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Subject: "ballet and celebrity" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2791
Reading Topic #2791
jhanner

05-06-02, 01:27 PM (GMT)
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"ballet and celebrity"
 
   LAST EDITED ON 05-06-02 AT 01:45 PM (GMT)

LAST EDITED ON 05-06-02 AT 01:33 PM (GMT)

It occurs to me today as I came across another piece on Darcey Bussell - do dancers employ publicity agents in the way other entertainment adn sports stars do. Or is this publicity handled by the Royal Ballet itself?


It is clear that dance marketing is becoming more sophisticated particularly as it tries to reach a broader market (eg the ENB poster campaign or the RNB/Australian ballet dancers featured in mens' magazine photo stories.

Whilst I would say that what remains key to attention is the ballet itself, it does appear that some ballet stars make good copy in magazines.

Whilst ballet needs publicity and there is an argument that any publicity that brings in audiences and raises the profile of dance is good there is a danger it can go too far the other way (celebrity for celebrity's sake in a media crazed age). I do worry that this type of publicity if taken to extremes takes away the focus on the dancer's performances and puts it on other aspects of their life. I suppose its a fine line between getting a sufficient amount of publicity and being over exposed.

I'd be interested to know what other people think of this -I dont remember how the press treated Fonteyn/Nureyev in their hey day but I would be interested to know if the press treatment was comparable.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: ballet and celebrity MAB 05-06-02 1
     RE: ballet and celebrity eugdog 05-06-02 2
         RE: ballet and celebrity MAB 05-06-02 6
             RE: ballet and celebrity Annelieseagain 05-06-02 9
     RE: ballet and celebrity Robert 05-06-02 3
         RE: ballet and celebrity Robert 05-06-02 5
             RE: ballet and celebrity sylvia 05-06-02 7
                 RE: ballet and celebrity Annelieseagain 05-06-02 11
             RE: ballet and celebrity Annelieseagain 05-06-02 12
                 RE: ballet and celebrity sylvia 05-06-02 13
                     RE: ballet and celebrity Annelieseagain 05-06-02 16
     RE: ballet and celebrity Helen 05-06-02 4
         RE: ballet and celebrity Helen 05-06-02 8
             RE: ballet and celebrity MAB 05-06-02 17
         RE: ballet and celebrity Annelieseagain 05-06-02 10
         RE: ballet and celebrity Paul A 11-06-02 26
     RE: ballet and celebrity jhanner 05-06-02 14
         RE: ballet and celebrity Annelieseagain 05-06-02 15
             RE: ballet and celebrity Robert 05-06-02 18
                 RE: ballet and celebrity Isobel Houghton 05-06-02 19
  RE: ballet and celebrity alison 05-06-02 20
     RE: ballet and celebrity katharine kanter 06-06-02 21
         RE: ballet and celebrity eugdog 06-06-02 22
             RE: ballet and celebrity jhanner 06-06-02 23
                 RE: ballet and celebrity Robert 06-06-02 24
                     RE: ballet and celebrity katharine kanter 07-06-02 25

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MAB

05-06-02, 02:35 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #0
 
   Well, if you know anything about Fonteyn and Nureyev, you'll remember that he defected publicly at a French airport in the most spectacular fashion and Fonteyn hit the headlines a few years later when her husband was severely injured in an assassination bid. Before that she had been arrested for gun running in Central America. Later still they were both arrested in a drugs bust. What copy! You couldn't make it up!

The press adored them; only Liz Taylor and Richard Burton and Onassis & Callas (and later Jackie O) competed with them for headlines and their onstage chemistry fuelled pages of speculation about their relationship.

I would judge that neither actually courted publicity and Fonteyn's handling of the press in televised interviews is a lesson of how to be utterly charming while saying absolutely nothing.

These days I suspect that much of the media attention given to Darcey Bussell is some sort of publicity ploy on the part of the ROH, though it does strike me as a little odd that we only hear about Bussell and not much if at all about her equally talented RB colleagues, so either this is short sightedness on the part of the ROH or Ms Bussell does indeed employ a publicity agent.


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eugdog

05-06-02, 03:05 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 05-06-02 AT 03:13 PM (GMT)

Publicity is essential to an entertainers career. And any publicity is good publicity- remember when Donnie Osmond was told to get arrested for drug possession!! Hugh Grant gained enormously from be arrested for soliciting a protest. I also suspect that the shoplifting caper of Winona Ryder is a publicity stunt to revive her (sadly) flagging career

The publicity Darcey gets rakes in 10 of thousands of pounds in extra income for her in endorsements and special gala peformances. Who could blame her for that? And the profile of ballet is raised.

Also many people just love the publicity they get. It is like a drug. Look at the way Diana, Fegie and now Posh Spice court publicity.

The problem I have with publicity is that it elevates those who are better at the game of publicity above the others.

I do not wish to go into a debate about the merits of Darcey. But I do believe that some other dancers were just as good as she was but never got the respect due to them. Celebrity distorts critical and fair evaluation of artists. Those artist who are young, pretty and female greatly benefit from it.

I have been more concerned about this phenemona more in clasical music. Ballet is about beauty so looks do matter!! And lets face it, Darcey is the best looking principal dancer in the RB (at least in my view and those of the PR dept) and she is English. This is a dream for any publicity machine.


The curious phenemena of people famous just for being famous is not really relevant. Darcey is a respected dancer with considerable personal achievement.


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MAB

05-06-02, 03:34 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #2
 
  
>I have been more concerned about
>this phenemona more in clasical
>music. Ballet is about
>beauty so looks do matter!!
>But in music I am
>concerned that younger and far
>less experienced musicians are pushed
>into the limelight at the
>expense of the older generation.


Couldn't agree more! A couple of years ago I went to see a Russian orchestra at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. A young and exceptionally attractive young woman was the soloist in Tchaikovsky's violin concerto. She made the worst error I have ever heard in the concert hall, going totally off key for almost thirty bars. I couldn't help wondering if back in Russia there weren't some aging unattractive musicians capable of playing beautifully and accurately passed over in favour of youth and beauty.

Perhaps ageism in the arts deserves a separate thread, it worried me a great deal when the Kirov "off loaded" its senior ballerinas a few years back and I was hugely disappointed that the more mature Zhanna Ayupova wasn't included in the Kirov galas last week. Don't forget that even the most talented of young dancers still need role models to look up to.


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Annelieseagain

05-06-02, 03:48 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #6
 
   >Perhaps ageism in the arts deserves
>a separate thread, it worried
>me a great deal when
>the Kirov "off loaded" its
>senior ballerinas a few years
>back and I was hugely
>disappointed that the more mature
>Zhanna Ayupova wasn't included in
>the Kirov galas last week.
> Don't forget that even
>the most talented of young
>dancers still need role models
>to look up to.

I didn't realise that Ayupova was "older" until I read the Nureyev autobiog recently. The two occasions I saw her in London she struck me as looking young and having an innocence about her dancing. I loved her work - such flow and musicality, very soft lines.


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Robert

05-06-02, 03:17 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #1
 
   I expect Darcy does employ an agent many stars do. If she does not the ROH press department and Marks and Spencers will be working on her(and their behalf).Presumably Sylvie employs an agent too, as she appears in adverts and they usually negotiate a good fee. Nuryev probably employed someone to hush up some of the stories circulating about him. Margot's life was so bizarre some of it was bound to leak out.


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Robert

05-06-02, 03:31 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #3
 
   Eudog
As someone who knew Hughie Grant, I do not think he welcomed or courted the unfortunate publicity he recieved in America. There is some suggestion that police officers sold that story to the press(probably acting through an agent!) Police and hospital workers have certainly done that here.
I agree with you regarding Darcy, dancers have a short career and need to make as much money and create a name before they retire.Most of us would do the same if we were talented and good looking.
P.S Why wasnt she dancing before the Queen, she is British, good looking well behaved and very talented, what happened to her agent? The dancers chosen were both from abroad, as was the choreographer and composer.


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sylvia

05-06-02, 03:37 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #5
 
   LAST EDITED ON 05-06-02 AT 03:44 PM (GMT)

>P.S Why wasnt she dancing before
>the Queen, she is British,
>good looking well behaved and
>very talented, what happened to
>her agent? The dancers chosen
>were both from abroad, as
>was the choreographer and composer.
>

I thought it was obvious that the timing coincided with the tour - she was needed in Australia and probably needed the rehearsal time too. I thought it was great that Zenaida got to represent the RB - a lot of people I talked to now know her name and want to see her dance in the full production. And this is around the world, not just the UK! It would have been nice for her to be partnered by a guy from the RB but I doubt they could spare anymore men (and tall ones at that!) Anyway, I hate to nitpick but I don't see the problem with using dancers and music from abroad since that was the case for many of the performers in both concerts. A lot of the Jubilee was about the celebration of the different cultures that make up Britain.


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Annelieseagain

05-06-02, 03:55 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #7
 
   Actually I do think it would have been better if the dancers had been british - and failing that both members of the company - but they were representing the leading british ballet company of the last 50 years, and that was the point. (anyway darcey and jonny are tedious in the extreme to watch). Interesting to note that the biog on the bbc website didn't credit Zenaida with principal status, though...

Back to the point of this thread - Darcey was courted by PRs to grace "events" at the start of her career because she was a famous (due to her sudden elevation from the corps) and pretty dancer, so would attract cameras, so would get press publicity for the events. As soon as she became a really big name, of course she got an agent for herself! She can't dance forever, she's bound to be putting fingers in other pies! Hey, if someone offered you a big advertising contract, wouldn't you take it? (and I don't think M&S come into the category of dodgy unethical businesses...)


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Annelieseagain

05-06-02, 03:56 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #5
 
   The dancers chosen
>were both from abroad, as
>was the choreographer and composer.
>

How much of that pdd did Sir Anthony choreograph himself?


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sylvia

05-06-02, 03:59 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #12
 
   LAST EDITED ON 05-06-02 AT 04:08 PM (GMT)

I don't think he did much to it - it looked like the same old Black Swan pdd I've seen everywhere! Maybe he adjusted it a little for the cameras and to fit into the ballroom.

And I still can't see why it would have been better for the dancers to have been British, especially since so much of the company (is it a majority?) now come from abroad.

And really straying from the topic here but I'm not letting this go unanswered - I can't possibly agree with what you said about Darcey and Jonathan being tedious! Did you see them in Giselle or Tryst this year? I don't think we see enough of their partnership!


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Annelieseagain

05-06-02, 04:37 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #13
 
   I haven't seen this pdd very often - I'm more familiar with the Act II one - but if it was broadly from his production I suppose he should be credited.

Re. the nationality - I suppose I just thought it would have been "nice" to show that we're not just a meal ticket for foreign talent but we do produce our own as well!

Sorry, but although Darcey is a very beautiful dancer I find her very dull in ballets with a plot (even a Petipa plot!) and I have only once found Cope at all watchable (as Belyaev last year - I was amazed at how good he was in that). I found their Cinderella pretty grim, for example. To me they are two dancers with very little charisma on stage.

But each to his own - I've heard there are those who were unmoved by Viv and Irek...


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Helen

05-06-02, 03:21 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #1
 
   I agree with MAB. The publicity accorded to a few dancers today is very different from the genuine, huge press interest there was in Fonteyn and Nureyev, who were both separately (and better still, together) regularly the subject of front page headlines. Fonteyn's arrest over her part in her husband's "revolution" happened before Nureyev came on the scene, and generated pages of copy and cartoons in many papers. Nureyev was big news from the moment he appeared - at one time a farce about a "defecting Russian ballet star" called "Chase Me, Comrade" ran in the West End - and his partnership with Fonteyn caused much speculation about whether this was actually an offstage relationship as well. Their arrest at the hippie party in San Fransisco in 1967 was world news. The premiere of "Marguerite and Armand" was also mainstream news, especially when it had to be postponed because Nureyev hurt his ankle (I think). I remember this being on radio and television news bulletins, as was her husband's shooting, which turned her into the ultimate tragic heroine.

It is difficult to imagine ballet dancers being treated like that today. The odd reported wedding or party in "Hello" is not at all the same thing. Most people in this country have barely heard of Darcey Bussell, and certainly don't know the other names that are familiar to ballet fans. Very different.


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Helen

05-06-02, 03:45 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #4
 
   Interesting point from Robert about Nureyev's private life. It was well known in stage door circles in the 60s that something was going on between him and Erik Bruhn, but I don't remember ever seeing this mentioned in the press. Was this natural good manners on their part - surely not! Homosexuality was still illegal then, so perhaps there was a conspiracy to protect him - I wonder?


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MAB

05-06-02, 04:57 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #8
 
   I don't think it was a conspiracy, I think the press was too busy trying to unearth a secret affair between him and Fonteyn or indeed with any other attractive woman he was spotted with such as his p.a. Joan Thring or his actress friend Monique Van Vooran.

In any case homosexuality was as you say illegal at the time and any accusations that he might have been gay would have landed a newspaper in court having to prove it. Do you remember when Liberace sued the Daily Mirror columnist Cassandra? I think the outcome of that would have stayed the hands of most of the showbiz editors.


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Annelieseagain

05-06-02, 03:50 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #4
 
   The Darcey/Irek problem in Manon was front page news - and this was around the time of the Gulf War!


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Paul A

11-06-02, 03:28 PM (GMT)
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26. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #4
 
   >The publicity accorded to a few dancers
>today is very different from the genuine, huge press interest
>there was in Fonteyn and Nureyev.
>
>It is difficult to imagine ballet
>dancers being treated like that
>today. The odd reported wedding
>or party in "Hello" is
>not at all the same
>thing. Most people in this
>country have barely heard of
>Darcey Bussell, and certainly don't
>know the other names that
>are familiar to ballet fans.
>Very different.

So true - and symptomatic of five minute wonder power of the personality superficial irrelevance that is presented as "news" on the newspages of allegedly serious media (Times, Telegraph).


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jhanner

05-06-02, 04:16 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #1
 
  
>These days I suspect that much
>of the media attention given
>to Darcey Bussell is some
>sort of publicity ploy on
>the part of the ROH,
>though it does strike me
>as a little odd that
>we only hear about Bussell
>and not much if at
>all about her equally talented
>RB colleagues, so either this
>is short sightedness on the
>part of the ROH or
>Ms Bussell does indeed employ
>a publicity agent.


I agree -you would not know that there were many other talented and attractive dancers in the company. I suppose the fact Darcey is a home grown British star who did have the "fairy tale" plucked from the chorus for stardom beginning adds to her appeal. However although Spanish born, Rojo has spent a good deal of her career here and is v.photogenic.

Also its the type of publicity - Guillem does limited interviews and a few qutie tasteful ads/Vogue photo shoots. The rarity value really adds to the interest here. I suppose there is a case to be made for using an agent to monitor the type of publicity you get. There surely has to be a point at which over exposure (rightly or wrongly) starts to affect how you're perceived as an artist. Wasnt the huge interest in Nureyev turned against him towards the end of his performing career to say that he'd lost his touch?


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Annelieseagain

05-06-02, 04:32 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #14
 
   >Also its the type of publicity
>- Guillem does limited interviews
>and a few qutie tasteful
>ads/Vogue photo shoots. The rarity
>value really adds to the
>interest here. I suppose there
>is a case to be
>made for using an agent
>to monitor the type of
>publicity you get. There surely
>has to be a point
>at which over exposure (rightly
>or wrongly) starts to affect
>how you're perceived as an
>artist.

Ah, but Darcey's publicity all goes to bolster the "what a lovely unspoilt girl she is" image whereas Sylvie's more limited publicity feeds her "reclusive difficult artist" image. Horses for courses!


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Robert

05-06-02, 05:49 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #15
 
   I thought everybody knew Nureyev was homosexual. His affair with Eric Bruhn was not so well known as his attempts to proposition hundreds of people(mainly men) for casual sex. No one apart from some of those propositioned really cared, what some objected too was that he sometimes hit people, he had a very violent temper.


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Isobel Houghton

05-06-02, 06:06 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #18
 
   >what some
>objected too was that he
>sometimes hit people, he had
>a very violent temper.


I think some also objected to the fact that he decided to keep his HIV status a secret, even from his casual partners while also refusing to protect himself or partners by adhering to safe sex practices. They also objected to his refusal to admit to his AIDS status even while dying and also posthumously.

But then of course such adult responisibility would have course have done serious damage to the wonderful fantasy world of ballet.

Go Darcy go!!!


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alison

05-06-02, 06:08 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #0
 
   I think a lot of dancers are becoming rather more publicity-savvy, and publications like Hello! and Okay! certainly help them. Certainly, I have reason to believe that some of them have fed little nuggets to the gossip columns themselves from time to time (usually because they're of so little interest to the general public that you doubt the columnist would have picked up on them themselves!). Whether any of them employ publicists as such, I don't know, but certainly I don't get the impression that everything is done by their company's press department.

I quite agree with jhanner's "I do worry that this type of publicity if taken to extremes takes away the focus on the dancer's performances and puts it on other aspects of their life." If they aren't careful, they can end up having their private lives as targets for the papers as other celebrities do, and I doubt that many of them would relish that. It's unfortunate but true that having a notorious(ish) private life can attract people to see you perform, but for all the wrong reasons. I wonder how many people booked for Anastasia Volochkova on that basis.

Eugene's "The problem I have with publicity is that it elevates those who are better at the game of publicity above the others" is also very true. I was saying to someone else only the other day that dancers who don't self-publicise don't seem to get the attention due to them nowadays, which is a real shame. It does seem that if you just concentrate on your dancing and don't court publicity you lose by it, although I can understand Joe Public booking for someone he's heard of in the papers rather than someone he doesn't know. Fine, as long as people's casting in roles doesn't depend on their names being well-known, but on their abilities.

It does seem to me that Darcey is particularly good at the publicity business (and that's not intended in a negative way). She does seem to turn up at these sort of high-profile events (and get her piccy on the front page of the Telegraph ) on a more regular basis than other RB dancers, or is it just that she's more photogenic and/or the RB's senior principal and/or the only British ballet "star" and so she's the one to get photographed? I don't know. But she generally does a very good job of representing the company in such things, and I imagine that not all the RB dancers would be so comfortable with having to do that.

>I have been more concerned about
>this phenemona more in clasical
>music. Ballet is about
>beauty so looks do matter!!
>But in music I am
>concerned that younger and far
>less experienced musicians are pushed
>into the limelight at the
>expense of the older generation.

(I think this was originally Eugene's quote, though I can't seem to find it!). Too true - excellent musicians such as Ida Haendel (extremely good violinist, but no longer young and pretty) are finding that they are indeed being pushed aside by younger, prettier and rather less experienced/talented performers who are far more marketable, I'm afraid. Never mind the interpretive depth, just check the visuals. Come to think of it, it does happen in ballet as well ...


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katharine kanter

06-06-02, 09:49 AM (GMT)
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21. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #20
 
   We have the case here at Paris, in the person of the étoile, Aurelie Dupont. She is a remarkably lovely-looking young woman, who has been all over the press, fashion mags and society pages in the last three or four years. She also happens to be an extremely good dancer.

Given her responsible attitude on stage - no cheating, no winsome cuteness, no playing on her good looks - I would imagine that, enjoy as she may the fashion shoots, general publicity, and perhaps, who knows, some financial spin-offs (although that's none of my business), she probably sees it as part of her duties as an étoile to represent the POB at charity balls and so forth. The more so, as there are other étoiles and premiers danseurs who shun the limelight, and will not coaxed out of their loge on any account.

Ballet is not enough talked about. If there are people like Mlle. Dupont, or M. Legris for that matter, who has done his share of appearances at charity events as well, who have got the energy to keep their dancing right up there, while keeping the POB square in the public's eye, I say more power to them.


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eugdog

06-06-02, 11:43 AM (GMT)
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22. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #21
 
   On a slightly lighter note I would love to see the reaction of the press if, as a publicity stunt, a ballerina did allow herself to get busted for a drug offence. Imagine the headline "BALLERINA BUSTED!!!!"

The press would love it- remember when there was brawl on the flight carrying the RB home from their tour of asia. It made front page (even a cartoon was done of it) - even if only stagehands were involved in the brawl.

So if there is any aspiring ballet dancer who cannot break into the lime light - now is your chance.

Despite what I said about all publicity is good publicity - I would not recommend that Darcey try out this stunt!!!


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jhanner

06-06-02, 12:07 PM (GMT)
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23. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #22
 
  
>
>Despite what I said about all
>publicity is good publicity -
>I would not recommend that
>Darcey try out this stunt!!!
>

Nor would I - I expect the most likely drug to be found in Darcey's possession is Calpol!!


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Robert

06-06-02, 03:42 PM (GMT)
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24. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #23
 
   I am not sure about Sylvie's tasteful photo's, she insisted on supplying her own pictures to French Vogue and they were not tasteful at all, but I am sure the suprise and discomfort of Vogue was all good publicity. Good luck to her.


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katharine kanter

07-06-02, 01:51 PM (GMT)
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25. "RE: ballet and celebrity"
In response to message #24
 
   Robert, you are always so very funny ! They should put your sense of humour into cloud-form and bottle it !

Incidentally, reminds me of Clement's great line this week about "bum-numbing tosh", or was it "bumb-numming tosh"...anyway, you get the point...


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