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NYCB's Block ProgrammingAfter its first year


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Poll: NYCB Block Programming (27 member(s) have cast votes)

How did the block progamming fare in its first year?

  1. Disaster! It cut my attendance significantly. (3 votes [11.11%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.11%

  2. Not good. There were ballets I would have liked to see, but I didn't like the rest of the program. (13 votes [48.15%])

    Percentage of vote: 48.15%

  3. It made no difference. (6 votes [22.22%])

    Percentage of vote: 22.22%

  4. Good. The company looked more polished than before. (1 votes [3.70%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.70%

  5. Great! As long as the programs are this good, let it stay! (4 votes [14.81%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.81%

Vote

#16 Figurante

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 07:51 PM

I chose #3. It really makes no difference whether it's blocked programming or not, or what ballet's the companies perform. They are all under rehearsed, performed sloppily (with the exception of a few principals/soloists), and is difficult to sit through in general. It's enough for anyone to return their ticket and buy a cheap bus ticket to Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet or Pennsylvania Ballet to go see a quality production. I believe any ballet can be made into something beautifully compelling by a dancer. Even the stereotypical long boring ballet's (Liesberger Waltzer, Dybbuk, for example) can be made beautiful by the company if they just had a little more integrity. I found it interesting that Dybbuk (a Robbins piece, therefore rehearsed by outsiders from NYCB) looked much cleaner than the other two bills for the program. Doesn't that say something? I hate saying it, but the Times got it right when they reviewed Miami City Ballet as a better Balanchine performing company than NYCB. I have been nothing but dissapointed, not to be a debbie downer or anything. Of course I have my staple favorite dancers, but sometimes, they alone cannot save the entirety of the ballet.

#17 carbro

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:27 PM

Jean-Pierre Frohlich, who staged Dybbuk, was a dancer with NYCB in the 1970s and 1980s and has been a ballet master there since shortly after (if not immediately upon) his retirement from the stage at the rank of soloist. Hardly an outsider. :thanks:


ETA --
I suddenly remember: JP's association with NYCB goes back to childhood. He was a Drosselmeyer's nephew and also originated the boy's role in Balanchine's Don Quixote.

Edited by carbro, 11 July 2007 - 10:02 PM.
Memory flash


#18 Helene

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 09:52 PM

Jean-Pierre Frohlich, who staged Dybbuk, was a dancer with NYCB in the 1970s and 1980s and has been a ballet master there since shortly after (if not immediately upon) his retirement from the stage at the rank of soloist. Hardly an outsider. :thanks:

Frolich, a wonderful dancer, retired at a time when Robbins picked his own Ballet Masters to rehearse his rep. (Bart Cook was another.)

#19 Klavier

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 04:13 AM

Responses to this question, it seems to me, have a lot to do with whether one expects or wants to see the same work multiple times in a season, with or without different casting. Those who do so seem to dislike the block programming concept the most. For someone like myself who lives outside the city and is satisfied to see perhaps 4-5 performances a season, block programming does not disturb as much. Ticket prices aside, I could not afford the time and expense of travelling into NYC more than once a week as a rule. So I just pick and choose the programs and casts I want, and if I get a clunker once in a while, so be it.

#20 E Johnson

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 05:55 AM

Responses to this question, it seems to me, have a lot to do with whether one expects or wants to see the same work multiple times in a season, with or without different casting. Those who do so seem to dislike the block programming concept the most.


I think its true that it bothers those of us that have strong feelings about particular ballets, and probably more scheduling flexibility, the most. For me, if I am honest, the main reason i hate it is its MUCH harder to avoid the ballets I hate, which, again, being honest, is most of the Martins rep -- unless I also give up the chance to see ones I really want to see. The ultimate result for me was that not only did I go less often, but I forewent seeing ballets I wanted to see in order to avoid clunkers. For example, I realy liked Russian Seasons in the Winter season and woudl have loved to see it in the Spring but it was programmed in a block I had zero interest in otherwise.

#21 harpergroup

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 06:41 AM

I answered that it made no difference, because it didn't. My aim, each year, is to see everything in rep at least once, and some more than that. So block programming, in its way, made that easier. Those programs that had more than one of my most-liked ballets were attended more than once. (OK, I'm a NYCB junkie.) And yes, there are some clunkers in the block programs. Unfortunately, those clunkers will always come back to bite us - whether in blocks or in the old NYCB format. For example, THOU SWELL, which is likely to return to us (based upon its scheduled appearance during next spring's London tour) was premiered before the block progamming concept arrived, and was awful at that time too. It will be awful in the future, also, no matter what the scheduling format.

I agree that block programming provided me with the opportunity (?) to see DYBBUK more than once. And while I still dislike it quite a bit, being 'forced' to watch it when Rachel Rutherford and Joaquin DeLuz had debuts in it made me see it (and Rachel) somewhat differently.

I also agree with all the comments about the program titles: they are trite, often inappropriate, and talk down to the audience.

Finally, to the poster who spoke against the "all Balanchine black and white evenings" - those ballets are among my favorites, which meant I went to most of the performances containing them. So for both of us, the block programming of those ballets together was a great idea - I got to see them all multiple times, and you got to avoid all of them (if you so chose).

#22 maddam

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 02:15 PM

I voted for "not good". I don't hate the block programming, but it certainly makes life difficult when you're stuck with ballets that you loathe (Dybbuk being a favorite example for me, too, but also Martins' Jeux de Cartes and Nilas in Orpheus) in order to see those that you either love (Apollo, Agon, Raymonda Variations & Stravinsky Violin) or new ones that you want to see (Wheeldon's Nightingale & Rose). I would have tried to get tickets for another Nightingale program, but the thought of sitting through Jeux de Cartes a second time made it seem like too much effort.

I do like the idea of one "wild card" program each week just to mix things up and juxtapose some different ballets where you might see some new relationships.

I also feel that the "one note" programs come off badly -- all Bach or all Greek/Stravinsky/Balanchine or all Robbins are just too much. Balanchine masterworks are easy to program because he created masterpieces in so many styles. Robbins masterworks are harder to program because he became quite repetitious and the lesser works are too obviously knock-offs of the better works (Tschaikovsky Piano Pieces vs. Dances at a Gathering for example).

On the plus side, the corps often seemed better rehearsed in some of the big works. And the orchestra usually sounded good, too.

For me, the best programs were those in the "For Lincoln" week of Balanchine "black & white" works. They were mixed and matched all week in interesting programs and there were enough ballets that there wasn't excessive repetition.

#23 nysusan

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 06:40 AM

I voted for #2 because that's how I felt, even though I went quite often this season. My attendance was up because the rep they offered was so good, many individual dancers are looking wonderful lately and because they offered $10 fourth ring tickets. How can you not go at that price? But I find the season much more interesting when they mix the rep, and I'm reluctant to go see multiple performances of a piece I like when it's coupled with one I dislike. After seeing Dybbuk 3 times last season I decided I only had one more in me this year. But I wanted multiple performances of Raymonda and SVC. I wound up choosing 2 performances and taking a long tour of the Kirstein photo exhibit during one of those Dybbuks. It's no big deal to sit through a ballet I don't like once I like to revisit things to see if my feelings have changed. The problem is having to sit through multiple viewings of the same piece you don't like to get your fill of the ones you love!

Unfortunately I missed the entire week of "For Lincoln" Balanchine black & whites but I love maddam's idea of a weekly "wild card" to break up the block programming surely Martin's can give us that much!


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