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Acocella to ballet stars: "Stop flirting with the audience."


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#46 bart

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 04:07 PM

Surely the place for flirting is at the stage door.

:D :lightbulb:

#47 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 05:54 PM

Ooooh, yes...YES...! :lightbulb:

#48 EricMontreal22

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 06:17 PM

Is "flirting" a new phenomenon? I have little doubt that by the time the French ballet started being thought of more as an excuse (apparantly) to see women's legs by the 1880s that the dancers flirted with the men in the boxes to some extent. The Russian Imperial Ballet was a much stricter situation but I wonder, is it possible the audience favorites would flirt to some extent too? the visiting Italian ballerinas? Certainly *in a way*, the Russian technique of taking endless curtain calls and bows after a ballerina's solo is sorta "flirting with the audience", albeit during a break in the action of the ballet.

I also wonder if with modern dancers this comes a bit from different forms of dance now being accepted together. What I mean is, a modern ballet company might have in their repertoire some famous dance numbers from a Broadway show, something that 50-75 years ago and longer would have never been true. You're also more likely than you were to discover that a dancer in a tour of Chicago, say, was once a ballet dancer at some company. Bob Fosse infamously told his dancers to flirt and smile at the audience, albeit in a slightly intimidating way ("the audience is your prey"). Maybe if a performer is trained in more styles of dance this becomes more common even in ballet?

Just throwing ideas out there

#49 canbelto

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 07:29 PM

There is also the undeniable appeal of an artist who knows his worth and tries to make a direct connection with the audience. Maybe the best example is Marcelo Gomes. He's not smug, but whenever he steps onstage he exudes confidence and takes the audience along for a magical ride. He also seems to infuse confidence in his partners. For instance I saw a Bayadere in which Veronika Part actually seemed to grow AS A DANCER during the ballet. By the end of the Shades scene the two were dancing as one.

#50 cargill

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 10:15 AM

I must say, I didn't feel that Salstein was out of character--I am sure she was talking about his performance as Oh Johnny. He was exhuberant and very funny, but the piece was a comedy and comedy works with some contact with the audience, as long as it isn't mugging. In my experience Salstein can be both broad and nuanced, and is just one of those dancers who seems to love being on stage, without hogging it. I did a brief interview with him, and talked about his Gamache (which I really loved), and I asked how he reacted to the audience laughing and he said

Could you hear the audience laughing when you did Gamache?

No, you canít pay attention to the reaction, or you start trying to please the audience and overplaying, and thatís not good. Comedy is work, itís a technique, a learned art form. Acting is learned. For some people itís natural to feel comfortable on stage, but you have to work on the technique. You canít just wake up one day and do 100 pirouettes, you have to build and build and build. And you canít wake up and be funny, you have to work on that too.


This is not what a flirt would say.

I must say Acocella can be selective, since she loved Ansanelli, who looked like she was giving herself whiplash turning her head to make contact with the audience.

About smiling, I think I remember reading that Ashton told a dancer to "smile with your eyes", which is a wonderful description. Dancers have different personalities and what works for one wouldn't work for another--I was thinking of McBride, too, who just beamed, but it was genuine and involved more than just her teeth. Then there are other dancers who look like toothpaste adds, but that is because it isn't natural.

#51 carbro

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 01:11 PM

Then there are other dancers who look like toothpaste adds, but that is because it isn't natural.

Or the ones who suddenly change expression :D :) as they turn to face upstage or head into the wings, unaware that their faces are still visible to much (any?) of the audience.

#52 Paul Parish

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 08:46 AM

Eric, everything you say makes me picture Anthony Tudor's "Gala Performance," in which the French ballerina flirts shamelessly with the audience in a gamine sort of way, the ballerina in red hogs the curtain calls, and the ballerina in black vamps the audience like we're' her prey......they also do a lot of steps, and it actually pretty impressive, but God the last time I saw it, Lorena Feijoo as the ballerina in red outdid any Trock Ive ever seen taking her bows. I laughed so hard I could not stop; she hugged the curtains, she bowed for 10 minutes, and it never stopped being funny....

Is "flirting" a new phenomenon? I have little doubt that by the time the French ballet started being thought of more as an excuse (apparantly) to see women's legs by the 1880s that the dancers flirted with the men in the boxes to some extent. The Russian Imperial Ballet was a much stricter situation but I wonder, is it possible the audience favorites would flirt to some extent too? the visiting Italian ballerinas? Certainly *in a way*, the Russian technique of taking endless curtain calls and bows after a ballerina's solo is sorta "flirting with the audience", albeit during a break in the action of the ballet.

I also wonder if with modern dancers this comes a bit from different forms of dance now being accepted together. What I mean is, a modern ballet company might have in their repertoire some famous dance numbers from a Broadway show, something that 50-75 years ago and longer would have never been true. You're also more likely than you were to discover that a dancer in a tour of Chicago, say, was once a ballet dancer at some company. Bob Fosse infamously told his dancers to flirt and smile at the audience, albeit in a slightly intimidating way ("the audience is your prey"). Maybe if a performer is trained in more styles of dance this becomes more common even in ballet?

Just throwing ideas out there



#53 dirac

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:30 PM

About smiling, I think I remember reading that Ashton told a dancer to "smile with your eyes", which is a wonderful description. Dancers have different personalities and what works for one wouldn't work for another--I was thinking of McBride, too, who just beamed, but it was genuine and involved more than just her teeth. Then there are other dancers who look like toothpaste adds, but that is because it isn't natural.


The aesthetic effects of rampant tooth bleaching is another subject. Most distracting.

Kind of surprised that the name of Jacques d'Amboise doesn't seem to have arisen yet in this thread. My impression was that he sometimes played direct to the audience and opinions were divided about this.


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