Thank you for raising this point and for printing the link that includes a reader challenging Ms Mackrell's comments. She defends her view by saying:
"Dance critics write about bodies and I wanted to be able to treat the colour of Eric and Melissa's skin on the same level as the suppleness of their limbs as just one more physical fact."
Eric Underwood is proving a very popular dancer with the Royal Ballet and I would venture to say, something of an audience favourite. One of his best roles is in Wayne McGregor's Limen where he dances with fellow American Sarah Lamb; Ms Lamb is very blonde and pale and I personally found something aesthetically very beautiful in their contrasting colourings, so I think I understand Ms Mackrell's comments especially in view of the fact that few male dancers in the RB possess the level of physical beauty that Mr Underwood is blessed with.
If I may refer the the reader's responses rather than the original review, here is something I have a lot of sympathy with:
It would be an even bigger deal if the black male was a Black British Ballet dancer, not Brazilian or South African. Have you noticed the darker skinned dancers are never British dancers maybe the homegrowns are only good enough for the BRB!!
Agreed, though I feel I should point out there is now a dearth of British born dancers of any
skin colour. He/she goes on to say
It's as if it's preferable for the Black Male to appear "Urban" and rehearsed in a youth centre rather than admitting you have been technically trained.
Ashley Banjo from Diversity apparently has a Royal Ballet trained mother who has a successful dance school. This hasn't really been publicised that much, I guess it would take the "street" out of the Street Dance!
Perhaps this reflects the current taste of the British public that seems to be developing an increasing appetite for this form of dance over and above classical ballet which is something of a shame. There does seem to be a drift towards 'urban' and away from other forms and it is correct to say that there were an impressive number of black dancers in training in the mid eighties, but the bar came crashing down if any of these highly trained individuals aspired to classical dance, something I was very aware of as I worked with some notable black dancers at that time. How ironic it is that now black dancers are able to join ballet companies an increasing number would have no interest in doing so.