I could let this go, and I am definitely not feeling defensive, but this distinction may be an important point in attempting to identify oneself as being afflicted with "balletomania", so I will amplify:
I have sympathy with SandyMcKean’s point of view but I feel it is financially difficult for a lot of people to go to every cast change of a particular ballet and I would add that a balletomane knows which performance to go to and those to avoid.
My words were:
"obsessed with seeing multiple casts"
And that's exactly what I meant. I see it just as you do leonid, a true balletomane likely avoids some casts just as well as insists on seeing multiple casts. But the essense is the need to see multiple casts -- the feeling that if you don't, the entire experience lacks dimension. There is the cost issue, but beyond someone who is living a true low income lifestyle, cost is usually handled by the quality of the seat and by avoiding other expenses (PNB has some $25 seats open to every goer for every performance).
I'll just speak for me......it is seeing different dancers in the some production that adds the extra dimensions to the work. I am reminded of Picasso's "need" to paint a woman from multiple angles all at once or resign himself to not capturing her at all (well, capturing her alright, but only with a misleading representation since so much would be left out). True, I know all my dancers, and I love to see them all dance, but my real motivation is to see multiple artists interpret the same piece, the same role. It is from all those angles that I get insight into the piece (I could even say learn to love the piece). There is another benefit I didn't expect. When I know I am going to see a production 2 or 3 times, I can relax and pay attention to details, emotions, corps work, the orchestra, etc -- a freedom I never felt before I regularly started going to each production more than once. I no longer worry about "getting it", or missing something. If I want to watch a corps dancer for 5 minutes with my binoculars (following him/her around the stage), I do it since I know I will get a chance later to see what I missed. Sometimes I just watch all the feet, other times all the arms. I find my "dance education" goes up exponentially by seeing multiple casts because these other avenues (angles) open up that are impossible to explore with just one performance.
Bottom line....I agree: it's multiple casts, certainly not all casts (except sometimes )
I believe that Sandy McKean and I are at basics, singing from the same hymn sheet.
Many a true balletomane shares their thoughts and views with other like minded persons and that is what we are doing here. When Sandy McKean says, “For example, someone who has a subscription and only sees a single performance of each program (and therefore not obsessed with seeing multiple casts) is likely not a balletomane even if they were the most knowledgeable person on the planet. “
In London in the past, almost all of the very best criticisms of new ballets were written after seeing one performance only of a new work and published the next morning. Some critics will go to see other casts if they perhaps warrant a viewing but I do not agree when you state, “But the essence is the need to see multiple casts -- the feeling that if you don't, the entire experience lacks dimension.”
I am not sure how we can measure everybody’s experience of what you call dimension as we all see performances through different eyes and use different measurements which may or may not coincide with others even in part.
“True, I know all my dancers, and I love to see them all dance, but my real motivation is to see multiple artists interpret the same piece, the same role. It is from all those angles that I get insight into the piece (I could even say learn to love the piece).”
I speak for me alone when I say in general I believe we only get true insight into a work when the choreographers chosen first cast is exhibited, because they have been chosen as an essential part of the creative process and the work has evolved with them or their type in the choreographers minds eye.
I personally go to see every first cast performance of a new work that I have appreciated, to embed the choreographer’s intention in my memory. For me subsequent casts have never or rarely met the experience that a first cast has given me. However that does not mean that I will not go to see a different cast if the work is revived.
It does mean that however much I compare and contrast the very many Odette-Odiles I have seen; I can never see them as Ivanov and Petipa did but only as I observe them.
Balanchine said something like, that his ballet would not be danced the same way after he died. Older balletomanes know this because they have been a witness and I believe that we have to learn as much as possible about production values and early casts of ballets, where possible, place them in context, watch films and also review what has been published to gain some insight wherein we can tentatively say, “I think I know quite a lot about this or that ballet.” Am I a balletomane?