How Far Is Too Far?

Recently, the ballet world has been abuzz over Alastair Macaulay's controversial review of NYCB's Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle's performance on the opening night of Nutcracker.  He wrote that Ringer "looked as if she'd eaten on sugar plum too many" and that Angle "seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm".  I'm not going to go into the controversial and oft-discussed topic of weight as it pertains to ballet, but I do want to talk about what it feels like, and what to do when a critic has gone too far.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in this blog that critics are everywhere, and that it's important to be able to tell the difference between those whose insight will benefit your dancing, and those who don't have anything constructive to tell you.  However, more often than not, you will have a teacher or a fellow student who will step over the line between what is simply not useful and what is hurtful.  A friend of mine once went to an audition for a company in New York City, but unfortunately didn't make the cut.  Instead of just leaving it at that, though, the company director wrote "too heavy" on her resume, and then proceeded to give it back to her after the audition.  Talk about crossing the line--wasn't rejection enough?  Being able to influence the development and careers of young dancers is a responsibility that comes with a lot of power, and this woman certainly abused hers in this case.

 

I believe that the people that offer unnecessary and hurtful criticism only do it because they can, without having to be afraid of the repercussions.  Teachers and newspaper critics alike, while they may be knowledgable and qualified to give instruction and analysis, are mostly uncensored in giving their opinions.  When they go too far, and end up being hurtful, rather than constructive, you have to be able to see that the problem is with them, not with you.  Their bad manners are not your fault, and you certainly shouldn't trust the judgment of someone who cares so little about how you feel about yourself and your dancing.  You should feel inspired to improve your dancing--not shamed into it.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

7 Eco-Friendly Choices Dancers Can Make to Green Up Their Lifestyles

Ballet dancers are known for their empathy and willingness to improve, so it is no surprise that many are educating themselves about the environment and incorporating sustainable habits into their lives. "I recently read that there are more microplastics in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy. That really hit me," says American Ballet Theatre corps member Scout Forsythe, who has been making an effort to be more environmentally conscious.

Although no one can fix the climate crisis on their own, we can make small, everyday changes to help decrease waste, consumption and emissions. Here are some suggestions for dancers looking to do their part in helping our planet.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Alexandra McMaster

Start Your Dance Day With This Delicious Berry Breakfast Crisp Recipe

When it comes to breakfast, I want it to be easy and convenient but still taste delicious. My Berry Breakfast Crisp is just that. You can bake the crisp on the weekend as meal prep, then enjoy it throughout the week cold or warmed in the microwave. It freezes well, too!

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks