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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Youtube: An American at the Bolshoi

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 years later...

Not a big Womack fan. .  .  There's just this constant drawing of attention to Womack (and not her dancing) that seems to be the focus.  It reminds me of Instagram kids, etc. 


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I thought this interview was fantastic and fascinating.  A couple of points I pulled out to mull over....:

* a lack of professional syllabus in the U.S. is hurting ballet in America;  related to that discussion is the fact that just because you are a professional dancer does not mean you can train a younger generation of dancers;  a student of dance needs to look at what will work for them individually, not just the reputation of the teacher/school;

* as a dancer, you need to strategize with open eyes -- think of your life and career strategically and with the long-term in mind -- it's a chess game;

* even with all of her own individual success, even SHE had trouble finding a job in America, and she had realized that finding a job really is whatever the artistic director needs "at that moment";

* story ballets are not given enough credit -- this goes to the funding of ballet and the arts in general;

I disagreed with the "romanticism" of performing while injured and the somewhat cavalier attitude toward injuries I heard in the interview.  In my opinion, that's a step backwards from a more enlightened attitude toward ballet and ballet dancers.

But an interesting interview.  Thank you for sharing, MBdancers.  I'm not sure I would have found it on my own, since, like Learningdance, I don't really follow her career or blogs. 

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What I was most fascinated by are her statements about being told at her residency program in the US that she did not have the facility for a professional career (not enough turnout, extensions, etc), but then became a principal at 19. She emphasizes how she had to re-learn everything when she got to Russia (at age 15) and focus on little muscles in order to maximize what she had. I’m always on the lookout for inspiring stories of professional dancers who have overcome challenges related to facility, since my DD deals with these issues. 

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Same here.  My DD does not have amazing facility, either, and has had to work very hard with what she has to get where she is now.  I'm not sure how I feel about all that.  As Learningdance implicitly points out, that lack of natural facility can lead to injury....  but does that mean that dancers without perfect facility shouldn't be trying for a professional career at all?  I'm not sure I'm going there. 

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I can’t comment on Joy Womack’s injuries and what caused them. However, it does seem that many professionals have less than perfect facility and learning to work correctly greatly reduce the chances of injury. 

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I whole-heartedly agree about the "learning to work correctly to avoid injury," MBdancers, and I think that idea ties back in to Ms. Womack's point about the lack of a professional syllabus in the U.S. 

I suppose part of what I'm lamenting is my own frustration with a lack of ballet knowledge/education.  It is very difficult for a "civilian" parent with no dance training or knowledge to understand the scope and breadth of ballet, much less apply it to your individual dancer.   I will admit to not knowing anything about ballet except what I had to figure out on the fly for my DD.  For a long time, I just trusted my DD's school to "know what is best."  But, my DD's pre pro school was based on the AD's decisions about how to teach ballet.  Their method "worked" up until a certain point, when my DD reached about 14/15, and she told ME she needed something different because the school she was in "seemed to concentrate on legs and feet" and she felt she needed someone to help "connect" her whole body (particularly since she was struggling with a recurring injury). 

At the time, I knew nothing about the fact that there were different methodologies out there, much less their names.  And I was supposed to listen to my 14 yo?  I mean, I did listen to her, and she wound up finding a teacher who could help her after we left her old school, but I can't help thinking there is a better, easier way to educate the public.  You look at the questions on this Board (about how to tell "dolly dinkle" schools, or a "bad" school, or posts about whether its time to seek training elsewhere) and you can hear the confusion and frustration from these parents who care about their kids but simply do not know what to do.  Nor do a lot of them understand the time and patience it takes to develop the body carefully and correctly. 

Anyway, I won't take up too much more of this post, but I thought her point about a need for a professional syllabus was interesting. 

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* even with all of her own individual success, even SHE had trouble finding a job in America, and she had realized that finding a job really is whatever the artistic director needs "at that moment";


I have not listened to the video yet, but sometimes when I hear a comment like this, I have to wonder if it was only a small number of elite companies that the dancer was willing to audition for. Have seen this phenomenon with dancers looking at SIs and with dancers auditioning for jobs. 

I am intrigued as my dd was told something similar about not having a professional career (not about her facility per se) and 3 years later, proved that person wrong. 

Will have to bookmark to watch later on! Thanks for the link.

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It would be interesting to hear your perspective.  I think that Womack is a) not as good as she is hyped/as she herself believes; and b ) is just too much trouble to be worth it for an AD.  (She's not  clear world standout (Osipova, etc). 

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From what I've read of personal reviews (people who have seen her live) she is actually quite good.  I wish her well, she is obviously very passionate about dance.

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