Helene said:

Alternately, if I had a member of the company who'd been one of the central dancers in it for nearly two decades, one of the very few who was invited to dance in Russia, which brought prestige to the company, and who was struggling and acting uncharacteristically, I might want to find out what is going on and come up with a plan before I started to issue ultimatums.

 

The ultimatum is the plan.  Show up and get in shape.  Is that too much to ask?  Oh,  and try not to bad mouth your employer while you're at it.

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Maybe she IS in shape.  Maybe this is the healthiest she's ever been.  If it physically is better for her to be at this weight, are we really going to say: I'm sorry I don't like this visually, please suffer for my sake?  NYCB cast her as Sugarplum and her partner supports her, so what's the problem?  Thousands of little children are going to gush over her dancing and it's going to be a wonderful holiday memory for them.  She's one dancer, who only very slightly breaks the body standard, and everyone is losing their minds.  Although that's exclusive to this online forum; I'm part of many Facebook pages and everyone is in support of Bouder.  

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3 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

Maybe she IS in shape.  Maybe this is the healthiest she's ever been.  If it physically is better for her to be at this weight, are we really going to say: I'm sorry I don't like this visually, please suffer for my sake?  NYCB cast her as Sugarplum and her partner supports her, so what's the problem?  Thousands of little children are going to gush over her dancing and it's going to be a wonderful holiday memory for them.  She's one dancer, who only very slightly breaks the body standard, and everyone is losing their minds.  Although that's exclusive to this online forum; I'm part of many Facebook pages and everyone is in support of Bouder.  

Just curious.  Balletwannabe.  Did you actually see any of Bouder's performances at the Koch during the fall of 2022?

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8 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

Maybe she IS in shape.  Maybe this is the healthiest she's ever been.  If it physically is better for her to be at this weight, are we really going to say: I'm sorry I don't like this visually, please suffer for my sake?  NYCB cast her as Sugarplum and her partner supports her, so what's the problem?  Thousands of little children are going to gush over her dancing and it's going to be a wonderful holiday memory for them.  She's one dancer, who only very slightly breaks the body standard, and everyone is losing their minds.  Although that's exclusive to this online forum; I'm part of many Facebook pages and everyone is in support of Bouder.  

I got the impression that weight was the excuse,  not the problem.  Getting in shape doesn't just mean getting slimmer.

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On a happier more constructive note, here is Bouder rehearsing the Nutcracker grand pas de deux with Chan from her public-facing Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ClIK5fPDcok/?hl=en

She looks happier, healthier and more technically solid.

This is her way forward.  Work in the studio as much as you can, take classes.

I still believe that Bouder has it in her to get back into full dancing shape - maybe not to what she was before five, ten or fifteen years ago.

The injury and long layoff may have scotched that.

But she can still dance at a high level.

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9 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

On a happier more constructive note, here is Bouder rehearsing the Nutcracker grand pas de deux with Chan from her public-facing Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ClIK5fPDcok/?hl=en

She looks happier, healthier and more technically solid.

This is her way forward.  Work in the studio as much as you can, take classes.

I still believe that Bouder has it in her to get back into full dancing shape - maybe not to what she was before five, ten or fifteen years ago.

The injury and long layoff may have scotched that.

But she can still dance at a high level.

I was appalled that she posted this clip in the wake of her live Instagram video. She doesn't look in-shape (her body or her dancing). This isn't 'high level' dancing.

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13 minutes ago, Helene said:

She was already working in the studio when she made her Instagram live.

If I lived in NYC, I'd go see her dance in a heartbeat. 

Yes, I know she was working in the studio already. She's been working in the studio for months. It just seems to me that the video confirms that she isn't in shape and explains why recently a board member gave her an unsolicited comment and earlier she was encouraged to step out of the gala performance. 

I feel sorry for her partner. It's probably not even safe.

And does NYCB have a Sugarplum tutu that will fit her?

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2 minutes ago, Dancingdemon said:

Yes, I know she was working in the studio already. She's been working in the studio for months. It just seems to me that the video confirms that she isn't in shape and explains why recently a board member gave her an unsolicited comment and earlier she was encouraged to step out of the gala performance. 

I feel sorry for her partner. It's probably not even safe.

And does NYCB have a Sugarplum tutu that will fit her?

Wow - I’m no ballet expert, but if this is even 1/10th of what ballet dancers hear, no wonder they all have complexes.

and don’t misconstrue this comment for not having or wanting to maintain standards, but this is the exact kind of commenting that Bouder talks about in her post. 

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1 hour ago, Dancingdemon said:

Yes, I know she was working in the studio already. She's been working in the studio for months. It just seems to me that the video confirms that she isn't in shape and explains why recently a board member gave her an unsolicited comment and earlier she was encouraged to step out of the gala performance. 

I feel sorry for her partner. It's probably not even safe.

And does NYCB have a Sugarplum tutu that will fit her?

I think with an 80 million dollar budget per year, NYCB may have hired a seamstress to alter costumes when necessary.  

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2 hours ago, Dancingdemon said:

 

I feel sorry for her partner.

 

Bouder's partner posted his support for her posts on Instagram.

If I were in New York then I, too, would go to see Bouder 's Sugarplum (or anything else) "in a heartbeat" (as @Helenewrote).

Edited by Drew
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2 hours ago, Drew said:

Bouder's partner posted his support for her posts on Instagram.

If I were in New York then I, too, would go to see Bouder 's Sugarplum (or anything else) "in a heartbeat" (as @Helenewrote).

I would go see Bouder dance Sugarplum in a heartbeat as well, if only I lived in NYC.  I applaud her humanity and honesty and have always admired her dancing and dedication. Planning a trip to see several ballets during the winter season and hope to see her in one or more of them!

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Yes, of course NYCB has a tutu that fits Bouder. She is not a large person. But even if she was, they have an incredible wardrobe department and they fit every costume that is worn for the performer. 

 In this video at 1:45 "I think its important for our principals that they each have their own costume" - Marc Happel. They do this for every dancer in the role of Sugar Plum. 

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I can understand people having their favorite dancers & aesthetic preferences, but I truly don't get the *anger* and sarcastic remarks towards this woman.  Why does it matter to you ("you" meaning the naysayers in general, not a particular person) so much that NYCB continues to employ her and put her on stage?  It makes no sense logically to be that invested emotionally.

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1 hour ago, Balletwannabe said:

I can understand people having their favorite dancers & aesthetic preferences, but I truly don't get the *anger* and sarcastic remarks towards this woman.  Why does it matter to you ("you" meaning the naysayers in general, not a particular person) so much that NYCB continues to employ her and put her on stage?  It makes no sense logically to be that invested emotionally.

Agree completely!!  I don't want to break any BA rules but I've been longing to say this myself.  The vitriol is out of proportion, especially "I have no sympathy for her."

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