Interesting article by Claudia La Rocco in the NY Times about the influence of SYTYCD on studios. (I missed SYTYCD this week; had really wanted to watch Thursday night but was at New York City Ballet all settled in my seat excitedly waiting for the premiere of Mauro Bigonzetti’s Luce Nascosta when I realized I’d forgotten to tape it).
Anyway, regarding this article: I have noticed in the last few Dance Times Square performance showcases that there have been several student / pro hip hop and lyrical routines (lyrical there meaning balletic modern, without shoes, like a contemporary routine on SYTYCD), which is odd given that it’s a ballroom / Latin studio. And the students are dancing with their same teachers, which means that ballroom / Latin specialists are teaching performance-level hip hop and modern dance. Perhaps in the future ballroom instructors will have to show fluency in more styles to get their jobs.
Broadway Dance Center (mentioned in the article), where I’ve taken ballet and jazz is an excellent studio by the way, if you’re in NY. So is Alvin Ailey extension, where I’ve taken Samba (Brazilian social / Carnival, not ballroom samba). They have everything at AA now, including Salsa and other ballroom dances, though I think they’re more geared toward social than competitive. But I think the attraction to Dance Times Square (aside from the fact the studio owners are now celebrities thanks to SYTYCD) is that they put on performances in real NY theaters, which gives students the chance to dance on a real stage. Alvin Ailey extension does too now; the students are performing in the theater inside AA studios, and Broadway Dance Center has its student showcases in the Martin Luther King Jr. High School auditorium, but it just feels different when it’s on a Broadway stage.
Anyway, I’m getting off track. But I do think dance styles are merging. You see more ballroom routines both in studios’ student showcases and on Dancing with the Stars that are looking lyrical these days, and more Latin routines that are looking very hip hop. And, as is mentioned in the article, some dance styles – like tap – are not visible on SYTYCD at all and are losing popularity in studios as well. I guess no one wants to bother learning an “unpopular” dance style… Nigel Lythgoe told La Rocco he didn’t think tap worked for the show because it’s so specific – it’s too hard to train general dancers in tap at such a level as to get performance-quality work out of them. Obviously it’s the same with ballet. It takes years, decades, to learn proper ballet technique, to even try going on pointe.
I really hope though that Lythgoe will continue trying to introduce general audiences to those styles not in competition on the show. Savion Glover and Jason Samuels Smith will sufficiently wow audiences (one of them has been on before, can’t remember which one), and all he has to do to make the masses swoon over ballet is to have Natalia Osipova on the show. I think the fun of ballroom and hip hop is in large part to learn them yourself, but the excitement of ballet is just watching.
Photo above of Mandy Moore and students by Stanley Kranitz, taken from the Times.