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Cameras clicking and flashing in the audience

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The following statement -- from one of chiapuris's wonderful posts about the Mariinsky Festival -- caught my eye.

Tonight's audience was loaded with digital cameras and flashes that kept going off throughout the performance- particularly bothersome during the lake scene.

Considering the huge number of unauthorized videos from Russia on YouTube, I can imagine that this could be quite an extensive problem. What is going on? How extensive is this? Where else in the ballet world do you find it? Why doesn't management do something about it?

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Where else in the ballet world do you find it?

Broward Center of the Arts, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Miami City Ballet, Sunday, March 15 matinee :off topic::dunno:

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I haven't seen it at the Kennedy Center. These 'fans' might want to consider that they are putting the dancers they claim to love so much in danger, whether it's the women on pointe or the gentlemen landing complicated jumps. Can you imagine trying to spot during pirouettes with little flashes going off in front of you? Even in moments of seeming repose, dancers have plenty of distractions and things to worry about. They don't need more!

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There was way too much flash from the audience in San Francisco in the two performances of "Swan Lake" that I saw. Some ladies near me flashed away, and then acted like children doing something naughty and having gotten away with it, without regard to the potential consequences.

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Carnegie Hall and every theater at Lincoln Center make announcements before the curtain goes up. The Met is particularly strong in enforcing this, with ushers patrolling the aisles after the lights go down.

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I saw it once at the Kennedy Center. The usher had the patrons camera in under 30 seconds!

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Where else in the ballet world do you find it? Why doesn't management do something about it?

Last night at Pacific Northwest Ballet -- during Slaughter on Tenth Avenue if I remember correctly (though might have been Carousel) I see the company two or three times for each rep, and over the season I'll see a flash probably five or six times. They don't seem to have the pre-show "turn off your phones and remember there's no photography" announcement anymore, though I'm not sure that would deter the people who are snapping away.

We also get people who look at their cell phones during the performance (the backlit screen is just like waving a flashlight at the people sitting behind you) and yes, the musical dingle of ringing phones.

It's very annoying for the audience, and I imagine a real pain for the performers.

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vrsfanatic, I haven't noticed this at the Kravis Center, just 45 minutes north of the Broward Center. Maybe you should drive up here next time. :)

The Kravis audience is, I admit,, on the older side. It also tends to have long-term experience attending all sorts of serious classical arts. They (we) are usually quick to shush or complain about any disruptive behavior. There's always an annoucement about the prohibition on phones, cameras, etc., but I'm like sandik on this: I don't know whether such announcements, repeated performance after performance and year after year, actually are listened to any more.

I am always amazed at people who seem to record entire performances on their cameras or phones, surreptiously one assumes, and then rush home to post them on YouTube. there do seem to be people who constantly snap photos at tourists sites and imoprtant occasions, paying very little attention to what they see through their own eyes. Perhaps our culture is experiencing a turning point in which camera images seem to have more validity -- more "reality" -- than live experiences.

How about Europe in general? Which countries -- or theaters -- have the most and/or most egregious offenders?

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We also get people who look at their cell phones during the performance (the backlit screen is just like waving a flashlight at the people sitting behind you) ...
Oh, you mean like the woman recently sitting in front of me who, when I asked her to close her phone because it was shining in my eyes, insisted I couldn't possibly see it? (So how did I know it was open?)

In City Center's rear mezz, the ushers have taken to aggressively "following the light" to get patrons to put phones and cameras away. For audience members of course, their up-and-down the aisle patrols are more distracting than the lights themselves.

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I wish they'd patrol in San Francisco, distracting or not. I'm less inhibited about asking people to close their phones than I used to be. It's really, really distracting.

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At both the Mariinsky and Bolshoi, I've recently seen not only the flashes but also MANY idiots unabashedly filming by holding of their cellphones. [That's how we get that crappo-quality stuff on YouTube.] I've even seen people filming with regular movie camcorders, with their full LED screens popped open. Always - at every performance...and I sit near Tsar's Box, not the cheap-tix upstairs.

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:wub: Folks, are you ready for a confession? Yes, I am on my knees. :huh:

Well, many years ago I went to the Vaganova school performance, wonderful stuff indeed and the second part was "The fairy doll". I was sitting in the Maryinski (now I think it was a dream, but I was actually there), in the very front row just behind the conductor who then happened to be Gergiev. I had a camera with flash and thinking that this is once in a lifetime - later I have realized that it was indeed once in a lifetime - I did indeed took a few pics with flash. I knew it was not the thing to be done, but considering the circumstances I threw all my manners and good behaviour to the wind.

Worse was to come, the film in my camera was finished and then it wound back automatically. This winding back made a considerable noise, Gergiev turned his head and looked angrily (that man can really look mean if he wants to, otherwise I think he is very cute) at me. The damned camera continued whirring loudly, I put it under my skirt and finally I ended up sitting on the damned thing! :)

Anyway, I got my pics, they were not so good, but a nice souvenir and memory for me. But I must admit, I behaved very badly and will never do so again, so I beg for forgiveness to both the performers and Mr. Gergiev for this lapse of good manners. :bow:

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I put it under my skirt and finally I ended up sitting on the damned thing! :)
Sounds like an episode in a spy novel, Pamela.

As the poster who started this thread, please allow me to assist you to remove your overpowering feelings of guilt: I seem to remember that the formula goes like this: "Ego absolvo te a peccatis tuis."

THAT should do it. Now, when you see someone taking pictures at the ballet, you can give them your most menacing and self-righteous Gergiev look. :huh:

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At just about every ballet performance I've attended there's been an announcement forbidding flash photos; I've found that people really do follow the rule. Bows between acts and the ballet's end were OK for flash. The only exception was when I saw The Bolshoi when they were performing in their tiny temporary theater while their actual theater was being renovated; no announcements were made forbidding flash photos and the flashes abounded, including from my camera. Loved it!!!

Giannina

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Important Note: NOT than I'm encouraging nor condemning the film-making/Youtube phenomenom...but what about some "Summum Bonum", or even some Bentham-Mill Social Utilitarianism...you know,"the greatest happiness of the greatest number" thing...? (In any case I wonder how non proper would it be to admit enjoying the videos, otherwise unavailable. I do BTW...)

Just a thought...(Please, Mods, delete if the admiting fact doesn't quite fit Rules and Policies...)

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Are cameras (video and still) theoretically prohibited at the Mariinsky and Bolshoi?

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Are cameras (video and still) theoretically prohibited at the Mariinsky and Bolshoi?

Yes, they are, with announcements made in Russian, then English, languages.

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...but what about some "Summum Bonum", or even some Bentham-Mill Social Utilitarianism...you know,"the greatest happiness of the greatest number" thing...?

The important thing to remember is that it is dangerous for the dancers. No photo or UTube video is worth someone getting injured, no matter how many of us enjoy them.

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...

Worse was to come, the film in my camera was finished and then it wound back automatically. This winding back made a considerable noise, Gergiev turned his head and looked angrily (that man can really look mean if he wants to, otherwise I think he is very cute) at me. The damned camera continued whirring loudly, I put it under my skirt and finally I ended up sitting on the damned thing! :)

...

A digression -- this made me smile. Many years ago, when inexpensive cameras with auto-rewind were just beginning to be sold, I went to a family wedding. It was a tense affair, the bride was quite pregnant and her soon to be married and not long after that divorced husband had supposedly stopped dealing drugs, but family is family and we were all there. It was a very small wedding chapel, and the pre-recorded wedding march lasted much longer than it took the bride to get to the front of the room, so she and her hapless fiance stood for what seemed like an age while the tape cranked on and a cousin snapped photos with her new camera. After several shots, she got to the end of the roll, and like your experience, the camera started to rewind and Would Not Shut Up. Like you, the hapless camerawoman was totally chagrined by this, and wound up stuffing it in her handbag and covering it up with her jacket where we could all still hear the whirring and the clicking as it made its way backwards through what seemed like a 500 exposure roll. I was standing in the back of the room with all the aunties, a rollicking group of women who had supported each other through some pretty gruesome experiences, and gradually they started to giggle. I was by far the youngest, and kept trying to shush them till I realized I was being a priss, and just went with the experience. They are all gone now, and I miss them still, especially when I hear a camera rewinding!

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On the other side, I was thinking more of the non-flash-(and yes...hidden)-video recording method...(I have a friend who literally has been filming consecutively the Cuban National Ballet for almost 30 years, and at present he even has a network of people who will do the job for him and send him the material when he can't travel to the island. His vast video collection, a few of the samples having made up their way to Youtube, makes up to two rooms, dated by year, performer, Festival Dates and the like. I think he probably owns the most complete and biggest video collection that truly is the HISTORY of the Company. Important, I would say...Someday this people may be actually thanked for instead...

And then, I'm not even getting into privacy/copyright issues, which would be a totally different topic to look at...

Again...just a thought.

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We also get people who look at their cell phones during the performance (the backlit screen is just like waving a flashlight at the people sitting behind you) ...
Oh, you mean like the woman recently sitting in front of me who, when I asked her to close her phone because it was shining in my eyes, insisted I couldn't possibly see it? (So how did I know it was open?)

When the Bolshoi was touring to Seattle in 2004 there was a row of maybe six 20-somethings in front of me at a performance of Swan Lake, dressed up for an event they didn't really understand, text messaging each other during the performance.

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what about some "Summum Bonum", or even some Bentham-Mill Social Utilitarianism...you know,"the greatest happiness of the greatest number" thing...? (
Coincidentally, I was thinking about the same thing. But from the opposite perspective.

When we are talking about paying money and taking time to go to a live performance, the "greatest number" are -- by far -- those who wish to be able to focus on the stage and not be distracted by movement, light, and noise created by the behavior of those sitting around them. The "greatest good" to these people is as much silence, stillness, and mutual respect as possible.

There are those, on the other hand, who really do feel that cameras, lights, lighted phone screens, etc., are a purely private and individual matter . They really don't internalize the sense that there is anything wrong wit this. Others of us see this as putting ME before them -- that is, the rest of us.

The extent to which this sort of behavior at public events is tolerated or even encouraged is, of course, largely a cultural matter, varying according to country, class, age group, etc. The YouTube culture the poster refers to has its own plusses and minuses. It does provide a kind of historical record of the work of certain dancers, companies, etc., and this can often be quite useful or entertaining to online viewers. On the other hand, for some people this seems to have become an end in itself -- whether they film compulsively, or watch videos compulsively.

The reports on this thread suggest negatives that I had not even thought about. Consider the stressed-out ushers having to deal with these situation day after day. The person paying hard-earned money to attend one or two special performances a year, who finds himself or herself sitting behind a row of brightly-lighted texters. The music lover trying to ignore the cllicks and whirring.

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Yes, but what about the case of Ann Barzel, who took brought a wind-up 16mm Bell & Howell or Cine Kodak along with her and preserved those great moments of early Balanchine and Ballet Russes performances for us? Those old cameras made a pretty intense droning noise. And there was a wonderful meandering black and white clip of Veronika Part in Swan Lake on You Tube that will be the only opportunity I will have had to have seen her. Will all this have to be disallowed in order create to the perfect audience experience?

The only thing I really mind are candy wrappers and coughing during slow movements--everything else is a little ok. Actually I sort of like those videos from Cuba that show everyone madly clicking away bathing the dancers in the light of approval.

And the sad thing about the flash is it really doesn't do much good--the camera is too far away--but it's almost impossible to override the default settings, as it is to forego the auto rewind feature mentioned in earlier posts.

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