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ABT Soloists to appear on "So You Think You Can Dance"


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#1 Dale

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:16 AM

ABT SOLOISTS TO APPEAR ON “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE”
THURSDAY, JULY 22 AT 9:00 PM EST/8:00 PM CST

American Ballet Theatre Soloists Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews are scheduled to
perform on Fox TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” on Thursday, July 22.

In a special guest appearance, Kajiya and Matthews will perform the Grand Pas de Deux
from Act III of Don Quixote. The program will be broadcast live from CBS Television Studios
in Hollywood, California, at 9:00 PM (EST) / 8:00 PM (CST).

For more information about “So You Think You Can Dance,” please visit http://
www.fox.com/dance.

#2 DeCoster

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 11:25 AM

Thanks for the heads up, Dale. I do occasionally watch SYTYCD (somewhat of a guilty pleasure, I guess), but now I'll definitely toon in.

Too bad Alex Wong (former ABT apprentice, who left his position as a soloist at Miami Ballet for that ridiculous show) tore his achilles. It was fun to root for the ballet boy.

#3 bart

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 11:06 AM

I recorded this and finally got around to watching. The young dancers had the look and feel of good pre-professional students..

It was the reaction of the studio audience, however, that struck me most.

At the entrance: moderate high-pitched shrieking from what appeared to be a group consisting almost entirely of young white women with long straight hair.

At a supported promenade in arabesque: tenative shrieks, gradually fading away as if to suggest: "OMG, this is SLOW."

At the end of the adagio: scattered, low-volume shrieking. (As if to communicate: "That's IT?")

The camera then cut to the hostess, who thanked the performers, commented that it was like "every little girl's dream," and moved on to the next segment. No variations. No coda. (In other words, no bravura.)

Very strange.

#4 carbro

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 06:22 PM

I suspect (but have no way of knowing for sure) that, as with game shows, the audience was cued, either by flashing signs or the judges or someone on the crew, to demonstrate wild approval. :yahoo:

I'm so saddened by Alex's injury that I haven't tuned in since, even though this year's crop as a whole looked like the most talented of the seasons I've seen.

#5 nysusan

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 06:45 PM

I recorded this and finally got around to watching. The young dancers had the look and feel of good pre-professional students..


Except that they have been dancing professionally with ABT for several years now, they are both ABT soloists!

I also taped this and watched it a few days ago. In the interest of full disclosure, I have never been a great fan of either Kajiya or Matthews but they are both very promising young dancers and I always look forward to their performances in the hope that I will see huge gains made by either or both of them. Matthews, in particular looked greatly improved in this past ABT season.

Alas, I have to say that they both looked very, very mediocre in their big "prime time" appearance.

I don't know what went into the decision to have them perform the Don Quixotte Pas de deux without solos or coda. I mean, I know there are time limits on the SYTYCD guest appearances but one would think that with ABT's vast repertoire they could have found something that made more sense to perform before a national audience. I mean, they didn't embarrass themselves, but they didn't make much of an impression either. Opportunity missed :(

#6 Ambonnay

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 09:10 PM

Agreed they were weak. Yuriko was smiling too much (showing a lot of teeth, which is not usual for her) for the role, and, more significantly, her Kitri lacked intensity. It was as though she were dancing a practice round in a ballet studio, with respect to the enthusiasm and energy level she showed. She did several balances. The first, while she tried to hold it for a while, involved a slight, but noticeable, wobble. Matthews had little stage presence on the TV.

#7 Simon G

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 05:01 AM

I have to say I think judging them and the appearance in terms of a full blown Don Q is unfair and misses the point.

This excerpt was watched by around 9.3 million people, an audience comprised primarily of popular culture viewers, as such more people have been exposed to Don Q, albeit truncated, fleeting and out of context, and ergo ballet, than I daresay Don Q has ever been watched in its entire performance history at ABT.

I also think it unfair to say they were weak or mediocre. It was a tiny excerpt, danced in less than perfect conditions, on that killer floor (hard, plexiglass, slippery) danced out of context of the full ballet or even the full pas de deux. Both Matthews and Kajiya weren't weak or mediocre, they were clean, charming, technically assured and most importantly excellent ambassadors for both ballet and ABT - and reached a huge audience on prime time television with ballet. An art form more or less completely unrepresented on mainstream television.

In cases like this it's vitally important not to focus on what we think Don Q should be, but what the context of this performance actually was, and be grateful that the producers decided to go laterally with ballet,rather than some breakdance or streetdance act - there's no shortage of acts wanting this kind of exposure.

Also, given the nature of the performance space and conditions, I'm not surprised that they chose an excerpt with no pyrotechnics, one bad landing or even good landing on that kind of surface and you're looking at a potentially career ending injury. I've no doubt that the surfaces had something to do with Wong's horrendous injury, it was coming out of a split jump landing on that floor that snapped his achilles tendon.

Sure it wasn't great Don Q, or even great ballet, the characters weren't there and why should they be, the audience weren't watching Basil and Kitri, they were watching a ballet tidbit - and who knows perhaps it'll pique someone's interest to explore the art further.

In cases like this you take what you can get out of the experience, not judge it for what you know ballet is, as a lover of the art form, but judge it as a lover of the art form finally seeing that art being exposed to a massive audience.

Will it have a major impact on ticket sales? I doubt it, but I don't doubt that this has done more for ballet's PR and profile than a decade worth of ABT's marketing budget could hope to achieve on their ever dwindling resources - this ballet tidbit is a cause for rejoicing in what it could potentially mean and achieve. Yes, it was dumbed down Don Q, but it wasn't dumb ballet.

#8 richard53dog

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 05:46 AM

In cases like this you take what you can get out of the experience, not judge it for what you know ballet is, as a lover of the art form, but judge it as a lover of the art form finally seeing that art being exposed to a massive audience.

Will it have a major impact on ticket sales? I doubt it, but I don't doubt that this has done more for ballet's PR and profile than a decade worth of ABT's marketing budget could hope to achieve on their ever dwindling resources - this ballet tidbit is a cause for rejoicing in what it could potentially mean and achieve. Yes, it was dumbed down Don Q, but it wasn't dumb ballet.



I agree that this was not targeted towards the ballet fan but much more towards the viewer with very little or no experience watching ballet. Will it make any converts? Hard to tell but at least the exposure is huge on a show like SYTYCD.

#9 bart

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 06:42 AM

This excerpt was watched by around 9.3 million people, an audience comprised primarily of popular culture viewers, as such more people have been exposed to Don Q, albeit truncated, fleeting and out of context, and ergo ballet, than I daresay Don Q has ever been watched in its entire performance history at ABT.

True. Which makes the performance (and the :dunno: tone of the audience) even even more significant. A very large audience, carefully pumped up by the culture of the show, has experienced a letdown.

I admit to having seen portions of this show only a couple of times. There seems, however, to be a huge technical and aesthetic gap between the dominant performance style and what we associate with classical ballet.

Wong is one of those rare classical dancers who can bring lightness, ease, supernatural flow, and veracity to a wide variety of popular dancing styles.

The other the competitors in his segments seemed positively brutish in comparison, capable of amazing feats but almost always highlighting the effort and difficulty as they performed them. This emphasis on effort seems to be part of a new aesthetic, from which classical ballet is excluded.

My fear is that these large young audiences will look at the occasional ballet bits, especially when danced by less than stellar performers, and find them weak, uninteresting, old-fashioned, alien and ... quaint.

(What to do about this is another question. Frankly, I don't have a clue.)

#10 bart

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 07:01 AM

This excerpt was watched by around 9.3 million people, an audience comprised primarily of popular culture viewers, as such more people have been exposed to Don Q, albeit truncated, fleeting and out of context, and ergo ballet, than I daresay Don Q has ever been watched in its entire performance history at ABT.

True. Which makes the performance (and the :dunno: tone of the audience) even even more significant. A very large audience, carefully pumped up by the culture of the show, has experienced a letdown.

I admit to having seen portions of this show only a couple of times. There seems, however, to be a huge technical and aesthetic gap between the dominant performance style and what we associate with classical ballet.

Wong is one of those rare classical dancers who can bring lightness, ease, apparent spontaneity, and veracity to a wide variety of popular dancing styles.

The other the competitors in his segments seemed positively brutish in comparison. They are, most of them, capable of amazing feats but almost always integrate the appearance of effort and difficulty ito their performances. This emphasis on effort seems to be part of a new dance aesthetic. Does classical ballet have a place in this aesthetic? The people on the show refer to the benefits of classical ballet training, but to they actually comprehend and enjoy ballet performances?

My fear is that these large young audiences will look at the occasional brief, out-of-context ballet bits, especially when danced by less than stellar performers, and find them weak, uninteresting, old-fashioned, alien and ... quaint.

(What to DO about this is another question. To be honest, I don't have a clue.)

#11 Simon G

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 07:15 AM

True. Which makes the performance (and the :dunno: tone of the audience) even even more significant. A very large audience, carefully pumped up by the culture of the show, has experienced a letdown.

I admit to having seen portions of this show only a couple of times. There seems, however, to be a huge technical and aesthetic gap between the dominant performance style and what we associate with classical ballet.

Wong is one of those rare classical dancers who can bring lightness, ease, apparent spontaneity, and veracity to a wide variety of popular dancing styles.

The other the competitors in his segments seemed positively brutish in comparison. They are, most of them, capable of amazing feats but almost always integrate the appearance of effort and difficulty ito their performances. This emphasis on effort seems to be part of a new aesthetic, from which classical ballet is (and ought to be) removed.

My fear is that these large young audiences will look at the occasional brief, out-of-context ballet bits, especially when danced by less than stellar performers, and find them weak, uninteresting, old-fashioned, alien and ... quaint.

(What to DO about this is another question. Frankly, I don't have a clue.)e]



Bart,

I agree that the cheering was somewhat stagemanaged, but that aside who's to say that the audience didn't love it? I think this is the problem, watching this excerpt as a connoisseur of ballet, rather than a complete novice, or someone with only a passing awareness. It was a letdown to you, and to anyone who judges it by the rigours of the Bolshoi, Kirov, POB etc but as an excerpt of ballet it was very lovely. Danced well, with no risks that could lead to injury - it was not a failure on any level.

SYTYCD isn't ballet, it's showdancing, hip hop etc Wong was a ballet boy who also happened to be the panel's golden boy, however if you want to see just how vile the panel can be to classical ballet dancers see how they treated Danny Tidwell, who was on the show a few seasons back and who came runner up. Tidwell a far more beautiful and innovative dancer than the eager-to-please Wong, was absolutely roasted by those morons week after week. His cool demeanour and belief in letting the movement tell the story rather than overladen emoting was lambasted by Lythgoe and the panel. It wasn't pleasent, not least because Tidwell is a phenomenal dancer. If you want ballet, don't go to SYTYCD.

The other major problem is that audiences don't need to watch ballet to think it weak, uninteresting, old-fashioned, alien and quaint. They think that already. And the critical faculties needed to judge stellar, from good, from mediocre performances aren't there, because people don't care about ballet at all.

It wouldn't matter whether the three minutes was three minutes of Balanchine, Petipa, Ashton, Forsythe, Fokine, Neuemeir, De Mille, Tudor etc - people aren't engaged enough or feel ballet is relevant enough to care one way or the other. And in truth the best choreography is often the most alienating to novice viewers.

What this was was two young, good looking, charming dancers did a technically sound, charming three minutes of dance to an audience who were prompted at certain points, in front of over 9 million viewers at home. It was excellent PR for ballet.

#12 papeetepatrick

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 08:43 AM

The other major problem is that audiences don't need to watch ballet to think it weak, uninteresting, old-fashioned, alien and quaint. They think that already. And the critical faculties needed to judge stellar, from good, from mediocre performances aren't there, because people don't care about ballet at all.


Yes, the masses don't. Even very intelligent and intellectual people often think it 'paleo'. But this is probably part 'great PR', part the actual future of ballet, viz., ballet will become more and more integrated into this rather virtual pop sci-fi future that most will be doing, because the old material will become affordable only to the wealthy (in fact, it already has become that, although there are different kinds of wealth, as witnessed by the fact that many cash-laden people find ballet just as irrelevant as anyone else, and bachelors like me are still in the Dark Ages.)

#13 Ambonnay

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 04:06 AM

Here is an article on why Yuriko and Matthews were on SYTYCD, in the context of a description of an LA donor event at the Barths (the Barths are major ABT donors and sponsor, among others and the last time I checked, Hallberg, Reyes, etc.):

http://sanmarinotrib...articleID=22834

The SYTYCD lead judge "is so enamored of ballet that he hosted two ABT dancers on his show So You Think You Can Dance, on last Thursday’s broadcast. He serves as the competition show’s executive producer and lead judge. He met ballerina Yuriko Kajiya in Bermuda ...." So Kajiya was apparently dancing not because ABT designated her to, but because a donor and the SYTYCD contact had ties to her.

Interesting other info from the article:

-- October 12 ABT performance in NY: :sweatingbullets: Bart announced "a new choreography project, with new works by four of the company’s dancers to be performed in New York City on Oct. 12. “If you’re in town; you shouldn’t miss it.”"

I wonder who the four dancers (seems to be present tense) might be? Maybe they might include Stiefel and Corella? Corella has done some choreo for his own company.

-- LA may get Nutcracker performances. "His [Kevin M's] announcement of the ABT’s five-year partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music to hopefully bring an ABT Nutcracker to L.A. drew an enthusiastic audience response."

-- The ABT has had a good season from a financial perspective: ""“We’ve had a really good season in New York and here in L.A.” said McKenzie, “there were people who told us this would not be a good ticket-buying season. But we’ve fared through both artistically and financially; and we met our goals.”"

-- Next year, "the ABT will return [to LA] with The Bright Stream, choreographed by artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky ...."

Kevin M says this about Hallberg, who does not appear in the slideshow regarding the performance at the Barth's: "ABT is also home to “the best dancers in the world.” McKenzie adds, “For example, for us it’s important to have David Hallberg, not the next David Hallberg; and you see that throughout the company. We use examples without imitating them.”" :flowers:

Interesting that Eric Tamm was once again occupying a role for which Hallberg was the first cast: the second dancer role in a "Lady of the Camelias" excerpt. He has done that on a few occasions now, including in On the Dnieper. To me, Tamm has the leg lines and general body shape that (on a relative basis) most resemble a younger Hallberg, from the men in the corps (not that anybody's lines can rival Hallberg's lines).

From the over 50 pictures, it seems like, at the principal level, at least Gillian Murphy and Veronika Part attended. Many soloists were present, including of course Yuriko/Matthews, Cory Stearns, Stella A, Sasha R and to-be-soloist Hee Seo. Hoven was also present.

#14 Helene

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 06:50 AM

The SYTYCD lead judge "is so enamored of ballet that he hosted two ABT dancers on his show So You Think You Can Dance, on last Thursday’s broadcast. He serves as the competition show’s executive producer and lead judge. He met ballerina Yuriko Kajiya in Bermuda ...." So Kajiya was apparently dancing not because ABT designated her to, but because a donor and the SYTYCD contact had ties to her.

Or another way of putting it is that someone whom many more people in America recognize than Baryshnikov met Yuriko Kajiya and not only was so impressed and inspired that he invited her on his TV program, so that millions could be exposed to ballet, but also to lend his name to an important local fundraiser.

#15 bingham

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 07:43 AM

Tobin Eason( when he was at Studio Co) choreographed a piece to Mozart, that was well received. Maybe, he will be asked to do something.


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