Ripe for Recovery
Thank you for your cover story on NYCB principal Janie Taylor (July) and her battle with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). For people with ITP and their families, life can be an emotional roller coaster of hospitalizations, blood tests, and treatments that can make them feel worse than the disease itself. ITP has a profound impact on quality of life, especially for an elite athlete or performer like Janie. Something as small as a bump on the head or a nose bleed can quickly turn into a serious situation. As a former ITP patient, I was moved by Janie’s quote, “This day I can just cry all day. But tomorrow I have to go back. I will not let this thing defeat me.” She is an inspiration to ITP patients, and I thank you for shining a light on this little-known disease.
Executive Director, Platelet Disorder Support Association
I was excited to read “Ballerina, Interrupted,” but disappointed that it didn’t go deeper into the steps that Janie Taylor took to recover and come back full force. As a dancer who has been “interrupted” several times, I could identify with her—the tears, the hopelessness, the self pity! It would have been great if Taylor had shared more details about her injuries and what she did to triumph over them. I personally have had limited access to doctors, who tend to sum it up with “no more dancing for you.” While I’m very happy for Taylor, any advice for the rest of us?
DM Responds: Bebe Neuwirth has set up The Dancers’ Resource, offering medical, psychological, and financial assistance for performers just like you. See the sidebar to our Fame cover story, “Bebe’s Cause: Hurt Dancers,” or click here to watch a video explaining the organization.
More to Dance?
I’m a theater/communications major who has always been a dancer. I have become interested in how dance companies are run. Which dance organizations have a strong development department? How are dance companies overcoming this year’s economic struggle? Are there booking agencies in which dance management jobs are possible? I’d like to know what other jobs are out there in the dance world.
Katie Marie Peters
Destrehan/New Orleans, LA
DM Responds: As dancers and editors, we hear you loud and clear! See September 2008’s “Beyond Performance” supplement to read about dancers with many related careers—and find out which schools offer dance-specific arts management programs. Visit dancemagazine.com to download a PDF. And see the newest “Beyond Performance” supplement in this issue.
Shorty Is a 10
In June, Wendy Perron blogged about two terrific, but petite, dancers taking class at NYIBC. She asked readers to send in their thoughts about the prospects for shorter ballet dancers, keeping in mind the many greats of the past who might have not gone on to success had they been held to today’s standards. See her original post at dancemagazine.com/blogs/wendy.
Artistic directors used to choose dancers based on talent and ability. Now, if you’re under 5’5″, you aren’t looked at. If an earlier generation of artistic directors had made this limitation, we would never have seen wonderful dancers like Suki Schorer and Susan Pilarre onstage.
As ballet master with the Royal Swedish Ballet, I am part of the team that chooses our dancers. Unfortunately, the trend of excluding shorter dancers is true. Large classical companies seldom take these young dancers at a higher level than the corps. So, while there are exceptions to the rule, we try to hire dancers who are lagom (“somewhere in the middle” in Swedish). It’s sad but true.
A dancer should be judged by her performance, her technique, and her lines—great lines don’t have to mean tall. I hope these standards change because too many female dancers have trained for too long only to be told they are not tall enough.
Correction: The photo accompanying the National Choreographer’s Initiative in July “Vital Signs” was mislabeled. The piece is Shortened Suite by Edmund Stripe.