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Why does City Ballet have so few dancers of East Asian descent?For once, an issue of race that is outside the black/white binary.


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#61 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 21 March 2015 - 12:09 PM

All you have to do is look at the dancer rosters. You'd be hard-pressed to find any from the internationally known major companies to the regional companies in America's heartland that don't have two or more male and female East Asians dancers.  

 

 

I thought you might have some hard data to hand since you seem interested in the topic of dance company diversity in general. I'm open to your case, but it would be helpful if you provided the data to support it rather than suggesting that I look at a couple of dozen company rosters myself.

 

What do you think an appropriate percentage of dancers of East Asian origin might be? Should we expect a dance company's diversity to roughly match that of the US in general? Of the company's geographic region in particular? 



#62 lmspear

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Posted 21 March 2015 - 01:15 PM

I think you also have to take into account that there may not be parental support for ballet as a career choice. "Ballet is fine as a hobby, but you need earn a living, consider job security, etc. Become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, whatever and then support the arts. You're going to college." These parents would see themselves as negligent if they didn't push their offspring towards a secure future.

#63 Tapfan

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Posted 21 March 2015 - 02:20 PM

 

I thought you might have some hard data to hand since you seem interested in the topic of dance company diversity in general. I'm open to your case, but it would be helpful if you provided the data to support it rather than suggesting that I look at a couple of dozen company rosters myself.

 

What do you think an appropriate percentage of dancers of East Asian origin might be? Should we expect a dance company's diversity to roughly match that of the US in general? Of the company's geographic region in particular? 

I'm not suggesting quotas for anyone. Although outreach IS nice.

 

 Its just seems strange that City ballet doesn't have any female dancers of East Asian heritage when practically everyone else does.  It still seems strange even when you take into account the fact that City ballet likes Ballanchine ballerinas and the fact that Asians and Asian Americans stress the study of hard sciences for a career.

 

Even with all that, women with Asian heritage still become classical dancers. 'Cept at NYCB.  Even if city ballet doesn't care one bit about diversity, you'd think someone would make their roster. 



#64 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 21 March 2015 - 03:10 PM

I'm not suggesting quotas for anyone. Although outreach IS nice.

 

 Its just seems strange that City ballet doesn't have any female dancers of East Asian heritage when practically everyone else does.  It still seems strange even when you take into account the fact that City ballet likes Ballanchine ballerinas and the fact that Asians and Asian Americans stress the study of hard sciences for a career.

 

Even with all that, women with Asian heritage still become classical dancers. 'Cept at NYCB.  Even if city ballet doesn't care one bit about diversity, you'd think someone would make their roster. 

 

Lara Tong 



#65 mira

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Posted 21 March 2015 - 04:39 PM

while not from Asia, Likolani Brown is native Hawaiian.



#66 Tapfan

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Posted 21 March 2015 - 04:58 PM

I happily stand corrected.  I was wrong. Good for City Ballet!  I really mean that!  

I truly thought there was something wrong with them. 



#67 Amour

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Posted 22 March 2015 - 12:09 AM

while not from Asia, Likolani Brown is native Hawaiian.


Also while not from Asia, Georgina Pazcoguin definitely has some Asian blood. I am friendly with Anthony Huxley's mom and she (and her mother, who I met) seem to be Indonesian or Philippino. There are also a few more corps women who look at least partially Asian. Finally, one of the 3 little Maries in Nutcracker this year (and her Fritz) are Asian. I dont remember the girl's name (Fritz was performed, I believe,by a boy named Sawyer Reo) but I don't think it sounded especially East Asian. You can't judge based solely on names.

#68 mira

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Posted 22 March 2015 - 07:24 AM

Classical training is the standard in "Asian" countries - China, Japan, South Korea, etc.   It is unusual when a dancer with classical training chooses Balanchine(SAB) training - most gravitate to ballet schools in the west that are close to what they already are familiar with - schools such as Royal Ballet School, JKO, San Francisco Ballet School.   



#69 Helene

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Posted 22 March 2015 - 08:50 AM

San Francisco Ballet School is not a classical training academy:  like most North American elite and company-affiliated schools, the training is an eclectic mix designed to feed dancers into North American companies, which, with a few exceptions, perform a wide range of rep, full-lengths plus short neoclassical ballets.  Gloria Govrin was associate director of the school for nearly a decade, and she was a Balanchine dancer.   Kirov Academy and Goh Ballet are classical academies in the US.  I'm not sure where Houston is now, and Harid might also have more of a classical emphasis.  There are smaller schools where classical technique is emphasized or even taught exclusively, but even these students mostly end up being "finished" at a company-affiliated school if they don't get hired in Europe and gain experience there.

 

Pennsylvania Ballet's only Asian-born dancer trained at SAB.  At PNB Kaori Nakamura, who retired last year, was trained in Japan, but chose SAB from her Prix de Lausanne prize.  Sokvannara Sar's only ballet training was at SAB after being given a crash course in ballet.  There have been other Asian-born dancers at PNB -- Le Yin went through the state-sponsored training in China and Batkhurel Bold was trained in Perm -- but the majority of dancers of Asian descent in the company are US-born and -trained.

 

Most North American companies are just as focused on neoclassical as classical ballet, and often dance classical ballet in neoclassical style.  It hasn't stopped some from hiring Asian-born and -trained dancers into their more eclectic companies:  Royal Ballet has five out of over 100 dancers, San Francisco Ballet has eight out of 76 dancers, National Ballet of Canada has ten of 75 dancers, and Ballet Arizona has three out of 31 dancers.  In the North American companies, I don't see the dancers being pigeonholed into the classics and not cast in neoclassical works.

 

Companies tend to reflect their audiences; the very smart ones also reflect their community.



#70 sandik

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Posted 22 March 2015 - 10:24 AM

Companies tend to reflect their audiences; the very smart ones also reflect their community.


Oooh, I want to borrow that.

ps isn't the Goh Ballet Academy in Canada?

#71 Helene

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Posted 22 March 2015 - 12:03 PM

Goh Ballet is, indeed, in Canada. I grouped US and Canada in North America in terms of training. There are no major Canadian classical ballet companies, ie, where the core choreography is classical, and everything else is performed through a classical lens.

The most wonderful part of the Goh Ballet Nutcracker is seeing the Goh-trained students. It's possible, though, that Chan Hon Goh has diversified the training lately, based on her experience at National Ballet of Canada.

#72 mira

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Posted 22 March 2015 - 04:59 PM

I was not identifying SF Ballet School, JKO and Royal Ballet School as classical ballet schools but as schools that dancers from Asia who are classically trained would choose for "finishing" or exposure to a US company over SAB and Balanchine training.   That is reflected in the enrollment in the advanced programs of these schools which varies every year.  During the several years that I have been aware of enrollment at SAB, I am know of 4 dancers who are Asian.



#73 its the mom

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 02:21 AM

Boston Ballet probably tops the number of Asian hires, both Asian-American and Asian-born dancers.  There are six Asian-American dancers and seven Asian-born dancers.  What's equally impressive is that seven of the total are second soloist or above in rank.  




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