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Do you enjoy the ballet more if you know the dancers?


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#1 lillianna

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 07:14 PM

Since I have recently moved from one coast to the other, I am now seeing different ballet companies. I find that I enjoy ballet more when I know the dancers. And wonder if that is the norm. When I have attended a number of performances of a company , I learn who most of the dancers are. When I attend a performance of a visiting company I find that it , although enjoyable, it is not the same if I can't tell who dancers are. It is nice to be able to put a name to the wonderful dancer whose performance I am enjoying. After I know who dancers are, I then can enjoy seeing them in new and different roles. I forgive some performances, knowing that they have done so much better in different styles of ballet, etc. I happily look forward to ballets when I know my favorite dancers are dancing. Do you find that ballet is more fun when you know the dancers?

#2 su-lian

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Posted 13 April 2003 - 12:41 AM

I wouldn't say it is the norm, but I prefer to watch dancers I know, because then I'm not trying to see who it is and can focus on the dancing, but still say at the end what I thought of which dancer (which you can't really if you don't know them well, because even if you try to remember, it's difficult). I still very much like watching ballets, even if I only know a few soloists or even if I don't know any of them, but it's not the same. I also think that with dancers you know and see a lot, when they dance, you can recognise their style, and it is quite pleasant, if you see what I mean. There is a sort of satisfaction, but it's perfectly possible to fully enjoy a ballet even if you don't know or recognise any dancer (I have a friend who also loves ballet, and enjoys a lot going to see some, but she never recognises the dancers, and I always have to tell her after the performance!). But, once again, that's only my opinion, so it's not the norm.

#3 flo

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Posted 13 April 2003 - 07:19 AM

I enjoy the ballet if I don't know any of the dancers, but it's even better if I do know them. When I see a company for the first time, I always hope to see more of them so that I can recognize dancers the next time. I recently moved to a new city and part of the challenge of seeing a different ballet company has been learning who the dancers are!

#4 carbro

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Posted 13 April 2003 - 07:50 PM

I find that I am easier on dancers I know and like, tougher on dancers I know and Don't like, and more open minded (fairer ;) ?)with dancers I don't know.

However, there is nothing more gratifying than spotting an exciting, new kid in the corps, becoming a fan, and then watching them develop and advance. :D On the other hand, there is nothing more frustrating than spotting an exciting new kid in the corps, becoming a fan, and watching as they languish :) , wondering, for crying out loud, why management can't see the Star who is before their very eyes.:confused:

#5 BW

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 04:47 PM

lillianna, when you say "know" do you mean really know as in to go up and speak to, or as in recognize from past performances? I like knowing dancers - as in having seen them over time...somehow it makes the whole thing seem more personal - even if this is just an audience member's illusion. ;) If I actually know them, in even a slightly more personal sense (as in having met them briefly...or knowing their long lost cousin), it definitely makes me pay attention to them, specifically more so... The better I know someone, the more I'm apt to keep my eyes on them - for me, it's inevitable.

I do enjoy "following" a company's dancers - such as in a subscription to a series over the years... After reading on Ballet Talk about NYCB's "face" book of company members, we decided to buy it and I'm glad we did as it helps to put names to the various dancers who are not designated soloists or prinicpals, but who are nevertheless very good dancers. I like putting names to faces.

Since we live not far from NYC, we tend to see NYCB and ABT...so "know" them better.

I do like to read the ballet programs and the dancers' bios of visiting companies...just wish I had more time to get to know them all! :) So yes, in general, it is more fun.... though I still come can come away mesmerized even if I don't.

#6 lillianna

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Posted 15 April 2003 - 02:24 PM

I always seem to be drawn to a corps dancer when I watch a ballet. It is frustrating to me to not know who it is that I am enjoying so much. Corps dancers are usually listed in a large group of names, so it is almost impossible to figure out who each dancer is. When I watch a company over time, I can get to know who each dancer is by process of elimination with their roles. Nutcracker is a good time to learn dancers since many get an opportunity to dance different roles. Also, I do love it when the ballet company has a picture program of all of the dancers. Most companies only have pictures of the principals. It is easy to figure out who the principals are by the roles they dance, it is the corps dancers who are not as easily recognized. Of course, the pictures in the program, hair down--serous look--does not always match up to the bun heads on stage, but gives me more of a chance to figure it out.

I am lucky enough to be able to get to really "know" dancers by meeting them sometimes and ,yes, that really helps me to enjoy their performances more. Even a short meeting with them helps me to connect with them while they perform. Attending pre or post performance talks by dancers is a great way to get to meet and know them as a person. That adds to my enjoyment of the who experience.

#7 Michael

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 10:14 AM

I am addicted to identifying dancers. But ...

The other side to it is that, when you see a dancer very regularly, you stop seeing all kinds of things about them which you noticed and responded to the first few times. Habit (and recognition is a kind of habit) dulls perception a good deal.

(For instance, first time I drive through a strange city I'm full of perceptions and notice so much; by the one hundredth time I "commute" I can drive the whole way without seeing or remembering a thing -- I wouldn't want to push the analogy too far but it illustrates something).

For example, there is a particular dancer at a local company who is extremely idiosyncratic in build and lines -- so much so that, on first viewing, you may wonder whether it is appropriate for them to be a principal dancer at all, no matter how well they move. I've watched that dancer enough, though, to stop seeing the imperfections. Then when someone who doesn't know the company well mentions them, I have to go back and try to remember how actually weird and perhaps "off key" they really are. A friend has likened it to how you don't see your dear old aunt Cyrano's enormous nose any more. In ballet, however, features, build and size do matter.

#8 koshka

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 05:41 AM

I really like seeing dancers I "know" in both the "seen them before and can readily ID them" sense and the "have met them" sense.

For example, it was a delight to watch Polyana Ribiero rise through the ranks at Boston Ballet. Now that I am in DC, it is possible to watch Washington Ballet this way.

Similarly, as I have gotten to know the young people at the place where I take adult classes better, it has become much more interesting and enjoyable to watch them perform. In fact, I find that watching them more sharpens my sense of their strengths and weaknesses.

Of course, it is also nice to be in a place where a very wide variety of top-notch companies can be seen, though I do sometimes feel a bit "lost" when looking at the names in the program.

It would be hard to choose between seeing a performance by a new, unfamiliar company and an additional performance by a familiar one.

#9 Calliope

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 10:53 AM

I sheepishly admit, that given economic times right now, I only go to companies if I know a "name". I know that's shallow, but I feel really overwhelmed with all of the companies coming in and trying to support them all, for the sake of "expanding my horizons" and support the art.
Besides, sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I wish all the companies would stay home and work on their home crowd and let themselves develop a reputation worthy of being out on the road.

#10 Nanatchka

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 01:36 PM

The more you know the dancers, the better you know the dancers, the better you will see the choreography--you will be able, in time, to see it apart from the dancers even while they are in it. By this I mean knowing them as performers. As for knowing them personally--it changes the experience, for sure. Your become emotionally invested. ( Otherwise who would go to school plays and THanskgiving Programs, to stretch a point?)This isn't a bad thing, but it isn't why I go to the theater.

#11 Doris R

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Posted 21 April 2003 - 05:24 AM

HOWEVER, on a different slant....If I really know the dancers, I mean personally, not just as stage personalities, sometimes I find I concentrate so much on an individual's performance that perhaps I miss other things going on with the choreography. That's one of the reasons I like to watch different casts doing the same performances. I find I sometimes see things differently. On the same slant, I will often sit one performance in the orchestra and one in the balcony -- just so I get a diffrent perspective.

#12 thumpinhippo

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Posted 25 April 2003 - 12:27 AM

I don't really get into all the ballet dancers and stuff, i find i only have time to do the dancing itself. But on those occasions when i do go to the ballet, I love it!!! So you can enjoy the ballet without knowing the dancers.
I can't really watch anything with dancers I know except the videos of our own performances. In these cases, like Doris said, i focus more on the one dancer and watch their performance rather than the general choreography.

#13 Shirabyoshi

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:02 PM

My answer to this is: yes, absolutely.

In the two weeks since I decided to become a ballet fan I have watched the Royal Ballet almost exclusively (on DVD and Blu-ray, not in person!), with only brief forays into the recordings of other companies.

This concentration means I can already pick out most of the principals and a few of the soloists (YUHUI CHOE!), some by their faces, a few just by the way they move. And knowing who they are, connecting this performance in this ballet to that performance in the other one, developing a feeling for the company and its style and its parameters, makes it all just so much more interesting, especially to a neophyte who has only her emotional impressions to go on.

For me the "way in" to a new art form is always a connection to one artist in particular -- and, pursuing that one, one's attention is arrested by others (YUHUI CHOE!), and then every performance seems to contain at least one person for whose entrances one waits in breathless anticipation...

I'm really not such a critical theatregoer, and I doubt I'll ever make a critical balletgoer. I'm in it for the thrills, frankly. Posted Image



(This utterly pointless post brought to you by the fact I have to write ten of 'em in order to unlock the full potential of membership on Ballet Alert. ;) )


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