The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

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On Working Your Butt Off October 9, 2012

Filed under: ballerina,ballet,ballet class — theworstat @ 5:16 pm
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I’m going to start by saying that at least one person commenting on this blog has used a term similar to the term in the title of this entry, and that today’s entry has nothing to do with that person or with that comment.  The following article was not prompted by that comment or that person, whose comments I really enjoy.

I’m just making an observation that, if someone has said something truly bad about a dancer and a fan of that dancer is attempting a defense, perhaps “she worked so hard to get where she is!” isn’t a very good defense.

Why isn’t it a good defense?  Because it can be argued that every dancer in every major company in the world worked extremely hard to get where he or she is.  Ballet is supremely unnatural.  Even if one is born with a superior aptitude for it, one has to work day in and day out for years to get into a big company…or even into a little one.  And once there, the work never stops unless one wants to forfeit one’s career.

Because of that, saying “s/he worked so hard!” is rather like saying that s/he is breathing.

A better defense of a dancer is to say that watching his or her dancing transforms your life, that he or she defies the laws of gravity, or that he or she redefines grace.  I’m willing to bet that among dancers there is no such thing as a hard worker among hard workers, although I have read that Darcey Bussell, during her school years, got into trouble with some of her teachers for working too hard.  There was a hint of the same comment made about Joy Womack.  Of course, the verdict on Darcey Bussell has been long since signed, sealed and delivered and she is retired and in the history books; Joy, on the other hand, is just now taking her first baby steps as a professional, and her future is a blank page.

Anyway, I’ll wager that working too hard in school and working too hard as a professional may be two different things.  But that’s for another post.  The fact is, in ballet hard work is THE rule.

I think that in the future I’ll avoid any remark about how hard an individual dancer works, even though I don’t think I’ve made such comments in the past.  Again, in terms of ballet, hard work is the rule.  No one who wants a career dares break that rule.

 

The PR version October 8, 2012

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 3:57 pm
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Here is a drama- and xenophobia-free version of the story of Keenan Kampa and the Maryinsky.  It reads like a P.R. release.  But it does give another perspective:

Kampa at Maryinsky

 

Lost in Translation October 7, 2012

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 6:11 pm
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Here we go again. First, view the video:

Again, another attack video and again, massive misunderstanding.  I think this time Russianballetvideos tried to get around it by being heavily sarcastic, probably thinking stupid Americans would not get it.  Well, they did.  Big time.

Along the way, however s/he accidentally added credence to my claim about Russians and their attitude toward any ballet that is not Russian, and how that prejudice has crept into the minds of people like Eric Conrad.

Anyway, there’s another issue that I’ll dispense with first.  I once said something about Kampa– there was one line in an otherwise rather respectful blog article that mentioned her — that someone claiming to be her sister freaked out about and stopped just short of demanding that I remove, taking several long paragraphs and two long comments to do so.  (BTW, the offending remark is still in this blog; good luck finding it because most people don’t think of it as offensive.)  Now I see that the same person, or someone very much like her, is attacking Russianballetvideos.  The only difference is that RBV is letting the comments stand and even reprimanding this person sharply for trying to intimidate others into being nice to Keenan.

While I did not, and will not, allow this troll’s comments on this blog (I don’t feed trolls), for once I feel the same about this situation as does Russianballetvideos.  Whoever this loving “sister” is, she is not doing her alleged kin any favors by trying to censor every word said about Keenan on the Internet.  Keenan is, after all, very much in the public eye and subject to comment over a multitude of outlets.  All sorts of things are going to be said, and not all of it will be sweetness and light.  In trying to control everyone and everything, a troll like this one only comes off looking like an idiot.  Especially if she does not really bother to read (or in this case, view) what she has decided to try to censor.

But that’s not the point (and that’s just it, Sister, you are beside the point and I think that’s what you are afraid of). It’s much more complicated than a mere case of someone being mean to Keenan. The point is that Kampa is the lone American in a Russian company and so has been singled out as a proverbial whipping boy for a number of wrongs that have little to do with her.  Apparently RBV is (sarcastically) holding the entire Boston Ballet accountable (and of course viewing BB with complete and utter contempt) as well, which kind of shows you the mindset we’re dealing with here.

Of course Kampa graduated from the Vaganova academy…but the excuse now is that she didn’t spend a long-enough time there for it to make a difference in her dancing (three years and she learned nothing?).  Pretty much the same excuse is being hurled at Joy Womack over at the Bolshoi, and in my opinion, that’s an even harder charge to make stick.  Womack was transformed at the Bolshoi’s school.  There is no question.

Anyway, RBV has stated in the past that Vaganova is not the Maryinsky’s school, nor is it the only school the Maryinsky gets dancers from.  So what’s the big deal?  Are we now attacking every dancer who dares approach the Maryinsky if s/he didn’t spend the prior 9 years at Vaganova?  Since when?

Another issue (and one that RBV will have to alter in his/her video description) is that apparently Ms. Kampa came into the company claiming that she had been hired as a coryphee.  I admit I searched all summer to find her name anywhere on the roster.  Now I see it, and she’s in the corps.  And here’s what I say: GOOD.  Not because I dislike her, but because it’s proper that she start in the corps.  She was in the corps at the Boston Ballet.  It would be weird if she went from being a corps dancer in a regional company to being a coryphee in a major international company.  Think about it: another former BB dancer, a principal, joined the Royal Ballet some years back…as a soloist (she has long since been promoted back to principal).  It would have been an enormous slap in the face to the rest of the Maryinsky dancers if Kampa had come in as a coryphee…not that the Maryinsky shrinks from issuing slaps in the face to its dancers.  The problem, and the entire issue here that RBV is mistakenly attacking individual dancers over, is exactly that: disrespect.

Of course, the level she was hired for and how she’s being used are two different things, and the latest twist in RBV’s knickers is that apparently, Kampa is going to dance some fairly major roles in the near future.  And of course, his/her other “muse,” (and non-Vaganova graduate) Oxana Skorik, has been promoted to First Soloist while his/her own darling, the wildly talented Yulia Stepanova, has just now been promoted to coryphee after wallowing in the corps for a couple of years.  RBV has to be hitting the vodka pretty hard these days to get over that one.

I guess one could make an issue of the arrogance of Kampa’s claim that she had been hired as a coryphee.  However, as far as I know, this claim never really resonated in the U.S., where it would have had the most positive impact.  (I only found out about it on the internet after searching long and hard.)  Instead, it is claimed, it was published in a European magazine.  This leads me to believe that it may have been a misunderstanding and/or a misquote.  Or maybe Kampa really believed she had been hired as a coryphee and was horribly mistaken.  Or maybe someone in management changed their mind.  Who knows. This is Russian ballet, after all; and there are mysteries on top of enigmas.  It’s likely that we will not learn the absolute truth of it in our lifetime.

Anyway, to Kampa’s “sister,”: Hon I know you read this, and I know you are now thinking that I said terrible things about your sister and of course you will write me a comment about the length of “War and Peace,” which will illustrate nothing but the fact that you apparently read only about every third word I wrote and comprehended about a 10th of what you did read.  Leave this blog in peace, dear (I ask this although I know you lack the grace, maturity and self-assurance to do so).  Thank you.

And to RBV: get out more.  Honestly.  There’s a whole huge world of ballet out there that you’re missing.

But I do love your videos.