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Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre
http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=30739
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Author:  LMCtech [ Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

She accurately and concisely explains exactly what I have seen over the years. The problem of a lack of dancers of color is no longer at the top of the companies, it is at the bottom of the ballet schools. It is a broader cultural problem. The parents are not supportive so the student doesn't stay in training.

Misty Copeland could tell us all about her difficult road to professional ballet, and her story is unfortunatly nor atypical.

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu May 19, 2011 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

Agreed.

Author:  salzberg [ Sat May 21, 2011 5:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

In a related field, I recently lit a production of To Kill a Mockingbird in a small, rural state. Two of the African-American roles had to be cast out of NY because none of the very few Black actors here was interested. I can't help thinking that if the theatre had a better record of casting African-American actors in roles that were not written for a specific ethnicity, it might have been easier to cast the show locally.

Author:  LMCtech [ Sat May 21, 2011 1:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

That is a really good point. The theater I work with has the problem with casting African-American roles. But we would be happy to cast African-American actors in traditionally white roles. They simply do not come to audition. I think it's too far to drive and we don't have a lot (if any) African-American actors living in town.

Author:  salzberg [ Sat May 21, 2011 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

I'm in Vermont. I could say the same thing, changing "in town" to "in state." It's getting better, though.

Author:  LMCtech [ Sat May 21, 2011 5:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

You'd think that in the "enlightened" San Francisco Bay Area, we wouldn't have this problem, but provincial attitudes know no boundaries and don't conform to arbitrary borders.

Author:  salzberg [ Sat May 21, 2011 5:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

Well, Vermont is arguably the most liberal state in the union, but, while it's much more diverse than it used to be, it's still over 98% white.

Author:  LMCtech [ Sun May 22, 2011 10:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

This is the same complaint I heard when I was working full-time in ballet. Most companies would be more than happy to employ a talented, hard-working, non-white ballet dancer. But they just aren't auditioning. It could be a vicious cycle. They don't see faces like theirs on that stage so they don't audition. The company doesn't put faces like theirs on the stage because they aren't auditioning.

Author:  luvschicago [ Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

Hurray for the Joffrey Ballet and their commitment:


http://www.joffrey.org/company/auditions


. The Joffrey Ballet is committed to being a multicultural ballet company; dancers of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to send audition materials. Receipt of audition materials does not guarantee a class audition.

Look at their dancers. They backup what they say.

LMTech says:
I think there are two non-negotiables in ballet: highly arched feet and long legs. If dancers of any ethnic background (including white) lack those two things, they will not progress. Misty Copeland has both.

I have to disagree with that Tech. Tina Leblanc former San Francisco ballerina had short legs and curvy hips. She wrote an article about how she had to overcome the fact that her body wasn't the "perfect ballet body."Look at former prima of the Houston ballet Lauren Anderson--a dark skinned black woman who had more of the build of a track runner than a birdlike ballerina-and that was even after she lost weight. Also you can tell from photos that her feet weren't naturally arched--pretty flat for a ballet dancer as a matter of fact. Even the former director Ben Stevenson said he was wrong he said she could not be a ballerina. Speaking of Misty Copeland, look at her photos on her website when you have a chance. The girl has an absolute hour glass figure-big busted, rounded hips, very muscular thighs. A non negotable anti-build for a ballerina in almost all cases. I've read were dancers would have surgery to alter their breast as a matter of fact as well as starve themselves. Misty also said in an article that her body wasn't "perfect" for ballet.

Its known that even though Ballanchine loved modern dancers like Judith Jameson and Katherine Dunham, he really didnt want black woman as ballerinas beause he didnt think it fit his personal image of what a ballerina should look like. Unfortunately many of his ex dancers head companies and carry this somewhat narrow vision. Peter Martins was good enough to put Aesha Ashe in solo roles while she was at NYC Ballet but didnt have the guts to make her an official solo dancer let along a principle. He pretty much told her to leave the company when she wanted to just take a break because of private issues she was going through siting he didnt see her advancing any further in the company.

It still pretty much hurts when you are told you can't do something because of your race or gender. It especially is troubling when theres proof out there that the conculsion is totally wrong! I think that most people here are open minded about the issue, but it seems like unless you experience that kind of prejudice directly you really have no idea why it's still such a big deal especially in the ballet world.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

In the Guardian, Olivia Goldhill and Sarah Marsh investigate the small numbers of dancers of color in ballet companies.

Guardian

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

Luke Jennings responds to the questions raised in the Goldhill/Marsh article in the Guardian.

Guardian

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

Dance Theatre of Harlem's artistic director, Virginia Johnson, responds on this issue in the Huffington Post.

Huffington Post

Author:  mmartin [ Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

Stereotype In Toeshoes
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/06/arts/ ... d=all&_r=0

Interesting article dealing with this topic

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

The Royal Ballet's Eric Underwood discusses ballet's problems with non-white performers in the Guardian.

Guardian

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Color and Racial Issues in Dance and the Theatre

American Ballet Theatre launches a new program to increase diversity in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Rebecca Cohen reports on Project Plie in the New York Times.

NY Times

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