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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2003 6:43 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA,USA
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He was the first black principal dancer at the Royal Ballet and is now making another first by branching out into choreography with his first full-length work. Carlos Acosta has certainly come a long way from the small boy growing up in the Cuban backstreets who was coerced into ballet school by his father to keep him out of trouble.
I personally would describe him as latino or cuban, but I think the point is that he is one fabulous dancer, whether balck, afro-cuban, latino, etc. He may also be the role model that can bring different ethnicities to the top tiers of ballet companies particularily since he is involved in the production of his own work.


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2003 7:48 pm 
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Location: New England
Azlan: the dominant message in ballet training these days is "if you can't afford to drop $3-8K for a summer intensive, then you have no chance." Of course everyone is quick to offer scholarships to minority students they feel are truly talented --- but the system still keeps many away, especially those not in the absolute top talent tier. Also, even students receiving scholarships may not be able to use them because their time is required for family obligations.

Male students are under a LOT less pressure in the training --- and are often able to start later. It is for this reason, I believe, that there are a lot more African-American male dancers, percentage-wise, than female.
[Technically I mean: (# Af-Am men)/(# men) > (# Af-Am ladies)/(# ladies)


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 1:58 pm 
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
WOW!!! Citibob- I hate to tell you, but comments such as the one you just made are exactly what Violindancer and myself are speaking of. People are completely clueless as to when they say something racist, prejudiced or stereotypical. You just sid somehting about how many little Af-Amer. scholarship students possibly cant attend because they have familial responsibilities at home. That is exactly what we're speaking of. Not all black ppl are from struggling inner city families. There are many affluent Af-Amer. neighborhoods throughout the country, expecially in the south- but that's not the point. The fact is, black ppl do not all fit into one bubble. More black dancers come from families who can afford dance lessons, than those who began through some 99.9999% white company's outreach program. And you know what else, it's about time that companies and schools stop feeling like they've done their part for equality by giving some little black boy a scholarship to their school's intensive. Stop choosing tokens, and start opening the doors, and roles to black kids who want to dance as much as the little white girl next to them at the barre. As far as the reason why there arent more blacks, especially women, in ballet, its because of 1- racism (white ppl love to see us do things like "Revelations", but dont consider us good enough to do ballet), and 2- men can get in because like I said before, we're needed to lift the girls. It has nothing to do with us being able to start later. If ppl just admitted the fact that racism, whether blatant or indirect, is the main cause of why there arent more blacks in ballet, and stop trying to deny and defed it, then we would have these same debates/conversations which go around and around in circles. Besides, if one can honestly say that they themselves dont have the racist views, then there is no reason to feel that they have to defend it.

And last, all non-whites are not one in the same! Carlos Acosta is HISPANIC!! For God's sake. And as we know, South and Latin Americans don't have nearly as hard a time landing ballet contracts. Just walk the halls of ABT.


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 5:58 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Whoa, hey...

Quote:
People are completely clueless as to when they say something racist, prejudiced or stereotypical.
Firstly, there are so many extreme ideas lumped together in that one sentence. Saying something stereotypical is NOT the same as saying something racist. There is in fact good reason sometimes to define the statistical steoreotype especially in forming a basis of comparison. Racism and prejudice are something completely different and shouldn't be tolerated.

Secondly, people who are not conscious about making racist or prejudiced remarks are not typically racists themselves. So, enlighten them and don't alienate or berate them.

Thirdly, to encourage fruitful discussion and to avoid the forum degenerating into a mud-slinging fest, we do have a philosophy of courtesy on CD.com. Calling others "clueless" is not in line with that philosophy. Follow this link to the Courtesy Rule.

Finally, we are all on the same side! Why are we taking potshots at each other? What better way to frustrate any progress and alienate any sympathetic ears by calling each other "clueless?" We need to share and distribute our common knowledge. Then we need to identify the major issues and causes. Then we need to think about how to affect changes.

Onward.

<small>[ 19 August 2003, 07:59 PM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 6:48 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
blbrown04, what is significant about Carlos Acosta being Hispanic (in this case, Afro-Cuban, I guess, instead of Afro-American)? I'm not challenging your statement, I actually just am not sure what you mean. Hispanic simply refers to being from certain countries, regardless of race. Do you mean that artistic directors in the U.S. are more likely in general to choose someone from a Latin American country over someone from the U.S.?

<small>[ 19 August 2003, 08:58 PM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 10:10 pm 
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
Okay, my reason for using all three of those words- racist, prejudice, and stereotypical- is because I felt they all applied to to the point and the issue at hand. I was not directly calling Citibob a racist- I was saying that ppl dont often realize when theyre saying something racist, prejudice, or negatively stereotypical. And I also stated myself that when ppl make the comments they often don't know that it's offensive. And last, in clueless I just meant unaware. It is just really frustrating having to say the same things repeatedly. I honestly did not mean to come off offensive to anyone, not the least bit.

Oh, to djb, the significance is that when African-American's use the term "black" interchangably, we still mean Af-Amer. I was simply referring to another post that stated how Carlos Acosta was the first black principal at Royal Ballet. And I know that when ppl are trying to defend ballet, or point out that there are black ppl out there in ballet, they often clump black S. Americans with Af-Americans. If Paloma Harrera was a few shades darker, she'd be considered the first black principal. But when we, as in Af-Americans say black dancers, we, 9/10 mean Af-Americans, and not someone who's great grandmother was half-black. Oh yeah, and it's not so much the fact that AD's will choose ppl from Latin American countries so much as it is the fact that they will choose light skinned Latin-Americans, whether from the US or from Latin America, before choosing a dark skinned Af-American. And let us not waste time pretending as if look and complexion holds no weight, because then we'd really be going in a circle.


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:20 am 
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Location: New England
<small>[ 06 March 2004, 07:36 PM: Message edited by: citibob ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 8:17 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Thanks for the clarifications, blbrown04.


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 6:40 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Originally posted by Leslie Anne:

<hr>
Hello all, I am new to this site and have just read all postings re:Aesha Ash. Yes, she is gorgeous and most deserving of great things. I wish her well and much success at Bejart. Something else has caught my eye here and I'd like to write about it now. When Speaking of Jose Manuel and other "people of mixed blood". . . where do these people fit in, if there is a place? Does it make a difference how light or dark their skin is for them to be put in a category? People from the Carribean, South of our border and South America all have a mixture of African, Indian & Spanish. Some also have either French, Italian and yes even Dutch to name a few of the mixtures. All these people are more than just one color. So now my last question is "Has anyone ever thought or experienced that this whole issue of "color" in a dance company could be reversed?" THANKS ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 7:30 pm 
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
First, I would like to say that while Hispanic ppl have African and European blood, they are Hispanic or Latin. It's not that I am denying their roots by any means, but 9/10, I bet if you ask Paloma Harerra or Jose Carreno how they view themselves, they'd say they were Hispanic/Latin. I mean cmon, who's to say that Maria Kowroski or JWendy Whelan dont have some African American in their blood somewhere?? But do we stop and say, oh, well they are black dancers? No. And sure, the roles can easily be reversed- The Ailey company. In a dance history class, we were debating race and ballet, and she said, "well, of course at some point race has to become relevent, I'm white, and I would love to dance for Ailey, but I can't". She was implying that it was because of her race that she cant join Ailey. And to be perfectly honest, thats not true. The ratio of black/white mixture is definitely in Ailey's favor. And besides, if it werent for the fact that blacks have always, and still do have the disadvanntage in securing concert dance jobs, then there would never have been a "need" for black dance companies.


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2004 6:40 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2003 11:01 pm
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Location: New York, NY
Back again! I got a little lost in the sauce but wanted to state a few more things about this touchy topic.
Many people do not even know that Donald Williams, Eddie Shellman, Virginia Johnson and I believe Christina Johnson ALL guested with The Royal Ballet back in the late 80's. ;) So technically THEY were the first black dancers there.
I am hispanic/Puerto Rican. Puerto Ricans, I most recently found out, are NOT to be classified as Hispanic. Who knew? To blbrown: When I said "what about the reverse"? I meant reverse racism.
It happens. As a "latin" ballerina who looks more Italian or Indian than anything... I still encountered racism; from BOTH sides. It was frustrating for me because back in the 80's there were few of us really making it big like now. I even had one director come backstage to make sure I had more talc powder on my body than the other girls for Swan Lake (suffice to say it had been a hot, sunny summer and I was on the beach). My point is... it was horrifying to me that I was singled out for my skin 10 minutes before showtime. I didn't get into larger companies because I didn't "FIT". The truth is/was- I wasn't blonde and fair and looked different, wouldn't have fit in the corps. Yet I pressed on.
My mother always told me I was white. We argued this for many yrs. At this point with all this insanity I have no idea what to say except that I'm human and share that bond with everyone. I would say in honesty that people like Paloma would say they are Spanish or Latin, not Hispanic. South Americans have a different view on these "classifications". She might even find it insulting. As with African Americans, there is also racism among the inner groups/people of spanish decent.
I danced at DTH for 11 yrs and I have to say that I did in fact have one truly memorable moment where I was told during a rehearsal "Speak english, you're in America!". ;)

The real truth in that is that we should be accepting of ANY dancer for ALL that they are and the joy, love and emotions they bring to us as artists without looking at "color or creed". I think Fred knew something we still have not taught to the public. :cool:
PEACE


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2004 12:01 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Leslie Anne, thanks for the insightful comments, especially about the reverse racism.

Quote:
I think it was Fred Astaire who once suggested that a variety of dancers cover their skin and just dance. At the end they should expose their skin and watch the reactions of the people who are spectators. Can you imagine that?
That might be interesting. This reminds me of Paul Taylor's "3 Epitaphs," in which the costumes and movement language completely disguised the race and sometimes even the gender of the dancers. In essence, Taylor made irrelevant human qualities that may lead to prejudice (as opposed to Michael Smuin's "St. Louis Woman" for DTH...).

<small>[ 05 March 2004, 01:05 AM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2004 2:51 pm 
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Location: NYC
It's sad to see that race can still be an issue in the art of one of the universal languages. :(

Having grown up seeing Mr. M on stage and later witnessing breakthroughs such as, Debra Austin adding color to female ranks at NYCB, Christopher Boatwright breaking the Romeo color barrier at the Met with Stuttgart, and Paul Russell directing, of all places, in Idaho, I thought we'd be beyond such divisiveness by this milennium within dance. But it does continue.

From "no-tanning" riders in Phantom Dega Girls' AEA contracts, to the mandatory application of "Texas Dirt" to melanin deficient bodies at Met productions of Aida the stereotypes remained sanctioned for too long.

As a "technically caucasian" teaching artist with DTH's education outreach program, Dancing Through Barriers, I've often encountered the stupid question, "What do you know about black experience?", mostly by overly PC, out-of-touch, educational theorists. To which I've replied, "What does that have to do with the teaching of tolerance and tendus in the Tremont section of the Bronx?" ;)

I was brought up to believe in MLK's hope that all would someday be "...judged by the content of their character...". May it be so.

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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2004 3:24 pm 
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Welcome, Re-Tired, and thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. Would it be correct for me to say that the issue with racism varies quite considerably across the US? How is it in Europe?


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 Post subject: Re: Race in the Arts
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2004 3:51 pm 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
Would it be correct for me to say that the issue with racism varies quite considerably across the US?
Not really. There's a stereotype that the South is more racist than the North; like most racial stereotypes, it's false.

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