You can protest the blatant error of calling "Hopak" a "Russian dance"

08:22, 08 August 2008
World
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By signing a petition prepared by the League of Ukrainian Canadians

Now you can protest the blatant error of calling "Hopak" a "Russian dance" by signing a petition prepared by the League of Ukrainian Canadians.

If you feel that promoting such disinformation is wrong and offensive to Ukrainians, please sign right now.

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!

I strongly encourage all who find such an irresponsible promotion of Russian imperialistic stereotypes offensive to all Ukrainians to write immediately to FOX TV:

The e-mails must reach Nigel Lythgoe before the show finale tonight.

Write right away to the show`s executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, so that this error may be publicly corrected on the final show of the season which air tonight. Such things will keep happening over and over again if we remain passive.

For example, see e-mail below sent to FOX TV by Dr. Marko R. Stech (the University of Toronto)

To: Mr. Nigel Lythgoe

Executive Producer of "So You Think You Can Dance"

FOX TV

HOW CAN YOU CALL IT A RUSSIAN DANCE?!!!!

 Dear Mr. Lythgoe!

 I have been watching the 2008 season of "So You Think You Can Dance" with particular pleasure and interest. I commend you on your efforts to popularize various styles of dance among the broad masses of viewers in the US. I have admired the consistently high level of professionalism of the choreographers and dancers on your show. I was also impressed by the fact that this year you have been trying to bring the awareness of dance traditions of other cultures into the mainstream TV.

 It was thus with great surprise and disappointment that I watched the last night`s season`s finale during which you featured two of this year`s top male dancers wearing UKRAINIAN FOLK COSTUMES and dancing a TRADITIONAL UKRAINIAN DANCE TROPAK or HOPAK while ERRONEOUSLY presenting it as a RUSSIAN dance! This is not only an uncharacteristic sign of ignorance and lack of professionalism on the part of your staff, but a grave INSULT to all people of Ukrainian extraction!

 TROPAK and HOPAK were developed and danced by the UKRAINIAN COSSACKS long before Ukraine was annexed by Russia. Neither the costumes worn by the dancers on your show, nor the dance itself have ANYTHING to do with the traditional Russian culture! The fact that the famous composer Petr Tchaikovsky, who himself 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 these dances and melodies Russian! Russians have never danced “trepak” (Tropak) as part of their traditional national culture!

 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?

 The TROPAK and HOPAK are such distinctive features of the Ukrainian national tradition (which, as you should know, is very distinctive from the Russian tradition in general) that even the repressive Soviet government never dared to suggest that they can be considered "Russian" dances! It is truly regretful that it takes the ignorance of British and American consultants and the lack of objectivity and professionalism on the part of a Russian choreographer for such a misleading information to be promoted among the millions of viewers all over the world!

 Dear Mr. Lythgoe, I strongly believe in your professional ethics as a TV producer and entertainer. I ardently request that you correct this GLARING ERROR in your program and on the show’s WEB SITE and publicly explain that the dance that millions of viewers watched on your yesterday`s show was NOT “a RUSSIAN dance” and certainly NOT “Russian street dancing” (since in Russia “trepak” was danced EXCLUSIVELY by ballet dancers as part of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”), BUT a uniquely and distinctively “UKRAINIAN dance” and, if you will, “UKRAINIAN street dancing.”

 With best regards,

 Dr. Marko R. Stech

Managing Director, CIUS Press

Project Manager, Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine

Project Manager, Hrushevsky Translation Project

Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies

University of Toronto

256 McCaul Street, Rm. 302

Toronto, ON, M5T 1W5

tel: (416) 946-7326; fax: (416) 978-2672

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