Just over a year ago the New York Times ran an article about Twittering ballet dancers. From London to San Francisco, Moscow to Sydney, we’re hearing about muscles and meals, seeing snaps of dressing rooms and sharing in the interval gossip. Making them human? Well, I don’t think anyone has doubted that during recent years. In the fifties and sixties ballet dancers, ballerinas especially, were taken off their pedestals and firmly placed among us: Fonteyn went to jail, Gelsey Kirkland had eating disorders and there was extensive drug-use at the ABT … all very public.
Twitter goes further than that: it doesn’t just allow us to rub shoulders, but we can actually peak inside dancers’ heads, learning titbits that maybe even colleagues don’t know. This, of course, is in line with all celebrity life: prime ministers’ sex romps, actors’ drink and drugs binges, Royals in every scandal imaginable. We know it all. But Twitter tells us that Daniil Simkin has a passion for cookies during the interval, and Ashley Bouder gets her hair done at Bumble and bumble, (she even let’s us have first peek at the new cut) — so yes, a little more human: hey, I eat cookies and get my hair cut too!
Tweets — like these by the New York City Ballet dancers Devin Alberda, Ashley Bouder, Kathryn Morgan and Mr. Alberda again — are starting to change the public face of ballet. They may never amass the number of followers of, say, the prolific tweeter Ashton Kutcher, but Twitter is making ballet dancers human. (A simple Google search of a name plus Twitter is generally all that is needed to find them.)
Kristin Sloan, a former City Ballet dancer who now runs her own video-production company, was a pioneer in this trend with her Web site, thewinger.com, which posts photos taken by dancers backstage, in rehearsal studios and on tour.
That in itself was quite a step for ballet, which has long been seen as élite, ethereal and something to keep under glass. Casting, until it is made official by companies, is a closely guarded process, and when a dancer — a star or otherwise — is off the stage, the reason rarely becomes public.
But when dancers are the ones documenting their own injuries — as Ms. Morgan did before her debut as Aurora in “The Sleeping Beauty” last season — they hold the power. Ms. Morgan wasn’t sure she would be able to dance the role until two weeks before her first performance. She tweeted the cancellation of her appearance in another ballet and assured her followers that she was saving her injured foot — “super frustrated but it is for the best” — documenting the ailment with digital pictures.
Ms. Morgan said she saw no need to veil even the difficult parts of her career. “When I was younger, I would always want to know what dancers were doing,” she said in an interview. “I would have loved to have Twitter to read about what they were doing on a day-to-day basis rather than just in a performance. I thought this might be a really good way to put ballet out there.”
Ms. Bouder, a principal dancer at City Ballet, has a growing international presence that she credits in part to the connections she’s made through Twitter and Facebook. For her, social media are a vital way to reach past the orchestra pit. “We don’t have celebrity status like actors in magazines,” she said. “That’s the main reason people get interested in something — you get all the dirt, you get to know someone and you become attached, and in the dance world, we’re like a face, not a personality.”
read all via NYTimes.com.
Photo: Ashley Bouder shows off her new look