Follow-up to the Peter Martins Letter and a Special Offer

get-attachment-1.aspxWell, it wasn’t that deep, actually. SAB sent me an email saying that mine was exactly the kind of feedback the committee was interested in. Did I still want to join? I responded, respectfully, no, but please feel free to contact me with any questions, etc.

As to the issue I presented, of me teaching at SAB, that was just a ruse. I could never teach there. My approach to teaching ballet is too different from theirs. They want to create dancers. I want to create an ecstatic moment of dancing. They teach one to master a certain style and technique. I teach dance as a tool for self-mastery. They teach people how to squeeze themselves into a certain look. I teach people how to love themselves as they are and to dance from there. They promote an ideal. I expose the myth. They teach competition. I foster community. They teach hierarchy. I restore sovereignty of self. They pick favorites. I acknowledge everyone’s medicine and stir it up good.

And sometimes, I play hip-hop. SAB ain’t ready for this jelly.

Anyway, some time ago, my dear friends, Kate Penner, Jun Toguchi and I put together a ballet class DVD. I thought, perhaps I can use this DVD as a tool to connect with students far and wide. Here’s my idea: I will mail a copy of the DVD to the first 100 people who ask. Then, you can upload a video of yourself on YouTube (it can be a private channel) and I will give you some personal feedback. It’s not the same as being in class, but it’s something, and it could be fun.

This is a free service, but small donations are welcome.

Please write to me at Piyung@aol.com with “Class DVD” in the subject line, and please don’t laugh at me for still being on aol. Ok, go ahead, laugh.

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3 responses to “Follow-up to the Peter Martins Letter and a Special Offer

  • Ken Ludden

    When I think of Balanchine, from the point of view of the 1950s and 60s as he forged his way in America, all he did was clearly kin to what you are saying about how you teach. He left the Vaganova Choreographic Institute, expelled in many accounts, because he didn’t want to be forced into a form, search for a standardized ideal, or endlessly duplicate the dancing of years gone by. He viewed himself as an avant garde choreographer, and spoke and taught as a pioneer veering as far from anything classical as he could. That he got talked into calling it classical ballet by those who sought to promote his work and make it popular, it was a struggle. Lincoln saw himself in a rivalry with Lilian Bailiss and Madame de Valois–they were creating a purely English form of ballet, and Kirsten wanted to create a purely American form. He began by trying to blend Native American dances with classical ballet, but failed completely. Only then did he turn to Balanchine. And the fact that what Balanchine did stood in stark visual contrast to the rest of the world of classical dance was what Kirsten grabbed onto specifically for that reason. Somewhere along the line fame and success made it all congeal into the form you describe today, and what you experienced when you were there. It is a problem when humans are made into Gods!

    You are precisely what they need, Tai. What you are doing is what Balanchine started out to do. Peter and the others will never see it, and would never take such a risk. But then today’s world is purely anti-risk.

    You have my resounding support, and I applaud your strength of conviction. Sending all love, Ken

  • Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell

    Tai,
    You should send these words about your dance philosophy to Peter Martins. He NEEDS you. There’s nothing to gain from a spirit of exclusion. I think they have arrived at this crux and may be willing to shift their aesthetic. I love it!!! They gave to go back to the basics. Dance is everyone’s birth right.

    Love and light,
    Linda-D

  • charisselpree

    I love when genetics manifests in ideology. We are clearly cut from the same cloth…

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