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Francesca Hayward in British Vogue

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I believe Hayward has said on a few occasions that she doesn't define herself/want to be defined by the colour of her skin, or something close to that (although she is of course entitled to change her mind in the future!)

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2 hours ago, alison said:

I believe Hayward has said on a few occasions that she doesn't define herself/want to be defined by the colour of her skin, or something close to that (although she is of course entitled to change her mind in the future!)

 

Exactly what I was going to say, Alison. I believe that she went as far as saying that when it was put to her in, I think, a BBC interview, she felt as though we had taken a step back of around 1,000 years as she had never considered herself to be in any way different from anyone else.

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2 hours ago, alison said:

I believe Hayward has said on a few occasions that she doesn't define herself/want to be defined by the colour of her skin, or something close to that 

 

Indeed,  in fact she says in this Vogue edition "I’m very proud of the colour of my skin and that I’m inspiring people from all backgrounds, but I think it will be great for the next mixed-race or black female Principal dancer that she doesn’t have to be asked about that."  (my emphasis). 

 

Perhaps the best change she can inspire is for  people to respect the wishes of those, like her,  who don't want their racial background to be constantly  referred to or raised on their behalf  by others, for whatever motive. 

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35 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

Perhaps the best change she can inspire

 

I should add "...other than inspiring people in the beauty and excitement of ballet, of course, whether as participant or watcher".

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And to be honest, this isn't really about skin colour at all.  The beautiful Yasmine Naghdi has skin that is a bit darker than Francesca Hayward's, but this fact is never mentioned, and she gets no press attention because of it. She is clearly the wrong ethnicity.  The press attention she gets is because she is a truly wonderful artist, as is Miss Hayward, and THAT is all that should matter.  It's other people bringing all this stuff up;  as mentioned above Miss Hayward just wants to be recognised for her achievements as an artist....and rightly so.  No-one ever mentions the colour of Miss Naghdi's skin, and I don't see why they should for Miss Hayward either. 

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I can actually identify with Hayward's sentiments. I'm half-Turkish and half-black-American. But I identify primarily with Turkish culture,  and never identified myself by my skin color or saw myself as a color. That's what having a Turkish mother will do to you! Ha. Turks don't care much for ethnic differences given the heterogeneous population in Turkey but rather culture given their very culturally-based nationalistic sentiments. In fact, in Turkey,  even if only one of your parents is Turkish you will still be accepted as a Turk. Can't say the same for America who adheres to the one-drop rule regardless of your light coloring or more "European features." Indeed, living in America will eventually force you to understand that although your colorblind, the society there isn't. While in the UK racism may be more subtle, in America it's very blatant institutionally yet covert culture-wise (quite a weird combo!). As a result, Americans are much more race conscious and conscious of discrimination, and are thus likely to see Hayward's accomplishments as one of the black race. After all, in America's eyes, she is just black (which is in fact odd for mixed-race Americans because most black Americans are between 75-85 percent black. So, funny enough, if you are mixed you'll end up actually being more of your non-black parent).  

 

Anywho...Sorry for my rant! 

Edited by HappyTurk
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Without seeing the Vogue article, meaning that I might be getting hold of the wrong end of the stick, I'm wondering why Miss Hayward agreed to take part in this project, if she only wants to be seen as a dancer without the context of being mixed-race. She's an outstanding dancer, but in that respect she isn't really an agent of change; she came up through the Royal Ballet School, she isn't the youngest company member ever to make Principal, she isn't the first to take time out to participate in another type of performance (just thinking of Leanne Cope here). I'm sure her participation will expose people to the notion of classical ballet who might not have given it much thought before, which can only be a good thing. But the reason for her inclusion has to be her ethnicity, which apparently is something she wants to downplay.

 

On the other topic that was discussed earlier in the thread - one of the reasons why at least some media outlets insist on referring to the royal ladies as Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton, and Camilla Parker-Bowles is search engine optimization. Basically, more clicks, more eyes on the ads, more money in the pockets of the owner of the publication. In one of the Facebook royalty groups I belong to, the editor of a fairly well-known online royalty site was taken to task for article headlines about Kate Middleton, years after the Cambridge wedding, and she said that the owner required it because of search engine optimization. It's really annoying, but it isn't going to stop. Unlike most of the other monarchies, women marrying into the royal family don't just get the Princess title in front of their own names. I'm pretty sure that if she was Princess Meghan, that's how she'd be being referred to now; Duchess of Sussex is apparently too impersonal or something.

Edited by Melody
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I don’t know Francesca Hayward personally (and don’t think any of us do) but to add a few comments to the above -

 

She started on her instagram that she has read vogue since she was a child, and so appearing not just in the magazine (which she has done previously) but on the cover (albeit as one of many) is a big deal to her and so I doubt she would have turned down the opportunity. 

 

I agree the whole focus on skin colour may be seen as ‘backwards’ in the sense that by focusing on it we don’t just ‘ignore it’. And I agree and understand the quote from Hayward referenced. However it is undeniable that race is still an issue whether subtle or not when you look at various socio-economic factors and measures, and so I don’t think it’s a bad thing for there to be a focus on mixed race women making a change. Let’s face it most actors/famous/models people etc are still predominately white although I think a lot of progress has been made in recent years with a positive focus on diversity. (Also not all on the cover are black/mixed race, Arden, Thunberg and Fonda are very white and Hayek is Hispanic so to say there is a focus on race here I think is a bit much, yes there are majority black/mixed race people but not all.)

 

I personally am glad to see Hayward featured. I agree ‘forces for change’ may be the wrong title as Hayward isn’t a ‘campaigner’ or anything like that but let’s just be pleased for her because she clearly is pleased to be featured, and hope this leads to more exposure for her and other ballet dancers/productions etc in future. Perhaps there was an ‘ulterior’ motive in featuring her because of her race - but I also think she is just the most high profile ballerina at the RB right now because of Cats/previous Vogue exposures/the fashion collaboration she did with lululemon etc. I think initially I admit there may have been focus on her in this sense at the beginning of her career because she was mixed race, and also British (and it helps she’s very beautiful!), but I think/hope we’ve moved on from that now and she’s just well known as an amazing dancer.

 

Questions about race are reductive on one level yes, but if she does inspire young black/mixed race children into ballet even if that isn’t necessarily her aim/focus is this a bad thing? I have a black friend and whilst I don’t wish to speak on her behalf (or on behalf of black people generally!) I invited them to their first ballet and they were really pleased and enjoyed it, but made the comment that black people usually don’t go to ballet as they don’t think it’s ‘for them’ and when you look at ROH audience it is predominately white. So having black/mixed race dancers like Hayward/Acosta/Sambe if it encourages more people to watch/do ballet regardless of skin colour etc can only be a positive thing. 

 

In short - I get it must be annoying/boring/reductive to be the ‘mixed race’ ‘non-white dancer’ ‘black dancer’ etc and we shouldn’t focus on this alone but on them as a person/dancer. But understand that this is important to some people. 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Richard LH said:

 

Indeed,  in fact she says in this Vogue edition "I’m very proud of the colour of my skin and that I’m inspiring people from all backgrounds, but I think it will be great for the next mixed-race or black female Principal dancer that she doesn’t have to be asked about that."  (my emphasis). 

 

Perhaps the best change she can inspire is for  people to respect the wishes of those, like her,  who don't want their racial background to be constantly  referred to or raised on their behalf  by others, for whatever motive. 

 

The problem is, Richard, that by "constantly" saying she doesn't want to be asked about it, she is, in fact, making people more aware of it.  I put the word "constantly" in quotes, because I haven't read the article, and I don't know whether she used that phrase specifically for the Vogue article, or whether Vogue was quoting her original remarks elsewhere.   If so, it is a great pity that someone deemed it necessary to do so.  I can't remember, but were remarks constantly being made about Carlos Acosta's skin colour when he was principal?  I haven't seen any articles referring to him as the first black director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and I would be startled if I did.  And talking of ethnicity, nobody ever comments on the fact that there is a large percentage of Japanese dancers in the RB.  Not sure what the official term for their ethnic group is, but it certainly isn't Caucasian., which I assume is what is meant when people are referred to as white.   


I am not sure if it is Meghan Markle herself, or the press, but there is a constant reference to her ethnicity, which is why the publicity for the Vogue issue seemed to suggest that the chosen women were themselves mixed race.  I don't know about anyone else, but I am starting to find this continual mentioning of the fact mildly irritating.   If it hadn't been mentioned at all, I probably wouldn't even have noticed.  Maybe that makes me a complete idiot, I don't know, but looking at pictures of her,  if someone had said she was Hispanic or came from southern Spain I would have accepted it without question.  In fact, she looks quite similar in skin tone to various female cousins of mine, who are olive skinned Welsh women with remarkable abilities to tan at the merest peep of sun.  (in the days when women went for the conker brown suntan.)

 

On the subject of surnames, is it possible that the independent Ms Markle didn't actually change hers when she married?  🙂 Not sure if it is compulsory for royalty, but every other lady in the country can keep their own name if they choose to do so.   

 

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31 minutes ago, Fonty said:

On the subject of surnames, is it possible that the independent Ms Markle didn't actually change hers when she married?

 

I don’t think that’s the case because she’d probably have declined the title “Duchess of Sussex” if she wanted to retain her maiden name.  I assume “Meghan Markle” is her stage name as her actual first name is Rachel.  If she is self-identifying as “Meghan Markle” for Vogue, perhaps it’s to separate her “personal” work from her Royal duties, during which she is always (correctly) referred to as the Duchess of Sussex.  

 

Don’t forget the Duchess of Cambridge didn’t have a job as such pre-marriage - not a performing arts job, certainly - so she had no need for a professional/stage name.

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I have a copy of Vogue now. I wouldn't recommend buying just for Hayward as sadly there is only the one picture of Francesca inside (in boots and the coat) and the tiny pic on the cover. 

 

Hopefully it's not contravening forum rules to say she is quoted as saying:

 

"I am very proud of the colour of my skin and that I'm inspiring people from all backgrounds, but I think it will be great for the next mixed race or black female principal dancer if she doesn't have to be asked about that. In ballet, it doesn't matter who you are. If you're good, it's such a rare thing, so unusual, that the talent will go wherever you want it to go." 

 

Aware Richard has already quoted part of the above but that's the full quote. 

 

Another piece of good news is the brief paragraph mentions Cats, but says 'it's on stage that her influence over young fans is most magical - and where she feels she is at her most confident. "It just feels like where I'm meant to be. I feel at my most brave." ' Therefore hinting that she has no plans to move from ballet to acting so back to RB/ROH full time which should please her fans (myself included!) 

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No disrespect to anyone who has posted here, but I'm not going to bother over any of this Vogue stuff.

I'm just looking forward to Francesca Hayward's upcoming RB performances.

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12 minutes ago, capybara said:

No disrespect to anyone who has posted here, but I'm not going to bother over any of this Vogue stuff.

I'm just looking forward to Francesca Hayward's upcoming RB performances.

 

I’d just add that I doubt if Francesca Hayward had any input to the lines being taken by Vogue or its guest editor and has responded with tact and diplomacy to questions asked which may not have been of her choosing.  No doubt she will have further opportunities to show her admirable ability to deal effectively with media interest in the build up to Cats.  But I absolutely agree with capybara and am looking forward immensely to Francesca’s Royal Ballet performances.

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On 02/08/2019 at 18:44, alison said:

I believe Hayward has said on a few occasions that she doesn't define herself/want to be defined by the colour of her skin, or something close to that (although she is of course entitled to change her mind in the future!)

I am so confused by all

of this and why there needs to be a discussion at all. Who chooses to be defined by the colour of their skin?

How come this is never said about people in the majority? 

Does anyone think for a minute that Leontyne Price or Jessye Norman wanted to be defined by the colour of their skin?  They

couldn’t escape it then and most people can’t now.

 It’s not usually the artists that draws attention to themselves but the people in society who are uncomfortable with people on these spaces. When someone embraces or is unashamed of how the world categorises them (regardless of the uselessness of the designation), why is that choosing to be defined by the colour of their skin? 

Shock horror that someone considers there are 14 or 15 “women of colour” who are “forces for change.” Why? Because there should only be 2 or 3?  I have no doubt there would be less of a discussion if amongst the women chosen there were only a smattering of women not fitting the mould.

A lot of this is eye rolling stuff (for me)... discussion about individuals’ complexions and someone being darker....really? Because complexion determines what really ? And the question about why did Francesca agree to be included in the article if she doesn’t want to be defined by the colour of her skin... really?  Still picking up my teeth from that one...because being celebrated amongst the likes of Chimamanda Adichie  in a magazine that you’ve read since you were a young girl means that you couldn’t possibly be simply honoured to be considered as having a positive influence ...?

 

Apologies for the nonexistent dance related content...

 

 

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Perhaps there are some cross-purposes going on here: as I understand it some posters think that in highlighting that Hayward is mixed race, Vogue and other well intentioned commentators are inadvertently pushing what she sees as a non-issue and are therefore more in danger of "defining her by the colour of her skin" than anyone in the ballet world is.

 

TBH I find the whole discussion about Hayward's background and views about it rather uncomfortable given her evident reluctance to talk about the subject. (She's made the reason for her participation clear and this isn't it.)

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