Helene

Ballet Met's Free Season Preview

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We just received a press release from BalletMet about the upcoming "Rhythm on the River" program, which is a free season preview in Bicentennial Park over Labor Day weekend. (Most of the press release is on this calendar post.)

I think this is a brilliant idea to attract new balletgoers and people with some interest, but not enough to take a gamble without having tasted it first. People can see the range of offerings, and could very well decide to take the plunge, based on being intrigued by something they see.

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This is a great event, and really does attract folks ages 1-100. The variety of pieces has something for everyone and as Helene suggests, the casual, outdoor venue is perfect for those who want to try a non-threatening taste of dance or even just a nice, free evening out for the family. Last year the event was in conjunction with an organization called Waterfire, who gave a somewhat choreographed presentation of lighting small bonfires on the surface of the river and on the park grounds at dusk. This made a wonderfully unique backdrop for the dance performance which followed the lighting ceremony. The press release does not mention whether Waterfire will participate again this year, but regardless, giving the community free or inexpensive access to ballet is something BalletMet seems to do better than any other company I am familiar with.

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Hasn't Oregon Ballet Theatre also done this?

What other companies do the same? Is it working? I mean in the sense of increasing awareness., civic pride, and ticket sales?

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I know that San Francisco Ballet has free performances at Stern Grove, and PNB used to perform at the Ste. Michelle Wineries, but neither presented a full coming season's excerpts program. This summer, Oregon Ballet Theatre presented "OBT Exposed", where the company offered free classes and rehearsals for their "Nutcracker". I don't know if they've done season's previews in the past.

Pacific Northwest Ballet has performed at Bumbershoot over Labor Day weekend -- Bumbershoot has a single admission charge to hundreds of events at Seattle Center -- but usually a work that they think will be popular with the younger crowds at what is, primarily, a popular music festival, like "Jardi Tancat", Victor Quijada's work, etc.

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