It fascinates, it annoys, it thrills… One thing is certain: the star Academy made a successful return to TF1 by rediscovering the codes that made it shine twenty years ago. Created in 2001, the show has, over the seasons, “changed gear so that it is a singing school”, declared producer Mathieu Vergne at the microphone of Europe 1 before the broadcast of the first bonus of the new vintage, mid -october. “What makes the flavor of the program are the students […] who are learning a trade, to be a complete artist with a faculty”, he underlined.
The show’s teams insist that it is no longer a reality show but a music school. If the star academicians are locked up, it is “because it is an academy, that they have their courses”, thus recently affirmed the host (and former candidate) Karima Charni, on the set of C Media, on France 5. The candidates are “students”, accompanied by “teachers” and noted during weekly “assessments”. A whole lexicon that contributes to making the viewer understand that budding artists are there to learn how to become the “star” promised by the title of the program.
But what do the real schools of musical comedy think of this device filming its students 24 hours a day and broadcasting their learning in a daily program. 20 minutes asked the question to several of them.
“We don’t work the voice just anyhow”
“Meeting a competent teacher, even over a short period of time, can bring about an evolution”, immediately launches Laurent Mercou, director of the Professional School of Musical Comedy (ECPM), in Paris. Marlène Schaff, one of the teachers at her establishment, is also a coach with star academicians.
The team of coaches who supervise the young artists is made up of “true professionals”, confirms Claire Jomard, director of the International Academy of Musical Comedy (Aicom) in Paris. “It’s really nice because it shows that we don’t work the voice and the body just anyhow,” she rejoices.
For Nathalie Lefèvre, director and founder of the Professional Workshops of the Unclassifiable (API) confirms that Marlène Schaff also worked in her establishment, as did Laure Balon, the scenic expression teacher. According to her, the show deserves to be more transparent about the experience of its candidates. “Most already have a long training course behind them. It would be good if we were told how many years they spent in a school of musical comedy so that the spectators understand that we do not reach such a level in a few weeks. Rather, she feels, the show works like a multi-stage “big cast,” similar to what happens in the industry.
“I find the evaluations ridiculous”
To designate the “named” risking elimination during the Saturday bonus, the students submit to the test of evaluations every Tuesday. Facing the teachers, they perform a choreography and perform one or more songs. They are then scored and categorized. The students at the bottom of the ranking are then submitted to the votes of the viewers. “I find it ridiculous”, slice Sylvia Besnault, director of the Broadway School of Poitiers, a school teaching musical comedy as a hobby at the rate of two hours of lessons per week. “On our side, we do not evaluate by note. I come from National Education and I see too much harm from this type of evaluation which means nothing. For us, the evaluation is the stage during our shows. »
At Aicom, the 300 students follow a specific educational program with objectives to achieve, such as “knowing how to project your voice and have good diction”, “being able to do a demi-plie in dance”… These skills are observed in continuous control at each course and during “white castings”, “because each student deserves his individual feedback”, insists Claire Jomard. She adds: “We don’t classify people. »
Concerning the temporality of the learning of the star Academy, all the professionals agree that it does not allow true artistic development. “Over six weeks, you can learn a lot of things, that’s for sure. But it’s more like coaching… Mastering a profession takes years,” assures Nathalie Lefèvre. “It’s like comparing antibiotics to daily care, one will have a quick and effective effect and the other a more lasting effect,” she smiles.
Cameras, a brake on nature
Sixty cameras record the actions of the students during lessons and in their daily life at the castle. Laurent Mercou judges that this “distorts the naturalness necessary for an artistic approach”. “The fact of being watched in a process of evolution is biased, it is not natural. According to this professional, evolving requires introspection which is not possible with the pressure of the cameras which are a brake on the natural.
“We do absolutely the opposite that at the Star Academy, we believe that progress must be made in silence, without being in danger as soon as we step aside, ”explains Nathalie Lefèvre. She establishes an analogy by evoking the case of a child who does not write well: “If we expose his shortcomings, he will no longer write. »
Learning to be an artist, “it’s possible”
“The candidates are going through something downright crazy, that’s for sure,” she continues. Even if the pedagogy deviates from the curriculum of real artistic schools, the directors of musical comedy schools confirm the interest of the program. “It provides a springboard for visibility, to highlight artists”, underlines Claire Jomard. She specifies that Stanislas, currently tenant of the castle, went through the benches of Aicom before integrating star Academy.
“It’s not a school like ours, but it remains a particularly useful experience, an accelerator for entering the profession of artist. This also allows you to build up an address book in an accelerated way,” says Sylvie Besnault.
The context of permanent pressure due to cameras and bonuses also allows “to make important changes”, suggests Laurent Mercou. When he looks star Academy, he sees more entertainment than music school: “Everything is built for the game, I just hope that the production is careful not to make it too violent for the artists. »
The show is a spotlight on the possibility of being an artist through training. “It can raise awareness of the fact that everyone can have access to singing, dancing and theater,” rejoices Claire Jomard. And I hope that, thanks to that, young people think that they can come and train in schools like ours. »