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Veronika Part on the David Letterman Show July 9


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#106 Buddy

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 02:56 AM

a wonderful ballerina was given a huge nationwide audience to promote her art form by just being herself.


Simon G, I do agree with much of your general sentiment and truly hope that you are right in your optimistic predictions for the future of what Jack has described as "the beauty and wonder" of ballet (and, I would add, other related art forms) that will come from Veronika Part's lovely interview.

I read the Tony Mendez article. Thanks rg. Although I come from a world quite different than his, I find him to be a very sympathetic human being who has had the good fortune of sharing the pleasant company of many outstanding artists and entertainers. I also thank him very much for helping make Veronika Part's appearance possible.

Marga wrote of Veronika Part:

"She was gorgeous. She was statuesque. She was anything but standoffish or haughty, as some may picture Russian ballerinas to be (although mostly none of them are)."

Having been to five Mariinsky Festivals and four gala parties afterward I definitely agree with this. I have found in dance, anyway, that so many of the artists carry their immense beauty (or handsomeness) and talent with such selflessness and modesty. I commend this highly.

#107 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 06:48 AM

...for a widespread audience who dislike or are indifferent to ballet, what's wrong with focusing on how incredibly hard it is to master as an athletic art?

I kind of get the feeling that people want to be outraged, upset, disgusted etc with Part on Letterman so much so that they're not allowing themselves to enjoy this event for what it was.


I still tend to think that what's wrong with doing that is that it's really beside the point and distracts the neophyte. Would there have been a problem with something about how ballet movement goes with its music? This pessimist has his optimistic side -- I think there are people "out there" who like ballet but don't know it, because they've never seen any, although, on the other hand, there may be relatively few classical-music lovers in Letterman's audience. I'd really like to know the demographics, if that's the word. Who are his audience?

My optimism is likely colored by my own experience "promoting" ballet, doing it "retail" in contrast to the "wholesale" approach of a program with such a big audience, and doing it entirely by introducing classical-music lovers I'd met to performances danced to concert repertory and seeing them amazed and delighted. (But not "converted". I don't think any of them went again on their own as a result.)

But if you think I want to be upset by Part on Letterman, then I gave the wrong impression. I was wowed by the performance clip, I enjoyed her unfailing poise and good humor, and the little demonstration at the end; and, maybe more to the point, I was glad that Letterman's audience had a chance to see what they thought of it.

#108 Simon G

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 06:58 AM

Buddy & Jack,

The thing is when it comes to pessimism about the future of ballet and dance I'm probably the greatest pessimist here. Things aren't great and there's no reason to believe that they'll get better any time soon, if at all.

Which is exactly why when the fates throw you a bone it's best to just take it for what it is, a nice segment on a mass audience light entertainment show.

Demographics for television are hard to pin down, especially for one such as Letterman whose demographic can alter radically depending who he has on - the show Part was part of was about as mass media youth audience as one could get in terms of the other guests; indeed the audience which ballet is trying hard to attract as a new generation of audience - and perhaps that's why Part was so ideal she was young, beautiful and contemporary.

Introducing people one on one to high art forms one loves is great, I wouldn't knock it Jack, but new audiences are created through people actively seeking something out, from their own initiative because something piqued their interest; which is what Part did.

I have absolutely no belief that Part has started a US wide revolution in ballet attendance, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if for a very brief time ticket sales for companies across the US and especially ABT show a marked improvement and who knows, maybe some of those curious people may like what they see, ballet as ballet, and new converts are born.

#109 kfw

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 09:10 AM

...for a widespread audience who dislike or are indifferent to ballet, what's wrong with focusing on how incredibly hard it is to master as an athletic art?


I still tend to think that what's wrong with doing that is that it's really beside the point and distracts the neophyte.

That could be, Jack, but focusing on the athletic side of the art also gives neophytes something they can relate to, something that could lead to further interest. In any case it gave Letterman openings for a few of his wisecracks. I rarely watch the show anymore, but jokes about pain seem typical of his humor. I did appreciate that, as he held up a photo of Part in action, he said "it certainly is lovely" and "look at how beautiful this is."

#110 canbelto

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 10:07 AM

Well i watched it and thought it was lovely. Veronika looked gorgeous in her green "romantic tutu"-like dress. Although you could tell English was definitely her second language she had a good sense of timing, knowing when to giggle sweetly when she was to giggle sweetly, and knowing when to sound deadpan. I thought her tiny little dance with Letterman was cute. Good job Veronika! :clapping:

#111 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 10:11 AM

Now, if anything....THAT dress...!! :clapping: When she finally sat she swept the tulle-( or whatever the fabric was)-all over the arms of her seat with one quick arm movement...it was adorable :thanks:

#112 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 10:30 AM

... new audiences are created through people actively seeking something out, from their own initiative because something piqued their interest


That reminds me of a guy who had a favorite recording of Stravinsky's Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. One evening in the mid-60s, otherwise unprepared, he was watching a program of three ballets, the first one, all dreamy and green, not having made much impression, but now there was one (in red and white) to that favorite fun piece of music, and he watched with growing amazement, hanging on every note and move. And when it was finished, he was so stunned he was the last to applaud -- and then, the last to stop! And when that company stopped visiting Chicago, he realized that if he was going to restore what was missing from his life now, he would have to visit New York, which he did, and kept doing, and here he is, another enthusiast on BT.

Yeah, Simon G, thanks for that! How could I have forgotten? "from their own initiative" is key.

On the other hand, kfw, I've never identified with a dancer in my life, but maybe it would work as a starting point for somebody. Yes, he did make those remarks, he didn't only stress the -- well, stress. Point taken.

#113 carbro

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 10:32 AM

...for a widespread audience who dislike or are indifferent to ballet, what's wrong with focusing on how incredibly hard it is to master as an athletic art?


I still tend to think that what's wrong with doing that is that it's really beside the point and distracts the neophyte.

For an audience mostly attuned to rock music, that's asking an awful lot from a six-minute segment! I disagree with you, Jack. I think the athletic (or to take a broader characterization, the kinetic) qualities of ballet are what hook many new viewers before they understand the subtleties of musicality and expression.

#114 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 10:43 AM

I like "kinetic" much better than "athletic". It's about the effect, not the effort to make the effect, right? Thanks, carbro.

#115 Marga

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 12:08 PM

Jack, I love your story about your own voyage of discovery! :clapping:

#116 bart

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 12:56 PM

"from their own initiative" is key.

I agree, Jack. But there is an exception which may or not prove the rule -- exposing young people to high-level live performances, via school trips, etc.

The person I'm thinking up grew up in a house with an opera-loving grandfather and parents who went to Broadway shows and even the ballet. It wasn't until a school trip in 9th grade -- to a dress rehearsal of Carmen at the Met, at which he was thrilled to observe a stage-hand crouching behind a rock while the gypsies sang -- that he realized, viscerally, that he needed a lot more of this kind of thing in his life.

This same young person had been exposed, by his mother, to Ballet Russse and other ballet performances without much effect. The trip to the Met was different. It was this difference which somehow impelled him to go all by himself to see the New York City Ballet at City Center the following year. (Affordable prices at City Center, partly subsidized by the city government, certainly helped in audience building.)

Sometimes acting on "one's own initiative" doesn't happen without a little prior exposure and assistance. This makes me feel even more strongly how tragic the deep cuts government funding for arts education will be.

Does anyone know if ABT, during its various stops around the country, makes tickets available to educational groups from the public schools? Having seen Veronika Part for 2 minutes on television might actually mean something to a young person if they could see her dancing live on stage as well.

#117 Buddy

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 01:15 PM

Sometimes acting on "one's own initiative" doesn't happen without a little prior exposure and assistance.

Does anyone know if ABT, during its various stops around the country, makes tickets available to educational groups from the public schools?


bart, of possible interest, when the Mariinsky performed "Swan Lake" in Chicago several years ago, there was one matinee set aside only for students. I was able to also get in at the last moment. It was privately funded by a local benefactor. I would say that most of the students were high school and college level. Their response to the performance with Daria Pavlenko, Igor Kolb and a brilliant day for the corps de ballet Swans grew from appreciative to resounding approval as the performance progressed.

#118 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 06:42 PM

bart, I'm not sure what conclusions you intend us to draw from your story. Maybe the boy's trips to the theatre with Mom just happened too early, and by ninth grade -- fourteen years of age -- that person had achieved some maturity. Then again, the previous trips may have made theatre-going somewhat familiar and therefore easier. I remember my mother taking me to some theatre for children on her initiative, and while it was interesting as something I'd never seen before, I also remember thinking it was stupid and boring. (I may have been more mature than Mom realized, or the "acting" may have been too amateurish.)

But a couple of experiences like that, watching what Mom did, and I knew you went up to the man in the little window with money in hand, and he sold you a ticket or two, a lot like going to the movies. So the way was paved for me to take the initiative when the time came.

I don't know if there were ticket-price subsidies in the mid-50s in Chicago, but that would certainly be a valuable thing to have. (The Chicago Symphony had various low-prices-for-students schemes over the years, but that was a resident institution; there was no ballet company resident here in my youth.)

#119 4mrdncr

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 08:51 PM

http://www.megavideo.com/?v=B1701BO4


This isn't working for me. All I get is an ad, not a direct link to a video with VP on Letterman?

#120 carbro

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 09:58 PM

I had the same problem, 4mrdncr. Try this:


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