Author Topic: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat  (Read 10855 times)

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Elfqueen13

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #45 on: December 15, 2010, 03:38:14 PM »
For those of you who think he should have linked her size to the way it changed her movements, if he had done that, would you have excused it?


As I said, I would be ok with him saying something like "She is large, so when she and her partner do the Pas de Deux, he appears to be struggling to hold her" or anything else related to how her size affects her movement. But when it is something that comes off like "She doesn't look like I think a Sugar Plum Fairy should look" you get too close to bigotry for my taste.

I think when it comes to performance art of that nature most of us have a picture in our head of what a character looks like.  Saying that this dancer did not look the way he pictured the Sugar Plum Fairy would be no different than saying Elijah Wood doesn't fit your mental picture of Frodo Baggins. 
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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #46 on: December 15, 2010, 03:41:04 PM »
For those of you who think he should have linked her size to the way it changed her movements, if he had done that, would you have excused it?


As I said, I would be ok with him saying something like "She is large, so when she and her partner do the Pas de Deux, he appears to be struggling to hold her" or anything else related to how her size affects her movement. But when it is something that comes off like "She doesn't look like I think a Sugar Plum Fairy should look" you get too close to bigotry for my taste.

I think when it comes to performance art of that nature most of us have a picture in our head of what a character looks like.  Saying that this dancer did not look the way he pictured the Sugar Plum Fairy would be no different than saying Elijah Wood doesn't fit your mental picture of Frodo Baggins. 

But that is why you and I can say "He looked nothing like Frodo!" or "Movie is awful!". A pro critic should provide a more in-depth analysis than just knee-jerk reactions like that.

MaggieB

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #47 on: December 15, 2010, 03:42:18 PM »

I'm really surprised how many people are disagreeing. In a forum where we see restaurant goers say that everything from the music, to the table tents and condiments, to the demeanor of the host/server/manager/bartender affects their enjoyment of their meal, I'm really surprised to see that the *only* thing he should be allowed to criticize is whether or not she did the specific motions well.

I don't think anyone said that.  The fact that her size affects the way she moves is one reason some people have suggested that her size is relevant to a review.  There may be other reasons it's relevant.  Like you said, I don't know enough about ballet to discuss what those are.

The problem is that he called her fat (in a pretty mean-spirited way) when that is clearly not the case.  She may be bigger than your average ballerina, but it really does seem to be muscle to me.  I saw the video of her dancing, and she looks pretty ripped to me. The review gives a false impression of what is wrong with the performance.  It makes it sound like the ballet company is sending out unqualified dancers who are distractingly overweight.  They're not.  They're trying to be more inclusive of different body types.  If that backfired in this case, that's a perfectly valid thing to include in a review.  I'd love to know why.  

I get that "zingers" might be part of his job, and that's fine.  But he should be a good enough writer to convey the real problems he saw.  This dancer overeating is not the problem.

« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 03:46:43 PM by MaggieB »

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #48 on: December 15, 2010, 03:43:12 PM »
As a critic, his job was to discuss how she danced-not make a "fat" comment.  Because if she was able to perform the dance, then what she looks like was not relevant to the performance.

And his comment was expressed very snidely.
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TurtleDove

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #49 on: December 15, 2010, 03:54:19 PM »
Because if she was able to perform the dance, then what she looks like was not relevant to the performance.


This is where not everyone agrees.

jimithing

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #50 on: December 15, 2010, 03:57:16 PM »
Because if she was able to perform the dance, then what she looks like was not relevant to the performance.


This is where not everyone agrees.

No one has really explained how the comment about her eating one too many sugar plum fairies was relevant to the performance. That actual line and comment, not a generic comment about her physique.

Do you feel his actual comment was relevant to the performance?

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #51 on: December 15, 2010, 04:01:09 PM »
Personally, I think Alistair Macaulay can comment when he's hit the anorexic point.  I'd like to see somebody limit what he's allowed to eat to that point, so he didn't have to worry about the self-discipline it takes to do that.

But then, I'm not always nice.  Especially not to people who are mean. 

An apology would be meaningless.

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #52 on: December 15, 2010, 04:18:05 PM »
I come from the viewpoint of a performer and a dancer. I have seen some pretty bad reviews written about shows I have been in. All of them, even the bad ones, were justified though. Why? Because the writer used constructive and well thought out comments and didn't just write insults. We have had actors/singers/dancers torn apart in reviews, but never just for their looks. If their looks were mentioned, it was a direct correlation to the performance or show somehow.

For example.... I did a show where we had a huge tap number, that featured a main couple right in the start of Act 2. The female dancer was a bigger girl but she could tap better than all of us so she got the part by default. One reviewer said that the female in the tap number was much larger than one expects of a dancer and her size made her seem heavy on her feet. While she embodied the character and spirit of the number, her stature was very noticeable, especially when partnered with a man who had a traditional dancer body type. And considering that fact that the other girls around her were petite in size, it made her body type that much more obvious. This lessened his enjoyment of the show just a bit because she stuck out like a sore thumb. He didn't insult her directly, he merely pointed it out as a factor in the shows overall flow. Sure it hurt her feelings but she didn't feel "insulted". That, to me, is what makes his comments more appropriate and his critique of her body more justified, than Macaulay's.  

I agree with the majority that this guy was way out of line. Taking a dancers body into consideration is part of a critics job, but this critic did not do his job. All he did was hurl (not so clever) insults at the dancer with no legitimate remarks as to how her body type effected the show, the dance move, or her performance. Different body types do in fact effect the way a move looks, but in no way is saying "she looks like she ate too many Sugarplums" a valid critique of the dancer, especially when written by someone who is suppossed to be an "expert". An "expert" would have remarked about how her body made the motion look, how it felt when he watched it, and how it didn't fit with what he expected. He was going for shock value in his critique, which may have worked if he'd followed up with an actual "critique" and not made a lame sugarplum fairy fat joke.

If he had said something to the effect of "The Sugarplum fairy, danced by so and so, has a frame that you normally wouldn't find on a prima ballerina and I did find myself wondering about that casting choice when it came to the partnering. When they executed the lift, it lacked the lightness that one normally associates with the Sugarplum fairy and the pa de deux due to the stature of her body. And when next to the other ballerinas, it was hard not to notice a difference in thier builds."* or something to that effect, his critique about her body would have more legitimacy. This comment he made however, is a legit critique of them..."They’re among the few City Ballet principals who dance like adults, but without adult depth or complexity." He clearly didn't like them or how they looked, which is fair, but that insult to Jennifer was uncalled for and unjustified.

* I am pretty sure that their lift would have been perfect but I wanted to use that as an example of how her body COULD have effected the dance if it did and how a GOOD critic would have written about it. (FWIW, this is actaully sorta this guy's MO. I have read a few of his reviews before and I don't find his reviews to be all that clever, or even accurate or original anyway so my opinion may also be bias. He mostly writes about the shows plot in his reviews anyway so half of what he is saying it stuff we already know.)



RTA: Oops.. hit post too soon and holy cow the comments that followed...lol!
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 04:31:07 PM by Sabbyfrog2 »

TurtleDove

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #53 on: December 15, 2010, 04:19:59 PM »
Because if she was able to perform the dance, then what she looks like was not relevant to the performance.
This is where not everyone agrees.
No one has really explained how the comment about her eating one too many sugar plum fairies was relevant to the performance. That actual line and comment, not a generic comment about her physique.
Do you feel his actual comment was relevant to the performance?

My comment quoted above was addressed to the statement I quoted above.  

To address your question, in my opinion, the actual comment by the reviewer was a "punny" way to state the ballerina is larger than an average ballerina and a pithy way to mention that her weight affected how he viewed the performance. So yes, I believe it was relevant to his review.  Was it kind?  Perhaps not.  But the goal of a review is not to be kind.  It is to provide one's opinions and comments about a performance.  ETA I am not saying I agree with the reviewer's viewpoint - just that body size/shape are valid things to include in a review.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 04:25:42 PM by TurtleDove »

TurtleDove

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #54 on: December 15, 2010, 04:24:32 PM »
My computer skips when I include quote trees but POD to Sabbyfrog.  I believe a reviewer has every "right" to make reference to a dancer's size and shape.  I believe this particular critique could have been better written.  My point in this thread has been about comments stating that body size/shape has no relevance in a dance review - I disagree with that viewpoint.

Visiting Crazy Town

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #55 on: December 15, 2010, 04:25:10 PM »
I come from the viewpoint of a performer and a dancer. I have seen some pretty bad reviews written about shows I have been in. All of them, even the bad ones, were justified though. Why? Because the writer used constructive and well thought out comments and didn't just write insults. We have had actors/singers/dancers torn apart in reviews, but never just for their looks. If their looks were mentioned, it was a direct correlation to the performance or show somehow.

For example.... I did a show where we had a huge tap number, that featured a main couple right in the start of Act 2. The female dancer was a bigger girl but she could tap better than all of us so she got the part by default. One reviewer said that the female in the tap number was much larger than one expects of a dancer and her size made her seem heavy on her feet. While she embodied the character and spirit of the number, her stature was very noticeable, especially when partnered with a man who had a traditional dancer body type. And considering that fact that the other girls around her were petite in size, it made her body type that much more obvious. This lessened his enjoyment of the show just a bit because she stuck out like a sore thumb. He didn't insult her directly, he merely pointed it out as a factor in the shows overall flow. Sure it hurt her feelings but she didn't feel "insulted". That, to me, is what makes his comments more appropriate and his critique of her body more justified, than Macaulay's. 

I agree with the majority that this guy was way out of line. Taking a dancers body into consideration is part of a critics job, but this critic did not do his job. All he did was hurl (not so clever) insults at the dancer with no legitimate remarks as to how her body type effected the show, the dance move, or her performance. Different body types do in fact effect the way a move looks, but in no way is saying "she looks like she ate too many Sugarplums" a valid critique of the dancer, especially when written by someone who is suppossed to be an "expert". An "expert" would have remarked about how her body made the motion look, how it felt when he watched it, and how it didn't fit with what he expected. He was going for shock value in his critique, which may have worked if he'd followed up with an actual "critique" and not made a lame sugarplum fairy fat joke.

If he had said something to the effect of "The Sugarplum fairy, danced by so and so, has a frame that you normally wouldn't find on a prima ballerina and I did find myself wondering about that casting choice when it came to the partnering. When they executed the lift, it lacked the lightness that one normally associates with the Sugarplum fairy and the pa de deux due to the stature of her body. And when next to the other ballerinas, it was hard not to notice a difference in thier builds."* or something to that effect, his critique about her body would have more legitimacy.

* I am pretty sure that their lift was perfect but I wanted to use that as an example of how her body COULD have effected the dance if it did and how a GOOD critic would have written about it. (FWIW, this is actaully sorta this guy's MO. I have read a few of his reviews before and I don't find his reviews to be all that clever, or even accurate anyway so my opinion may also be bias)

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #56 on: December 15, 2010, 04:35:25 PM »
I don't think the critic needs to apologize, but I do respect his opinions (including all future opinions) less because of the comment.

Personally, I think that phrase has been rolling around in his head for a long time and he was just dying to use it.  So along comes a ballerina slightly outside the normal ballerina build and he couldn't resist.

I watched the ballerina dancing, and didn't notice anything out of the norm with her body shape, but I could be incredibly unobservant.

I mean, he just comes off looking a bit foolish and a bit hypocritical (he's no sugar plum fairy either).  But the ballerina seems to be taking it in stride.

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #57 on: December 15, 2010, 05:08:52 PM »
I think it's unprofessional and nasty.  Like others say, there are better ways of saying it such as "She's bigger than the other dancers and it's noticeable" or "Her size make the lift appear awkward."  Instead, his sugar plum line just make him look like a snickering childish bully trying to show off and impress the bigger schoolyard bullies.

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #58 on: December 15, 2010, 05:37:40 PM »
My computer skips when I include quote trees but POD to Sabbyfrog.  I believe a reviewer has every "right" to make reference to a dancer's size and shape.  I believe this particular critique could have been better written.  My point in this thread has been about comments stating that body size/shape has no relevance in a dance review - I disagree with that viewpoint.

I also POD Sabbyfrog, and actually agree with you. Sabby has good points, and I am someone who notices size, as well-I absolutely think he had a right to comment. It was the manner of his comment that I, too, had a problem with.
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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #59 on: December 15, 2010, 05:42:16 PM »
The problem I have is he seems to have missed one of the big points of the performance.  Which is to move away from the waif looking dancers.  Many more modern style ballets use dancers with the more muscular body types.  It is a style and a look they are going for.  This guy seems to have missed the point of the performace all together.

Take a look at the trey mcintyre project dancers.  They do amazing shows and are not a group of waifs.
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