Between racism, sexism, and body types… The real politics of ballet boil down to one thing: favoritism. After the recent performance of Los Angeles Ballet’s DON Q, I realized that favoritism may be the downfall of ballet… Favoritism in ballet isn’t just about talent, or body type… It has to do with the personal relationships within the company. I’m not saying that these people don’t deserve a chance, but if you look at NYCB’s roster… everyone has either married each other, dating each other or are related. Don’t get me wrong… genetics for ballet is extremely important… But, we have all been in the room when someone is given a role, and the whole room is thinking, “WTF?”
Casting is the one thing that is most affected by favoritism. And casting and the chance to learn a role, or even perform a role is what feeds a dancer’s soul. In a major company, like say…. American Ballet Theatre, the competition within the corps is so fierce that it might be impossible to get promoted…. I mean their corps is full of YAGP winners and Prix finalists… Then you have NYCB whose corps dances insane…. But principals really do shine…. Then you have regional companies who casting is extremely distinct by rank…. but then there are the exceptions of favorites… Dancers who are being fast-tracked by either talent, personality or personal relationship….
I’ve said it a million times… but Artistic Directors are the ones killing ballet….
The rebuttal is that Artistic Director’s give dancers a shot to prove themselves… and sometimes… they don’t live up to that moment… Then we have scenarios where the dancer is talented but stuck in the corps because of financial reasons… So it is hard to say… With talent coming out of the woodworks these days… Jobs are becoming scarce, and with principal dancers eating their own company’s repertory alive… Superstars and guesting at companies constantly… So, is there any room left for the “traditional” dance career route? Do you have be a superstar to make it now?
If you aren’t a favorite, a YAGP stars, a social media force, or reality star… is there room for the typical ballet dancer?
Sorry this post is so scatter brained, I am also having coffee with a friend of mine talking about our upcoming Vegas trip.
So, here I am sitting, over iced tea (I gave up coffee for lent) wondering the fate of so many talented dancers. Is it good enough to have a perfect body, clean technique and a great work ethic? Or, are we at the point where you have to beyond perfect in every way, have superior tricks, and be well known through social media? Has ballet truly become for the people, and the people demand tricks and technical powerhouses?
As I see so many professional dancers transitioning to other companies, or freelancing…. I wonder if ballet will be like the commercial dance industry, and will be booked and cast by the show?