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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 2:00 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I must confess that I do not have the knowledge base to respond to your question Azlan. Let me see if I can find someone who can.<P>In addition, some of our readers could probably give us an informed view on this.<p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited December 14, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 3:20 am 
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Location: Reston,VA
In answer to Grace.<P>Well, actually I'm only a Yank in the sense that I live on this side of the ocean. I'm actually originally from Atlanta Ga., so I hardly qualify as a Yank.<P>Let's just say that I am of the opinion that "I" PERSONALLY might have an obligation to watch out for, and take care of, the guy next to me. But I don't necessarily think my government should.<P>And if Uncle Sam let me KEEP a little more of my money I might get to DO it more often.<P>I don't believe that every "failed" or struggling enterprise should be "rescued" at the expense of folks that don't give a hoot about it. Whether it be art or a local health club (last effort I battled was the effort to "save" at tax payers expense (by rolling it into our acessment dues) a local health club (a private enterprise that had a made a local quiet financially secure) that was having trouble competing against the larger gyms that moved into the area. It was presented to the community as a somewhat "religious" obligation.<P>The effort was INITIATED by the same group that had, the year before, very silently voted to institute a yearly accessment fee for EVERYONE for community ammenities, and "do away" with a USER BASED fee system (this was for pools, tennis courts, golf course, community theatre etc.) That in ITSELF suddenly burdened the retirees and low income folks in this area with an annual bill that they didn't know was "coming up". (The fee had BEEN rather small. It was for the maintenance of "common lighting" etc.)<P>Notices in type barely big enough to read where buried in the back of the paper, it seems. It was "legal" but CROOKED as heck.<P>My kids have used and enjoyed that theatre a lot. In the old days, before I was made to pay for the golf course and tennis courts, I was able to attend more performances too.<P>Folks here USED to stand in line before the sun came up to register their kids in the Young Actors Workshop. It was a "pricey" little program. But the program was always filled up before folks got to the end of the line.<P>You don't SEE those lines anymore. Folks aren't as eager to pay that fee in ADDITION to the accessment fee they currently pay. Same thing happened to the aquatics program.<P>So they HAVE the money coming in, but the programs are STILL struggling. Don't know how much it helped them.<P>What it DID do was created a few JOBS to administer that money. So NOW you have money coming in to fund the ADMINISTRATION of the money. Makes sense right? <P>[This message has been edited by JaneGrey (edited December 14, 2000).]<p>[This message has been edited by JaneGrey (edited December 14, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 3:39 am 
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Location: Australia
azlan - one response to your question, is that it is not so common in europe, to automatically have a school attached to a company, as it appears to be in america.<P>yes, the major national companies of each country are likely to be affiliated with or attached to that country's major training school - but beyond that, companies and schools tend to be separate entities.<P>i get the impression that almost every american company has a school attached, and that many many american schools have a 'company' of some sort attached....

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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 7:30 am 
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Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
A reply of sorts by a columnist:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B><A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/12/14/DD142516.DTL" TARGET=_blank>Dance, You Fools, Dance Dance Dance</A></B><P>Jon Carroll, SF Chronicle<P>SO HERE'S AN interesting thing. I wrote a column on Friday about Fredrika Keefer, the young girl refused admittance to the San Francisco Ballet School, and many people wrote to either agree or disagree with my opinion, which is interesting because I did not express an opinion.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><B><A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/12/14/DD142516.DTL" TARGET=_blank>More</A></B>


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 2:19 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Here is another link to another article I don't think we have here yet - it's from Mothers Who Think.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2000/12/14/ballet_body/index.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2000/12/14/ballet_body/index.html</A> <P>


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 5:00 pm 
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Location: San Jose, CA
I just found out about this case this morning. It's interesting to see the posts because this issue seems to go beyond one little girl and into the heart of how we define art.<P>First, I think the references to how people are chosen for sports teams, etc. is not really relevant. They are chosen for skill, not how they look (with some exceptions such as gymnastics, which might actually be worse than ballet). I do not understand how anyone who watched the summer Olympics could not have seen that! Tiny, wiry, highly muscled runners often lost to larger, fattier women. The differences in body type among the women divers was amazing and quite frankly awe inspiring. There is a world of difference between judging on skill and on body type.<P>Yes, it is easier in ballet, and many other careers, to succeed if one has the "right" body type. I cannot tell you how lucky we are that those messages never got through to Camryn Manheim or Kathy Nijimy or Oprah or Emme. To simply say, "That's the way things are," is to utterly deny that ballet is an artform. When art stops pushing limits and starts accepting the status quo, it changes. Into propaganda. Is it really all that surprising that people call ballet elitist?<P>Which brings us to the funding issue. Again, you start to brush against that ugly word, propaganda, when you start requiring that publically funded arts follow certain guidelines. When other countries do that, we call it censorship. And if we take away all public funding, then we further reinforce the elitist mentality - ballet (or any art) can then only been seen and participated in by the wealthy.<P>The schools duty to accept that girl as a student has nothing to do with where it received its funding. It has everything to do with its purpose as a vehicle of art. I agree that there should be criteria, that we should not lower the standards of performance. But we should always be ready to question what those standards are or we lie when we call ourselves artists.

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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 5:14 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Hello Leah - welcome to the board - it's great to see you here and thank you for posting a most thoughtful addition to this discussion.


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2000 5:36 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
This is an issue that cannot be universally grasped as it works on so many different levels. Firstly, there is the Law, which may not be as clear as it seems, partially because in the US, the question comes down to which set of laws applies: Federal, State or Municipal? Federal law will always supercede Municipal law but Federal law isn't always as detailed and specific to local conditions as Municipal law, which usually has a whole set of addenda specific to its jurisdiction.<P>Regardless of the law, there are also the conditions and stipulations that come with the grant. The grantors usually specify requirements beyond that of the law, yet sometimes unknowingly contradict the law.<P>Then, there is common sense and associated with that the court of public opinion, which can be as diverse as there are people on this planet.<P>However, for me, ultimately, what I personally care most about is the art form and it is from this perspective I make my case. I believe the City of San Francisco too cares about ballet and what it offers society, for otherwise it would have given the money to better causes. Never mind less fortunate dance companies. Why not give the money to less fortunate souls?<P>I believe the citizens of San Francisco also care about ballet and the benefits associated with it, for otherwise the City of San Francisco would not have a mandate to grant this money to the City's ballet company.<P>The City has chosen to grant the money to the San Francisco Ballet School because the ballet company represents a cherished jewel in the City of San Francisco. Having a first-rate ballet company brings prestige and cachet to this city. When the money is given by the City to the ballet school, it is with the goal that the school uses the money in the best way possible to bring pride to the City.<P>Therefore, in my opinion, the school does not only have a right to be highly discriminating in its selection of students but also a responsibility to the City and to the Taxpayers to see that the money is spent wisely on students that have the best chance of bringing pride to the City of San Francisco.<P>My parents taught me to share. My mother gave money, mostly to orphanages. I give money to the arts, usually anonymously, in private memory of my mother who loved the arts. When I give my money to an institution, it is with the hope that it is used wisely for the benefit of everyone, and for a dance company, that means putting in front of an audience the best dancers it can. It also means screening its students carefully and taking the best it can in every aspect, including talent, motivation, passion, desire <I>and</I> body type.<P>It is a responsibility to me and to the Taxpayers of San Francisco that the San Francisco Ballet School produces the best it can. I would <I>not</I> want it to waste my money on a student who in its judgement will displace another who is better qualified.<P>Yes, I do leave the judgement of who is qualified to the staff of the school, for they are experts in their field from having trained thousands of students. And, yes, I do leave the judgement of body type to the staff of the school, as long as the Public is happy with the results.<P>But then again, my perspective is only from that of someone who is passionate about the arts and its ability to enrich people.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited December 16, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2000 6:59 am 
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People on sports teams are, indeed, chosen for how they look. And how they look is often to do with their skill. I DO agree with you that how they look is not to do with an aesthetic regarding beauty. Thank-you for pointing out the lack of specificity. A dancer's skill *can* be related to their body, it's mechanical function as suited to the movements of ballet, the same as sports athlete's body is suited to football, or basketball, or downhill skiing. It does also begin to blend with an aesthetic of "beauty."<P>Unfortunately, attraction to "beauty" is deeply ingrained in the human race. It varies from culture to culture, and generation to generation, and century to century, and so on. <P>There are many examples of "beauty" that became grotesque parodies of what they started out as. In China, a small foot was valued, so it became a custom to "make small feet." On the subject of feet, heels on shoes for men and women was a fashionable thing, because it emphasisized aspects of beauty about the natural line of the leg. We know about heels! In Venice, people wore a form of platform on their shoes to negotiate muddy streets. It became a fashion, and the platforms became so large; a foot and more, that people were injuring themselves. A law was passed forbidding the wearing of platforms over a certain height...<P>Then, of course, there were corsets for that tiny waist, and bustles. Even the shape of shoes today in the majority of cases is bizarre. Not foot shaped at all, unless a foot has the big toe in the center with toes sloping down on either side.<P>Among breeds of horses, there exists an aesthetic of beauty. Problems abound there, also where breeders mess with the aesthetic of a breed, sometimes for the better, sometimes to the detriment, to please judges. <P>Not all dance is to do with body type the same way that ballet is. I've seen some large flamenco dancers, as there is much flamenco that is not specifically theatrical. I don't believe ballet is elitist in this day and age. Perhaps it was in Louis IV's day, as was the fine art of dressage, which occured at the same time in his court. Today some people consider dressage elitist. Is it? There are people who consider any kind of dance elitist. Is elitist even a bad word?<P>Ballet does require a certain body type. The danger is taking the type too far too the point of caricature and absurdity. I believe that that type's range should and could have a larger range than it does in some cases. There will still be people who won't be able to fit the range. That does not make something elitist. Not everyone is built to pursue every sport, either. Not everyone will be able to paint like Da Vinci, not matter how hard they work at it. As someone once said, out of humor, "You can stand in the forest forever, but that doesn't make you a tree."<P>Much furor arises because of the pain and anguish of man-made, and nature made circumstances. Some things cannot change. The changes, those can actually be made, can be either productive or detrimental.<P>Back to Fredrika Keefer. She is too young for anyone to know what she is capable of, or how her body will define itself.


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2000 11:14 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Talk about elitist - how about the sumptuary laws of old Italy? <P>As for beauty of body which the ballet wishes to portray - there is the beauty of the face that is demanded of actresses (and actors). Yes, I know that acting ability is needed too, but having that beautiful face hasn't hurt any aspiring actress yet. <P>Ballet is not alone in this search. <P>I still think that the audition/elimination process could and should be handled in a much more sensitive way. It is, I am sure a heart rending experience, to perhaps travel a far distance with such raised hopes and expectations only to be eliminated as one walks in the door. Sometimes it isn't so much what we do - it's how it is done that makes the difference.


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2000 5:03 pm 
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Location: Australia
maggie - what an excellent post! <P>basheva- you repeatedly bring up the suggestion that this rejection (and/or ANY rejection) 'should' be handled sensitively, or MORE sensitively - i guess i shouldn't say this, because i haven't read all the links, so maybe i missed where it explains specifically how THIS child was rejected...how she was told, etc....?<P>or maybe not? - what at i am getting at is, i agree, of course, as probably anyone would (well- ALMOST anyone! Image ) that HOW something is said matters, and affects how it's received, but it (so far) doesn't seem right to me, to keep implying that SFB did something wrong in that regard, when i haven't seen any description anywhere of what they DID do. is it an assumption on your part that they handled the situation badly, or does it actually explain that, in one of those links (that i won't get time to read till next week?!) ? thanks...

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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2000 6:11 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
I don't think anyone knows how SFB handles the applicants, but it's worth pointing out that some parents are going to be unhappy no matter what you tell them--unless it's that their child has been accepted. <P>I still don't understand why being "elitist" is considered a bad thing. Professional ballet <B>is</B> elitist. So what? So is professional basketball, theatre, you name it. I think it diminishes dance to suggest that it's not (unless you are referring to it on a recreational level). Any profession that requires credentials makes it elite in some sense. <P>But this isn't about professional ballet dancers. It's about an 8 year old. Because SFB accepts public funding but has a recreational division that makes dance available to the community, I don't think they can be taken to task for having an "elite" professional school with particular requirements. At age 8, a rec. class will not destroy the *potential* dancer's future as a professional. If the parent is that determined to send the child to a professional ballet school at this age then she should have her audition internationally and send her away to whomever will take her rather than wasting time determining whether this particular institution should have accepted the child. It's a parent's right to have their child educated in any particular career path, it's not their right to force an institution to accept their application. <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2000 7:48 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Well, one reason I said what I did - is that as I read it one of the mother's complaints is that the child's dancing skills were not assessed and in the earlier posts there is mention that at many schools no assessment is made of dance skills - only body conformation. While I am not saying this is wrong - having one's body judged has to be done in a very sensitive manner, in my opinion.<P>And sometimes, as I have seen all too often, auditions can be very autocratic. I am not saying SFB was autocratic, but so many auditions are. The dancer/student is the petitioner - and the ingredients are there for pain. This can be ameliorated with thought and care.


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2000 3:30 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Here is a link to an irreverent column by Hap Jitters that contains lots of photo and a Quicktime movie of TV News coverage of the story:<P><B><A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2000/12/15/hj121500.DTL" TARGET=_blank>Hap Jitters column in SF Gate</A></B>


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 Post subject: Re: The Keefer Case
PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2000 4:14 pm 
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Location: SF CA
OK.....I just heard the mother say (on the video link)that she feels that her daughter is very talented and wanted her to be able to participate in the SFB program. Well I wanted to be a super model, but alas at 5'1" that was not to be. I too was told by SF Ballet that I was too short. My Mother told me to pack my pointshoes,and found another ballet school. I retired at 41 from a full career in ballet. I think this mother is doing her child a huge disservice with this frivolous lawsuit. It really is not the weight issue here, the child has no turnout, flat feet, is not supple and the porte de bras is nonexistant. The mother is finaly getting her 15 minutes of fame the had obviously eluded her in her own dance career.<P>I feel so sorry for the child.


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