How do you like your celebrities? Pedestal, or Regular?

Talking to Mr. Adult Beginner the other day,
Mr. Adult Beginner: …remember that Robert Altman film about ballet (he’s talking about The Company) where it was like, hey, we’re going to make a ballet movie about a ballerina who does ballet in a ballet company, so let’s get that actress what’s her name (Neve Campbell) who is an actor not a dancer to be the lead! How did that make any sense?
Adult Beginner: Yeah, and on the other hand you’ve got The Red Shoes, where it was like, hey, we’re going to make a ballet movie about a ballerina who does ballet in a ballet company, so let’s get Moira Shearer, who is actually a ballerina, to play the ballerina, but then for some bizarro reason playing a ballerina in the ballet movie kinda ruined her ballet career!
Mr. Adult Beginner: Wtf?
Adult Beginner: Yeah! I was reading somewhere (Dance As Life, by Franklin Stevens) that ballet goes through these weird cycles with the way it promotes it’s stars. Swings from a put-on-a-pedestal, Ethereal Being type treatment to a ‘just regular folk’ kinda thing. Like, it’s either gorgeous glossy photo spreads in Vogue, or it’s interviews about married life complete with a ballerina’s favorite pork-chop recipe she makes for her danseur husband.
Kind same with actors, like, do we want to see them all did up and flawless on a giant screen, or do we want to see them caught by paparazzi looking fat and holding a Venti Frappacino?

You would think the Internet would kind of help to sort this kind of thing out. I mean, if everybody’s got a blog, and Twitter, and everyone else and their mother can read it, that leans toward the ‘just regular folk’ aspect, like, we’re all human together, but it feels like maybe having access to more information on your favorite star feeds into hero worship.

I don’t know.
I’m not even sure where we are right now in the cycle: are ballet stars currently on a pedestal? Or are they holding Starbucks.

Here are two books:
Dance As Life, A Season with American Ballet Theatre by Franklin Stevens, copyright 1976, Harper&Row Publishers
Mr. Stevens writes about being a dancer, and later being around dancers for a season. One thing I remember in particular from this book is his description of being young, consumed with lust, and being told to put his hands all over a gorgeous, barely clothed young lady while a room-full of people looked on. Oh, the mortifying hilarity!
And the other is
The Dancers’ Body Book by Allegra Kent, copyright 1984 William Morrow and Company.
The subtitle sums it up pretty well, “With Trade Secrets on How to Become and Stay Slender, Healthy, Strong and Energetic from the Great Ballet Stars- Merrill Ashley, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Fernando Bujones, Jacques D’Amboise, Suzanne Farrell, Patricia McBride, Edward Villella, Heather Watts, and many others.
This book is really the ultimate in ‘just regular folk’. It’s full of interviews with dancers about their diets, how they lost weight, and yes, what they cook for their husbands. I love it for the kind of gossipy, intimate, hey-girlfriend style body talk, but the diet tips are all about denial, and seriously, just looking at this book makes me want a milkshake.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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7 Responses to How do you like your celebrities? Pedestal, or Regular?

  1. Pingback: World Spinner

  2. Mia says:

    I loved that movie, by the way. The Company. It was kinda weird in a good way. Anyway, I was also a little baffled by the casting of Neve Campbell, but then I found out she studied ballet as a child at The National Ballet School of Canada until about sixteen or so, then quit ballet for acting, and then apparently went through a two year intensive crash course with the Joffrey before filming began. She’s got skills!

    • Oh man, I loved that movie too. That scene where they’re in a bar with a pool table and Neve Campbell just sinks all the balls in a row, just bam bam bam, totally hot.
      I had heard that she danced as a kid but didn’t know she was serious, or that she spent two years training! That is an amazing amount of lead-time for a movie, I’m impressed!

      • Mia says:

        Yeah, there was quite a lot of planning that went into that movie, especially the with the involvement of the Joffrey. I have my favourite piece from it, White Widow, posted in my blog. All I can say is hooray for thoughtful, quiet, and delicate ballet movies (as compared to say, Center Stage, which I still love anyway) and hooray for the death of Party of Five. Her talent was wasted on that piece of crap. Although…where the flip is Neve now? Hmmmm…

        • Nichelle says:

          The Company is one of my favorite dance films – not one for everybody but some great scenes (dancing and non-dancing). Neve definitely did her time in ballet – she coulda been a contender. Way better dancing than most other actors playing dancers.

  3. Ali B. says:

    I love the Company! And some of the other commenters are correct: Neve danced for years and years and certainly deserved the role. She knows her stuff!

  4. Three cheers for Neve! And a wi-five!

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