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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Issues at SIs: A Delicate Subject


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BelaNina you are right. I really didn't mean to suggest that only parents andwith children of color would be outraged, since clearly the original poster is. The "I" part really should have dealt only with my actions of taking my child out of a program.

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I'd definitely call right away, and along with "US Attorney" and "Civil Rights Act of 1964" etc., I'd also mention you're thinking of calling the area newspapers.

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No problem, calamitous!

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Dancers of 'color' to my knowledge have been seen in western companies since the 1960's, in truth not many but, the world of the arts has for the most part appeared to be color blind. This is a kick in the head to all of us no matter what our ethnic backgrounds. I'd love to know where this SI is, then we could all avoid it! Companies in today's world are definitely multi ethnic. Have faith, you and your DD and every kid at that SI deserve better than this!

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Momof3darlings
A poster brought up a question in pm I've added to this post: Is it possible all the students in the front row were from one particular school and that is who the teacher was trying to put in front? Or was this simply a race/color thing? Either way, as soon as it was done, the teacher should have noticed this and the possible feelings it could elicit and quickly changed it for the next combination.

 

I was hoping Kandi would come on and answer this question for my own benefit to see if the girls in any shape, form or fashion thought this could be a possibility. A savvy teacher would have still looked at the lineup she created and made a very quick change in it because of what that lineup created, but I'm wondering if we truly have a race based lineup or if was have a school based lineup that was seperated by race naturally? Wrong still. My only reason for asking is that there are several larger SIs where students from a particular school (usually their own or one with a close connection) are often called up front the first few weeks (if not for the whole thing) and others ignored. Just wondering if this particular teacher does this by race all the time or if she was doing what she normally did and then was too blind to see what it created this particular time.

 

Either way we have a very insensitive teacher and an SI that needs to deal inwardly with the way it's paying students are treated while there. And either way, we have a horrible situation for students to be dancing in and something should be said to rectify it.

 

Pas--the world of the arts has sometimes been colorblind and I would even venture to think more likely to be colorblind than more often than "regular" society. I certainly would agree that the arts in general seem to be first in knocking down walls. But, wth a pretty big capital B, my dad still has two versions of a Barbara Mason? album. He bought the first where her photo was not on the album because it was believed if people knew what she looked like they would not buy the album. And then many years later, he bought the re-released album which did feature Barbara Mason's actual photo. So yes, more colorblind possibly than "regular" society, but not truly colorblind in a blanket manner.

 

However, whether ballet (as a part of that world) has been or not is still often debated especially as far as women of color are concerned but that's for another thread. (we do have that thread and it gets heated occasionally because it's a passionate subject matter but it is an interesting thread to read and be knowledgeable about and even to comment on because things change year by year, day by day: Minorities in Ballet) The very first post on that thread references a Dance Magazine issue called "The Race Issue" from a few years ago which outlines what it's been like for some of the dancers of color we've heard of and what they dealt with behind the scenes as well as the torch they felt they helped bear for future generations.

 

For general conversation about this specific topic (an SI this summer and this teacher's ill step), let's keep that here since Kandi asked the question on PTO, I'm sure to protect her child. But if we want to dig deeper into the issue of Dancers of Color in Ballet, let's take any further discussion not specifically about this SI experience to that now linked thread so we can keep conversation going globally.

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I asked de if the first two lines could have been girls from the school but according to her there is only one student from the school in that level. It is of course possible that she knows them from guest teaching somewhere. De said it was obvious she had favorites but she is used to that. The only reason I hesitated to talk to the AD is that this a well known and respected SI and O wasn't there to see. I have found that any time I have a question about something that seemed off at de's home studio the reaction is always " well she's young so she must have misinterpreted..."

 

I am glad her feeling and my feeling that something was off about the class is supported. Dd does not have this teacher this week. I also questioned her about other reasons the division might have ocurred this way and she thought maybe the teacher likes a certain body type that is more likely to occur in the Caucasion population? But I agree, she should have noticed how the lines fell out and made adjustments.

 

I should add that the other teachers at this SI have been wonderful according to dd. The rest make sure all students get at least one correction and one praise, etc. Which is also why I wondered if dd or I were overreacting. The teacher has been the only sour note in her experience so far.

 

Thank you for your support and advice. I will handle the situation knowing that I'm not just imagining things.

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Personally I think it should be the norm that lines are alternated every lesson, then this sort of totally unacceptable discrimination would not happen. I also think that it is discrimination if only the good ones are ever in the front row. Every child should have his or her chance to get more attention, whether in class or SI. If they were good enough to be accepted for an SI, they should be good enough to be given a chance in the front row, regardless of race, creed, colour, shape or ability.

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Momof3darlings

Very true Hamorah! Kandi even if you decide to say nothing while your daughter is at the SI. It is important that you consider saying something after the SI is over. You could send something to the office outlining the experience and how it made your daughter feel as well as the good experiences your daughter had while there. Or you could pm Ms. Bowman here and request a response. It's important if your daughter does have this teacher again that you have a first and last name to reference.

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