Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers
dustbunny

Articles: Ballet Competitions

Recommended Posts

dustbunny

Here's a high-profile piece on ballet competitions from The New Republic:

 

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115169/ballet-competitions-turn-art-sport

 

My DD dances at at studio that purposely avoids YAGP and other competitions, so I found this particularly interesting. Our family could never afford what's required for entry anyway, and we prefer to put the money we do have into additional classes, intensives and so on. I feel like an audition is a competition in and of itself! Any thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
buzzandmoo

All very good points.......I do have a devil's advocate comment tho....Why, if ballet should be about the artistry and development of the dancer, do the top schools constantly bring in the dancers who excel at the "tricks"? (and I am talking about those prominent schools that do NOT participate in YAGP) Often taking that coveted spot away from a budding artist? BTW, I am speaking from direct experience. Because dancers with tricks fill seats. Artists take longer to bring along and at the end of the day a ballet company is not ivory tower. They are dependent on making enough money to pay their bills. I am personally split on the issue of competitions and ballet. We have no intention to participate any time in the near future, but my DD and I have met some lovely dancers that emerge from that world. We have also seen some DKs that have no idea what or why they are doing what they do. Wouldn't the world be perfect if we could teach artistry alongside the "tricks"? LOL

 

Oh and I do believe today's choreographers share some of the blame. Dancers after all reproduce/interpret their vision. How about dazzling an audience with the story/emotion instead of feats of athleticism.

Share this post


Link to post
AJWMom

Interesting thoughts. I have tried to understand the competition circuit: whether my DD should do this, why, who is seeing/ watching. These students are being seen by many in a short amount of time. This sometimes can be good, but I prefer my DD love for dance to come though not the amount of turns to be her down fall. She is empowered on stage a portrays that power/ love of dance in her dancing.

Share this post


Link to post
trythis

I feel like there is a big picture with competitions and a small picture.

 

Big picture- artistry is hard to quantify. So in a competition it is hard to give artistry points to someone who doesn't also master technicality. How does failure in technique (to a judge) distract from the artistry of the performance? So the danger becomes an art form that focuses on the technical aspects, more so than the artistic aspects.

 

Small picture- participating in a competition is an opportunity to perform. Rather than being subjected to the cast list deemed by your director, in a competition you can choose to challenge yourself with any variation you wish. You can chose a variation that you know you can do very well, or you can chose a variation that has many elements that you know you need to work on and improve as you rehearse it. Perhaps you will never dance the lead in your company's production? But you can be Aurora in YAGP! You can test your nerves, meet new people, perhaps travel to new places and even earn an opportunity for further study by participating in a competition. In order to develop artistry and a level of comfort in front of an audience you must have opportunities to perform. Competitions give you that opportunity.

 

While I understand the big picture concerns, I also appreciate the small picture way that a competition is fun for my DD and gives her something fun and challenging to work on.

Share this post


Link to post
dustbunny

I do like the idea of getting to dance something you might otherwise not have a chance to do on stage... . There are far too few performance opportunities for young dancers!

Share this post


Link to post
learning.a.lot

I find the title so funny...

"Ballet is in Crisis because it is turning into a sport". Really?

I still think the majority of professional dancers have never done a competition.

Ballet and other arts are more in crisis because they are not a sport in our "Sports crazed" culture.

Share this post


Link to post
buzzandmoo

NYCB has a few principals that started out in the competition world.

Share this post


Link to post
cakers

People will focus their efforts on whatever they perceive will win them awards, no matter what the sport or endeavor. If it appears (and it does) that judges put up dancers with extreme extensions and "trick" turns, then that's what the aspiring competitor will work on the hardest. Many studios now offer "acro" classes as part of their curriculum because jazz competitions have become more about aerials and handsprings than dance. But if that's what judges are placing first, then how can you blame the competitors for trying to give the judges what they want? Perhaps YAGP should allocate more points to the artistry category, then beautiful dancers can focus more on expression and character, than how high they can get their leg, or how many pirouettes they can pull off.

Share this post


Link to post
Petrovafossil

I just realized I hear people talking about "tricks" all the time, but I have no idea what they mean by the term. I feel like an idiot asking, but can someone give me a couple of examples?

Share this post


Link to post
dancypants1

I dont understand "tricks" in a ballet context either. In other dance genres they would be tumbling elements, or contortion elements, or a non standard turn (like a leg held next to the head or something). As far as ive seen, these dont exist in ballet. So what is a "trick"?!

Share this post


Link to post
LaFilleSylphide

Tricks in ballet according to most dancers now can mean too many pirouettes (to the point where so many turns no longer fit a musical phrase), contortion or distortion of classical line (think grand pas classique with the knee in front of the nose), executing off choreography turns and looking to the audience for attention/applause - these are "tricks" in ballet.

Share this post


Link to post
cakers

In the YAGP context, you will usually see more of the "tricks" in the contemporary part of the competition, although you do see the extreme extensions and split leaps that go past the horizontal, and sometimes multiple pirouettes, in the classical variations as well. You will see the same balances with the leg stuck straight up in the air as you do at jazz competitions, and, in fact, I've seen competitors do their YAGP contemporary pieces at jazz competitions.

I have never liked jazz competitions because they seem to be more about the tricks than the dance, so it has deeply disappointed me to see YAGP going down the same path. I've heard a lot of disdain for competition studios on the board, but what does it say about YAGP if the same pieces competing or winning at jazz competitions are also competing and/or winning at YAGP?

Share this post


Link to post
Lady Elle

my daughter did a contemporary ballet piece at one of those "jazz" competitions (Think dance moms here) last year. She only competed twice - it was to a classical cello piece. Absolutely beautiful artful piece. out of 15 in her division... She didn't even make the top 10!! we were all so surprised - but, there weren't any pirouettes or switch leaps or fuettes. We kind of knew going in that it might not go over very well. they just did not know how to judge it! A few of the judges were taking pictures of her dancing. so for the next competition we put some pirouettes and pique turns in just to give them something!! She scored slightly better but her performance was not as good. The competition world is very odd.

Share this post


Link to post
Gracegirlz

All very good points.......I do have a devil's advocate comment tho....Why, if ballet should be about the artistry and development of the dancer, do the top schools constantly bring in the dancers who excel at the "tricks"? (and I am talking about those prominent schools that do NOT participate in YAGP) Often taking that coveted spot away from a budding artist? BTW, I am speaking from direct experience. Because dancers with tricks fill seats. Artists take longer to bring along and at the end of the day a ballet company is not ivory tower. They are dependent on making enough money to pay their bills. I am personally split on the issue of competitions and ballet. We have no intention to participate any time in the near future, but my DD and I have met some lovely dancers that emerge from that world. We have also seen some DKs that have no idea what or why they are doing what they do. Wouldn't the world be perfect if we could teach artistry alongside the "tricks"? LOL

 

Oh and I do believe today's choreographers share some of the blame. Dancers after all reproduce/interpret their vision. How about dazzling an audience with the story/emotion instead of feats of athleticism.

 

LOVE this, especially the last line! The expression of the story/emotion is sometime a lost art, or a distant second to the ability to wow with "tricks". Have we progressed or advanced beyond that element of classical ballet?

Share this post


Link to post
Petrovafossil

Thank you for the examples! I learned something today. Always a good feeling?

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...