Pretty much every possible thing you can do with a baby is controversial in some way, to somebody, including simple things that you’d think nobody would care about.
Like, How Are You Gonna Feed The Baby? (with my boobs) For How Long (one year) Where? (in public, topless, under a big neon arrow that flashes BOOBIES BOOBIES BOOBIES)
Ok to be fair it doesn’t seem like breastfeeding is all that controversial anymore. Seems like it’s pretty much assumed mammas are gonna nurse, unless they can’t for some reason, in which case the public consciousness agrees that we must support those mammas and not judge.
Or maybe that’s just the feeling here in Los Angeles.
But anyway, thinking about parenting controversies is fun and all but then I get distracted and start thinking about ballet and whether there are any big ballet controversies. Any balletical thing that gets people all in a twist the way baby stuff does.
And I thought about shoes? Like canvas slippers versus leather slippers?
But no, that seems like pretty much personal preference maybe influenced by local climate.
Different schools of ballet?
No, they all seem to respect each others methods publicly while knowing in their hearts that their way is the correct way. (Or maybe that’s just the Vaganova attitude.)
The most controversial post here on Adult Beginner, judging from the passionate comments it received, was the one where my midwives advised me to stop taking ballet during pregnancy. But that’s not exactly a ballet controversy, more of a pregnancy controversy.
So then I thought about twitter and what has had my twitter feed all up in a lather, and suddenly was like Aha! Apollo’s Angels! That epilogue! People were totally offended when the book came out because of something in the epilogue!
Sounded like the gist of what upset people was an assertion that ballet is dead, or something, which just seemed to me like kind of a challenge/flame-bait/prove-me-wrong-children type statement, I mean obviously the author, Jennifer Homans, loves ballet, she wrote a frikin 550 page book about it, she doesn’t want it to be dead, right? So she must be laying that out as a challenge? If that’s even what the epilogue really says?
I mean, I remember seeing tweets from people refusing to read the book at all, out of anger about whatever was in this epilogue, which is a mere ten pages out of an amazing, thorough, fascinating, informative book that has made me feel way less ig’nant about the entire history of ballet.
So I happened to be in the middle of the last two chapters, the ones on ballet in the United States, and was totally excited when I got to the end and it was time to read this Scandalous Epilogue.
And there are a couple of Oh Snap moments!
It’s titled The Masters Are Dead and Gone, which is just kinda like BAM! Right from the get-go,
And she’s not impressed with today’s performers,
And the main message I get is that ballet, as far as choreography and performance, is in a state of retrospection.
Kinda holding onto the past in death grip like how the Adult Beginner holds the barre during ronde des jambes. Holding desperately while waiting for a genius to come along and bring ballet into it’s next evolution.
Which I think is interesting because, like, I get that looking to the past strangles the future, but as an audience member, I really like seeing works from the past. I was thrilled to get to see Swan Lake and I would love to see Giselle or lé Sylphide, and I am totally excited that the Joffrey’s production of Rite of Spring is coming to town next spring.
Which doesn’t stop me from totally lol-ing when Homans refers to the process of recreating the lost choreography for Rite via contemporary reviews, notes, and sketches as a Travesty.
Hee! That’s right girl, you wrote the book, you tell it like you see it, I’mma still go watch that thing!
I think part of why I wanna see the old stuff is a desire to see something authentic, something rooted in The Real, The Original, even if I know it’s a recent choreography.
I’ll let myself be fooled.
After all the Ballet Russe was totally selling Paris on an overly exotic fantasy tourist vision of Russia, and Paris went nuts for it.
Another thing the epilogue talks about is the world of ballet having become homogenous, like, she uses the example of England’s Royal Ballet, which, in 2005, had only two British principle dancers out of sixteen. Which keeps it viable, but looses the sense of seeing British Ballet when you go to see the British Ballet.
Which is like when I am in New York and I go see American Ballet Theater, and read through the bios and realize I’m not seeing anything particularly American. I mean, I know Being American is not ABT’s focus, but, you know, it goes back to that authenticity thing, I wanna see something that has an opinion and is real and really represents Something.
And then on the other hand I think I probably don’t know enough to judge.
Which Homans sites as one of the problems of ballet nowadays, the average person doesn’t feel they know enough to judge.
Which is a shame because when you’re afraid to judge a ballet the way you would judge a movie, you’re taking ballet out of the realm of entertainment and putting it into another category. Elite World, or Fancy Stuff For Snooty People, or something.
I have to go return Apollo’s Angels to the library; it is due the same day as my baby, and I don’t want to incur late-fees on either.
PS, Dudes, I finished the book! Feel like I should get my name up on a wall somewhere, like when you drink every cocktail at Tiki Ti!
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