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Audience reaction from the topKirstein vs. Arpino


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#1 Farrell Fan

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 05:12 PM

Treefrog mentions the "brava!"s emanating from Gerald Arpino's box at a performance of the Joffrey Giselle. It reminded me of the time I saw and heard Mr. Arpino at City Center, leading the applause for his company. He could scarecely contain himself -- a one-man standing-cheering-bouncing ovation. It impressed me a lot, since I couldn't help contrasting it with an audience reaction I was more familiar with -- that of Lincoln Kirstein at NYCB. Actually, Lincoln's was more of a non-reaction -- his expression never changed and I almost never saw him applaud, let alone emit whoops and hollers. This is kind of a stupid question, but I'll ask it anyway: who would you rather have as a boss?

#2 vipa

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 05:31 PM

Treefrog mentions the "brava!"s emanating from Gerald Arpino's box at a performance of the Joffrey Giselle. It reminded me of the time I saw and heard Mr. Arpino at City Center, leading the applause for his company. He could scarecely contain himself -- a one-man standing-cheering-bouncing ovation. It impressed me a lot, since I couldn't help contrasting it with an audience reaction I was more familiar with -- that of Lincoln Kirstein at NYCB. Actually, Lincoln's was more of a non-reaction -- his expression never changed and I almost never saw him applaud, let alone emit whoops and hollers. This is kind of a stupid question, but I'll ask it anyway: who would you rather have as a boss?


I think NYCB members always looked to Balanchine as the "boss" the one they sought approval from.

#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 05:58 PM

Also, Linc used to sit in the "observation box" at the rear of the State Theater's orchestra level. He could have been playing the euphonium in there and the rest of the house wouldn't have heard. Arpino customarily crawled the house, being a one-man "clacque" for his own stuff. It was a rare occasion to get him to sit down and dictate notes during a performance.

#4 Hans

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 06:15 PM

As a dancer, I don't think I would care much how the director acted in the audience (unless it was truly embarrassing) as long as s/he was good to work with in the studio.

#5 Treefrog

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 07:56 PM

I've always wondered what Arpino's motivation is. Is he trying to stir up the crowd? Convey appreciation to his dancers?

I can tell you hands down that, as an audience member, I would prefer the strong silent type. I've always regarded the very vocal cheerleading as inappropriate. The company is performing for the audience -- the ones who are paying to see them -- and the audience deserves the chance and space to make up their own minds and convey their own responses.

Interestingly, the active artistic staff sits far away from Mr. Arpino's box. There are about four seats reserved for their use midway back, center, with easy access for late seating or quick exits. Today they wee occupied by Cameron Basden, Calvin Kitten, and a gentleman who I thought might be Ashley Wheater (hard to tell from the back). Not a peep issues from those seats.

Great question, Farrell Fan. By "who would you rather have as boss?", where you specifically asking from the dancers' perspective?

#6 Farrell Fan

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 12:24 PM

Great question, Farrell Fan. By "who would you rather have as boss?", where you specifically asking from the dancers' perspective?

I meant the question more generally -- whose reaction are you more comfortable with?

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 01:04 PM

My predecessor at Joffrey gave me one piece of advice about Arpino: "Just assume, before you start, that he's wacky. Then you'll be fine." I did. We got along very well.

#8 dirac

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 03:54 PM

I can tell you hands down that, as an audience member, I would prefer the strong silent type. I've always regarded the very vocal cheerleading as inappropriate. The company is performing for the audience -- the ones who are paying to see them -- and the audience deserves the chance and space to make up their own minds and convey their own responses.


Inappropriate and embarrassing all around, I'd say.

#9 kfw

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 04:58 PM

I don't know what North Carolina Dance Theater director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux does in his home theater, but when his company was here in Charlottesville recently he walked around talking to people during intermissions and after the performance, several times seeking out a family with young kids who had attended his pre-performance talk. He seems like a genuinely modest man and there was nothing showy about his presence, and it was sweet to see him with the children.

#10 bart

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 05:09 PM

Re Arpino. My impression was that most creative directors observe the performances from the wings.

To what extent do they comment on, or interfere with, performances as they go on? (I mean, when there's no obvious problem that has to be resolved?) Is there any general pattern to this among company directors today or in the past?

#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 05:13 PM

Different strokes for different folks. Balanchine hung in there in the down right wing, Joffrey himself preferred to sit in the last row of the orchestra, dictating notes, sometimes to the discomfiture of the people in the NEXT-to-the-last row!

#12 bart

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 06:04 PM

Balanchine hung in there in the down right wing,

Edward Villella at Miami also does this. Despite his youthful rebellions he is a true folllower of Balanchine.

What about others?

#13 atm711

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 03:26 AM

I don't know what North Carolina Dance Theater director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux does in his home theater, but when his company was here in Charlottesville recently he walked around talking to people during intermissions and after the performance, several times seeking out a family with young kids who had attended his pre-performance talk. He seems like a genuinely modest man and there was nothing showy about his presence, and it was sweet to see him with the children.




this is the Bonnefoux I see most summers when I go to Chautauqua---where he is head of the Dance Dept. He is easily approached and genuinely appears to like the interaction with the audience.

#14 zerbinetta

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 03:38 AM

Paul Taylor sits in the last row of the orchestra at City Center. He leaves immediately the curtain falls for each piece and goes backstage. No applause, nor does he wait to hear ours.

#15 Paul Parish

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 05:50 PM

I think it's great that Arpino says what he thinks. In the movie "the Company,' the director is said to be omodeled on Arpino, and I have to say, i really liked him. And he hollered from his box, and he told the Italian-American civic group that conferred an award on him to be nicer to their dancing sons than they'd been to HIM -- it made me want to cheer.


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