Ruediger Landmann in class at Queensland Ballet. Jason Starr, Courtesy Queensland Ballet.

Ballet Emoji Proposal Author Sets the Record Straight

Last month, dance writer Siobhan Burke tipped us off in Danceletter, her bi-weekly newsletter, to the fact that a ballet emoji was in the works, and we couldn't wait to share the news with you. Since then, we've gleaned a bit more information, and are now glad to let you know that the "pink loafer with ribbons" image that created an outcry from bunheads worldwide is NOT what the emoji will actually look like. Thankfully, the author of the proposal, Ruediger Landmann, reached out to us to set the record straight.


"This is a placeholder image for engineers, and not what anyone will ever see on their smartphones or apps," says Landmann, an Australia-based tech company manager and longtime ballet fan who began taking beginner lessons at Queensland Ballet's Adult Education Program a few years ago. Landmann also recently opened a barre fitness studio in partnership with his ballet teacher, Lydia Melmeth; his passion for ballet and his tech industry know-how made him the ideal person to make our emoji dreams a reality.

Landmann further explained that emoji are defined in a list called the Unicode Standard, which is maintained by a computer-industry body called the Unicode Consortium. The Unicode Standard is used to define how all writing systems, including letters and characters, are represented on all devices and platforms. For example, the code U+1FA70 now means "pointe shoe" according to the Unicode Standard. What that code will actually look like on the screen is up to the various hardware manufacturers and software companies. This accounts for why emoji look different depending on their platform (Facebook, iPhone, Google, etc.). When the Unicode Consortium publishes the list of codes for emoji, they include placeholder images to further clarify what the code means. This is where the infamous "loafer with ribbons" comes into play. This image won't actually be used on any device, but is rather a reference for engineers. Each tech company is now responsible for coming up with their own artwork to fit in with their own unique emoji set.

A big thanks to Landmann for righting our wrong; we hope that his explanation will quell any of your loafer-related fears. And now, for a final laugh at the mockup, you can enjoy Biscuit Ballerina's satirical reaction below.

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Brandt in Giselle. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Skylar Brandt's Taste in Music Is as Delightful as Her Dancing

American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt's dancing is clean, precise and streamlined. It's surprising, then, to learn that her taste in music is "all over the place," she says. (Even more surprising is that Brandt, who has an Instagram following of over 80k, is "in the dark ages" when it comes to her music, and was buying individual songs on iTunes up until a year ago, when her family intervened with an Apple Music plan.)

Though what she's listening to at any given time can vary dramatically, the through-line for Brandt is nostalgia: songs that take her back, whether to childhood, a favorite movie or a piece she's recently performed. Brandt told us about her eclectic taste, and made us a playlist that will keep you guessing:

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Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

NYCDA Is Redefining the Convention Scene Through Life-Changing Opportunities

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Courtesy The Joyce

Dance Magazine Chairman's Award Honoree: Linda Shelton

In an industry that has been clamoring for more female leadership, Linda Shelton, executive director of New York City's The Joyce Theater Foundation since 1993, has been setting an example for decades. As a former general manager of The Joffrey Ballet, U.S. tour manager for the Bolshoi Ballet, National Endowment for the Arts panelist, Dance/NYC board member and Benois de la Danse judge, as well as a current Dance/USA board member, Shelton has served as a global leader in dance. In her tenure at The Joyce, she has not only increased the venue's commissioned programming, but also started presenting beyond The Joyce's walls in locations such as Lincoln Center.

What brought you to The Joyce?

That was many years ago, but it's still the same today: It's a belief in and passion for the mission of the theater, which is to support dance in all of its forms and varieties—every kind of dance that you could imagine.

Diversity is so important in dance leadership today. How do you approach this at The Joyce?

Darren Walker said something interesting at a Dance/NYC Symposium, which was that The Joyce is a disruptor. It was nice to hear in that context, because we don't think of it as something new. We didn't have to change our mission statement to be more diverse. We've been doing this since day one.

Is drawing in new audiences and maintaining longtime supporters ever in conflict?

Of course. I call it the blessing and the curse of our mission. We do present more experimental companies that may attract a younger audience. But it's very tricky. You're not going to tell your long-term audience, "Don't come and see this because you're not going to like the music." We've had people walk out of the theater before, but it's a response. It's important to spark those conversations.

What experimenting have you done?

We've tried a "pay what you decide" ticket the past couple of seasons with some of our more adventurous programming. You would reserve your seat for a dollar and after seeing the show pay what you decide is right for you.

Do you have advice for other dance presenters?

Find opportunities to sit with colleagues from around the country. At Dance/USA there's a presenters' council where we come together and talk about what we're putting in our seasons and what we're passionate about. Maybe there are enough presenters to collaborate and make it possible to bring a company to New York or to do a tour around the country.

Also, remember what it's all about: making that connection between what's onstage and the audience. If we can do that, despite every visa issue and missed flight and injury and changed program and whatever else comes our way, then we should feel good about the job we're doing.

To purchase tickets to the Dance Magazine Awards or become a sponsor, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

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