Sadly, Mr. Villella, who has so many virtues, persists in his hideous practice of refusing
to allow an audience ever to know who is dancing even a week in advance--or to plan to see a specific dancer. This is invidious and very bad for box office besides. Even NYCB under Balanchine, who was extremely anti-'star', announced casting a week in advance!
I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates this frustrating, unnerving practice...
I'll agree with the "virtues" point in these remarks - Villella has a lot to be proud of, and we have a lot to be thankful for - and there may be reasons not obvious to us why he doesn't announce casting - it may have something to do with company morale or interest or spirit. Running a company is also about developing and nurturing dancers as well as pleasing us.
As to Balanchine's practice, I think he experimented with that, along with everything else, even the way the company was listed in the program: For a time, there was one alphabetical list, which gave a corps girl I talked with a few times a feeling that she just couldn't win! (Her last name began with "Z.")
My memory is that for a time, NYCB casting was listed on sheets glued to the north wall of the theatre lobby, on both sides of the doors, but I don't think that was the case early in my days there, which began in 1973.
Agree entirely about the strangeness of the refusal to issue cast lists ahead of time. I've wanted to ask a question about this for a long time at one of EV's pre-performance talks.
I suspect that the answer will have to do with the possibility of cast changes, though this doesn't seem to deter a company of similar size and rep, Pacific Northwest.
Another reason (which no one will admit) is that the audiences in south Florida, especially the subscription audiences, are probably perceived as not interested in casting. This may be true of the majority, who just go to "the ballet" or who follow brand names like Swan Lake, Jewels, Tharp, or Balanchine. But many audience members at the Kravis Center at least are or have been long-time NYCB subscribers, and I've had the chance to quite a number who go back with NYCB even longer than I do.
Except I don't really think it's strange that he doesn't announce casting - it's just his way, for reasons not clear to us. Interesting what you and jsmu say about box office - pardon my skepticism, I'm not saying either of you are wrong or anything, but I just wonder what your remarks are based on. I'm keen to understand what brings different people in, and I hesitate to speculate about this, but my little knowledge, based on what I hear (and overhear) when in the theatre, among other interesting but inadequate sources, doesn't go far.
For instance, the expensively-dressed older lady next to me one evening in Fort Lauderdale who was eager to tell me, without prompting, what she like and disliked - especially disliked - as we waited for the program to begin: "Oh, and Stravinsky. I don't like Stravinsky." Knowing Apollo was the first ballet on the program, I thought, This is going to be interesting. After Apollo, she was clapping enthusiastically, and I asked her, "How was it?" "Loved it!" she said. "And the music?" I asked. "Loved everything about it!" She went on clapping nearly as long as I did.
So while some of the old NYCB hands you know in West Palm Beach may actually know what they're talking about, bart, I frankly don't know what to make of it sometimes, and in this connection I don't think marketers' practice of "branding" is at all helpful, furthering as I think it does this kind of sloppy thinking.
I understand all of the above jack...but along with all those reasons, another immediate result of the practice is the inability to really develop a fan base on determined dancers...and hence the excitement that this type of artistic rivalries usually generates.
Aha! Yeah, I think you have a point there!
Jack, actually, NYCB has ALWAYS listed casting at least a week in advance, sometimes more--Balanchine never , so far as I know from empirical experience and a great deal of reading, deprived audiences entirely of advance knowledge of who was dancing. (yes, he did toy with alphabetical listings, prompting the immortal Tallchief remark upon her resignation in 1965, lol) Too smart. People want to see Patty and Eddie, Suzanne, Allegra, Gelsey and Helgi, Mikhail, Erik, Maria, Wendy--yes, Wendy-- etc, and MCB would do well to attempt to cultivate more of this sort of awareness on the part of its audiences. Quite true that they get a LOT of NYCB stalwart/fanatics (Bart and yours truly, among others) and they should be making people want to see Deanna Seay (oh, wait, she's gone... ) or Catoya or J. Delgado, and getting the point across that these ballerinas' dancing is as brilliant and marvelous as that taking place anywhere in the country--indeed, more so in most cases.
What do you all think...?
Does this situation reflects your home-based company...?
Has this practice proved to be succesful...?[/size]