‘So you think you can dance’ labels the Hopak as Russian


Last night, the very popular FOX TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” (watched by millions and millions of viewers) featured two of this year`s top male dancers wearing Ukrainian folk costumes and dancing a hopak while presenting it as a Russian dance “trepak.” The lame excuse that such a dance was used by Tchaikovsky in his ballet “The Nutcracker” does not justify such a glaring misinformation on the part of the producers and, in particular, a Russian choreographer who prepared this dance!

The League of Ukrainian Canadians have provided a petition to sign and are encouraging viewers to write to FOX tonight to have them acknowledge the error before tonight’s finale. Already available is a clip from last night’s dance.

Here is a part of an e-mail from Dr. Stech of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies:

TROPAK or, more exactly, HOPAK was developed and danced by the UKRAINIAN COSSACKS long before Ukraine was annexed by Russia. Neither the costumes worn by your dancers, nor the dance itself have ANYTHING AT ALL to do with Russian culture! The fact that the famous composer Petr Tchaikovsky, who was partly of Ukrainian Cossack origin, used not only Ukrainian dances (practically unchanged), but also numerous Ukrainian folk melodies in his works, does NOT make automatically these dances and melodies Russian!

If a British composer used French minuets or Scottish national dances in his/her work, would you consider that these dances automatically become English? I do not think so. Why then are you ready to promote such glaring misinformation, based on Russian imperialistic prejudices, among the millions of viewers of your show?

It’s hard to find anything positive towards Ukrainians on broadcast television – it’s mostly deprecating or generalizing.  You can find some rare exceptions elsewhere on television, but they aren’t perfect.

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