The Blackamoor In Petrouchka

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The Blackamoor in Petrouchka may not need to be in Blackface for the reasons Pherank points to (I imagine there may be Fokine/Benois purists who feel otherwise) but that, in and of itself, exposes the degree to which the makeup isn 't the ultimate issue. The ballet works with broad types. And it does work--absolutely I think it should be revived. But getting rid of blackface make-up won 't put an end to arguments about what is happening in it and what world view it reflects when it comes to a character like the Blackamoor.

I 'm not in favor of censorship...but I think raising these issues doesn 't necessarily mean censorship except insofar as every artistic decision is also censoring another possible decision. But I do think ballet also
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and was himself revising and re-choreographing masterworks by St. Leon etc. that he staged, as well as his own works when he revived them. Bournonville 's Sylphide is based on Taglioni 's and also quite different too etc. etc. So some revision was built into the DNA of ballet history especially in eras with limited means of recording or notation. (Many 20th-century masterworks tend to be much more tightly constructed.) Moreover, since ballet is a performing art, it lives in live performances, even more than classical music does. Other performing arts do the same. Broadway revivals as well as opera productions--change key aspects of staging all the time: the upcoming Carousel will have Peck 's choreography, not Macmillan 's not De Mille 's. But we still call it Carousel. Maybe that IS a bad thing--wouldn 't it be nice to see the others revived...but it 's not exactly censorship; it 's a different vision of what a revival of a musical should be. Of what makes Carousel Carousel.

To get to particular issues closer to revision of "content that offends:" When West Side Story was revived recently, didn 't the producers make a point of casting a Latina Maria? That wasn 't censorship. To me the issue is what constitutes the work "essentially." Not just can you revive Carousel without De Mille (which of course has been done), but
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That 's NOT Petipa for him. (I confess, with the right ballerina, I like my Petipa with the occasional high extension just fine.) For others getting rid of little blackface children in Bayadere is also NOT Petipa. It 's not the Bayadere they believe in, it 's fundamental censoring--very different from, say, redesigned costumes etc. For myself, I suspect ideas of racial hierarchy are baked into the cake of Bayadere, and just changing make-up doesn 't get rid of them. I certainly think the full length Bayadere should be staged...but I also think there are ways one might address the issue rather than pretending it doesn 't exist, and probably differently for different theatrical contexts etc. [By the way, how is it that my spellcheck still doesn 't know Petipa is a proper name?]

In general, I think each case has to be looked at separately, but I do believe that having the discussion does matter. Not getting rid of great ballets, but discussing creatively and respectfully how to produce them in 2018. That 's something different from censorship--call it not "live and let live" (a phrase Quinten used) but "live and discuss," "live and learn," "live and re-imagine"

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