(photo by Lucretia Diaz, taken from here)
I was originally going to title this post “WHOSE PUBLICITY STUNT WAS THIS?” because I couldn’t imagine how someone who was just promoted to principal at one of the most prestigious dance companies in the U.S., helmed by one of the most famous names in dance, could possibly want to jeopardize his career by doing something so publicly that is explicitly forbidden by his contract and then admitting on national TV that he wasn’t fulfilled at his job and wanted more — like the chance to dance ballroom and hip hop. And then I did a Google Image search of Alex Wong for this post and found two pictures of him dancing, and that was after I had to narrow it down substantially to exclude all the many other Alex Wongs in the universe. Even given all I said at the top of the post, he hardly has an internet presence.
For those who didn’t watch tonight’s SYTYCD, it was the last day of Vegas-round auditions, when the judges called each contestant onstage and told him / her whether they’d made the top 20. Of course everyone in the ballet world was ecstatic over Alex being on the show — it would be just like Danny Tidwell; we’d actually have someone brilliant to watch. When Alex was called up, the judges all confirmed how brilliant he was. Then Nigel told him that, given that he was under contract with “Miami Ballet,” he’d spoken with Edward Villella to see if the artistic director would allow Wong out of his contract for the time necessary to be on the show. Villella said no, we need him. Nigel said he didn’t blame Villella. Nigel, completely blowing me away here with actual wisdom, looked at Wong like he was completely off his nut and told Wong he was currently enjoying the opportunity to work with one of the greatest dancers in the history of dance. Enjoy that time, learn everything you can, he said, and then maybe in the future if you still want, you can be on the show. Nigel actually shrugged at those last words. Like he knew how it sounded to anyone who knew the least bit about dance. Good for Nigel, for once. Seriously, I have a completely newfound respect for the man.
Wong cried — as if he didn’t know this was coming — and said he was so limited in his company; here he’d seen so many people enjoying so many different kinds of dance, he’d been exposed to so much here. His tears looked real.
So, my first thoughts were – –just like Count Albrecht — WHAT THE F— WAS WONG THINKING???? Did he not talk to Villella beforehand? Did he not read his contract? Was he never asked these questions when he auditioned for the show? Did he talk to Villella about, you know, having just a little time off? There are the auditions, the several months of the show, and then, if you go far, the whole year-plus-long tour. Was none of this really considered? So, I thought — and am still wondering — was this a publicity stunt? And if so whose? Villella’s to get Miami City Ballet on the map (even though that backfired a bit by Nigel’s failure to say the name of the company correctly), the show’s producers’ to get fans of serious dance interested in the show, Wong’s to get famous?
But then, considering how horrendously, ridiculously, unjustly little known ballet dancers are these days, maybe I can understand Wong’s desperation. Maybe he really didn’t think. Or maybe it was a publicity stunt — I half expect it to be announced on the show next week, that, yay, Villella came through!
All I know is that I really don’t want to watch the show now. Does anyone else?