Channel 19

Todd Dills

Stretching stereotypes

| March 12, 2009

Grammy-winner Marcy Marxer wrote her 1997 “Ballet Dancing Truck Driver” song as part of an educational package encouraging children to develop worldviews devoid of stereotypes. Elementary school teachers have sung the ballad at education conferences with sing-around-the-campfire enthusiasm. But a steel-toed boot-wearin’ honky-tonk-blues-loving lumper of the Red Smith era might switch radio stations before he hears all nine verses and refrain: “I want to be a ballet dancing . . . .” [Note Overdrive’s usage of the masculine pronoun in deference to the nearly 94 percent male trucking majority.]

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The pot belly underneath the white spandex may say it all: Could it be too much of a stretch?
One who overcame such a culture clash is Miami City Ballet founder and director Edward Villella. The son of a Queens, N.Y., trucker, Villella pursued dance to his father’s chagrin and became renowned for his athletic prowess and grace in George Balanchine’s 1960 revival of the “Prodigal Son” ballet, among others. At 72, he returned this past January to the Big Apple, where his troupe made its New York debut. To Overdrive’s knowledge, he never danced in a pink tutu on stage during his career. –Lucinda Coulter

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