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Applause During Works Of Religious Significance


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#31 kfw

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:44 PM

......I think religious views precede them (political views), or at least logically should for any thinking person.

I find this a fascinating point of view. kfw, I'd like to understand more about what would have you feel this way. BalletTalk is chock full of some of the smartest and most informed people I've ever run into. I don't often get a chance to get enlightened by a group of this calibre on issues that I've puzzled over for many years.

Just so this discussion doesn't go too far afield....kfw, in your world, how do you justify that religious views precede something like philosophical inquiry. Should I give "special consideration" to a ballet that contains religious themes which explore the fundamental aspects of human existence, but give lesser consideration to a ballet that contains philosophical themes which explore fundamental aspects of human existence?

Sandy, speaking just for myself, I'd want to honor the feelings and the honest thinking -- distinguishing these again from the actual content -- of the philosophical work just as much as the religious one. And I don't think religious views precede something like philosophical inquiry -- a lot of theology is essentially religiously informed philosophy, after all, and philosophy is serious work. I do think they logically precede political views, because they purport to tell us what sort of universe we live in, which obviously impacts the way we choose to live not just individually but as a polis (if I'm using that correctly, but I'm sure you know what I mean anyhow). For example, religious liberals and conservatives both root their stance on certain social issues in their understanding of certain Biblical passages, while atheists put no truck in those passages at all, and often disagree because of it. Educated atheists can only take certain stands because they reject religious views, while educated believers can only take theirs because they reject the arguments of atheism.

That's all I meant.

#32 papeetepatrick

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:51 PM

In addition to the examples in my long post, I think I remember being asked not to applaud in certain performances of Bharatya Natyam, the classical South Indian dance, although the kiddies are often brought to these affairs and that sort of family rowdiness is accepted in a way that isn't at Western dance perfs.

#33 dirac

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:57 PM

I wasn't sure if the issue of 'that you'd paid for performance' meant that you should be able to clap--well, no, not if expressly asked not to, no matter what the nature of the performance, ritual, etc.. I don't think anybody said that, so at La Scala, even if some of us wouldn't boo, it's certainly accepted to do so, as is all manner of rude behaviour at Amateur Night at the Apollo (if that still exists.)


I would be grateful if there were more, not fewer, requests not to clap. In particular a general ban on standing ovations, which seem ever more frequent these days, would be appreciated. :P

#34 bart

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 05:16 PM

:P

In particular a general ban on standing ovations, which seem ever more frequent these days, would be appreciated.

No disagreement here. Near the end of Israel Ballet's Don Q a few nights ago, quite a few people in the audience somehow got the idea that the ballet was over at the end of the next-to-last scene. They stood up and applauded towards the closed curtain. One of them was the man to my right. He seemed rather annoyed when nothing happened and he had to sit down AND watch another full scene. At the end he asked, "Is this the end?" When I said "Yes" he stood up ... but only to push his way out while others applauded (about half standing). I hope he was able to beat the crowd to valet parking. :dunno:

#35 carbro

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 07:14 PM

The night after Balanchine died, Suzanne Farrell danced the Second Movement of Symphony in C as if in prayer. I don't remember whether the audience applauded, but I know I couldn't.

#36 bart

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 08:44 PM

The night after Balanchine died, Suzanne Farrell danced the Second Movement of Symphony in C as if in prayer. I don't remember whether the audience applauded, but I know I couldn't.

carbro, you are fortunate to have had such an experience. Your story suggests that a performance can be "religious" in spirit, even if not in content. Thank you for posting it.

#37 Paul Parish

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 10:14 PM

Actually, this reminds me of a possibly related item -- I've read, that at hte ballet -- Royal Opera House -- so many of the audience are getting drunk and rowdy that there's difficulty controlling THEM, andthey make a lot of noise that doesn't seem to have anything to do with responding to the ballet....

"O tempora, o mores" is a complaint that comes from antiquity -- but mores seem to be shifting really fast in the UK as well as of course in the USA -- everything was more staid in ENgland when I lived there myself -- you really could not get food except at meal-times -- really, I mean breakfast could not be bought anywhere after 10 MA, and lunch was similarly something they only at at lunch time.... and dinner could not be had after9:30 PM, and convenience was frowned upon as a motivation. It was much stricter htan anything I was used to, and yet there was no policeman, it's just he way "everybody" felt about it.... of course, that was at Oxford, which was and still is pretty conservative.

When I was a kid in the American south, christians observed a religious hush in the "higher" churches -- Catholic, Piscys, etc -- but hte evangelicals were said to carry on quite a lot -- and hteir music really rocked. but nobody applauded ever.

now Catholics applaud when people get married....


......but to ask the audience to respond to the piece as he did, or at least to publicly limit their response to the piece -- a piece they've had to pay to see -- to his, seems a lot to ask. Personally, I'd favor honoring his intentions anyhow. That seems only respectful. But I still wonder if the request is appropriate. Isn't it MacMillan's job to elicit the response he wants instead of demanding it?


I'm inclined to agree. I’ve seen only bits and pieces of MacMillan’s “Requiem” on video and can’t really make a judgment in this instance (I’d also want to read the text of the program note). However, I wouldn’t think that a ballet audience would need admonishments from the stage or program notes for guidance, and depending on the circumstances such measures could be seen as a tad presumptuous. If the performance conveys a sense of the sacred, no matter if the music or subject matter is formally designated “of religious significance” – a sensitive audience will react appropriately. One hopes. :P



#38 Paul Parish

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 10:27 PM

Omega West is a real liturgical dance company. THe company founded by Carla da Sola, first performed at St John the Divine in NYC and is now affiliated with a seminary, hte Pacific School of Religion. I have danced in a funeral procession with them myself, for the great iconoclastic divine Doug Adams, who introduced sacred dance into their curriculum.

There are also MANY churches that have "praise dancing" as part of hteir liturgies. THere will be a festival of praise dancing in Berkeley in a few months -- I went last year to their concert (all African-Americans, in this case, but there are Evangelical Anglo churches that dance as well) and was pretty amazed by hte technical and expressive level of the dancers. Many are in hte tradition of Revelations, but they're using hip-hop to spread the word, too.



Whatever one thinks about Dawkins' point (and I tend to agree with him on this particular matter), it would perhaps be better if ALL persons -- whether religious or non-religious -- did their damnedest to treat other persons (including those of different belief and value systems) with "special respect."

The setting, of course, makes a difference. Behavior in a church (or equivalent) would obviously be more restrained and respectful than in a public theater. In a church, one is a guest. In a theater, one is a patron.

We also might be expected to behave differently in a performance that merely reflects religious faith and a performance which is aitself intended as act of worship.

Are there dance companies in the United States that actually treat their performances as worship? Would Ballet Magnificat! fall into this category? If so, I would hope to be told this ahead of time by the presenters.



#39 Farrell Fan

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 11:49 PM

Thanks for the memory, carbro.

#40 dirac

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 01:16 PM

And I don't think religious views precede something like philosophical inquiry -- a lot of theology is essentially religiously informed philosophy, after all, and philosophy is serious work. I do think they logically precede political views, because they purport to tell us what sort of universe we live in, which obviously impacts the way we choose to live not just individually but as a polis (if I'm using that correctly, but I'm sure you know what I mean anyhow).


I suppose it depends on what you mean by “precedence.” My original point in raising the matter of political convictions was that they can be held just as fiercely, and be as significant to the identity of an individual, as religious views. (In some cases they can be a substitute.) If you’re saying that religious views are more central and more important to the way we live, that’s defensible, if certainly disputable. We may be wandering too far afield from our topic, however....

#41 SandyMcKean

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 01:17 PM

Sandy, speaking just for myself, I'd want to honor the feelings and the honest thinking -- distinguishing these again from the actual content -- of the philosophical work just as much as the religious one. And I don't think religious views precede something like philosophical inquiry....

Thanks for the thoughts. I presume we can agree to disagree.

Like Dawkins, I still can't logically (to use your word) understand why society (including ballet audiences) seems to give the realm of religion special consideration. Reading your words above, I see you are comfortable adding "philosophical inquiry" into that "special" category. Frankly, I can't see why once you add philosophical inquiry into the privileged group, you could logically exclude the realm of politics, or almost any other discpline. I see no logical way to draw a line that makes some subjects more worthy of silent respect than others. None the less, I certainly agree with you that some subjects are more serious than others; for example, I might well laugh during Robbins "The Concert", but I find it hard to imagine that I would ever laugh during "Agon". My only point has been that, like Dawkins, I see no logical reason why societies (or ballet audiences) should give special deference to religious pursuits (excepting them from taxation being a good non-passionate parallel).

#42 dirac

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 01:18 PM

Your story suggests that a performance can be "religious" in spirit, even if not in content.


A good point, worth emphasizing. Thanks, bart.

#43 papeetepatrick

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 01:47 PM

but I find it hard to imagine that I would ever laugh during "Agon".


But someoe might, finding it pretentious, old-fashioned and even campy. People laugh and make fun of things I hold 'sacred' as art all the time.

My only point has been that, like Dawkins, I see no logical reason why societies (or ballet audiences) should give special deference to religious pursuits (excepting them from taxation being a good non-passionate parallel).


It's somewhat too complicated and off-topic to debate taxation of religious organizations, since it's hard to see that one of the most charitable organizations in the world (if not THE most), viz., the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities is not somehow compensating by all that giving (which it does do) for being tax-exempt whereas Scientology isn't, which is also tax-exempt. Bu that's as :sweatingbullets: as I'm going to get on this.

As for ballet audientce, they should not automatically know to give special deference to any kind of progrom, religious or not, unless they are told to, which is always a matter of just being asked not go applaud. And if they ARE told that they are being asked to not applaud because it is of 'religious significcance', that's okay too, it's not the audience's business to determine how a work is to be performed, and in this case, then one should just not go to a 'religiously significcant' work, but if one does, and even if told that that is why by those who have made and are presenting the production, that is enough. By agreeing to the Terms & Conditions, you are 'not showing special deference' by not applauding, you are doing what those who are presenting expect in terms of respect of what you've come to see. They have the right to ask this for whatever reasons, religious or otherwise. If they don't ask, then you don't have to even think about it. I don't think either religion or philosophy are things that you should know to 'treat with special deference' beforehand, if you're talking about just performance, which presumably this discussion is about--not the whole domains themselves.

But I definitely think that if a performance of a specifically religious work is presented and those presenting and performing say we don't want applause (which is the specific word in Alexandra's topic title), they have the right to ask for it and have it be observed, including if they specify 'because or its special religious significance'. It would be equally fine to ask for no applause because 'the mood of the piece will be interrupted by the sound of audience applause', I think I now remember a soloist doing a piece called 'Stones' at the Japan Society, and we were asked to not applaud in order to allow the piece to sustain its peaceful and tranquil nature.

So that my point is that just because you agree to observe someone else's request that you do not applaud because sometning is, to them, 'or religious significance', does not mean you are giving 'special deference' to that. But that may not be what is being discussed. I just see that, if asked, for whatever reason, not to applaud, including being told why, you just shouldn't. Because, what would you then do, applaud? No, because you probably hadn't liked the 'religiously siginificantly piece' anyway, although one could do some catcalls and hissing if one felt strongly.

It's just that it's simple: Some people are going to give religious works more 'special deference' than others think they deserve. They do not have the right to enforce this, but they can request at least no applause, and expect it that to be observed. I don't give religious works more deference than other kinds, and frankly am not interested in many of them, no, it's worse, I'm not seriously interested in any of them for the religious content itself, although I love much Christian art, Hindu art, Buddhist art, etc.. It's like if you go into a Hindu temple, and they ask you to take off you shoes: You may not feel any reverence for the Hindu religion if you are a tourist, but you certainly do take off your shoes if they tell you to.

A ballet audience member should know how to refrain from normal audience behaviour only if instructed; he should not even think of it otherwise unless he is somehow moved by the work itself to remain silent--but that is never going to happen collectively, even if we have 'total silence anecdotes about all Carnegie Hall quiet as they were hypnotized by Horowitz and his piauissimo', so if a choreographer or theater director wants to have the best chance for silence during a performance, he does need to tell the audience. It may be possible that the audience was asked not to applaud during the play verision of Didion's 'Year of Magical Thinking', with Redgrave. That would have been appropriate, although I didn't go, so I don't know for sure if that was done.

If this has only to do with performance, I don't see that it is a religious or philosophic matter, it is an artistic decision (even if they call it 'religious' or whatever else). Frankly, if DeFrutos asked the audience not to applaud becuase his 'naughty dance' was so delicate it would be ruined by audience applause, I'd either do it, or just give in to unruly behaviour, or leave, according to my predilections. I think both Dawkins and Hitchens have good things to say, but I don't see what they have to do with perofrmance applause and what ought and ought not to be observed, according to what they or anybody else feels about religion.

#44 SandyMcKean

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 02:50 PM

Patrick, you and I may be interpreting this issue differently. The question by the OP'er was whether an audience ought to observe a note in a program not to clap because the performance had religious significance.

My interpretation of that request is that an audience is presumed to agree and to understand such a request, and is being asked to observe such a request by virtue of the presumed deference inherent with religious subjects. It is that presumption that I am questioning (and why I posted my rhetorical question of: "Should I therefore not clap at the Rite of Spring"). I have no problem if a company, choreographer, or performer requests that no clapping occur, but I do object to the underlying presumption that somehow a religious theme should be given special consideration simply by virtue of the circumstance that the theme is religious in nature.

You are misunderstanding my position in another way. I am not saying that it is the audience member who is giving 'special deference' (each member can do so, or not, at their whim), but I am saying that when the organizers of the performance ask that you not clap because the theme is religious, it is the organizers who are giving the religious theme 'special deference'. You have put my cart before my horse :sweatingbullets:. Now, if the organizers were to say: "Please don't clap because the choreographer (or the perfomers) has a strong religious commitment which forbides clapping during a ballet with this theme", I would not feel that would be giving 'special deference' to a religious themed ballet (and each audience member could decide whether or not they wished to observe that request). In my world, it is all about what is presumed (it is on that question of presumption that Dawkins has something relevant to say).

P.S. I agree with you that someone just might laugh during "Agon". I certainly have no problem with that (as long as the reaction was genuine and not done with some agenda). OTOH, I can't imagine that **I** would ever laugh. Each member of the audience can make their own choice.

#45 dirac

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 03:17 PM

My interpretation of that request is that an audience is presumed to agree and to understand such a request, and is being asked to observe such a request by virtue of the presumed deference inherent with religious subjects. It is that presumption that I am questioning (and why I posted my rhetorical question of: "Should I therefore not clap at the Rite of Spring"). I have no problem if a company, choreographer, or performer requests that no clapping occur, but I do object to the underlying presumption that somehow a religious theme should be given special consideration simply by virtue of the circumstance that the theme is religious in nature.


Well put, Sandy.

It's like if you go into a Hindu temple, and they ask you to take off you shoes: You may not feel any reverence for the Hindu religion if you are a tourist, but you certainly do take off your shoes if they tell you to.


It isn’t quite the same because a temple is an actual place of worship and the “When in Rome....” adage most certainly applies. A theatrical performance is different, although one may decide as a matter of courtesy to do as requested.


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