innopac

The Claque

48 posts in this topic

The people described in this article get tickets and passes in return for being part of the claque. If they can't afford the regular prices for tickets, I suspect they aren't following the company on tour. However, there may be pick-up claques in other cities, perhaps company followers who live abroad.

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I've not followed this topic, but having been to nine Mariinsky Festivals in a row I'll offer some quick observations. First I've hardly noticed any of it. One Mariinsky 'secondary' soloist (?) artist does seem to have a claque 'supporter', which for me really detracts from the artist's superior performances. Another absolutely brilliant guest artist from the Bolshoi always has a 'claque' in toe, once again detracting considerably from the performance. (This could be an effort by a claque to detract from the performance, but this artist at least once voiced approval of claque support, so I don't think so.)

Again, I've noticed very little of it at the Mariinsky.

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I've not followed this topic, but having been to nine Mariinsky Festivals in a row I'll offer some quick observations. First I've hardly noticed any of it. One Mariinsky 'secondary' soloist (?) artist does seem to have a claque 'supporter', which for me really detracts from the artist's superior performances. Another absolutely brilliant guest artist from the Bolshoi always has a 'claque' in toe, once again detracting considerably from the performance. (This could be an effort by a claque to detract from the performance, but this artist at least once voiced approval of claque support, so I don't think so.)

Again, I've noticed very little of it at the Mariinsky.

Very interesting Buddy. According to Abramov--whose perfect honesty is not, I think, to be counted on--it isn't happening at the Mariinsky. He seems to say pretty directly that that is why the applause at the Marriinsky (again, according to him) is so tepid compared to the applause at the Bolshoi!

Alas, unlike Buddy, Natalia, and others, I have almost always seen the Mariinsky on tour, but the few audiences I have heard at the Mariinsky theater were pretty tepid. Except, to some extent, for Lopatkina. Which certainly didn't feel like claquers. (Of course I'm a huge fan. Free tickets to cheer for Lopatkina? If you'll forgive the vulgarity, that sounds sort of like Demi Moore getting a million dollars to sleep with Robert Redford.)

[Edited to add that I know I'm fortunate to be able to afford to see ballet if only occasionally])

I will say I heard one very loud and isolated BRAVO shouted for the Von Rothbart of Andre Soloviev after his initial leaping sequence. (I'm getting the name from someone else's report, since my program is packed away.) The "bravo" was so isolated and so loud I did wonder even at the time if it was coming from a paid supporter, but prefered to think it was simply a wild fan . . . or family member.

Though indeed in Abramov's account, the claquers are in their way also wild (if corrupt) fans. But if we give him the last word, then it's a Bolshoi problem. Goodness knows, the Mariinsky--as great as it is--has its own problems.

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Great article. This explains a lot about the applause at the Bolshoi - which can go on for a while and have lots of 'bravos!' (often coming from the same section of the theater every time). It doesn't seem to be a problem to me as long as they're not disruptive. I wish I could have been part of the claque - Bolshoi tickets are crazy expensive.

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The acid reference is unfortunate, but this paints a less malignant picture than I would have feared, especially after Ratmansky referred to said claque as "disgusting." As Drew says, they're "wild (if corrupt) fans." And I can understand where they're coming from, because I often take it upon myself to lead applause during performances. If I'm positioned properly, I'll usually be the one to start applause for the conductor when he or she enters the pit, and during the performance mine is usually the last clapping you hear when the applause dies away, unless the music has already resumed. I'm very sympathetic to the situation of the male dancer during a pas de deux, so I'll try to applaud for as long as possible after the adage in the hopes of helping him to catch his breath before his variation. And if I happen to be more familiar with an opera than others in the audience, I try to applaud in the "correct" places. I can't really do much effective hollering because I'm not very loud.

No one rewards me with free tickets or anything else, and I do the same things irrespective of who's performing, but on some level I understand the instinct of these claquers to support their favorites in this way.

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Ratmansky was AD before Abramov's heart attack.

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He night still feel the same way about the kinder, gentler version, but it must have been hellish to deal with one set on revenge.

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I would be happy to start a clacque at PNB if anyone would like to join me. We could approach a few dancers and get free tickets, see how it goes. Any takers?

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"....but the few audiences I have heard at the Mariinsky theater were pretty tepid."

Not tepid at all at the performances that I've been to, Drew.

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Here is a fascinating article on the claques at the Bolshoi from the NYTimes.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/arts/dance.designated-cheering-spectators-thrive-at-the-bolshoi-theater.html?ref=arts

Looks like the URL has changed...

Designated Cheering Spectators Thrive at the Bolshoi Theater

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/arts/dance/designated-cheeringspectators-thrive-at-he-bolshoi-theatre.html

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There's legendary stories of certain opera singers entertaining groups of claques in their apartments with fine wine and food. I'm kind of surprised though that an old-fashioned claque still exists at the Bolshoi. I had thought in the age of the internet and youtube the "claque" has sort of morphed into a few select fans who will promote certain dancers in social media, upload private flattering films to youtube, and whatnot.

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Social media can't accomplish some of the things only the physical presence of a claque can, i.e., prolonging the applause and bows to give the premier danseur time to breathe or help along a quick costume change, prompting the audience with the appropriate time to applaud, making the noise that is heard in the YouTube videos or HD broadcasts, etc.

If I were a fan of a Russian dancer and local, I would consider it a paid holiday to do what I'd do anyway. Then I'd go home, because being feted in a hotel room or apartment sounds exhausting. I'm sure there are the ballet equivalent of extroverts like Anna Netrebko who are wired, and many dancers speak in Q&A's of going home and taking a few hours to wind down over a steak, but If you listen to the Ballet Initiative podcast with Joy Womack, these dancers work exhausting hours, and they have to be at the barre the next morning, unlike opera singers.

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I was interested by this:

This is especially relevant at the Bolshoi, which has been transformed by Russia’s oil-fueled market economy. The seats are now filled by people who can afford them, rather than by the well-versed balletomanes of the Soviet era. Those who approve of the claque say it transmits the sound of a vanishing generation, ordinary working people raised with a passion for classical ballet.

and this:

"In principle, yes, I was hiding, I was running away from them," she said. "They were trying to find me through my mother. They found my mother at the theater and said: ‘Why is she not calling us? Why is she not taking care of passes and tickets for us?’ "

In exceedingly rare cases, a dancer takes the step of challenging the claque in public. In 2004, a newly minted prima ballerina, Maria Aleksandrova, infuriated Mr. Abramov and his team by saying she did not need their support. (Ms. Aleksandrova would not comment for this article.) A legendary feud arose between Mr. Abramov and the dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who was quoted making similar comments. What ensued, both men agreed, was a campaign of revenge, mostly aiming to break the dancer’s concentration at key moments in a performance.

Sounds like a sleazy business, even if it is low on the sleaze scale. I tend to agree with Ratmansky on this one.

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Certainly when harassment, threats, coercion, pressure, and retaliation is involved it's a very sleazy business, and not even on the low scale.

From the point of view of the people in the claque, who have been priced out of their love, putting myself in their shoes, it seems like a reasonable business.

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I have every sympathy for them and they're certainly low on the corruption scale considering what the 1% is doing in Russia and elsewhere, but much of the behavior and activities described are dubious enough that I don't think passion for the art form is sufficient justification. It is too bad.

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In regard to ballet audiences in Russia, Tala Lee-Turton (ninth UK student to be accepted to the Bolshoi school) has this to say in a very interesting and pleasant article.



“The atmosphere is incredible and Russian audiences [bolshoi] are much less reserved than they are over here [uK]. They are pretty raucous [including claque?, the very few that I've experienced are quite loud] and they leave their seats in the stalls to go right up close to the stage to applaud the principle dancers."



http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/yorkshire-living/arts/tala-lee-turton-a-leap-into-the-unknown-1-5969208


(thanks to BalletcoForum for posting this)



Mariinsky audiences are also very enthusiastic, with almost no claque ever, but not 'raucous'. They will go to the front of the stage at the final curtain call to applaud. Also a phenomenon that I've only seen at the Mariinsky. With only a handful of applauding spectators left in the theatre, even the greatest of the stars will return again and again for a curtain call to show their appreciation. flowers.gif



[smiley added later as to be in compliance with Truth In Reporting Codes]


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I was sitting in a box at the Mariinsky at the Raymonda performance I attended in front of an English couple, and the man was extremely shocked and disgusted by the clapping during tour de force moments and the people taking pictures and videos with their phones constantly. So, I assume the audience is much more demonstrative in Russia than the English audiences (although I have not been to a ballet performance in England). I believe he said, "This is the worst behaved audience ever!" LOL I kept my mouth shut because I have seen much worse.

From my few experiences at the Mariinsky I did not feel like there was a loud claque helping or harming any one dancer at any given moment there, but that doesn't mean it doesn't ever happen, but I never felt any area of the audience directing the applause or trying to direct it in one way or another. I do think the audiences there are sometimes louder for the males just like what seems to happen here in the U.S. At the Mikhailovsky a huge group of female fans would not let Vasiliev leave and kept applauding for more curtain calls after Flames of Paris. But it seemed like genuine fans and not a claque.

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Male dancers are flashier, Birdsall, which I think generates more audience response anywhere.

Confessions of A Loving Fan:

I try to compensate for that when I'm in St. Petersburg. Years ago one of our favorite posters here must have heard me and accused me of being a claque at this forum. If so I'm the least financially compensated claque that there is. My 'claquing' costs me a near fortune. happy.png

Added thought:

More often these days, I would rather remain stone silent after a great performance, so as not to break the spell, but human nature doesn't always work that way and artists, even ones casting 'ethereal spells', do seem to love applause, although I think that I might have jolted Viktoria Tereshkina once at a curtain call with my burst of enthusiasm.

Added added comment:

I was sitting next to an English gentleman once, Birdsall, who fit the exact description of the folks sitting behind you until the show really started rolling and then he was 'howling' louder than anyone. Stereotypes ain't always what they're supposed to be. Once again Viktoria Tereshkina was the culprit.

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Since the Sochi Olympics are coming up I'd like to bring up that in figure skating, there is something similar. These fans are called "ubers" and they often follow their favorite skater from competition to competition, reporting back to skating forums if there's been any changes in costume or program. They're often allowed into practices and they'll tweet or instagram photos of their skaters in practice. They set up fan sites, and the fan sites more often than not include fan-fic about their skater. They'll throw flowers and teddy bears on the ice or try to cheer louder than the other skaters' set of ubers.

Being an "uber" requires so much energy and disposable income that I've often wondered if a portion of them are paid by the skaters themselves. I'd like to think not but I wonder.

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There are a lot of people with a lot of disposable income that follow opera, ballet, figure skating, speedskating, etc. There are a lot of people who live frugally and/or have flexible jobs or freelance and spend every cent of the little disposable income they have to be, for example, Ring Heads.

I doubt that the fans from Japan who've given Johnny Weir designer bags worth thousands of dollars did so because they were paid. There are cultural differences among countries: what seems excessive to us is more mainstream somewhere else. Also, ballet dancers and figure skaters are the Brad Pitts and Julia Roberts' of their societies. (You can tell how long it's been since I've been to a movie that didn't have subtitles.)

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I've heard of online discussions (aka "wars") between fans in opera and figure skating. One of the things I like best about BA is the civilized nature of the discussions. I hope it is ever thus.

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The interesting thing about figure skating is that due to past scandals regarding scoring, the scoring has become so mathematically precise. Every jump, spin and footwork sequence is judged with mathematical precision. There is a little wiggle room in the artistic component scores, but that's it. The "claques" have little or no influence over the scoring at ISU events. They can cheer and boo all they want, but I don't think it has any influence on scores anymore.

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