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Nov 17, 2021

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Dr. Chloe Angyal, an accomplished journalist and published author. Most recently, Chloe released Turning Pointe: How the New Generation of Dancers is Saving Ballet from Itself. Her book focuses on the future of ballet and reckons with all the forces that endanger its future — whether that be racism, sexism, elitism, or many others. Dr. Angyal holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a doctorate from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Some of Chloe’s earliest ballet journalism centered around the bullying of young boys who participated in the artform. Yet, after writing the piece, Chloe felt there was so much more to be said. And there was indeed more to be said — an entire 300-page book’s worth. On the podcast, Chloe discusses her book, which outlines the historical issues plaguing ballet but speaks optimistically to how dance’s next generation is righting many of the wrongs and making ballet a more equitable environment for everyone. 


Moving Quotes:

"When most people think about a ballet dancer, they think about a woman who is white who has long flowing hair. She is slender and effortlessly feminine... But the fact that that's most people's first thought is an obstacle that everyone else has to overcome."

"Sometimes it takes having an outsider to reflect your underlying assumptions [about ballet] back to you for you to realize, 'Yikes. There's a real problem here.'" 

"One thing that I think a lot of people that leave ballet go through is a very solitary, piece-by-piece reflection on [what they went through] and realizing, slowly, that it was wrong, and it hurt them... I want my book to accelerate that process for people and to build a sense of community."

"Long after they stopped taking ballet classes, you have women who are walking around, thinking about how they failed to meet that ideal. Which is so glamorous and beautiful but also monastic and "nun-like," considering how isolated and exclusive professional ballet seems to be. Everyone has a ballet story, and a lot of them are not good."

"The cost of the prejudice [against bigger bodies in ballet] is stress fractures and mental illness and short careers and dancers with pre-osteoporosis. The cost of the prejudice among both artistic directors ticketholders like me is just too high. And it's unacceptable.”

"Resist the urge to do what ballet often teaches you to do. Which is to explain why something has to be the way it is. And instead say, 'But what if it didn't?' Let's assume it can be something different. What does that something different look like?"


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:14: Chloe explains the premise behind her book — Turning Pointe: How the New Generation of Dancers is Saving Ballet from Itself — and what prompted her to write it.

10:29: Chloe discusses some possible solutions to the systemic issues inside of ballet.

12:36: Chloe explains her theory behind why there are so many men in ballet leadership when there are so few boys in ballet and offers a solution to the issue.

16:37: Angyal describes two surprises that she discovered while researching for her book.

24:30: Angyal discusses how ballet’s status quo creates a toxic environment, especially when it comes to female body image and body care.

30:00: Chloe shares her journey that’s led to her successful career, as a non-dancer involved the dance industry.

32:37: Angyal discusses her education and reveals the unique topic that was the focus of her doctoral thesis.

36:47: Chloe encourages listeners to resist the status quo and define a more just and equitable future for ballet.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Chloe Angyal

Turning Pointe: How the New Generation of Dancers is Saving Ballet from Itself