Does Ballet Have Boundaries?

When I saw Paloma Herrera of American Ballet Theatre step onto the stage of So You Think You Can Dance last fall, I was speechless. One of my favorite ballerinas posed confidently to begin Kitri’s variation, on what seemed to be an awful floor for pointe work. Nevertheless, Herrera delivered under bright spotlights, in front of TV crews, and for millions of SYTYCD fans watching at home. If she was out of her element, it was impossible to for anyone to tell. Herrera could probably perform with spunk, strength and spot-on turns under any given situation.

Yet after she finished, my first thought was, “What is she doing up there?” The sophisticated ballerina didn’t seem to fit on the stage of the popular television show. In no way could I belittle what So You Think You Can Dance has done for the dance world—the show has exposed amazing, raw talent and has broadened the horizons of audiences, with or without dance experience. Nor do I find contemporary styles any less beautiful than classical ballet. However, the SYTYCD stage exudes a slightly different atmosphere than the Metropolitan Opera House. I couldn’t help but wonder if putting artists like Herrera on reality TV belittles the art of ballet.

Then this week I heard that American Ballet Theatre soloists Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews are scheduled to perform the pas de deux from act III of Don Quixote live on SYTYCD tomorrow night. Finding out about this upcoming performance urged me to brainstorm more about the situation. Sure, dancers from classical companies are different than contemporary dancers, and they thrive in different venues. However, distinctions between the classical and the contemporary are blurring now more than ever before. (Flash back to rapper Big Boi from OutKast’s collaboration with Atlanta Ballet in 2008.) Maybe soon we will see stars from So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew touring at the Met and the Kennedy Center.

If anything else, ABT’s appearances on the popular TV show will give audiences an increased awareness of the ballet world. Someone who has never even heard of Don Quixote could develop a newfound love and appreciation of ballet—which is always an amazing thing.


Catch ABT’s Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews on So You Think You Can Dance tomorrow night at 9:00 PM (EST) / 8:00 PM (CST), and share your thoughts in the comments!

Latest Posts


Gavin Smart, Courtesy ROH

Calling All Ballet Lovers! World Ballet Day 2020 Is on October 29

While very little about this year has felt normal, we're excited to share that one of the dance community's landmark events is returning despite the pandemic. October 29 marks World Ballet Day 2020.

This year's iteration of the annual social media extravaganza features three of the world's leading companies: The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet. Additional participating companies, which include American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and Boston Ballet, have just been announced. Last year's World Ballet Day was the biggest yet, reaching over 315 million social media users around the world.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Yan Revazov, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin

How Staatsballett Berlin Pulled Off "Giselle" in the Age of Coronavirus

It's 8:24 am on a Tuesday. Even though morning class isn't for another hour and a half, Daniil Simkin is already at Staatsballett Berlin's studios; tests for the coronavirus, a biweekly requirement to dance with his partner, Iana Salenko, need to be submitted before 8:30 am—an inconvenient time, if you ask him. "It's annoying, but I'm just really grateful to be performing again," he says. "You do what you have to do."

Staatsballett Berlin has been back onstage since August. Return has been slow and steady, with dancers first performing solos or pas de deux (composed of people who already live together) in galas. On October 28, the company presented an adapted version of Patrice Bart's Giselle, its first full-length production since March. Pointe took a virtual behind-the-scenes tour to learn what goes into mounting a ballet during a pandemic, including safety precautions, adjustments to choreography, and what it feels like to be back onstage.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Ava Rikki, Courtesy Mondesire

I'll Never Forget My First Pair of Flesh-Tone Tights

I remember when I encountered the color cinnamon. Such warmth and comfort instantly saturated my soul. It was the summer of 2015, a time I will never forget, and I was trying on my first pair of flesh-tone tights. The band fit perfectly on my waist with such a calm gentleness. They were tights that looked like me—not ballet pink, the color that many were taught could be the only one in the ballet world. It was me, all the way from my head to my toes. No breaks, perfect continuity.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks