The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

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Another strike from Fashion-land September 25, 2016

Filed under: ballerina,ballet,Uncategorized — theworstat @ 8:25 pm
Tags: , , ,

Parody of Kendall Jenner

Yep, Fashion-land has struck again.  The last time I was aware of an atrocity like this was when Free People posted their bogus ballet video, trying to tout their extremely expensive pretend ballet clothes.

I read some of the comments below the actual video, which was posted by some fan-TV show site.  Comments ran from “Kendall Jenner is my favorite ballerina!” to “I think that lady (from the Joffrey Ballet School in New York) was on Dance Moms.”  Goes to show you the depth of understanding of what ballet actually is.

Not that anyone reading this blog is going to benefit from this, but I’ll state the obvious: pointe shoes are not toys.  They are potentially dangerous.  It takes 2-3 years of intense training to be able to use them properly.  You do not just put them on and pretend to be a ballerina.  It’s a little like putting a football helmet on a male model and calling him a quarterback (although that would be quite a bit safer for the model).

As the lady from the Joffrey school said, pointe shoes are a badge of honor and a tool of the trade.  They are not a fashion item.  This photo shoot was a Bad.Idea.  Don’t let it happen again.

P.S. I’m not even sure what Kendall Jenner is supposed to be.

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Me being a wet blanket September 24, 2016

First of all, I’d like to share Kathryn Morgan’s vlog about dealing with unsupportive parents (this is for U.S.-based ballet students; obviously the situation is quite different in other countries):
Kathryn Morgan

I was surprised at her comments regarding dancers actually making living wages in most medium to large companies in the U.S.  This certainly wasn’t the case decades ago, but I’m glad to hear it has changed.

I’m also glad to hear that more dancers are pursuing college degrees.  In the 1970’s, a lot of them were dropping out of high school to join companies.  Dance was terribly risky then…still is, but it sounds less so now.  The biggest chance now is the same biggest chance that’s ever been — that a dancer simply won’t make it.  I do know the school of the Paris Opera encourages their students to get college degrees while they are still studying ballet, because the odds against them going on to have a career in ballet are so scary.  I’m glad to hear that mindset has spread to the U.S.

And so, on to the subject of students…

Recently I received a comment asking me what I thought of two current students.  I have to reply that outside of having followed the school days of Joy Womack (now a prima ballerina) and Xenia Zhiganshina (second season in the corps at the Bolshoi), and maybe a few others, I generally don’t follow the careers of students.  They have to make a lot more noise than just crowing away on social media for me to be aware of them; i.e., they have to make it into the newspapers and maybe be invited into a major company at some incredibly early age.  Giselle Bethea comes to mind.

I do have a copy of a fashion magazine from years ago that shows a photo of a very young Olga Smirnova at Vaganova.  But she is the only one of several students featured in that article who has really “made it.”

As I said above, the odds against a ballet career — even for kids in top schools — are huge.  Anything could go wrong, and usually does.  Plus, it’s usually impossible to make an accurate prediction of who will be a star someday and who will not.  Former ABT ballerina Cynthia Harvey is an example of one whose career began and almost ended in the corps de ballet (Lucia Chase didn’t like her).  There are hundreds more every year who never even make it into a company’s corps.

There are several kids on YouTube right now who are convinced they’re going places.  Some of them have talent.  Probably none of them will get anywhere.  That’s why I won’t promote them here.

Sadder still are the ones who…well, there was one girl who declared herself a great dancer because she was born with banana feet.  Her videos consisted  of nothing more than her flexing and pointing her bare feet.  The comments below her videos pretty effectively shot her down, but still…at a certain age, hype can be a career.  For some people, that’s for their whole lives.  But it doesn’t usually fly in ballet.

This is another reason I won’t generally publicize students.  Sorry to be a wet blanket, but that’s the way it is.

 

Burst into tears September 18, 2016

Filed under: ballerina,ballet,Uncategorized — theworstat @ 6:19 am
Tags: , ,

I never thought this drunken, spinning pas de deux could make me cry, but there it is:
Guillem and Cope

 

Stepanova promoted…3 times September 16, 2016

As everyone probably already knows, Yulia Stepanova has not only been promoted to prima at the Bolshoi, but in that achievement sailed over 2 promotions (she’ll never be a First Soloist or a Leading Soloist).  She catapulted straight from Soloist (better known as Coryphee in many companies) to Principal.

I kind of suspected that she would be promoted at the start of this season, but I never expected anything like that.  Instead I expected her to spend a brief time at First Soloist before languishing at the Leading Soloist level for a few years, kind of like Smirnova did.

Someone mentioned on another site that Stepanova’s promotion(s) is/are unprecedented.  If anyone has gone up three levels to the very top in one year, it hasn’t happened recently.

Certainly she must be much more remarkable than just having expressive arms.  It’s definitely not her feet, which like Smirova’s are rather uninteresting, (which should prove to some people that feet are not everything as there are now at least two Bolshoi primas with retro-feet — feet that would have been great in earlier decades but not now, in the banana-foot age). It’s how you use your feet, not so much what they look like, after all.  However, so far I haven’t seen anything really special in her use of her feet, or anything else but her upper body and arms.

I would like to see a full-length video of her dancing Swan Lake, and another of her dancing a contemporary ballet.  Then I’ll have a better idea.

Anyway, the judgement has been made by the powers-that-be at the Bolshoi, and once again this leaves the Mariinsky with egg on its face.  It seems that company is fading further and further from the limelight and may disappear altogether once the current generation of stars retires.  Fortunately a few of them are fairly young, and that could add another decade or so during which the Mariinsky has a chance to turn itself around.

If it doesn’t, it will serve as a harsh reminder of how fragile ballet is.  One lost generation, and the entire art could be lost forever.  The Bolshoi now seems to have realized this.  The Mariinsky had better wake up.