Author Topic: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat  (Read 10908 times)

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Sabbyfrog2

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #60 on: December 15, 2010, 05:52:59 PM »
In addition to my already way too long post... :P

I think what bothers me most about his comment is that it has no basis on reality whatsoever. She does NOT look like she has been eating too many sugarplums. At all.  She doesn't look like she has ever even so much as touched a sugar plum much less gorged herself on them. Her body surely isn't the traditional ballerina whispy type (by the way, if you ever actually look at a ballerinas muscles "whispy" they ain't, but in terms of dance, that's the best way to describe how they move) but "fat" she isn't. She has a very athletic build. Muscular and lean. And certainly, next to the other dancers, her build stands out. But fat? No.
Now, if she had actually been larger in size (lets say like the Gilmore Girls dancer), while still incredibly mean, his comment would have been more justified. In this case, I suspect he just didn't like her body because it didn't look like the other ballerinas. But instead of using his words, he decided that he needed to insult her because he couldn't think of any eloquent way of stating it. Any reviewer who needs to resort to fat jokes to fill a page isn't worth the paper the review is written on IMO.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 05:55:30 PM by Sabbyfrog2 »

Granny Takes a Trip

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #61 on: December 15, 2010, 06:03:32 PM »
In addition to my already way too long post... :P

I think what bothers me most about his comment is that it has no basis on reality whatsoever. She does NOT look like she has been eating too many sugarplums. At all.  She doesn't look like she has ever even so much as touched a sugar plum much less gorged herself on them. Her body surely isn't the traditional ballerina whispy type (by the way, if you ever actually look at a ballerinas muscles "whispy" they ain't, but in terms of dance, that's the best way to describe how they move) but "fat" she isn't. She has a very athletic build. Muscular and lean. And certainly, next to the other dancers, her build stands out. But fat? No.
Now, if she had actually been larger in size (lets say like the Gilmore Girls dancer), while still incredibly mean, his comment would have been more justified. In this case, I suspect he just didn't like her body because it didn't look like the other ballerinas. But instead of using his words, he decided that he needed to insult her because he couldn't think of any eloquent way of stating it. Any reviewer who needs to resort to fat jokes to fill a page isn't worth the paper the review is written on IMO.

POD again. Commenting on her size? OK, as long as he was relating it intelligently to the aesthetic, and not just griping. But as you say, the 'sugar plum' joke was inaccurate, as well as mean. You don't get to be that muscular by eating sugary junk.
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Wendy Moira Angela Pan

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #62 on: December 15, 2010, 11:42:50 PM »
She doesn't look fat at all. She's sort of broader than some of the other dancers, but I think she's just sort of broader because of her frame and muscle, and it's got nothing to do with whether she overeats. I do think it's unkind to refer to extremely slender and petite women as "waifs." Even if a woman is unnaturally thin because she has an unhealthy attitude toward her body and food, she doesn't deserve to have unkind remarks made about her body. People don't get eating disorders to make other people's lives more difficult. Thin women are not the enemies of heavier women.

Twik

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #63 on: December 16, 2010, 12:26:39 AM »
But he didn't critique her job.  

I think this is where some of us disagree.  Some of us believe that her body size/shape has everything to do with her performance because it affects how her dancing movements flow.  Some of us believe her body size/shape has no bearing on her execution of the movements.  For those who believe body size/shape affects perception of movement, mentioning body size/shape would in fact be a critique on how the reviewer enjoyed the dancer's performance (aka her job).

Then maybe he should say that her movements didn't flow. Instead, he basically confirmed a belief that only anorexics are entitled to be prima ballerinas.

This has nothing to do with how "movement flows". It's the same basic problem that has affected dog breeding over the past 50 years - by taking something generally considered good (in this case, a lithe, thin form), everyone believes that "just a little bit MORE like that, please!" is a good thing. In dog breeding, it's created many breeds with horrible risks of genetic disorders. In ballet, it's created a generation completely obsessed by weight, to the point of crippling mental illness in some cases.

Do you really want to see a ballet performed by people resembling concentration camp survivors, just so "their movements flow"?
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Twik

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #64 on: December 16, 2010, 12:31:15 AM »
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.

To pursue the point, *the dancer is not fat*. She is not a result of insufficent exercise and overindulgence in sweets. To say she is (particularly when he must know she is a recovered anorexic) is vile. Pure and simple. And you support this?
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Jolie_kitten

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #65 on: December 16, 2010, 03:27:14 AM »

But he didn't critique her job.  He just said she looked larger.  He didn't say that it effected her dancing in any way.  I understand that it's part of some people's job to look a certain way but dancers are athletes--its about how they look as their bodies move.  If she wasn't dancing well because of her size, I'd say he was more than correct in commenting on it, but if her size isn't effecting the dancing, why include it?  Why is it necessary?

I see it this way: if he had said: the sugar-plum fairy is played by a woman of more muscular constitution than the usual- that would have been ok. It's a neutral comment. The way he puts it-he says it like it's a bad thing without having a real point for it (such as: she's too heavy to do correctly movement X); that's why it is wrong.
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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #66 on: December 16, 2010, 04:54:36 AM »
I was a ballerina for 12 years. I danced The Nutcracker and Giselle and Peter and the wolf.

I am also *too tall* and *too big* to dance (professionally). This man's comment made me cringe. I think he was mean - and dead wrong. She is a great dancer, and that is all that counts.

This obsession with weight is sickening. Weight and being slim is not the ultimate indicator of desirability, even in dance. Urgh!

OT: even as a dancer I have trouble shaking my booty like my friends do (In Africa, I am consisdered to slim to be really, really attractive  ;D and I can't shake it like a polaroid picture  ;D) So there  :P

TurtleDove

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #67 on: December 16, 2010, 08:45:57 AM »
Do you really want to see a ballet performed by people resembling concentration camp survivors, just so "their movements flow"?

Absolutely not, and nothing I said implies that I do.  Please do not read into my posts what you "want" them to say so that you can vilify me.  My post that you quoted (and in fact all of my posts in this thread) have to do with the difference of opinion (which is valid) on whether body size/shape affects how a dance performance is perceived.  I have no idea whether the reviewer "wants to see a ballet performed by people resembling concentration camp survivors, just so 'their movements flow.'"  I do, however, support the reviewer's right to state his opinion.  That does not mean I agree with that opinion or how he stated it.  

Here, I suspect he believed his comment about sugar plums was "punny" and succintly conveyed his opinion that the dancer's size affected how he perceived her performance.  No one has to agree with him.  This is not about fat v. thin.  This is about one reviewer's opinion about a performance, and he has a right to state his opinion.  You have a right to state yours.  I don't have to agree with either of you (and I don't agree with either of you).  My point is that body size/shape can affect a dance performance and a reviewer has a right to state his opinion -- it is his job.

Edited to fix typos - my computer skips for some reason and I cannot type right!
« Last Edit: December 16, 2010, 08:57:52 AM by TurtleDove »

TurtleDove

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #68 on: December 16, 2010, 08:50:38 AM »
To pursue the point, *the dancer is not fat*. She is not a result of insufficent exercise and overindulgence in sweets. To say she is (particularly when he must know she is a recovered anorexic) is vile. Pure and simple. And you support this?

Again, I do not support what you have written.  Obviously not.  Nothing I have posted implies that I do.  I certainly have not said the dancer is fat.  She does not have to be fat for her size/shape to affect the way her dance performance is perceived.  I did not read the review as calling the dancer "fat" either.  He made a statement that some likely believe to be "punny" given it is about the Nutcracker.  Clearly some people have taken it as offensive.

My comments have all been that I support the reviewer's right to have an opinion about how body size affects the dance performance - it is his job.  No one has to agree with him.  Also, I would point out (as another poster has) that many physical characteristics affect how a dance performance is perceived, including height and relative size of the performers (as well as casting for a partifular role). 

TurtleDove

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #69 on: December 16, 2010, 08:56:09 AM »
Then maybe he should say that her movements didn't flow. Instead, he basically confirmed a belief that only anorexics are entitled to be prima ballerinas.

Is it your belief that all slender dancers are anorexics?  Or that all prima ballerinas have eating disorders? 

sisbam

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #70 on: December 16, 2010, 09:18:37 AM »
I believe his phrasing was inflammatory. I think there are more constructive ways to state his point. His pun fell flat.


TurtleDove

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #71 on: December 16, 2010, 09:22:53 AM »
I believe his phrasing was inflammatory. I think there are more constructive ways to state his point. His pun fell flat.



This I agree with. 

TurtleDove

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #72 on: December 16, 2010, 09:37:06 AM »
There is no objective reason why a ballerina has to be stick-thin, far beyond what normal women (even athletes) would be. Any more than there's a reason why critics should have to be below a certain body-fat proportion. If it's the "ballerina aethetic", common sense says it's high time that it's changed, rather than send more young women into serious eating disorders.

Again, on the bolded point not everyone agrees.  There are many books and articles about the "physics" of ballet, and body size and shape does play an objective role in how certain positions and movements are accomplished.  I would not use the phrase "stick-thin," but there is an objective reason why a slender muscular frame is preferable for a professional ballet dancer.  It is not simply about appearance; it is about function.

As a former anorexic, I also really bristle when blame is placed on something outside the person with the eating disorder.  We are all affected by everything in our lives.  We can all place blame on any number of things for how we behave in any given situation.  If an anorexic can blame a magazine or a ballet critic for her eating disorder, then a drug addict can blame the school bully or the mean teacher who made her do her homework for her drug problem.  I think people need to take responsibility for their own reactions to an imperfect world.

Sharnita

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #73 on: December 16, 2010, 09:53:36 AM »
but then couldn/t shouldn't the critic focus on her lack of ability to achieve x move or position?  If it is due to body size/shape or talent the bottom line would still be that she missed that move. 

Sabbyfrog2

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Re: Ballet Critic tells ballerina she looks fat
« Reply #74 on: December 16, 2010, 10:48:03 AM »
TurtleDove, I get what your saying and I do agree that the critic has the right to mention her body (because it DOES effect the way a dance move looks whether people like it or not). It's his job to do so and using puns isn't all that uncommon for reviewers at all. Reviewers often have unpleasant things to say about shows they are writing about so seeing something hurtful to the performer isn't unusual either.  Even if we or the performer don't like it, if the show just plain sucks, or the actor/singer/dancer is wrong for the part and/or are unattractive (and looks/physical attributes do matter when it comes to performance), then the critic is completely entitled and expected to say as much. (We must also remember that reviewers are also human, so with that comes a certain level of subjectivity and personal taste.) And lets be honest, there is some part of us (general population) that loves to read reviews where performers get torn apart. On that, I think you and I are in total agreement.  What I disagree with you on is how this writer in particular did it. His pun was just way off base and innaccurate.

Most puns that critics use at least have some basis in truth or at least can be justified, even if they are mean. He can't justify this one. Not in the slightest. I read his entire review and he made it very clear that he didn't like SGF's performance. In fact the only dancers in the show he seemed to enjoy were the kids/younger dancers and the dancer who played Coffee (who, as it were, is incredibly thin). He also apparently didn't like the way SPF and the Cavalier looked, which is completely fine and he would have been well within the confines of his job to say that. However, to throw out a comment like that that is so blatantly cruel without even being able to back it up is just an example of poor writing and clear bias; not a critic doing his job. Surely there were much better ways for him to express that he didn't like her body or that it wasn't what he expected from a ballerina. Like I said before, if she had actually been a larger sized girl, while his comment would still have been hurtful, it would have been a valid critique and defendable as a statement. His was just a pun for the sake of being clever, which frankly, it wasn't. A child could have come up that that. I expect more from someone who is supposed to be of his caliber and expertise. All of that is what I personally take issue with.

Now, do I think he should apologize? No. Even if I find what he wrote completely wrong and distasteful, he still gets paid to say it and if Jennifer (the ballerina in question) isn't asking for one, then who am I to demand one ya know?

You of course are free to disagree with me but that's just what I think about it.
So there...  :P
« Last Edit: December 16, 2010, 10:51:19 AM by Sabbyfrog2 »