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February 22, 2013 in Diversity in Ballet: For Parents, Dancers and Teachers
I watched late last night after work. I'd like to watch again with a more rested brain, but will offer a few views based on julisha's commentary.
1. I have to agree with you. Each of those wonderful women, spoke to their honor of ballet and the desire to own and honor the identification of themselves as "ballerinas". It clearly for each of them was an honor to call themselves that and also something they knew they needed to live up to despite the opportunities to dance in other forms. Each made a conscious choice for ballet to be their way. Such elegant women and role models.
2. I have often said here, and once stated on our sister board, that we do a disservice to many of our other African American female dancers who are working and achieving by only focusing on that which is NYC. Our children need to see role models in ballet now and if we reached outside NYC, there are actually quite a few right now. This is, however, inbred in dance in general and not just the issue of African Americans in ballet.
I will say that both Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine have made an effort in this past year or so to spotlight some ballet dancers of color outside NYC and I believe this is a good thing! If it is important for our children to see role models in dance in order to convince themselves and their parents that this is a worthy career, then while we wait for someone to brave the trail and make to Principal level at NYCB or ABT, it's important during their current training to also see who is braving smaller trails. Lauren Anderson talked about this while she was dancing, that with all she achieved, because she was not in NYC no one appeared to care. (my paraphrasing of what she said) I find that incredibly sad. I know that when DD was younger and we first learned of Lauren Anderson, she pretty much stalked the internet looking for information on her. The article in one of the Dance Magazines (very small one) is still in a frame in her room here at home.
Other notes: I chuckled at the discussion of how difficult casting is. None of these dancers were willing to say they needed to be cast simply to be cast and I greatly appreciate that. I believe it was Ms. Johnson who spoke of how there truly are different dancers for different parts and that it had to play into casting, but that should not be a determinant of exclusion but rather inclusion. Also chuckled, about the phone call to cast certain dancers. Yes, it does happen! I also appreciated Misty sharing that she's had surgery and is/was recovering. It's important for those watching to see what happens to her to know that most dancers who are working through injuries are not considered for promotion until they are through with that recovery and back to dancing full time. This is an insurance issue in most cases and not an Adminstrative issue during that recovery time.
I was a bit (ok, well alot) disappointed in the two audience members who wanted to know what the dancers were going to do to help promote hip-hop. The flip side of that question is what is hip-hop dance going to do to promote ballet. Each is it's own genre. To promote your preferred form of dance is to promote dance of all kinds.
Momof3darlings, I nearly fell out of my seat when I heard the hip hop questions! The whole point of the discussion was to talk about the underrepresentation of Black women in ballet! I don't think anyone can make the argument that Black women are underrepresented in hip hop! Some people did not have their listening caps on.
I thoroughly enjoyed the broadcast, watched it a second time to really digest the information. I however was watching it from the point of view of a parent with a DS. From what we have experienced, some of the issues experienced by the dancers are not limited to AA females but AA males as well. My DS desires to see other AAs in ballet, wants role models, not received roles because of his skin color, not understood by his peers, and also has had his hair touched by the curious others. There certainly is not enough support out there for AA children and it is needed to get AA ballet students to higher levels.
BTW Misty Copeland is going to be a guest teacher at Joffrey Ballet School in NYC during the summer intensive. An awesome opportunity for AA that will be attending.
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