David Hallberg on CBS: An uplifting end to a year of dance in the mainstream

December 19, 2011

It’s been a big year for dance in the mainstream media. Around this time in 2010, NYCB ballerina Jenifer Ringer was eloquently defending herself on The Today Show, responding to Alastair Macaulay’s claim that she “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many.” This unfolded against the backdrop of Black Swan, which had just been released and would soon generate widespread debate—most visibly on ABC 20/20—about who really deserved the credit for the dancing in that Oscar-winning movie. In the giving-credit-where-it’s-due department, another controversy erupted in October when Beyoncé blatantly appropriated scenes from films by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and Thierry de Mey in her Countdown video, prompting heated discussion in the blogosphere and this report on ABC News.


Perhaps these kerfuffles—which, while raising significant questions, died down as quickly as they flared up—have paved the way for bringing national attention to genuinely momentous occasions in dance, like David Hallberg’s recent move to the Bolshoi Ballet. This past weekend, not long after Hallberg graced the set of The Colbert Report, CBS Sunday Morning ran this segment on the dancer’s journey from young Fred Astaire imitator (“When I didn’t have tap shoes, I taped nickels on the bottom of my penny loafers,” he tells CBS’s Martha Teichner) to beloved ABT star, to the Bolshoi’s first American principal. Hallberg talks with Teichner about the bullying that he endured as an adolescent, his must-have rehearsal item (warm-up boots), and the immense pressure of making his Bolshoi debut. He appears to be inhabiting his new role with a balance of humility and well-earned pride: “If I can relay anything,” he confides, on the subject of being bullied, “it’s that if someone has a dream and it isn’t the norm of what others are doing around you, it doesn’t matter. Reach for it, go for it, because I’m a shining example of that.”


Here at Dance Magazine, while we love a lively debate (including the ones mentioned above), we’re also glad to see dance making headlines free of controversy: no choreography thieves, no uncredited dance doubles, no slurs about dancers’ weight—just historic accomplishments, cultural ambassadorship, and an excuse to watch Stephen Colbert, in a suit jacket and tights, attempting a tour jeté alongside Hallberg himself.


—Siobhan Burke

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