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Traditionally stoic, angelic, and completely silent, ballerinas are now spinning in the other direction, chatting it up at City Ballet performances to “humanize” their art, according to the Times. What happened to the robotic mystique of the seemingly unshakable dancer?
Months ago, the Times reported that ballerinas are Tweeting, but now they’re interacting with the audience in person — how 20th century. Call us old-fashioned, but isn’t one of the best things about ballerinas their lack of human frailty?
“Ballet has always had this stigma, this mystique, this standoffish art form that you couldn’t touch,” Peter Martins, the company’s ballet master in chief, told the Times. He said the new push on audience interaction is “about breaking barriers,” and that the idea sprang from audience research including surveys, focus groups, and interviews — though he said even some of the City Ballet’s 24 principals are reluctant to chat it up.
The pre-show talking removes some of the mystery of the traditionally impersonal performance, but it also increases curiosity about the lives behind the curtains. So, is this actually heightening the mystique of the ballerina by giving only a slight insight into their alleged humanity?
On Wednesday Ms. Mearns and Joaquin De Luz answered questions in front of about 75 people in the first ring. These listeners learned that Ms. Mearns was shown little appreciation by her teachers at the School of American Ballet and that she has a puppy, and that Mr. De Luz studied bullfighting, paints and calls his mother before every performance.
It’s a good thing the dancers don’t address audiences the way they address Twitter followers in another trend that the Times says is “making ballet dancers human.”
The Times lists some sample tweets:
“Hi, I’m Devin and I’m an MRI-aholic.”
“Once again I took 2 days off this week. My body is wrecked. At the chiropractor now getting fixed.”
“What you didn’t know- fell in my dress reh. Fri, tweaked my foot, and couldn’t finish! Thurs was the first time I did the whole ballet!”
“Don’t let me be fat.”
Speaking of “Don’t let me be fat,” Michele Wiles, principal with the American Ballet Theatre, was featured in New York Magazine‘s New York Diet a few years ago. It was fairly healthy and normal, but we wouldn’t want to think about her scrambled eggs and everything bagels while watching her dance.
In general, we love the ballerina mystique — feet that never hurt, bodies that are naturally thin, hard work that is only evident in pristine performances — but maybe it’s time the glass should be shattered. We’re just not sure that we’re ready. Ballerinas, please don’t talk about what you had for breakfast, or how bad your toes hurt before a show — talk about a buzzkill.