BALLERINA BACKLASH

Deborah Bull, a principal dancer with London’s Royal Ballet, has publicly criticized the controversial new book “The Student Dancer” and pulled out of her planned involvement in its launch. The result of a 15-year study, the book claims young dancers are mentally and physically damaged by their intensive training and are commonly pressured to become anorexic. – The Independent

POINTED CRITICISM

A new 15-year study in Britain finds that training for ballet dancers not only damages young dancers by pressuring them to become anorexic, but produces “incredibly emotionally immature youngsters who are ill equipped to cope with the complexities of life beyond their narrow, rarefied existence. Low self-esteem is rife in a milieu where no tutors are required to undergo training, and teaching is often archaic.” – The Guardian

THE STATE OF A LEGEND

The Bolshoi Ballet has been selling out and winning raves on its current tour, reinforcing its stories place in the ballet world. “Every large performing arts center in the nation will no doubt shortly be calling Moscow to ask about 2002, and there’s plenty of new repertory to choose from. However, the six Pavilion performances raised major questions about the current artistic level of the Bolshoi and, in particular, the quality of its coaching.” – Los Angeles Times

POPPING WHEELIES

Is there something odd about dancing in a wheel chair? “When you think about it, theatrical dancing is a pretty odd thing all by itself, remaking and deploying the body in ways it wouldn’t intuitively go. Physical comics, mimes, acrobats, masks, and surrealism have always been at home on the dance stage – along with, more recently, flying bodies, moonwalkers, and okay, wheelchairs. All these exaggerations and ultra-specializations of human behavior can enrich that peculiar ability dance has to superimpose the imaginary on the real before our very eyes.” – Boston Phoenix

MORRIS MAJOR

Mark Morris Dance Group celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. Still as flamboyant and opinionated as ever, Morris is one of the most sought after choreographers in the business and continues to churn out dazzling new dances. “Over the years his choreography has changed along with his taste in music. In the beginning it was provocative but playful, howling with a homosexual humour and sticking two fingers up at the more ascetic work of his contemporaries. Later, that sense of fun was allied to [his] talent for making jubilantly musical dance that could be as profound as it was frisky.” – The Sunday Times (London)

DANCING ON EDGE

Just what do arts competitions really prove anyway? This week the New York International Ballet Competition begins. “All dance competitions have a paradox at their core: on one hand, the dancers struggle to ‘do it right,’ to understand what is expected of them, and on the other, the judges hope to find dancers who will deliver the unexpected within a formally controlled context.” – New York Times