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Considering Chinese Stereotypes

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Hello TTB, I've read your piece and found it quite moving.  It made me stop and think.


I'm afraid to admit that I have never really thought how dancers (and other performers) feel about the how they are made to feel be making-up/wearing costumes/having a particular motif.  


For myself, as a member of the audience, I have never thought the dance or the makeup or costumes in any way represent real people in The Nutcracker.  It wouldn't bother me in the least if the faces of the dancers are natural rather than made-up but the choreographic motifs have been almost the same in almost every production of Nutcracker I have ever seen.  Does that need to be changed?

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Hi Jan,


Than you for your honesty.


As the NYT article relates, there are now two versions of "Chinese" for the Balanchine version of The Nutcracker, the more recent considering the issue of stereotyping. Companies who present Balanchine's The Nutcracker have a choice between which version they perform. And as I mentioned, Ballet West has inserted the San Francisco Ballet version of "Chinese" in lieu of the original choreography (which, by the way, I am excited to see next month when the company is here in DC). It has not yet been brought to my attention other companies that have made any adjustments, so if you hear of any I would love to hear about them.


In general, I think it is important for - and the responsibility of - choreographers to study histories and cultural traditions when their subject matter relies on them. So I suppose the particular sensitivity to the Chinese dance in The Nutcracker is part of a much broader issue.

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