Plisskin

Eric Conrad: Russians Hire/Teach Americans for Money

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I stumbled upon Eric Conrad's (whom says he is a certified teacher of the Vaganova method) Youtube video's titled "American's in Russia Pt.2" and "New Blog-New Film/Scandal at the Bolshoi/Baryshnikov". In them, a few things he says (which I'm paraphrasing) is Russians only teach and recently started hiring Americans in their companies basically for money and visibility/ marketing, Americans are ill-trained and not good dancers with terrible technique, Osipova and Vasiliev quit the Bolshoi because of David Hallberg (Whom he also says is talented but lacks training), etc. He says a lot more at the source.

My thoughts? I think their is some truth in what he says like in the reason why Russian schools like the Moscow State Academy and Vaganova Academy hire foreign students. (I always personally thought it was that reason, especially seeing the astronimically high tuition prices) And the ballet schools in the U.S. But the other statements he makes in his video's (especially with his statements that the Russian way is the "truth" when ballet is not a Russian creation neither is it the only way and style to teach ballet) I disagree with and think is rubbish.

I'm only a University student who likes to casually watch ballet. I'd love to hear thoughts from others on this board who know more about ballet and/ or have danced it.

http://youtu.be/1J-5bjcEzbk

http://youtu.be/DIMLOVJrXWQ

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He says Osipova and Vasiliev quit the Bolshoi because of Hallberg? Give me a break. They were both eager to sign up again with ABT, where Hallberg is a star. Osipova has enough power at ABT to reject a partner she doesn't like, yet she chose to dance w. Hallberg this season in Giselle and R&J.

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I stumbled upon Eric Conrad's (whom says he is a certified teacher of the Vaganova method) Youtube video's titled "American's in Russia Pt.2" and "New Blog-New Film/Scandal at the Bolshoi/Baryshnikov". In them, a few things he says (which I'm paraphrasing) is Russians only teach and recently started hiring Americans in their companies basically for money and visibility/ marketing, Americans are ill-trained and not good dancers with terrible technique, Osipova and Vasiliev quit the Bolshoi because of David Hallberg (Whom he also says is talented but lacks training), etc.

But he can fix that, right? FIREdevil.gif

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I'm having trouble following some of his logic. For example, it is ten times more work for a Russian teacher to teach an American student at the Bolshoi school, but he can teach pirouettes in minutes on his DVD. Wow. Is Natalia Osipova less at risk when she's paid to dance with Hallberg at ABT than when she's dancing with him on the stage of the Bolshoi? Why not just call her for sale directly?

That being said, I don't doubt for a second that the Bolshoi/Bolshoi School has opened up to foreigners for the cash. I have no doubt that at least some of the teachers at the Bolshoi School feel pimped out and/or cynical about the entire enterprise.

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Those not familiar with the name Eric Conrad might want to check out one of the threads discussing his teaching method(s) on Ballet Talk 4 Dancers:

http://dancers.invis...ad&fromsearch=1

He and his projects have quite a presence on You Tube.

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Sounds like malarkey to me. Osipova and Hallberg have stunning chemistry, and she certainly doesn't dial it in when they dance together.

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I think there is some truth in what he says like in the reason why Russian schools like the Moscow State Academy and Vaganova Academy hire foreign students.

I tend to agree, Plisskin. And thank you for starting the topic.

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but i wouldn't consider that statement to be a news flash either.

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I personally wouldn't want to study/ dance there if I was only to be viewed as a cash cow and/ or a publicity stunt. I love David Hallberg, and I think Joy Womack and Keenan Kampa are brilliant. But I don't think they are currently at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky due to their dancing abilities.

In fact, knowing that I wish that now more than ever the States had their own dance curriculum/ style, and ballet culture that rivaled the Russians, French, British, even the Cubans. (But I think ABT is trying to push a National Curriculum that Franco De Vita and McKenzie drafted and teach their students of JKO) And although they are being hailed in the U.S. press as the first American to dance with these companies, they are not a product of an American school or style. I find that bittersweet.

You see so many dancers, in this case American dancers, whom put dancing overseas at the Bolshoi, Mariinsky, POB, or RB on a pedestal. While dancing in their own top national companies isn't of the same calibre and prestige. Maybe I am wrong about that last bit(?), but that is the feeling I've been getting since I've gotten into ballet.

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That being said, I don't doubt for a second that the Bolshoi/Bolshoi School has opened up to foreigners for the cash. I have no doubt that at least some of the teachers at the Bolshoi School feel pimped out and/or cynical about the entire enterprise.

For many years now, American universities (primarily the public/state schools) have aggressively recruited both international students and out-of-state students for one reason: they pay full tuition fees and universities are desperate for cash with all the cut-backs in state support. (I can think of three European countries where I know they are recruiting American students for their universities for the very same reason - they need the money.) The backlash among faculty is not that they feel "pimped out" but that residents of their own states are being excluded to accommodate the international students. Welcome to capitalism, Russia!

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I personally wouldn't want to study/ dance there if I was only to be viewed as a cash cow and/ or a publicity stunt.

One of Conrad's messages in the videos is to understand why you're there and to have no illusions about it, but to follow his example and get the most out of it.

You see so many dancers, in this case American dancers, whom put dancing overseas at the Bolshoi, Mariinsky, POB, or RB on a pedestal. While dancing in their own top national companies isn't of the same calibre and prestige. Maybe I am wrong about that last bit(?), but that is the feeling I've been getting since I've gotten into ballet.

Despite its ups and downs, I think that NYCB is still considered the top company in the United States, and I don't think SAB students have this attitude. Balanchine famously said, "But first a school," and although he didn't have huge money or choices when he started it, when the Ford Foundation money -- and, not to be underestimated, its blessing -- came along in the 60's, if he really wanted to create a codified training, he could have. He chose to have teachers who were trained in different ways and had different performing and teaching experience.

For the students who want to dance the Russian classics, it's not surprising that they look to the Bolshoi and Mariinsky especially as the pinnacle.

For many years now, American universities (primarily the public/state schools) have aggressively recruited both international students and out-of-state students for one reason: they pay full tuition fees and universities are desperate for cash with all the cut-backs in state support. (I can think of three European countries where I know they are recruiting American students for their universities for the very same reason - they need the money.)

Yes. That's long been the case for private colleges and universities, few of which have aid-blind admissions.

The backlash among faculty is not that they feel "pimped out" but that residents of their own states are being excluded to accommodate the international students.

I'm sure that this is true in the public sector. In the private sector, there have always been the children of alumni and people who name buildings who take the place of students who more meet the published criteria.

That said, the Mariinsky school started out as royal academy, and it and the Bolshoi schools were exclusive and, apart from war periods, considered so important that they were sheltered and funded even as people starved. The public importance was prestige, not to provide opportunities to tax-paying residents. There have been enough students over the years who had connections and were less talented than students who were rejected, so it's never been purely the "best of the best," but it's the difference between accepting a legacy student and a foreigner.

Welcome to capitalism, Russia!

Exactly.

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Unless you mean as permanent members, the dancers named aren't by any means the first Americans to dance with either the Kirov or the Bolshoi.

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At least say a word for the students who are pimped out, seemingly. We have seen articles here about that give rise to inferences about that.

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Unless you mean as permanent members, the dancers named aren't by any means the first Americans to dance with either the Kirov or the Bolshoi.

He doesn't claim that Hallberg was the first American to dance with either the Kirov and/or the Bolshoi. He's saying that Hallberg being accepted as a permanent member of the Company -- crossing the huge line between a guest and someone who is accepted at the same level as the Russian dancers -- was what made Osipova and Vasiliev leave, since it was such an affront. (In his video, there's a screen shot of the page on Ballet Alert! where Tsiskaridze's reaction to Hallberg's hiring was first posted.)

If you follow his logic -- i.e., Russia has everything, America has nothing -- it makes perfect sense that Osipova would be perfectly fine dancing with Hallberg on the American stage in his company, because she is so clearly superior and brings luster and prestige to him and ABT (and wherever else they guest outside Russia). Superior artists guest star with lesser companies all the time, and they get paid good cash to do so. They also get to build leverage with their home company, because what they are offered outside could compensate more and more for what they would lose withing the company, at least temporarily.

That in itself would make not her mercenary. It's Conrad's claim that Hallberg isn't capable of partnering her and that she is endangered by his partnering. If that's the case, she's willing to risk her health and career for quick cash and opportunities now, and that's pretty mercenary, although entirely her own risk to take.

He also claims that Hallberg was given the position because of his personal relationship with the Bolshoi director -- I assume Filin -- and that it will likely cause both Hallberg and Filin to be fired. He said the critics have been negative and that it's widely reported in the Russian press that this has been a mistake, and I think he was saying the press was reporting potential firings, although I might have misunderstood. I don't read Russian -- perhaps someone who's been following this in the Russian press could comment.

Again following the logic, if Filin is fired, then the current situations could be a temporary respite for Osipova and Vasiliev. who might be able to waltz back into the Bolshoi as returning heroes. So it would really be a win/win situation for them to posit leaving as a response to the cheapening of Russian ballet: they get lots of roles, guest appearances, new productions, and freedom, establishing an international brand bigger than some greater dancers, as well as apartments in expensive Russian cities and a pile of cash in the meantime, while they are still young, and then when some one else takes over the Company, they're golden, until at least the next regime change.

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Gomes was brought into the Mik to partner Osipova in Swan Lake a few months ago. If she felt that inferior Americans were cheapening Russian ballet, why would Gomes (Brazilian, but spent his entire career at ABT) been invited in to be her partner. She could have had a Russian company member from the Mik. or elsewhere be her partner. Conrad's hyposthesis makes no sense. Of course Tsiskaridze was angry about Hallberg's hiring. Every role that is given to Hallberg at the Bolshoi is one less role for a Bolshoi principal. Don't you think that every one of the Bolshoi men was angry that Hallberg got the worldwide broadcast of Sleeping Beauty?

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His expresses his disdain for the Mikhailovsky Ballet as not even third rate. The Mikhailovsky doesn't have a training academy and traditionally got dancers, however good, who weren't hired by their affiliate companies. It can't be defiled by foreigners.

The billionaire businessman who runs it doesn't come from the great traditions of the theater, etc. As a result he's made some pretty great business moves in his hiring.

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Mr. Conrad seems comfortable with making sweeping statements, implying expertise and insider knowledge.. I am curious as to whether his own credentials actually the impression he is trying to make.

A cursory search on Google turns up quite a lot of talk about his teaching method, based on a course of study at the Bolshoi, but not much about his other qualifications. If this were a trial, would he be accepted as an "expert witness"?

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If you follow the link above to the thread about him on BT4D, there is a discussion about his teaching credentials, which are solid. It was not like he got diplomas from the Dasha Dinkleovna Academy.

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Dasha Dinkleovna Academy.

Oh ouch!

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I understand that the teaching credentials are authentic. I was wondering more about the extent of his connection with, and understanding of, the larger world of Russian ballet.

Some teachers and trainee teachers are very much part of all aspects their art, including performance, close ties with working dancers, a range of contacts with the company, etc. Others have more limited experience outside the actual classroom.

Of course, everyone has a right to his or her opinion, as YouTube demonstrates many times each day. But Mr. Conrad's statements imply that he has extensive experience within the Russian ballet world and with those who inhabit it, the kind of experience that leads to real (or at least "insider") knowledge.

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Or a desire to reinvent the wheel with himself at the center of it. Just speaking from appearances, but the devil is in the details.

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I'd really love to know what he's trying to do. Is it to just to sell his fitness and Conrad Method DVD's? Because he's said he no longer wants anything to do with the States due to the "American attitude". Seems a bit of a waste if his credential are, in fact, real.

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When Peter Boal took over PNB, 1/3 of the dancers had been his students at SAB, and since then he's hired more, a handful of whom danced in other companies first. I wouldn't doubt a teacher's ability to have an extensive network.

His credibility in the Russian dance community and the depth of his relationships with his students and other dancers isn't anything we can judge without being in that world, and unless someone from that world speaks on the record about it, we really haven't that much to go on. He certainly makes himself vulnerable if his claims are not true or highly exaggerated. If he's going back to Russia to make his film, it's hard to imagine him getting a warm reception if they think he's a liar, unless it is somehow advantageous to them.

As far as his intent to sell DVD's, I think it's pretty clear from the distracting footage in the background of his video blogs, which, like infomercials, rely upon great length and constant repetition.

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... Because he's said he no longer wants anything to do with the States due to the "American attitude". ...

Posted on his Facebook page is a callout for ballet dancer models from 3 countries, including America, for what sounds like a coffee-table book of dancer photos.

As part of our 2013 projects, we're publishing an art photography book of ballet images shot and edited by Eric Conrad to accompany his new film being shot it Russia. In addition to featuring the Russian Artists starring in the film, we will be selecting ballet models in America, England(London), Russia. This announcement is specifically for Americans. Please send us a quick message here on fb if you are interested. This is paid work, your fee will be based on your value to the project. Eric is interested in working with skilled, beautiful ballet dancers not professional models. We are casting for both young men and women.

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