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New resident choreographer for Royal Ballet


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#61 Mashinka

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 06:33 AM

Having seen a number of McGregor's dance works I cannot see how he will make a lasting contribution to the RB, but he does know how to please a non-classical ballet audience.


ROH audiences can hardly be called "non-classical".

If a different audience demographic was in evidence after the first night, it was almost certainly due to the much-reduced prices luring Londoners into a venue that they are usually priced out of.

#62 Alexandra

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 06:54 AM

If a different audience demographic was in evidence after the first night, it was almost certainly due to the much-reduced prices luring Londoners into a venue that they are usually priced out of.


And might not the same "new audience" turn up for other programs if they were similarly priced?

In the Washington suburbs, there are two theaters that program one Russian classical company a year -- a different one each year, and it doesn't seem to matter which. the tickets are a $40 top, the houses are always sold out, and they are the most racially and age-diverse audiences you see here.

#63 Mashinka

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 09:08 AM

Over the years the ROH audience has altered drastically, in the 1960/70’s the house would be packed with enthusiasts, but with the generally acknowledged decline in standards at the RB the once loyal audience for ballet has dwindled. At the premiere of Chroma I went with two friends, one in her eighties who has seen just about every RB production for the past six decades and the other in his thirties – too young to remember the RB glory days. They both enthusiastically go to every performance they can manage, but are aware that they are part of a diminishing minority of dedicated ballet-goers.

The ROH has had to bend over backwards to attract new funding since the 80’s and that means going all out for the corporate audience that buys blocks of tickets (mainly in the stalls) and are given all sorts of incentives to contribute to ROH funds. I remember being highly aggrieved on being denied entry to the vast Crush Bar at Covent Garden due to a corporate event on an occasion when I was with two very distinguished Russian dancers, one of whom wanted to look around the theatre. In any other house in Europe she would have been allowed to at least go in for a quick look, but not in the new Covent Garden, which ironically is supported as much by my taxes as by the corporate champagne crowd.

Laughable ticket prices will remain the barrier that prevents a wider public attending RB performances, as London is now officially the most expensive city in Europe and Londoners’ salaries have a lot of demands made on them so theatre-going of all kinds becomes a low priority. The success of Chroma brought out a number of ‘lapsed’ balletomanes who queued in the cold for day tickets and returns on the night; often both as I’m told the queues were prodigious in the mornings.

I really don’t think the appointment of ‘trendy’ Wayne McGregor will have any impact on attendances unless they lower prices for every new work he puts on. He certainly has his fans that support Random Dance and they will no doubt take themselves to the RB too – if they can afford to, but he is popular with the regular RB audience as well and I’ve discovered from asking around and reading comments on other dance forums that my ambivalence about his appointment puts me in a minority. The general consensus is that his acquisition is a brilliant move.

#64 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 12:22 PM

dirac put Zoe Anderson's interview with McGregor from the Independent in today's links. http://enjoyment.ind...icle2081843.ece

Check it out, it's a really interesting read. I think it confirms at least a few of my guesses (especially that McGregor intends to give up no other work).

#65 leonid17

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 02:19 PM

I really don’t think the appointment of ‘trendy’ Wayne McGregor will have any impact on attendances unless they lower prices for every new work he puts on. He certainly has his fans that support Random Dance and they will no doubt take themselves to the RB too – if they can afford to, but he is popular with the regular RB audience as well and I’ve discovered from asking around and reading comments on other dance forums that my ambivalence about his appointment puts me in a minority. The general consensus is that his acquisition is a brilliant move.


I agree with everything you said except the last two sentences.

It seems to me that Chroma was essentially two things, a marketing event and the creation of McGregor as a celebrity upon which the Royal Opera House Marketing Department will undoubtedly make and manipulate his status to satisfy the Arts Council and many individual Member of House of Commons, that think that a new and young audience will be attracted to the Royal Opera House by hid headline grabbing works. In fact there were very few young people present at the premiere rather it was late thirty year olds who were sold on 'heavy metal' music which 'White Stripes' were asociated with some decades ago.

The consensus you refer to is a small number of not very experienced or educated London critics and I am sorry to say people to whom ballet is an entertainment and a 'fan' (short for fanatic) event and not art event.

I have spoken to a good number of friends who like me have 40 plus years of attending RB performances, who not only disliked the Chroma in terms of unsuitability, but also thought that the patient(ie the RB) was still in the recovery stage in performing the classics and Ashton repertoire and not yet ready, for such an extreme activity as McGregor's dance work.

As the celebrity machine begins many critics, not all however, appear to want to become trendy 'celebrities' by association having written enthusiastically about Chroma. This is a similar desire of people who attend pop concerts.

#66 NNatalie

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 03:09 PM

Hmm I think you may be giving the Marketing Department a bit too much credit here! I don’t think the audience’s response could have been engineered or manipulated by the marketing alone- well if they could, maybe they should do it more often!

To me, opinions of both ‘fans’ and ‘ballet lovers’- as you would have it, though I think the distinctions are not at all clear cut- can only enrich the ballet community.
(FWIW, I also know people who have followed the Company since its early years who did appreciate the works on this triple bill.)

:P

#67 Herman Stevens

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 04:37 AM

In fact there were very few young people present at the premiere rather it was late thirty year olds who were sold on 'heavy metal' music which 'White Stripes' were asociated with some decades ago.


Decades?

Leonid, I have virtually no auditory familiarity with rock music, but I do know from reading the arts pages in the papers that the White Stripes are a rather young band; I checked and their first album dates from 1999.

Of course the whole idea that an art work would be good or bad on the basis of the age of the audience is rather silly.

#68 ami1436

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 05:52 AM

And while I'm not super-familiar with their music, it is *not* heavy metal. Think more bluesy rock...

#69 leonid17

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 02:55 AM

[quote name='leonid' date='Dec 18 2006, 05:19 PM' post='194312']


It seems to me that Chroma was essentially two things, a marketing event and the creation of McGregor as a celebrity upon which the Royal Opera House Marketing Department will undoubtedly make and manipulate his status (quote)

There is an interview with Wayne Macgregor in The Daily Telegraph which partially clarifies his position and his expected contribution to the RB repertoire.

The article also includes information of new works he is creating for another major company.

http://www.telegraph...btballet130.xml

#70 bart

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 05:27 AM

Thanks for that Link, leonid. A very useful article, with lots of provocative thoughts that help claraify some of the speculations so far on this thread.

The aspect of "public relations gold" behind the apointment is an interesting one. As is the following:

"I would never see myself as becoming the defining force at the Royal Ballet. It's about widening the net. It's a very different role from the resident choreographers of the past, because the Royal Ballet is a very different company now, and the world is very different now. Monica told me to find out how I wanted to contribute, and I think I'll take an active role that we'll define as we go.

[ ... ]

"No, I won't be making two or three pieces a year, more like one. I am already committed to a portfolio of work for companies around the world." Next year, for instance, he will work with San Francisco Ballet, fulfil a research fellowship in the US on artificial intelligence for a Random project, direct a musical in Paris with the singer Youssou N'Dour, and make an hour-long new ballet for the Paris Opera Ballet, before fitting in something "short" for the Royal Ballet next autumn.

So McGregor will redefine the term "resident choreographer" as something nearer "chief associate", and his contribution will be in the value he adds to the Royal Ballet's artistic identity, rather than in remoulding it. He admits to having "a more anatomical interest" in the dancing body than some, which has led to his being dubbed a cyber-choreographer, a futurist, an alien.



#71 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 06:27 AM

My favorite line was

People forget how well connected I am.


I doubt he lets anyone forget for long.

Is it just me or have his interviews with Zoe Anderson and Ismene Brown felt like this hypothetical conversation:

Him: I'm becoming a vegetarian.
Us: That's interesting. How are you going to adapt to no longer eating meat?
Him: No, you don't understand. When I say I'm a vegetarian, I'll still eat chicken and fish on occasion.
Us: That's not really a vegetarian, then, is it?
Him: I think you have a very old-fashioned view of vegetarianism.



#72 bart

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 06:40 AM

Maybe that ability to define things precisely as he wishes is part of "the value he adds to the Royal Ballet's artistic identity." :thumbsup:

#73 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 11:40 AM

Our boy Wayne has given an interview to the Scotsman (in today's links courtesy of dirac)

When I ask him whether he'd like one day to run the Royal Ballet itself, he refuses to give an entirely straight answer, but implies that he would very much. "Do I need to have danced Ashton or MacMillan to be able to preserve its future? No, because there are many other brilliant people who'd do that better than me (whom I could employ]. I think I absolutely have a responsibility and care for heritage ballet, but I also have strong views about what could dynamically engage us in the future and how you really get people to be curious, and then comfortable, with going to the Royal Opera House."


In fairness, this could be the reporter's interpretation of his answer, but if his ambition weren't so loathsome it would almost be charming. Could someone tattoo on a visible part of his body "I HAVE NO QUALIFICATIONS FOR RUNNING A BALLET COMPANY" please?


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