Cast thy vote for MARCELO!

29 Aug

All right kitties, it’s crunch time because we have a Herculean task in front of us—‘MARCELO GOMES: Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer,’ is up for “Project of the Month” at IndieWire and is in need of our help. Yes, OUR help. Through online voting, ‘MARCELO’ is one of four documentaries competing for a consultation with the Tribeca Film Institute—an invaluable opportunity to maximize the efficacy and quality of the documentary. No matter the depth of the material or the talent of everyone involved in the project, it’s never a bad idea to have an editing eye take a look—I mean, how ferociously would you compete if you were selected to be on an online ballot to have Tim Gunn assess and overhaul your wardrobe? Even if you considered yourself to be trendy and fashionable, we all know you’d be clawing tooth and nail for bits of wisdom from Tim Gunn. It’s now up to us balletomanes to roll up our tights and do everything we can to ensure ‘MARCELO’ stands a chance to win a “guide to style.”

Due to my reverence of free will, I don’t like to invoke my powers of persuasion (a black magic I inherited from my mother), but I would like to point out that helping this documentary isn’t just for Marcelo, or even ballet—it’s also for you! It’s safe to say that we all have people in our lives who don’t “get” ballet and thus render themselves incapable of understanding a passion for it. When I first requested/demanded/begged for pledges to assist in funding ‘MARCELO’ I had written that documentaries often highlight things that go unseen or are underappreciated, and in the grand scheme of things, ballet has had an incredibly difficult time in entering every day discussion. Especially in the U.S. where the arts are treated as hobbies and are thus seen as unprofitable, they’re undermined by a cycle that systematically oppresses the cultivation thereof. In this country, it’s the complete opposite for sports, where athletes are easily the most venerated figures. It’s reflected in the current standings of the poll, where the documentary about Greg Louganis has a sizable lead. Now, diving is far from being regarded as a lucrative sport, but it does enjoy extensive coverage every Olympics, and medal winning athletes win the hearts of millions. As a multiple gold medalist, Louganis’s success is easily conveyed to the public because of its measurability—the average person can’t tell you exactly what dives he performed, but they can tell you he has gold medals.

Now, this isn’t about comparing the two films or discerning whether diving or ballet is better because that comparison is silly (also, I love to watch diving. Not nearly as much as ballet, but it’s one of my favorite Olympic sports to watch. And indoor volleyball—talk about anxiety!). I just want to point out that measurable success doesn’t really apply to the arts, and there are no gold mementos to immortalize defining moments. In the arts, those moments live and die in the hearts and memories of people, sometimes being passed on in stories like an oral tradition. Not surprisingly, a healthy addiction to those memories, paired with a desire to create new ones is what keeps us coming back for more. It’s funny when people say they don’t “get” ballet because it’s hard for me to conceptualize how someone could have an aversion to an experience that can be so meaningful. This is why exposure is critical—though “diving-omanes” (not a word) surely lament at the lack of coverage of diving in the off-Olympic years, ballet gets a grand total of…nothing.

Yes, there has been a certain proliferation of ballet in popular culture lately, with films like Black Swan and Mao’s Last Dancer, as well as television shows like Breaking Pointe, Chance to Dance, and Bunheads, but I theorize that the aforementioned attempt to fit into molds that coincide with trends that the target audiences relate to, rather than find a way to connect what ballet IS to the audience—without manipulating its image (where are the films of performances, or the Vail International Dance Festival, or Jacob’s Pillow?). However, I have to admit that this is an uninformed assessment because I live in the Dark Ages and don’t even have a television, and am just basing my opinion on what I’ve heard from peers. Still, what we can crudely deem as “healthy exposure” of ballet is lacking, and an honest-to-goodness documentary like ‘MARCELO’ is just what we need. To see the man himself? Of course. But also, the success of that documentary can help inform people around us as a beacon of “healthy exposure,” and the more those people understand about ballet, the MORE THEY UNDERSTAND ABOUT YOU. YES, YOU. And don’t you want that image to be truthful?

So—the success of ‘MARCELO’ obviously contributes to ballet’s presence in current events, thus giving us an opportunity for validation because the more audiences it reaches as a documentary of interest, the more chances there are for the people around us to see it, to learn something, and to go from telling us “you’re crazy” to “you’re a balletomane—cool!” (okay, they probably won’t use the word “balletomane” because it’s archaic, but you get the idea). Quoth the Wicked Witch of the West: “fly my pretties, fly!” and take to your social media outlets and get the votes going! Go as far as telling your non-ballet friends to vote, just as a favor because you want them to understand something important to you! And don’t assume that posting a link on your Facebook profile or on your Twitter isn’t going to do much anyway—this blog’s readership is proof of the exact opposite. Were it not for a handful of tweets and Facebook posts that got me started, I’d be sitting in a dark corner writing about ballet with nobody to read or care about my musings…so for better or worse, I like being in the business of miracles.

We have until Friday (8/31–only two days!)—so remember, a vote for ‘MARCELO’ is a vote for you! Follow the link, vote (duh!), and share, share, SHARE!

Vote for ‘Project of the Month’ at IndieWire!

P.S. Are you sharing yet? You better be.

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