What is going on in ballet?

Now that I have caught up on work… I’ve had time to reflect on the YAGP… and other things…

what is going on in ballet

So, you went to a good school… big whoop. So did a million other kids, and guess what? Their careers didn’t turn out how they thought they would… Hahaha I make myself laugh. The world of ballet is going through a big change, and in America the change is happening rather fast…. So before we list off the BIG TEN, like we do every Summer… I would like to talk about the changes that are happening in American Ballet, well with all the changes happening… I don’t know much longer we will have American Ballet… In fact, I don’t know how long ballet is going to be a choice…  I remember when I was auditioning, as a boy… if you had a solid triple pirouette right and left, an easy double tour, and clean technique… you would get into a company. Yup, it was that easy… I mean it helped if you had beautiful body proportions, and it would help if you were flexible… But the reality is… You really needed just that. Nowadays, that doesn’t cut it for a boy… You have to be extremely flexible, have more than four pirouettes, and be musically gifted.This next generation proved that at the YAGP this year with killer technique, crazy tricks, and be primed for principal’s musicality.




This year at the YAGP, Joon Hyuk Jun won the overall Grand Prix, which isn’t a surprise. In 2014 he did well in Lausanne and landed him a spot a Royal Ballet Upper School. Additionally, if he didn’t win the YAGP this year, I am pretty sure he hasn’t medalled as a senior competitor… He would be joining the Korean Army for two years. Yup, it’s that serious for Koreans. It is why there are so many applicants at every competition. In order for a male to avoid joining the army for two years, they have to medal first or second at an international competition recognized by the Korean government.

So, with that being said, something is happening in ballet… The age of the baby ballerina is coming back… Young superstars are proving their self-worth via social media and now the guest artist position. A lot of superstars in ballet aren’t even joining companies, they are going from gala to gala, and company to company guesting. Additionally, this is affecting how students are taking class, and the overall goals for ballet students. Around the world, I’ve seen it all over social media, the demand for superb technique, and extraordinary body lines is higher than ever… There is also a demand for artistic superiority and maturity that used to be excused in young dancers, but now… even that is being conquered…

arabesque for boys

The ballet talent is overwhelming… and the maturity and artistry is growing… The issue now? Jobs… Jobs are very few to begin with in ballet, but now, there is so much talent, there is no room for error, or mistakes, or lack of technique. Everyone is gifted, everyone is has beautiful feet, everyone has extraordinary body proportions… It means that, the world of ballet is becoming smaller, and even more elite.  And this isn’t helping the world of ethnicity either… While Asian countries have been constantly adapting to the Russian school of technique because it works on their bodies, Asian countries have been putting out amazing potential… America has yet to overall put out one unique style, but the next generation of ballet dancers have already dictated what the “ballet look” is going to be… and that is: Hypermobile, Russian-trained talent.

This starts the debate between a ballet school and a finishing school… a lot of these elite schools around the world are now turning into finishing schools, while other schools are focused on the actual idea of teaching technique. A Ballet School is a facility supported by the faculty on teaching the basic ballet vocabulary through the advanced ballet vocabulary the best way they know how… While a finishing school, students are already expected to have a strong ballet vocabulary, and the focus is on pas de deux, variations, performance and quality… (dance studios… well we can talk about that later)

That is the thing, ballet comes in waves, and this wave of new talent, and this next generation of ballet dancers is going to be weeding out any slight chance of imperfection because… everyone is coming out of the woodworks with talent… This year at the YAGP… it was pretty obvious that everyone there was going to be getting a job, and taking away from the possibilities of “cattle calls”…

give ma job ballet

If you look at what American companies are hiring at the moment… from this season’s mid hires, to who they let go at the end of this season, to who they have announced in their new 2016-2017 rosters… It isn’t looking very good…  Not to mention… it is taking away jobs from Americans… but that is a little too political for my blog lol…While a lot of these students are coming from the companies’ home schools, most of these new hires were recruited from a competition in the previous years and they spent a year or two finishing. It is scary, because as I was hopeful for Paris Opera, they did not like the direction of Benjamin Millipede (POB trained but finished at SAB), and have tapped the super classical and super talented, female powerhouse Etoile: Auralie Dupont. PA Ballet took on Angel Corella (which as well all know, I disliked) and that has forced out numerous Balanchine dancers and he has hired all Latin dancers… Which is probably good because PA could use a little color. The shift is a cause from Artistic Directors looking at the future of ballet. Corps de ballet members are no longer becoming viable despite the experience as a seasoned corps dancer, as the corps is now becoming filled with exceptional talent: stronger body lines, more hypermobile bodies, and the sad part… these able bodies are disposable as directors can now just post on social media what they are looking for and hundreds of bodies will respond. It is scary to be dreaming of being a ballet dancer right now… because as much as you want it, if your body is not an “exceptional” body… It might not happen for you… just bad timing with the wave of talent… In Europe bodies are hand picked, but now in America, “exceptional” bodies are becoming more and more apparent because there is such a diverse and accessible levels of training throughout the US.

With that being said, as the list get composed for the BIG 10, I am going to be focusing on identifying the school as being a Ballet School or Finishing School… Since all of the major ballet competitions have wrapped up, I can now start adding data up, and going over what school graduates will be joining what companies… It is a long process, but it is worth doing… But remember, these lists are totally subjective…

ballet top ten companies in the world

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA @aballeteducation

Jewels… doodles available in my doodle book, available online