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Ballerinas and Candy Wrappers


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#1 erpollock

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 08:52 AM

I attended a performance of Coppelia at New York City Ballet on Sunday, January 11 in the second ring first row center. Next to me were two ballet dancers, beautiful young women dressed in the scanty prevailing fashion. From their talk, I could see they got their tickets for free (I'm a subscriber). The dancer next to me was unwrapping candies and offering them. At intermission, when they left their seats, I saw under the seat of the dancer with candies many curls of candy wrapper. The beauty of these dancers was instantly spoiled for me. I wondered - how many of the dancers I am seeing on stage at New York City Ballet are leaving their litter on the ground for others to pick up? I wondered, how can I communicate to these young ladies without causing an altercation, wordlessly a la ballet mime, that dropping candy wrappers on the floor is inappropriate and unmannerly behavior? (As Balanchine said, "Ballet is about behavior!") So I gathered up all the wrappings, and carefully placed them on the ledge in front of the ballerina's seat where she would be sure to see them. When the young ladies returned, I buried my head in my program to discourage communication. The ballet dancer beside me saw the wrappers in a place she had not put them, reached out a graceful arm and enclosed the candy wrappers in her fist, where she held them. I stared intently at my program like the doll Coppelia, feeling I had conveyed a necessary and helpful message to these two young women.

#2 carbro

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 12:43 PM

Thank you for gently making a point. Now, if you could find a way to discourage the noisy unwrapping of candies, that would be a great help. (I have been known to suggest, during an applause break after a divertissement or variation, "Now would be a good time to unwrap your candy," usually to no avail :dunno: )

Welcome to BalletTalk, erpollock :) , and maybe you'd like to introduce yourself in our Welcome forum. I'll also invite you to add your comments on the performance itself to Colleen Borresta's in the NYCB forum. I've been meaning to add my own.

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 01:45 PM

Now, if you could find a way to discourage the noisy unwrapping of candies, that would be a great help.

I usually shush the offender...and if it doesn't work...I shush again...! :)

#4 Farrell Fan

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 06:20 PM

I'm puzzled by the incident related by erpollock. There's no mention of any behavior that caused discomfort or annoyance to others. Apparently the only sin of the beautiful ballerinas was discarding wrappers onto the floor. While that's not something I would do, it seems relatively harmless. I thought this was going to be a complaint about talking during the performance, as some dancers or would-be dancers are wont to do. As for the remedy applied, it seems to me weird. I can't imagine what message the recipients are supposed to derive from seeing their discarded wrappers on a ledge before them. And how long did they hold onto them? What finally happened?

#5 kfw

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 07:37 PM

I'm puzzled by the incident related by erpollock. There's no mention of any behavior that caused discomfort or annoyance to others. Apparently the only sin of the beautiful ballerinas was discarding wrappers onto the floor. While that's not something I would do, it seems relatively harmless.

Except for the breaking of the spell -- beautiful is as beautiful does.

And on that note, while I understand season ticket holders of years standing discussing whatever mundane subject comes to mind in the minutes before the lights go down and the curtain goes up, as someone for whom every performance is a special occasion, I'm always glad when the people around me honor it as the same once they get to their seat. Blab about your lousy boss later. Yack on your cellphone, check your messages, and text later. Start suspending disbelief and opening yourself to transcendence now. We're not here to hear about you.

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 09:13 PM

As for the remedy applied, it seems to me weird. I can't imagine what message the recipients are supposed to derive from seeing their discarded wrappers on a ledge before them.

The message...? It couldn't be more clear! :
Translation:
[size=2]"Hey you... I saw what you just did, and it seems to me that:

1-You are showing disrespect for the theater environment.. :)
2-...revealing your total lack of good manners :dunno: :o , so...
3-...pick those up right now!!!-(because I'm still watching you...) "
:D :angry2:[/size]


#7 papeetepatrick

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 09:27 PM

As for the remedy applied, it seems to me weird. I can't imagine what message the recipients are supposed to derive from seeing their discarded wrappers on a ledge before them. And how long did they hold onto them? What finally happened?


It is rather suspenseful, n'est-ce pas? Reminds of a review in The New Yorker about 1994 of Tom Jones new show he did in the East Village, called THE LEAD AND HOW TO SWING IT, which spawned an album or two. The ladies threw panties at Tom as they always have gone nuts by throwing keys or what have you. The writer of the demure little piece interviewed Tom afterwards and ended her piece with 'And what happens to all those panties?' Tom answered her 'I have no idea', given that it was obviously an attempt to make sure a new emphasis was made, and pointed out to the great man himself. Was this 'speaking truth to power?'. It most certainly was not. He knew exactly what she was up to, and she probably had to end the 'feature' there because he wasn't really interested in talking about her career or sexual preferences. She seemed to even disapprove of his having some champagne after the performance.

#8 bart

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 06:37 AM

On the whole I'm with Farrell Fan on this, since there appears to have been no real disruption of others during the performance.

Now, if you could find a way to discourage the noisy unwrapping of candies, that would be a great help.

Carbro, for ideas on this, just attend the theater in south Florida -- with its large, art-loving, but elderly population. Representatives of several companies make quite a production of reminding people about cell-phones, cellophane wrappers, tic-tacs, miniature flashllights, etc. Sometimes this is done with choreography and sound effects. (I'm thinking, especially, of one of the stage managers at Florida Stage.) It's humorous and seems to be effective.

#9 erpollock

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 07:07 AM

I'm puzzled by the incident related by erpollock. There's no mention of any behavior that caused discomfort or annoyance to others. Apparently the only sin of the beautiful ballerinas was discarding wrappers onto the floor. While that's not something I would do, it seems relatively harmless. I thought this was going to be a complaint about talking during the performance, as some dancers or would-be dancers are wont to do. As for the remedy applied, it seems to me weird. I can't imagine what message the recipients are supposed to derive from seeing their discarded wrappers on a ledge before them. And how long did they hold onto them? What finally happened?


I'm glad you raised the point that throwing candy wrappers on the floor caused no discomfort or annoyance to others. It has really helped me understand my negative reaction. The incident caused discomfort to me because I realized that just because a person is a beautiful dancer does not mean she knows or cares about throwing litter on the floor. Why is throwing candy wrappers on the floor objectionable? Isn't it a matter of live and let live? In New York State Theater, a beautiful theatrical space, it is inappropriate to make a mess, and a mess for others less fortunate than you to clean up, namely, the cleaning people. You are spoiling the beautiful space, you are creating an unfortunate impression on others who see what you do, and if you are a dancer with NYCB, you are making subscribers think that dancers are merely a beautiful image, not necessarily good people. The impression a dancer makes in the world, especially upon ballet audience members, is crucial. Ballet is an illusion, and to break that illusion when you are among audience members is not a wise choice. I remember a few summers ago when I encountered Nilas Martins at the entrance of Starbucks, and he HELD THE DOOR OPEN FOR ME - I was so positively impressed by his politeness, that the bad publicity he had received (he had been exiled from the Saratoga season so was in the city that summer) was totally wiped away for me. I thought, he is a good person. Throwing candy wrappers on the floor is not a major crime, of course, but it is not classy. Nilas Martins was classy, so he impressed me positively. I hope this helps answer why I reacted negatively, and felt it necessary to give a gentle reproof.

#10 papeetepatrick

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 08:27 AM

I remember a few summers ago when I encountered Nilas Martins at the entrance of Starbucks, and he HELD THE DOOR OPEN FOR ME - I was so positively impressed by his politeness, that the bad publicity he had received (he had been exiled from the Saratoga season so was in the city that summer) was totally wiped away for me. I thought, he is a good person. Throwing candy wrappers on the floor is not a major crime, of course, but it is not classy. Nilas Martins was classy, so he impressed me positively. I hope this helps answer why I reacted negatively, and felt it necessary to give a gentle reproof.


It ends up being about what is classy as determining things like 'he is a good person'. My impression is that Farrell Fan was right, although I didn't originally think so. Obviously, Nilas Martins may or may not be a 'good person', but he cannot have been for having been a minor celeb who held the door for someone. This does not even mean he was 'classy'. Of course it explains the negative reaction to the candy wrappers, but not that the ballerinas needed any kind of reproof. They were probably corps dancers below the age of 20 who spend a lot of time in trendy clubs, where the role models are spoiled and do whatever they want. The Nilas Martins case is here described as a matter of 'bad publicity received'. The case was discussed extensively here at Ballet Talk just after his arrest, and so what has to then be pointed to is the case itself as being of at least relatively much greater importance (however small a case), as it existed in a real sense within the justice system, to superficial politeness (which is important, but not so important without including the larger context--which has been here described and reduced to 'bad publicity' and 'exiled from Saratoga'; and this is totally misleading to anyone who doesn't know what happened in the actual case). I don't think ballet is within its own members a matter of one required exquisite movement after another. Ballet dancers go back into their own personalities as people the minute they get offstage, and become concerned with mundane things, physical pains, etc., that have to do with them as people, not continuing the 'glorious illusion',i.e., they have all just been sweating, probably even the ones who say they don't have done so, or paid some kind of health price for not ever sweating. I don't think they should be expected to watch their every move when they are in an audience--a few prima ballerinas would do so, but otherwise they should not be held to the standards of the queen of England when out in the general public. Actors often complain about this kind of expectation from fans, and some of the biggest film stars who live in my neighborhood feel fine about dressing like slobs.

#11 Hans

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 08:51 AM

I wonder if the dancers were in fact students, as I can't imagine a NYCB dancer littering his/her own theater. (SAB students receive free tickets to NYCB performances.) I agree with papeetepatrick, to an extent. Ballet dancers are not required to be good people, as nice as it would be if they all were, but at the same time, an artist must be aware of the impression s/he makes on the public even when not onstage. An especially appropriate time for polite behavior is when sitting in the audience of a ballet performance, even if one does not dance with the company.

#12 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 10:32 AM

an artist must be aware of the impression s/he makes on the public even when not onstage.

Well...and then when one reads all those LADIES' autobiographies-(Markova's, Danilova's...Baronova's, which I'm currently working on)-and get to know the way they saw the matter of "class", ""post-stage illusion", "glamour" and so on... one wonders what happened to all that...
:) (On the other side...there are current ballerinas who makes one believe that this vision is still alive in the ballet world: Hayna Gutierrez-(CCBM)-Lorna Feijoo-(Boston Ballet)-and Mary Carmen Catoya-(MCB)- are some of this few rare specimens)

#13 Quiggin

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 11:21 AM

I agree that candy wrappers on the floor is a venial sin, and that the unwrapping of candies a major one. What can they be thinking? I always think. I donít mind the continuous low murmur of people talking besides me, so there seems to be something especially distracting about the candy wrapper sound. Itís like an almost articulate complaint.

As far as life and art, thereíd simply be no art if artists had to be consistent from one to the other. And a brilliant Apollo on stage always trumps a polite one in life.

#14 papeetepatrick

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 11:35 AM

And a brilliant Apollo on stage always trumps a polite one in life.


Especially if the 'polite' one in life is also never the brilliant one onstage. I've no reason to think Hubbe wouldn't hold the door, though, so there need not always be trumping involved, or perhaps it can be doubled?

#15 Farrell Fan

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 11:47 AM

We don't know for a fact whether the young women were dancers, students, or just good-looking. What has led me to post again on this less than cataclysmic subject is the extraordinary explanation of the remedy by Cristian, which amounts to "YOU ARE BEING WATCHED!" Is this the atmosphere we want to encourage at the ballet? :(


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