Ballet and blackface

The Man

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Misty Copeland, an American ballerina (who is herself black, I gather) recently called out Russia's Bolshoi theater for use of blackface in a production
http://instagr.am/p/B5zGh5cjbmI/ Now, her Twitter and Instagram feeds are full of pissed off Russian patriots spitting back vitriol at her and her mainly English-speaking supporters, and defending their girls. Including, unfortunately, I've seen, some posting pics of monkey and bananas and all that, and even throwing around the blood "n-word", which just proves her damn point... :rolleyes:

RT has chimed in, of course: Social justice or bullying a child? American ballerina rounds up Instagram mob to lecture 14yo Russian dancer on blackface

Copeland's post, however, also apparently inspired this story, from another black American dancer: I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

I also recall this story from 2013, about a black American young lady from Detroit, who went to Russia to study ballet, and what she faced there: U.S. Ballerina Faces Discrimination at Bolshoi Academy

It's not just Russian ballet which has racial issues, but in Europe in general, really, as this recent article talks about: Blackface and Fu Manchu moustaches: does ballet have a race problem?

I honestly am not really even sure what/how to comment on this.

You have, on one side, Americans upset by Russian ballerinas in blackface. And on the other, Russians pissed off by what they see as arrogant American interference in their cultural matters... That's what this is, to them, make no mistake about it. They don't see that their side did anything wrong (Well, do they ever, though? lol Look at the Olympic doping crisis, for example...)

It's complicated.

There are relatively very few black people in Russia. They do have a long history there though.

In the days of the Romanov Dynasty, it was not uncommon for Russian monarchs to have young African child servants, many of them - "gifts" from allied or friendly fellow Kings and Queens in Europe

One of them, who served Peter the Great, ended up becaming a nobeman; a renowned military engineer and general; and the great-grandfather of Russia's most iconic poet and playwright, as I detailed here: Should we be concerned about Whiteface?

Today, most black people in Russia are guest students from Africa, who come to Russian universities (education is cheap, yet decent over there), and have done so for decades, since the Soviet era

and also mixed race Mulatto children of relationships between these African students and local Russians; some of whom are actually famous, like Ekaterina (Katya) Keyru, whose dad came from Nigeria, I believe, and who has played for the national women's basketball team


The Russian Orthodox Church also maintains close relations, these days, with fellow Orthodox Christians in Africa, in Ethiopia, Uganda, etc (not only out of religious solidarity, but also with the geopolitical goal of muscling out their now rival Greek Constantinople Patriarchate from there...); so, these days, you have plenty of Russian clerics working in congregations in Africa

and, in turn, African priests also visiting Russia

and African students also attending ROC's Seminary Academies


Most Russians though have never seen a black person in real life, so, yes, there's much ignorance and casual bigotry, totally.

In popular culture too; for example, there's a really famous Russian movie from early 2000s, "Zhmurki", a drama-comedy about gangsters in a small town; and there was one memorable character there, I honestly don't know his actual name or if he even had one, in the script, everyone just remembers him as, literally Yefiop ("Ethiopian"), half African guy, (played by an actual Mulatto actor, not a dude in blackface, at least, thank God haha)


Poor SOB was the pun for so many cringe worthy, fairly racist jokes and puns in that movies, stuff that would never fly on this side of the pond, but is normal over there; for example, he himself never liked when people called him "Yefiop", and would always growl back "Ya Russkiy!" (i.e. "I am Russian!")

It's a popular meme over there, to this day

Because, you know, to the Russians, espeically the Slavs, it is hilarious when this dark skinned guy tries to identfy as one of them...

Etc.

Those Mulatto kids growing up there, most of em going to school where virtually nobody else looks like them, and in that kind of culture, yeah, they have to deal with plenty...

Even just getting called nyegr every fucking day, which is simply the main, common Russian word for black/African people, most Russians don't even consider it offensive. More progressive folks there HAVE tried to promote the term "Afro-Russians" (Afrorossiyane) instead, but, honestly, it ain't really catching on, so far...

Blackface is something that is also generally little known there, and not widely understood to be wrong either; you can find lots of examples of it in old Soviet movies


In modern day, back in 2017, for example, prominent Moscow blogger "Sasha Cat" (Alexandra Marchenko) also instigated a hell of a mutual hatefest on her social media feeds, between angry mainly black Americans and her own Russian fans (and nationalists who rushed to defend her even never having heard of her before lol), by appearing in blackface in a photo


Russians genuinely don't think there's anything wrong with this shit. And refuse to be lectured about it by Americans...

I don't know, maybe in 50 years things will be different over there....
 
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The Man

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I don't see the theater as being racist.

Leave it to some dumbass American Leftist snowflake to get offended over something in Russia.
I don't either, honestly.

Actually, they just strive for authenticity to the extreme, over there.

Meaning, if the production involves dark skinned characters, the ballerinas must resemble that, because Russian audiences do expect this...

And they don't have a lot of naturally dark skinned ballerinas there, obviously lol

So, you get shit like this...

Mr. Man,

I just saw the Mariinsky's version of La Bayadère. I love Russian ballet.
They are legendary. Mariinsky is the main rival school of Bolshoi, over there. Bolshoi represents Moscow, and Mariinsky - St. Petersburg. Two capitals, two national ballet institutions... Long been that way there...
 
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I don't either, honestly.

Actually, they just strive for authenticity to the extreme, over there.

Meaning, if the production involves dark skinned characters, the ballerinas must resemble that, because Russian audiences do expect this...

And they don't have a lot of naturally dark skinned ballerinas there, obviously lol

So, you get shit like this...



They are legendary. Mariinsky is the main rival school of Bolshoi, over there. Bolshoi represents Moscow, and Mariinsky - St. Petersburg. Two capitals, two national ballet institutions... Long been that way there...
Mr. Man,

What I enjoy about Russian Ballet is there is no PC there. Dancers are of one body style, and dance the classical methods. The temple priestess in La Bayandre was so thin, I swear you could see her backbone through the front. But an incredible dancer.
 

The Man

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Mr. Man,

What I enjoy about Russian Ballet is there is no PC there. Dancers are of one body style, and dance the classical methods. The temple priestess in La Bayandre was so thin, I swear you could see her backbone through the front. But an incredible dancer.
Lots of great talent there. But, unfortunately, also screwed up shit behind the curtains...

I recall this whole scandal, at the Bolshoi, few years ago...

Volochkova certainly landed on her feet from that though lol

Got herself a new pair of boobs, and is a famous socialite now, always sporting all kinds of fancy, expensive bling her many rich boyfriends shower her with haha

:D
 

the watchman

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I don't either, honestly.

Actually, they just strive for authenticity to the extreme, over there.

Meaning, if the production involves dark skinned characters, the ballerinas must resemble that, because Russian audiences do expect this...

And they don't have a lot of naturally dark skinned ballerinas there, obviously lol

So, you get shit like this...



They are legendary. Mariinsky is the main rival school of Bolshoi, over there. Bolshoi represents Moscow, and Mariinsky - St. Petersburg. Two capitals, two national ballet institutions... Long been that way there...
Russians aren't so isolated that they don't know that, generally speaking, American's find "blackface" offensive. How do I know this? Because during the 2016 election they used racial stereotypes to divide American's. They didn't always get it exactly right. But, they were sophisticated enough to know what would pit one American against the other racially. Now, I'd be willing to considered that it was intelligence operatives that were responsible for most of it. But, I also recall way back in another life being briefed on Russian propaganda that criticized American's about how divided we are racially.
 

The Man

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Russians aren't so isolated that they don't know that, generally speaking, American's find "blackface" offensive. How do I know this? Because during the 2016 election they used racial stereotypes to divide American's. They didn't always get it exactly right. But, they were sophisticated enough to know what would pit one American against the other racially. Now, I'd be willing to considered that it was intelligence operatives that were responsible for most of it. But, I also recall way back in another life being briefed on Russian propaganda that criticized American's about how divided we are racially.
True. And nationalist groups, and even some personalities on state propaganda TV channels used all sorts of racial insults against Obama, at times, when he was US President, too


You would think that a former Olympic champion figure skater (and now a bloody lawmaker in the Duma) would know better, but...
 

The Man

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BTW, it's not just Slavs ("whites") attacking this poor American ballet lady; minorities too, Russian Muslims :D
("Fuck off from our ballet. thanks." lmao)

The way it's always been there too, they may hate on one another in private, at home. Even brawl among themselves occasionally.

But God forbid any damned foreigner dares go after their Motherland...

They'll all come together real quick

:D

This is a good post IMHO
 

The Man

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Found another interesting article: Cultural Kidnapping in the World of Ballet

Especially this paragraph fascinates me:

Don’t get me wrong, diversity in ballet is happening. It’s just not happening fast enough. Only up until 2015, the American Ballet Theatre had its’ first African American principal ballerina, Misty Copeland. Also just this year Charlotte Nebres was casted as New York City Ballet’s first black Marie for the Nutcracker. In addition, the Bolshoi Ballet does not have a single person of colour while the Royal Ballet only has four out of their ninety-six company members. Companies that are this well known should be using their platforms to include more dancers of colour and change the values that were once tied to European standards.
Apparently, Valery Argunov, a native Siberian, from Sakha-Yakutia



is not enough "of color", for her taste... lol

I swear, some Western people are so naive and ignorant about the wider world out there, they think all countries are the same, including, apparently, demographically, like, if there are lots of black people in America, there MUST be in Russia too haha
 
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