Raising the roof! Is there any such thing as a bad question?

I saw this perfectly horrible interview, supposedly with Vivien Leigh-she studied ballet, too! And she is grilled by London Observer and NYT‘s drama critic (young) Kenneth Tynan. I honestly could not watch more than a few minutes-just long enough to hear Mr. Tynan be given the floor in what was supposed to be her interview in which he makes the same (unfortunately) point that I did in my comments about The Red Shoes and Sylvie Guillem‘s recreation of ‘Bolero,’ and in the same post about Natalie Portman‘s portrayal of a dancer.

Before I thought about it, I responded to his position as one insulting Ms. Leigh, and considering the sleights to her acting ability that I had recently read about, I took offense. He insinuated that her parts could have been played better by real southerners in both Gone With the Wind and Streetcar Named Desire-namely her two greatest roles. He was a bit of a 3. Then I was embarrassed to realize this was a similar point to mine! Here was, undeniably, the most famous British actress of her time, if not one of the greatest, being questioned about her choice of roles, and defending her right as an actress to portray whatever characters she felt, and explaining that she had to look for challenges. He mumbled something about Japanese playing Chinese and so on. I really need to go back and force myself to watch the interview, if only as punishment for making a similar point.

To clarify. I do not think Natalie Portman’s portrayal of a dancer violated any rules about non-dancers playing dancers. i am only aggrieved for dancers that she did not give credit where credit was due-anymore than Vivien Leigh gave any credit to southerners for her portrayal. A lot of people think Gone With the Wind is not one of the greatest films in that it stereotypes blacks and makes them appear to be happy in their slavery. I think the film is one of my favorite films of all time, and I have read the book by Margaret Mitchell. Clearly, casting of Vivien Leigh was not a mistake and she probably deserved the Oscar she got. I questioned whether Ms. Portman deserved her Oscar, I am still out on that one. Ms. Leigh was doubled (even before she was hired) in many of the scenes-particularly from the fire scene in Atlanta, but others as well and no credit was given to the extras that I know of, but credit was given to the blacks in the film and they were not played by whites in ‘black face,’ which did advance some of their careers, although many of the players were considered fine actors already. If not for these films, how were blacks to be taken seriously, or taken at all, in films? How were they to make a living? I do not think The Black Swan did less for ballet actually. There is no such thing as bad publicity. Many of the dancers in The Black Swan may one day be noted for their dancing as a result of having very minor parts in the film, but I doubt it. I do not think the film itself was or will be considered as great one day as Gone With the Wind-but who can tell? The fact is, it is a film about dance.

Sylvie Guillem most definitely was challenging herself in the role of Bolero-again, how stupid of me! I should not have commented on her performance, copying, or lack of freedom in the role. Here is a woman at fifty-still dancing! She is an icon. We need icons in ballet, it’s just that we need more. Perhaps. But both of these performances have in common, to me, a greater place in copying the fine art of dance, in one form or another, than in bringing to life a role, whether acting or dancing is involved and I think that where art is concerned, i would rather see the latter than the former in almost any instance. But this ties together quite nicely my points, even if I do have to be categorized with the imbeciles!


Are you afraid of failure? (enough?)

Just a quick note to Shah Khan’s insightful Yale Graduation reading and his discussion to the graduating class about success. Is failure the key to success as he (and I) believe? Are people, who are learning from their mistakes, more likely to reap more success in the end? Are people who are generally more afraid of failure more likely to succeed? Is success sometimes accidental, or always? I quote, you always learn more from your failures than you do your successes and to truly appreciate success you have to experience failure-but I am not sure who said these things, so ingrained are they!


“Once you have tasted f…

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Leonardo da Vinci

― Leonardo da Vinci

Jean-Frederic Schall’s Dancing Ladies « Life Takes Lemons

Jean-Frederic Schall’s Dancing Ladies « Life Takes Lemons.


If it is not my right to …

If it is not my right to change ballet technique, then it is not your right to change the steps I give — enough said.



The most courageous act i…

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.

Coco Chanel


La Petite Loge – Jean Michel Moreau

Possibly the model is Marie-Madeleine Guimard a dancer and noted courtesan of the Paris Opera Ballet

File:La Petite Loge – Jean Michel Moreau.png – Wikimedia Commons.

Days 12-15 « Reality bytes and bites

Days 12-15 « Reality bytes and bites.



The competitive world of ballet | Stage | The Observer

The competitive world of ballet | Stage | The Observer.

Great article on the make-up and elimination process of the Royal Ballet Academy. Considers homegrown versus international students, ratios of such in company and impact on British dance. Though thought provoking, what many of us imagined. Unknown to us was that other schools, besides the Bolshoi, are nearly fully comprised of students from their own countries, while the Royal Ballet calls ballet “poaching” good policy and ballet a “global marketplace.”


Gene Kelly in ‘Cover Girl’ (1944) – Alter Ego Dance Sequence

So fluid and graceful-transitions invisible!



What causes pain in the tendon of the achilles heel when you flex and point?

Well, if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Injury, pain, something new very often, the more intensely you study or work in ballet. The question is, do you rest with every injury or pain that your child reports to you. For example, one month ago, while landing from a pirouette, and extending her foot in the back, the foot slipped, causing the weight to lean toward the outer side of the foot abruptly. This was a very minor sprain which hurt pretty badly and resulted in the rest of the week OFF. The next week, it was aching hips from stretching. The following week she tripped over her brothers suddenly extended leg and went down at a 90 degree ankle right on the kneecap-hard floor. Last night she said she must have tendonitis because her achilles tendon hurt on point. I was half asleep and dreamed about dancing, sudden and crippling injuries, with these thoughts pooling in my brain. I woke up two hours too early after having slept poorly. Think, think, think. Well, these are just the medium complaints a parent hears, aside from terrible colds, bleeding toes, painful hamstrings and other muscles, peeling feet, stinkfoot, bruised toe nails, falls, popping, back strains, not to mention the constant feeling by your child that perhaps one fall, one debilitating injury and they will not ever be able to dance again. Vitamins, diet, hair-down to which shampoos they cannot use because when they do their hair is too fluffy to put into a bun. It seems when everything is quiet, there is just no catastrophe.

We have had some of these before, and there are pains that last months and pains that last a few days.  That is pretty much how you distinguish them. The antenna are meant to go up at the mention. How each dancer handles other pain is down to the dancer. Mine has thrown away her spacers, gel toe pads and other paraphernalia in order to develop calluses and keep a monitor on the changes. She discovered she could dance for certain time periods at one level of activity and another, shorter length of time with more strenuous point work, but pain is a thermometer in ballet. It is just a question of whether it is in the red zone or blue zone. The more experienced dancer knows-or thinks she does-the difference. Thankfully, they tell you just before you fall asleep that they have a possibly crippling condition. They are supposed to, right? Tell you, I mean….

All day, I had to think of a way to work up to say, “by the way, that achilles pain (tension you can cut with a knife emanating from her) you mentioned (casually), is that a sometimes pain, or a constant pain, of the first time (having forgotten about the one associated with point shoes)? “S-o-m-e-t-i-m-e-s…., well, yes.” (Trying not to be pregnant pause), “Well, when does it happen-during a particular exercise? When you go on point, or in other exercises?” “When I am on point-once….” and when I point.” Suddenly “When did it start? You mean you did not tell me the first time?!” “Mom, it just happened once, last night!!!!” (Phew). “How bad was it?” “I don’t know, it just hurt when I went on point.” “I think it is your shoes!” “Me, too.” Truth? I can only guess.

Background and some further research rearding

“You have to strengthen.” “That’s what makes it hurt.” “What?” “When I point and flex-that is what makes it hurt.” “You cannot dance anymore if you have tendonitis-that is serious. You have to rest the tendon, you do not want to make it worse or chronic.” How can I strengthen it if that is when it hurts????” “Do rotations and improve your releve.” “I do. I shouldn’t have told you.”

Information on different kinds of achilles tendon pain can be found here:


I tell you because I cannot tell my daughter. Today I think every year of her age a brick is placed in that wall between us. She would be mortified if she knew that I discussed this openly with anyone-even a stranger. But she “should not have told” me!!!! What can she be feeling or thinking that she would not tell her best friend. And me-not wanting to pry, leaving her be, let her alone to learn, to cry, because she wants to be a ballet dancer. Should we let them? Is it cruel? When is it time to let go? Now? So young. Dancing is supposed to be a happy thing. How sadistic are we that we let them dance, to be an icon of self-victimization? Is it really that rewarding and addictive????Yes.

Some more information, and some good exercises, can be found here:

Click to access achilles_tendon_pain.pdf


Tamara Toumanova – Entrechats in ‘Swan Lake’ (c.1932)

One of the three “babies ballerinas of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Tamara Toumonova appeared in Invitation to Dance with Gene Kelly and Days of Glory with Gregory Peck!



Write an Opera Trailer 2012 – YouTube

Write an Opera Trailer 2012 – YouTube.

Tendus Under A Palm Tree | tendusunderapalmtree.com

Tendus Under A Palm Tree | tendusunderapalmtree.com.

Great interview with Stephen Manes, author of Snowflakes Dance and Swear.


Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet | The book that reveals how ballet happens . . . | Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet

Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet | The book that reveals how ballet happens . . . | Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet.