amitava

Clapping question

65 posts in this topic

I do not get to see many live performances with an audience, and I normally watch during a tech/dress rehearsal. But the few times that I have attended performances, I have noticed that many people start clapping during some "exciting" action on stage, before the sequence/section of choreography ends. I do not know the technical terms for these movements, but usually these are moves that are repeated in succession ..and the clapping started 75% to 80% into the sequence.

Is this normal etiquette or are Texas audiences a tad on the rusty side? Does this bother the dancers or encourage them? I usually wait for a bow to show my appreciation, as I am not a premature clapper...hope that came out right :D

Also some folks have informed me that "Russian milk the applause". What exactly does that mean? Is this a stereotype? I don't get to see Russian dance troupes very often.

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Amitava, I'd reply (and I have previously) but this issue is a pet peeve of mine and it's too early in the day to get so upset. I'll let it go with encouraging you to continue to wait for a bow before you applaud.

@#$%&!!

Giannina

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Pet peeve of mine, too. To me, an audience member, it's a distraction from what's happening on stage. I've never heard a dancer complain, unfortunately. Perhaps they just don't want to seem ungrateful.

I wonder if the "sequence" you refer to is the manege -- steps done (usually by the male) in a circle with a leap, then a turn, leap, turn, etc. Sometimes there are steps in between. Is that it?

Regarding the Russian bows, Russian dancers take their bows until their mothers have finally stopped applauding. They bow, we clap, they bow, we clap. Until the last clap has been clapped, they bow. In the West, we regard it as milking. Most Western dancers seem to leave the stage with the applause just beginning to peter out. We had a discussion about this some time ago where it was pointed out that life in Russia was so hard, and time in the theater such a blessed relief, that the dancers took it as part of their responsibility to allow the audience to appreciate them for as long as possible.

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Additionally, the longer the bow, the more time the Russian dancer has to catch his/her breath! They welcome the respite.

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I haven't been to many professional performances either. For our performances (and other regional ballet companies' performances), the audience does usually start to clap during a series of turns or similar "exciting" steps. Like if a girl is doing 32 fouettes (turns), they will start to clap after maybe 8 of them. The problem them becomes this- do you (as an audience member) continue to clap for the rest of the fouettes or do you stop and then clap again at the end or what?

As the person usually doing fouette turns on stage, I have to say that I've gotten so accustomed to the audience clapping that if they don't start to clap, my mind starts to wander and I wonder why they are not clapping. I know, not very concentrated on my part, but the dancers do notice.

I've had one teacher (accomplished choreographer) who told the audience (it was a student performance, somewhat casual) that it was unprofessional to clap for fouette turns... but I think the general public does applaud when they see something exciting, whether it be something difficult like fouette turns or multiple pirouettes, or something relatively simple like chaine turns.

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I'm of 2 minds about the clapping that starts on count 13 of the 32 fouettes --it annoys me sometimes, but on the other hand, I like it when the audience gets excited, and would just for once in my life LOVE to be in the house when the audience stopped the show and made the performer do that whole variation again -- "Bis! Bis!" they'd cry, and Sublimova would "have to" do her variation all over again; it used to happen all the time. Even at the movies, famously those of the Nicholas Brothers, audiences regularly made the projectionist stop the movie, rewind, and show the "Down Argentine Way' dance again, and maybe again.

What happens in the fouettes, I think, is that the audience is unconsciously counting, and when the number starts to equal the largest number of these exciting things in a row that they can imagine (i.e., 16), they can't contain themselves -- it's a form of premature ejaculation. Maybe as a guy I am more likely to forgive. They always stop clapping when it gets to 17 or 18 and she's still going -- I'd like to think that it's because they're non-plussed that the event so far exceeds what they could have imagined that they are stunned -- but sometimes it's clear that they just realize that they were wrong. If the ballerina is tiring, of course, the end of the applause is demoralizing for everybody – and so often the ballerina IS beginning to lose it, or has planned badly and began with extra doubles and such, which she has to drop as she lowers her expectations and finally hopes :beg: just to make it to the end without losing her balance altogether. :shake:

BUT…on those wonderful occasions when she’s still building her phrasing, getting her second wind, and maybe throwing in surprise doubles on a whim (as Sibley used to do), the REAL end is overwhelmingly exciting. :flowers: Of course, it takes either A) a staggeringly spirited performance or B) a largely naive audience for the first 16 fouettes to make more than a smattering of applause (given how often at galas we see this stunt), and who wants to feel like they're part of a houseful of dorks? But I still really like it when the diva is delivering and the audience is losing it.

The phenomenon of the clapping-early is related to the way we know if the song says "moon" at the end of the second line, it's almost certain to say either "croon," "spoon," or "June" at the end of the fourth -- it just means the audience is tuned in, has got the beat, and is anticipating what's coming -- and that's a good thing. That's what you have to have as a basis....

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I wonder if the "sequence" you refer to is the manege -- steps done (usually by the male) in a circle with a leap, then a turn, leap, turn, etc. Sometimes there are steps in between.  Is that it?

Regarding the Russian bows, ....

Yes males..Magege, the way you describe it and with females, the variety is a great deal more. They do leaps, spins in circles, rotating continually in a single spot, etc.

Thanks for the Russian encore explanation. So I guess it is not a stereotype. Yes I have seen only USA/Europe based companies, and 2 encores are usually a big deal. The Metropolitan Classical Ballet in Arlington TX has 6-8 Russian principle dancers. I need to stay back for a live performance and experience this milking. :flowers:

But Marqa is right, there is something very different about Russian dancers in their form, that I cannot quite put to words. They seem to be much more in "form", have a very beautiful and consistent way of executing leaps. I am not sure if it requires a lot more effort. But I don't know if it is me or I have seen only a certain batch of dancers - their mime is so cold to me.

Response to Paul "stopped the show and made the performer do that whole variation again -- "Bis! Bis!" they'd cry, and Sublimova would "have to" do her variation all over again; it used to happen all the time.".

In certain Indian music forms this is also a custom, rarely in dance. And it is appropriate and appreciated by the performer when they know that the audience is of high caliber. It is not that I discount the effect of a clap, but it seems to appear only during certain standard moves. To be honest, if it was acceptable to clap, I find many transition movements, choreography sequences, and manner in which even seemingly simple moves are made, far more impressive than 32 turns. Somehow I cannot but help that a lot of the audience may not appreciate the true core spirit of the choreography, and get carried by the more pedestrian (well perhaps not the best word, but you know what I mean) aspects of the dance. It would be nice to have soft murmur type of bravos as a compromise I guess for special moments. Usually the murmurs I hear are when a dancer falters! I just get carried away in the dancer's movements and forget that I have hands - until the spell breaks. But I do go "wow" in my head. Unfortunately during photographing a performance, I cannot indulge myself! Sigh.

I definitely understand that audience feedback would and should enhance the spirit of a performer, and as a member of the audience it adds to the excitement as well. But in most cases, it has left me cold wondering as you put it - do the "dorks" really appreciate and know what is going on in the performance as a whole! Do they think ballet is running round in circles and leaps only!

This is not a peeve, just something I just need to desensitize myself to as I begin to appreciate the art more. Thanks for the insight.

Paul, the improvisation/variation point is interesting to me. Has this subject been discussed in some other thread before? I cannot believe it has not been broached before.

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Yes males..Ma[n]ege, the way you describe it and with females, the variety is a great deal more.  They do leaps, spins in circles, rotating continually in a single spot, etc.

Well, the gals do pique turns with chaine turns and soutenu turns on diagonal or in a circle. Where women have their fouettes (hypothetically) in one tiny spot, men have the pirouettes, usually a la seconde (one leg extended to the side) with changes of position. There are rough equivalents for male and female variations, but thinking of the basic formula, you're right -- women do have more variety.

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Amitava said"To be honest, if it was acceptable to clap, I find many transition movements, choreography sequences, and manner in with even seemingly simple moves are made, far more impressive that doing 32 turns. Somehow I cannot but help that a lot of the audience may not appreciate the true core spirit of the choreography, and get carried by the more pedestrian (well perhaps not the best word, but you know what I mean) aspects of the dance. It would be nice to have soft murmur type of bravos as a compromise I guess for special moments. "

Oh yes, I know exactly what you mean, and in fact I usually do say things like "beautiful!' under my breath when somebody does something with finesse. And at flamenco concerts, you'll hear people saying "Ole!" in quiet tones -- it's not like "Bravo!" which is usually shouted at the end, but rather it's usually pretty quiet, often in the transition from one phrase to another, and said in satisfaction, as if the English translation would be "yes."

And indeed, that does sound like the voice of someone who's following the proceedings at a very deep level.

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Well, those are the moments that give us ballet's poetry, aren't they? And the ones when we catch some of the dancer's essence. Those are the moments that keep me coming back.

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My rule of thumb, for opera as well as dance, is: if the music is still playing, it is not a time to applaud. Wait for the music to stop.

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if the music is still playing, it is not a time to applaud. Wait for the music to stop.

Bravo, zerbinetta!

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Didn't someone (Balanchine?) say something to the effect that the art of ballet is what happens between the obvious steps?

Paul, your analysis of the fouette situation is wonderful.

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There do exist times in ballet when there is no one thing that triggers applause, but the audience has been "whipped up" to it. A case in point is the fourth scene of "Petrouchka", back at the fair, with the coachmen, the nursemaids, the masquers, and just about everybody dancing at the same time. Right before the snow starts to fall, I've seen audiences go ecstatic and start a general applause over all the excitement going on onstage. Then the snow starts to fall and it drives them even crazier - sort of "frosting on the cake". I never minded applause anywhere. Usually I was so busy, that it didn't matter!

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There do exist times in ballet when there is no one thing that triggers applause, but the audience has been "whipped up" to it.  A case in point ....

I don't deny that applause under certain circumstances seems appropriate, but I come across those special moments very rarely. But then I have not attended many live performances. I was more concerned about two factors (1) does the sound drown the music (2) does it break the concentration of the dancers and musicians. One of the responses was interesting that some dancers may actually worry if there is no clapping :P (3) Does it disturb other audience members?

Most times it does disturb my concentration and breaks the spell, primarily because the music is drowned. Also, applause, like laughter seems to be infectious/instinctive. Many people seem to clap because someone else if doing so..and from watching them, it is not that they are thinking about clapping...they just do it when they hear the sound.

During a rehearsal of a Balanchine Pas de Deux at Dance Salad, I was surprised to hear a loud clapping behind me when Zdenek Konvalina was doing his Manege thingies. Well upon turning back I discovered it was Maina Gielgud guiding the time of the leaps and landings :)

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Also, just a note in response to the Russians "milking" their applause.

I was able to see many performances at the Maryinsky in St. Petersburg last summer, and one clapping-related aspect that I noted was that often, especially if a dancer is struggling through something, the audience will try to "will" them through it with clapping in time to the music. This tended to happen specifically with foutee turns that were in danger of going awry. However, at the Vaganova Academy graduation performance, when the first shade was running towards the upstage left corner to begin those traveling releves in arabasque, the audience went ahead and started giving her their encouragement before she even got to the corner! Those guys know their classic choreography, and they know when something difficult is coming up. They really wanted this girl to deliver the goods on it.

And whoever said it before is definitely correct.... they bow until their mothers have stopped clapping... even if most of the theater has already emptied out! I guess they don't want to disappoint their die-hard fans, who are still screaming for more! :)

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Mel, you're totally right -- I've seen that too in Petrouchka -- it happens almost every time. The music is consolidating the big melody, but they keep playing scraps of it, parts of it, and you feel it winding up, building up like a thunderstorm but it WONT start raining, and then finally all the trumpets come together and the nursemaids start twirling their handkerchiefs, the big tune finally arrives, and the house is just going crazy.

Stravinsky had a hand in that.

There's a similar place in Alvin Ailey's Revelations, in the finale, Wade in the Water, when there's this incredible sense of having ARRIVED and the audience just goes crazy. Sure-fire. In fact, that's the one place where you KNOW the dancers are going to encore the whole piece..... they always do, and when you're totally delirious they invite you to come up onstage and dance with them, and lots of people go up and thrash around till they come to their senses and are ready to go home....

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What Paul said.

First, on Revelations, I haven't seen that happen in New York. Perhaps City Center's stage cannot be mounted from the audience. But we've all wanted to be up there, part of it. Geez, I have to make a special trip to the Bay Area to experience one of my hometown companies!

Also, Petrouchka. I heard it performed by pianist Yakov Kasman, and in the Shrovetide scene, I thought I'd jump out of my skin with joy. I agree that Stravinsky has a big hand in the audience response there.

Early this season, Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes led a two performances of Ballet Imperial. At the end of the first performance's second movement, the audience was drenched in emotion, holding our collective breath. The house was pin-drop silent, and as Marcelo took his last steps into the wings, some vulgarian started the applause and broke the spell. The second performance did not attain that magical intensity (beautiful as it was), so applause was completely appropriate.

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Just thought of another. The audience anticipates the Spectre de la Rose's leap out the window, and the applause can start even before he disappears. (The musical build-up to the leap is unsubtle.)

This leaves the poor girl (and orchestra) to fiddle through her awakening and picking up of the rose. I always think that whatever she feels about her dream must be overwhelmed by her shock at finding several thousand noisy people in her room.

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Just thought of another.  ...

Thanks I like these examples where connoisseurs consider it acceptable..hell required clapping. Looking forward to other examples. I have not seen any of these pieces. So I need to make it a point to try and experience the scenes on video at a minimum. I have no idea when a "live" experience will happen! I know it is not the same.. but at least I will try and see if I get carried away a little..After all I can always clap in front of the TV.

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I am not a random clapper

I don't like to be in a theatre with random clappers

To everything, there is a season and a time to clap

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To everything, there is a season and a time to clap

That's a lovely way of putting it, danceintheblood.

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I am a little late on this topic, but I wanted to add my two cents.

I am used to live theatre, not live ballet, and the few times I have seen ballet I have felt rather bad that I didn't clap more, but at the same time, I didn't want to clap EVERYTIME the audience clapped, which seemed to me everytime someone moved. I am still getting used to the fact that the story of the ballet stops for bows in the middle of the performance. I clap when something is extraordinary, but the audiences I have seen a ballet with (my 3 live ballets...) have clapped constantly.

At the same time, backstage for our schools performance of Cinderella the jester was performing a mutliple turn sequence and our AD was quitely whispering "why aren't they clapping" to one of the company dancers. She was a former principal dancer and clapping in the middle of an impressive turn sequence was obviously something she expected.

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I do not get to see many live performances with an audience, and I normally watch during a tech/dress rehearsal.  But the few times that I have attended performances, I have noticed that many people start clapping during some "exciting" action on stage, before the sequence/section of choreography ends.  I do not know the technical terms for these movements, but usually these are moves that are repeated in succession ..and the clapping started 75% to 80% into the sequence.

Is this normal etiquette or are Texas audiences a tad on the rusty side?  Does this bother the dancers or encourage them?  I usually wait for a bow to show my appreciation, as I am not a premature clapper...hope that came out right :devil:

Also some folks have informed me that "Russian milk the applause".  What exactly does that mean?  Is this a stereotype? I don't get to see Russian dance troupes very often.

i saw a video clip of Carreno and his sister(? or cousin?) performing in Cuba; i think this was in the ABT BORN TO BE WILD dvd. As they were dancing, the crowd was going crazy and I mean not just clapping but cheering and screaming like they were at a Soccer match. it was the coolest thing i've seen as you could even feel all that audience energy thru the tv!

-goro-

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