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Clapping question


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#31 carbro

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 08:51 PM

I don't remember those inserts, drb, except for Goldberg Variations. But as one critic wrote regarding those slips (and sometimes announcements), what do you expect when a dancer finishes the variation facing the audience and holding his palms up? Personally, I found those announcements (and to a lesser degree the inserts) obnoxious and vain-sounding. And I'm one of those who almost never applauds while the music is playing.

A really good performance is only momentarily disrupted by intrusive applause, anyway.

#32 Helene

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 10:45 PM

Dancers I've known have told me they LOVE to hear applause when they've done something difficult and nailed it. It gives them an energy boost and makes them want to push the level higher.

Francia Russell once mentioned that while Balanchine didn't like the music to be interrupted, the dancers felt the same way as the ones you've known. She also said that the dancers can feel when an audience is engaged and responsive over the footlights.

Speight Jenkins said on Saturday night after Cosi fan Tutte, a very witty production directed by Jonathan Miller, that the performance was as good as any in the run and that one of the reasons was that the singers heard the laughter and enjoyment from the audience, and that spurred them on to give their best. A win/win situation.

#33 bart

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 05:39 AM

I'm with you, oberon, on this one. Nothing is more deadly -- especially for dancers, I would imagine -- than the passive, nonresponsive audience, just sitting there (for their monthly dose of "culture"?). I can't recall ever feeling that spontaneous bursting into applause during particularly dramatic bits was overused by an audience. :)

#34 carbro

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 01:49 PM

I'm sure the dancers can tell the difference between pin-drop silence because the audience is so profoundly engaged and the muffles of an inattentive house. I have sometimes been made aware of the audience's oneness of sharpened attention at peak moments. I've also seen dancers feed off that brand of quiet.

#35 oberon

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 04:20 PM

It depends very much on the mood of the piece and the music being used; SERENADE for example is a ballet I want to watch in total silence. I don't want applause after the individual movements of the ballet. I want to be in that world, almost like a religious experience.

In more extroverted ballets, it sometimes seems odd when people DON'T applaud certain combinations or exits; almost like the dancer has failed somehow.

#36 Kate B

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 02:13 AM

I loathe 'random clapping.' My particular peeve is when the principals make their first appearance on stage. When people applaud their entrance it makes me think of sit coms. This has started happening at the Royal Opera House and I hate it. Hating this also makes me feel like a terrible snob. :clapping:

#37 carbro

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:06 AM

I think the absolute worst audience reaction is the groan that follows the announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. X is unable to dance this evening. Instead, Mr. Y will be dancing the role of Albrecht." Very ungracious to the unscheduled dancer, who may have had to throw the performance together under less than optimal circumstances, possibly with an unfamiliar partner.

And this before he even appears!

#38 Helene

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 11:39 AM

I think the absolute worst audience reaction is the groan that follows the announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. X is unable to dance this evening. Instead, Mr. Y will be dancing the role of Albrecht." Very ungracious to the unscheduled dancer, who may have had to throw the performance together under less than optimal circumstances, possibly with an unfamiliar partner.

And this before he even appears!

I'm going to veer a little off ballet here -- the worst case of this I've ever witnessed was during the performance of Rigoletto in the 1970's in which Ingvar Wixell made his Metropolitan opera debut in the title role. Originally scheduled to sing with him were Reri Grist and Luciano Pavarotti. I had been at the Opera Guild dress rehearsal in which neither appeared and was prepared, and, sure enough, the pre-curtain announcement came that both singers had the flu-of-that-year. A man just below us in the Balcony yelled out an expletive at full voice and stormed out before the performance began. The audience was kind to the Gilda, who I think was Gail Robinson, but had no tolerance whatsoever for the tenor, Enrico diGiuseppe, whose third act aria was greeted with a number of boos. I just thought of this the other night, when I read his obituary in Opera News.

#39 Kate B

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 01:16 AM

had no tolerance whatsoever for the tenor, Enrico diGiuseppe, whose third act aria was greeted with a number of boos. I just thought of this the other night, when I read his obituary in Opera News.


That's so rude! No audience should behave like that, even if the performer is not very good, which I imagine was not the case in the situation described above. :jawdrop:

Edited by Kate B, 16 March 2006 - 01:17 AM.


#40 silvy

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 10:54 AM

As a dancer, and regarding applause in the middle of a variation, I can tell you that I am both pleased (and honoured) AND distracted by applause. Last year I was doing the diagonal of ballones in Dulcinea's variation (2nd act Don Q) and the people started applauding... I got too emotional and sort of wobbled at the end of the diagonal!!!!!!!

#41 Grissi

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 10:46 AM

That is true. Madrid's Royal Opera House audience, the one I know better, is very, very cold. Last september, Ballet de la Scalla was performing a program very interesting in perspective, not in reality: Theme and Variations, The Cage and Le Sacré du Printemps. I couldn't stay for the whole performance because I was very disappointed with what they did with Balanchine. The silence was very eloquent.

But, last week, the Royal Opera House was staging La Bohème, and the audience was mad, clapping at almost every aria end. In december, in the Auditorio, I attended a Messiah. I couldn't believe when I heard the bravos after the Alleluiah...


Opera and ballet... A very different approach in Madrid.

#42 jessemoo

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 04:25 PM

i say, as far as applauding a dancer while he or she is still performing is a matter of personal preference. i don't applaud during a dancer's fouettes merely because i am always silently egging them on. i know how difficult those turns are and am always gripping the edge of my seat watching every detail of the turns! once they finish, i clap until my hands are raw! however, the dancers are up there performing for the audience and probably love to hear their reaction to certain steps as they occur. if the audience is too reserved, then it can be a bit of a letdown to the dancers and they will lose some of their performance energy. it will make them feel as if they haven't engaged their audience. i feel that some of the best performances are done for children because the kids laugh, gasp, boo, scream, etc. whenever they feel like it. that shows they are captivated by what they are watching and the dancers know they are really reaching out to the audience.

also, the corps de ballet loves to get applause. they work for hours trying to match each other, reviewing every detail of the head and arms. so if their formations are neat and they move in unison, please let them know you appreciate it!

#43 Helene

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 04:52 PM

Thank you for weighing in on the topic, jessemoo.

Please take the opportunity to introduce yourself on our Welcome Forum.

#44 bart

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 05:32 PM

if the audience is too reserved, then it can be a bit of a letdown to the dancers and they will lose some of their performance energy. it will make them feel as if they haven't engaged their audience. i feel that some of the best performances are done for children because the kids laugh, gasp, boo, scream, etc. whenever they feel like it. that shows they are captivated by what they are watching and the dancers know they are really reaching out to the audience.

Thanks, jessemoo, for making these points.

I am conscious of trying to attend ballet as a supporter of the art rather than just as a consumer. Sometimes, if I'm deeply involved in a ballet -- for example, at recent performances of Balanchine's Serenade -- I tend to get lost in my own feelings and thoughts and have to remind myself to communicate this to the dancers -- and to my fellow audience members.

When you are able to attend a number of performances by a single company, you quickly learn to tell the difference between a curtain call smile is mostly a formality and one that communicates ... "wow! they love us! and isn't that great!" Audience enthusiasm does make a difference.

#45 SandyMcKean

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 11:58 AM

I'm sure the dancers can tell the difference between pin-drop silence because the audience is so profoundly engaged and the muffles of an inattentive house. I have sometimes been made aware of the audience's oneness of sharpened attention at peak moments. I've also seen dancers feed off that brand of quiet.


I completely agree.

In any case, there can be no "rules" for applause. Applause ought to be an organic thing.....something that happens in the moment. No audience is right, and no audience is wrong......they are just The Audience. The Audience that nite does what it does....that's what makes it real and not gratuitous or phony.

Sure I am distracted sometimes when an audience claps at a time I would perfer it not; but then I sometimes get annoyed when a audience seems relunctant to clap. And of course the scariest time is when YOU are the first to clap. I did this just in the last couple of weeks (perhaps for the 1st time). It just errupted out of me (yes, it was at the end, and the music stopped); there was a rivetting silence; someone had to break it; it happened to be me; I felt my instinct was right on (thank God!).

When all is said and done, I remember a comment Jonathan Poretta once said at the Q&A after a PNB performance when someone asked this very question. His answer (paraphased): "We love clapping; there can never be too much clapping; clap as much as you want".

(But having said all this, the most magical of all I think is what happens as stated in the quote above. The piece ends and all sit stunned in silence having been transported. I too have experienced "audience's oneness of sharpened attention" and that is the most magical of all.)


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