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Edward Watson is upset about ginger jibes


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Currently listening to Nick Ferrari on LBC who claims an interview with EW has been published where he vents his anger at Alistair Macauley who carps on and on about his red hair and pale complexion.  Unfortunately Ferrari didn't mention which paper carried the interview so if anyone could supply a link, I'd very much like read it.

 

Macauley has form when it comes to personal attacks on dancers and his lack of respect towards certain dancers over the years, should have been highlighted long before now.  He has watered down his insults over time but they are still rife and beneath contempt.

 

Prejudice towards redheads does exist however and unfortunately a woman called Shirley called into the programme to complain about EW's red hair, saying he should wear a wig in R&J.  When Ferrari asked about Steven McRae she says it could have been him she saw, she couldn't remember (!).  As an Irish person I have a very large number of red-headed relatives, red hair is extremely common in Ireland and is said to indicate Viking ancestry.  Red heads in the Royal Ballet tend to have outstanding careers, anyone remember Davis Wall?  And how about the beautiful Moira Shearer?  Further afield the great Maya Plisetskaya was a red head too.  Enough with this ignorant prejudice!

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The article - also covered at the end of BBC 4's Today programme - is in today's Times and, thus, behind its paywall.  And for the record, Edward Watson did not mention Mr Macaulay by name - that was an assumption made by the reporter.

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This is the review of Alastair Macaulay on ‘Whelan/Watson: Other Stories’ Last July that seemed to upset him. But not so much mention about his appearances. 

 

His pale skin and auburn hair always make a theatrical impression; so does his fondness for hyperextension.

 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/07/13/arts/dance/review-whelan-watson-other-stories-pairs-stars-of-ballet.html

 

Also today's Times which is mostly beyond paywall

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/dancer-sees-red-at-critics-ginger-jibes-6df9qt2z0

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This has also been raised on Twitter with some confusion. Graham Watts was describing the radio show.

 

The links are here: Times today (paid) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/dancer-sees-red-at-critics-ginger-jibes-6df9qt2z0

 

The original New York Times review was in 2015:

 

Another article is here referencing Watson in 2013  as (British, auburn-haired, with strikingly pale skin) Mcrae as 'flame-haired'.

 

I think from the NYT link, the wording is very much as quoted in the FT. I think Mr Macauley just uses the phrase as a notable description, I think it shouldn't be an issue. However he is very critical of Mr Watsons technique and ability. Which I would find more distressing.

He was very complimentary about 'Flame Haired' mcrae.

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Quite honestly, I'd have thought that as far as Macaulay's concerned Watson's being a redhead is probably the least of his "sins" - he's made that all too clear :(.  But he's not the only one to have made adverse comments about Watson's colouring: I remember another critic, no longer writing, making some cheap shot about his skin colour which, if the equivalent had been transferred to Carlos Acosta, would have had people up in arms for being racist.  Similar comments have been made about Steven McRae too, I think. I've never seen why anyone should take exception to someone being "ginger", anyway, but perhaps some people feel that it's the only option left to them which doesn't have them immediately classed as racist. 

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As I suspected, a long article: I can't read it from there, but it's probably a couple of paragraphs at most about the redhead bit, and (hopefully) something more interesting in the rest, with the subeditor picking the "juiciest" bits for the headline.  The words mountains and molehills come to mind ...

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I have to say, Alastair Macaulay's response as printed in the Guardian doesn't exactly cover him with glory either.  I also note that the Guardian's policy on "fair use" quoting of copyright material seems to be rather more generous than this forum's.

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Reviews do of course frequently make reference to dancers' appearance - hair, complexion and general look (I think several reviews of Frankenstein mentioned Federico Bonelli's looks, one way or another?) - it's just a question of whether the reference is positive, neutral or - which it shouldn't be - negative.  I don't have a problem with anyone mentioning the colour of Watson's, McRae's, Salenko's, Guillem's, Kondaurova's, Ksenia Ovsyanick's, Kevin Emerton's etc. hair per se.

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As I suspected, a long article: I can't read it from there, but it's probably a couple of paragraphs at most about the redhead bit, and (hopefully) something more interesting in the rest, with the subeditor picking the "juiciest" bits for the headline.  The words mountains and molehills come to mind ...

 

 

Actually its very much about the topic of 'ginger hair' and critics criticising personal appearance. It starts with Watson calling a critic a T*** who keeps referencing his red hair, and a description of a critic who always describes EW's features in a disparaging way. It then moves a bit onto his role in Winters Tale. It says that EW doesn't state it is Macauley, but that he is the likeliest critic he is referring to. It then contains a response from AM who says that EW has had lots of positive critics before, and shouldn't 'throw a tantrum' about a review that criticise his ability, rather than his appearance.

 

AW also responds that he has no issue with hair colour, race, appearance etc.

 

It seems more a stoking of a fire between the artist and the critic, and even has a pull out box referencing other artist/critic public spats.

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I recall hearing that Natalia Osipova is naturally blonde but feels she has to dye her hair black because that's what people expect of a ballerina - which I find rather sad if it's true.

 

(This article   http://observer.com/2009/07/meet-new-abt-phenom-natalia-osipova/   makes passing reference to it in paragraph 4 but I can't find the actual source to substantiate this.)

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I also note that the Guardian's policy on "fair use" quoting of copyright material seems to be rather more generous than this forum's.

 

The Grauniad has money for lawyers.  If this forum gets sued, it will close immediately, so it's a prudent position to be more cautious.

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Wasn't Guillem on the red side as well?

 

I just cannot understand this sort of thing. Who cares what colour hair/skin somebody has if they are great expressive or brilliant technicians as dancers.....that should be the only thing that is important when reviewing.....but this seems so obvious for most ballet lovers I would think.

Critics should never descend to the personal level anyway when writing a review and stick to what they did /did not like about a particular performance/ interpretation of a role etc.

 

As it happens I've always tried to add some reddish tints of some description or other to my own hair.....used to henna it until it got too grey. Auburn would be my hair colour of choice.....if only!!

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"Actually its very much about the topic of 'ginger hair' and critics criticising personal appearance. It starts with Watson calling a critic a T*** who keeps referencing his red hair, and a description of a critic who always describes EW's features in a disparaging way. It then moves a bit onto his role in Winters Tale."

 

Okay, thanks.  I'm just wondering whether the entire interview was supposed to be in that direction, or whether other stuff is missing.

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I would say that Edward Watson's comparatively unusual appearance has served him very well in his career, and has been an essential part of it. That said, critics should be careful how they express negative views about dancers who are human beings and deserve to be treated with respect.

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I don't understand how the Times article arose. It was on the basis of an interview but all that seems to have emerged in print is the stuff about the nasty critic whom Watson despises for constantly referring to his looks.

 

Asked who had quibbled over his looks, he said it was a critic. “There’s one particular t*** who still writes, ‘Oh, he’s still there with his horrible ginger hair and his horrible pale skin’ and you just think, is it really relevant to talk about someone’s skin and hair in a review? I find that kind of ridiculous.”

 

Macaulay, assuming that he's the critic in question, is no lover of Watson's stage presence and the Times article quotes a review of the Whelan/Watson show which is not disparaging Watson for having red hair and pale skin but for what Macaulay perceives as his movement and acting qualities.

 

His pale skin and auburn hair always make a theatrical impression; so does his fondness for hyperextension. He is nonetheless a problematic, weak performer; his basic posture is awkward (he seems unsure about how to carry his head or his jaw), his rhythm and attack seldom excite, and his stage persona is freakish and overwrought.

 

One may not like or agree with Macaulay's criticisms in this case but they seem to have little to do with "ginger jibes". And Macaulay himself has been subject to virulent online attacks.

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Edward Watson doesn't have ginger hair if my understanding of the term 'ginger' is correct. As for his dancing, one of the quotes refers to the material Watson is given by the choreographer. Isn't this the key to what Mr Watson does on stage? He does as the choreographer instructs, he doesn't make it up as he goes along. Mr Watson seems to do a lot of dance that may come across as overwrought, because that is what he is given. 

I have often thought he would actually make a very good prince and would have liked to see him as Seigfried or in any role where he is not required to crawl about the stage wringing his hands and contorting himself in some angst filled trauma. 

Then again, I do not pretend to be knowledgeable in these matters. Perhaps he has been typecast due to his physique, not that he is unusual in that regard, perhaps just hyper flexible. Personally, I find him rather attractive and he has huge stage presence. 

Anyway, that's enough from me. I know what I like and I like what I see but I don't really know much more than that.

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SBF, concerning your #15:  For 'Grauniad' one needs to be of a certain age - though BBB is a good deal younger than myself.  There was a time, back in the 1980s I'd say, during which the Guardian became infamous for its number of typographical errors in print ... and some wag came up with 'Grauniad' as a version of the title that will stick with some of us till the crack of Doom.

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SBF, concerning your #15:  For 'Grauniad' one needs to be of a certain age - though BBB is a good deal younger than myself.  There was a time, back in the 1980s I'd say, during which the Guardian became infamous for its number of typographical errors in print ... and some wag came up with 'Grauniad' as a version of the title that will stick with some of us till the crack of Doom.

Didn't Private Eye come up with the 'Grauniad' for typographical reasons as you mention?

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Didn't Private Eye come up with the 'Grauniad' for typographical reasons as you mention?

 

Indeed it did.

 

Off topic but interesting is this from the Urban Dictionary website:

 

The Guardian newspaper earned its reputation for lots of misprints in the days of hot-metal printing when it was published in Manchester (it was originally called the Manchester Guardian), and the editions that appeared in London were very early editions brought down by train, before all the errors had been spotted.

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Well I knew Macaulay in the 80s when he was sidling around anyone who could help him become a critic. I can remember him quoting me, although to be fair he did admit that to my face.

 

I have got to the stage over the years that if he dislikes someone I will always give them the benefit of any doubt.

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