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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2002 9:39 am 
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This all brings to mind the well loved NY teacher, Maggie Black (I"m not sure what she's been up to as of late but I think she's still in NY). I've often heard Black's feet described as "little hocky pucks" (meaning she does not posses a perfect technique herself), yet principle dancers from NYCB, ABT & DTH have all flocked to her classes. Apparently she's a fabulous teacher and has taught the likes of Gelsey Kirkland, Julie Kent etc....


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2002 10:28 am 
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Maggie Black is now out on Long Island. Way out.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2002 2:17 pm 
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I love seeing a variety of body types, including ones that would likely not be accepted in a major ballet company of today. When I saw the Alvin Ailey company's 25th Anniversary Gala Performance, "Revelations" was performed by former company members. They were wonderful performers, even though most of them were retired and they were as motley a crew of body types as you can get. The curtain went down, and when it came up, the then-current company (this was in 1983) was in place to dance the finale. They were impressive in their own way, being much more homogeneous and moving with great energy and precision. In fact, they had something of the look of the Rockettes. But I enjoyed the older dancers more. They seemed to have very distinctive personalities to go along with their varied body types.<P>Way back in this thread, someone talked about things that you don't often see in ballerinas, and mentioned frizzy hair. That was really a problem for me when I started performances in our regional ballet company, in the mid-60s (surfer hair era). After seeing that famous picture of Balanchine surrounded by a group of female dancers, all with straight, silky hair, I thought it was just as well that I had no chance of ever being in that company. Our group had a picture in Dance Magazine in a pose from the only piece in which we had to wear our hair down, and I thought I stuck out like sore thumb. Now I'd probably like it, but back then I was too mortified to even save a picture!


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2002 9:29 pm 
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Re: Ailey.<P>Theatrically speaking, I'd've done it in the reverse order: have the current company do most of the piece and then bring the alumni in for the finale.<P>At least one ballet company, <A HREF="http://"http://www.bodiographycbc.com"" TARGET=_blank>Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company</A> in Pittsburgh, is actively trying to escape the body-type stereotype; one of their goals is to "provide a performance outlet for professional dancers of all shapes and sizes".<p>[This message has been edited by Tom Skelton (edited May 08, 2002).]

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2002 7:42 am 
I read about the Artistic Directer of Bodigraphy;her story and apparently the story of others PROVES that many AD's,choreograhers,etc. have/had the habit of picking dancers according to the way they looked and NOT ABILITY.<BR> She(the AD of Bodigraphy) practically looks like a young Sophia Loren in face AND body.Even though she was told she was an amazing performer and that she outshined other dancers,she wasnt given parts(including the lead in Giselle)because she couldnt fit the corset(????!!!!!).Someone even suggested to her parents that she get a breast reduction.<BR> The reason why she formed this company was because she met many dancers who had the same experiences.<BR> This sort of thing is why I remain skeptical about the whole Keefer case and peoples judgements about her dancing.<BR> And if someone who has knowledge of the fashion/designing industry can answer this,<BR>isnt it true that the heavier a person is the more material AND money you need to spend on their clothes/costume??? That designing good quality clothes/costumes for smaller built people isnt so much of preference for the look ,but its much cheaper in the long run?<BR> On a brighter note djb,I got my latest issue of Pointe Magazine in the mail,Jun/Jul 2002.<BR> On the cover is Christina Johnson,a international(guest artist)ballerina who did dance for DTH,Royal Ballet,Oakland and other companies.<BR> Shes a beautiful brown skinned woman with a strong,athletic body(BIG BEAUTIFUL QUADS!!!)and a Halle Berry haircut.Things ARE changing even if ever so slowly.......<BR>Ms. Johnson will be joining Basel Ballett in Switzerland at the end of the summer.<BR> <P>[This message has been edited by angela (edited May 09, 2002).]<p>[This message has been edited by angela (edited May 09, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2002 9:28 am 
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Tom, the performers for most of the pieces in the Ailey gala were former company members, with only a couple of works from the current repertory thrown in, performed by the current company. But I left out the best part of "Revelations." The company traditionally repeats the finale. But on this occasion, after the oldtimers performed and then the younger dancers performed it, the curtain went down once again, and when it came up, BOTH groups were onstage, and they performed it one last time, together. It was wonderful!


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 8:02 am 
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I just want to put in a word on the jazzercise (am I spelling that correctly?) instructor so that there is no confusion. The woman had been taking classes for many years. She was asked to be an instructor because of her high level of skill. She taught back-to-back classes, a very strenuous activity that not many can do. She was a very fit large woman. After she was fired she got taken on by the Y in Oakland where she continued to teach successfully. Many women especially said they would be more comfortable in an exercise class led by a healthy large woman than a class led by an 80 lb 19 year old anorexic. <BR>So it is not comparable to hiring a dance instructor who can't point her feet. It's more comparable to refusing to hire a very skilled dance teacher who is "too large" despite her skill, experience and popularity. <BR>I don't want to keep re-opening this forever but it was brought up and no one should think this woman is some lazy slob who can't move. Fit DOES come in all sizes and skinny is not necessarily healthy.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 9:17 am 
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To answer the costume question. Though it is cheaper to make costumes for thinner people, it is actually the length of a person that makes the most financial difference. But the difference is really so little (a metter or 1/2 to one yard of fabric), that I really don't think that drives the choices of an artistic director. If he or she even thinks in those terms (which most don't). <P>However, there is the practice of filling supernumerary roles (i.e. spearcarriers) based on the size of the already existing costumes. This is especially true of opera, ballet and Shakepearean theater.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 9:40 am 
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Many thanks for that clarification crandc, which of course makes the case even more shocking.

A fellow student recounted how she trained as a Pilatus instructor and despite the healthy image of this exercise form, she told us about the peer pressure to have a Pilatus 'look'. Eventually this created health problems for her.

On another tack, we have a current topic on Alexandra Beller, one heck of a dancer who doesn't conform to the stereotypical shape:

http://forum.criticaldance.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=5&t=000998

(Edited by salzberg to fix link)

[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 10, 2002).]

<small>[ 08-09-2002, 05:20: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 9:47 am 
Thanks LMCtech and crandc.<BR>Theres a picture of the 'jazzercise'lady in the latest People magazine w/JFK Jr. on the cover.<BR> From the way she was being talked about,I was expecting Humpty Dumpty's grandmother!<BR>She is tall,maybe fuller in figure than typical instructors,but looks VERY firm and VERY healthy.<BR> That fact that yes a 'larger'person can move and be fit,I would think would be MORE of an inspiration to the'average'woman than someone looking like what crandc mentioned above.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2002 10:01 am 
Theres an artice along w/ that pic too on pg 139;in the May 20th People mag to be exact.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 3:33 pm 
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Do not forget that Balanchine, for all his innovations and contributions, was fundamentally a counter-revolutionary, and that was reflected in his objectification of women's bodies to suit a narrow framework. Thanks in part to the fashion industry, it morphed into a fad. Notice that nobody here has raised the suitability of men's bodies, where there is no universal discernible standard comparable to Balanchine's, except with regard to height requirements. <P>I wrote a piece for Voice of Dance last year (the link is apparently no longer, um, extant), which pointed out that the discussion around the Kiefer case is unfathomably narrow in scope. The true ballet academy trains more than ballerinas. It hopefully trains those who will someday emerge as teachers, choreographers, and artistic directors. Hopefully, academies train them in character work, music and literature (or is that too much to hope for?). Alicia Alonzo and her daughter, Laura, might not have made the cut at SFB when they were eight years old, based on their body types. That would have served to deprive, not advance ballet had SFB been their only option. Thankfully, it was not. I do not believe that the Kiefer child had a leg to stand on insofar as a lawsuit was concerned, since she was actually admitted to SFB through its Dance in the Schools outreach program. One can argue as to whether that is a program equal to the regular audition track of admission, but they both lead to the same opportunities within the school. So the lawsuit, unfortunately, takes the spotlight off the main issues here: Who merits training, according to what qualifications, and predicated on whose idea of what the professional outcome will be.<P>Nobody has mentioned that Ms. Anderson was hired by a Black A.D.--Alonso King, and Ms. Johnson by DTH. The Balanchine-generated criterion is far from being race-blind. In Cuba, they somehow managed to create a world class ballet company that has included Afro-Cuban dancers. Imagine that!<P>I think the distinction between weight and body type is a good one to bear in mind. I have seen VERY boring Balanchine bodies cluttering up the corps, and in very unusual, but laudable instances, certain non-Balanchine body types bringing spotless technique and artistic subtlety to solo and, even in some daring cases, principal roles. Most of those examples occur not in the United States of America. <P>Remember, the guillotine was the instrument of the counter-revolution, and signalled the opening of the Thermidor, not the revolution itself. Similarly, the real guillotine in our lives is also counterrevolutionary: it's the quiet but deadly one that promotes anorexia and bulimia, and daily and nocturnal weight anxiety, not only among dancers, but among the broader population of women. I myself am a graduate of the Bulimia Babes of America Club. I never knew the word "bulimia" in 1965, but that didn't prevent me from practicing it, a fact I neither hid nor felt any embarrassment about. I just assumed that it was what all (female) dancers did when they had eaten any starch with their dinner. Its opposite number is obesity. One begets the other, and neither has a thing to do with dance artistry, so much as misogyny.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Start a Revolution
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 3:24 am 
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Thank you for sharing, Toba. That is very well put.<BR>


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