Musical theater is an entertainment outlet that routinely depicts women as sexpots, curvy dimwits and window dressing -- so if you believe Alyse's account, the hypocrisy is evident. Allegedly getting fired for the prudish-sounding sin of busting out of one's costume is even more surprising given that Tharp's all-dance spectacular bumps and grinds from start to finish. With Joel's rock-and-roll framing a Vietnam-era loss-of-innocence tale, the show ["Movin' Out"] rides on an orgy of go-go.Oh, that's rich! I really didn't expect to find Cheney in this article. Or Judicial Watch. Apparently, they're watching out for things watched more commonly than judges.
But the dance world doesn't necessarily view such firing decisions as hypocritical; they are merely business as usual. The Body Police enforce specifications that have nothing to do with the ability to perform. Some women have resorted to breast reduction to conform with the slim standards of ballet. Anastasia Volochkova, a leading ballerina at Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, made headlines two years ago over a similar issue, when she was fired for being too fat (at a reported weight of 110 pounds). She sued for damages and was unsuccessful, though she did get her job back.
Alyse is fighting back with a $100 million lawsuit that names Tharp, the production stage manager and the show's producers among the defendants (though not Joel). And if the dollar amount weren't attention-getting enough, Alyse has hired onetime Washington gadfly Larry Klayman, a notoriously combative attorney who, judging from his record, relishes a scandal. Klayman, founder of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, became famous for suing the Clinton administration over numerous alleged coverups and conspiracies. More recently, he has taken on top Republicans, including Vice President Cheney, over his secretive energy task force.
In the suit, [Klarman] reconstructs the alleged comments of production stage manager Eric Sprosty when he first saw Alyse outside the wardrobe fitting room after she returned to the show. Such as: "We hired you at a size C and now you're a [expletive] D!... You need to lose those boobs now!"Wait a second... I need to laugh....
"He was screaming at me and I was apologizing," Alyse says of her run-in with Sprosty, her forehead crinkling at the thought. "I was being apologetic that I had boobs. I thought, 'I'm going to lose my job -- and I'm still skinny!' "
"It's a virtue to have bigger breasts on Broadway, in my expert opinion," Klayman observes one balmy evening, over dinner with Alyse at a seaside restaurant called Bongos.
Yet big breasts cannot truly be said to be a virtue for a dancer, unless her routine includes thigh-high boots and a pole. The Ziegfeldian hourglass shape has flattened out over time. On current stages, in the view of many directors and choreographers, a B cup might be just sexy enough, while a D may be too much. From ballet companies to Broadway, the preferred look is slender, long-stemmed and minimally jiggly. Especially when we're talking about fitting into a group, whether a kick line or the corps de ballet.Yes, come on. It's distracting. It's an aesthetic judgment.
God forbid anyone should stick out. Prevailing theater wisdom warns that an ensemble dancer must not distract, and in many shows, that means buxom chorines no longer need apply. A D cup, according to Roberta Stiehm, a musical theater veteran, could commit the major no-no of pulling focus.But good thing there are fancy lawyers willing to stick up for those who stick out.
"I want to stick up for this girl," said Stiehm, a Maryland ballet and Pilates teacher who had featured roles in "Cats" and "A Chorus Line." "But I have to tell you, what if Pamela Anderson were a great dancer? You couldn't use her.
Wow, this article goes on and on. Washington Post articles have a way of doing that. And how often do you get a chance at a subject like this? It's very complex, with lots of angles, and it's about big breasts!
But read to the end. The dancer is actually quite sympathetic.