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Colorado Ballet: Swan LakeOct. 7-23, 2011


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#1 California

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 01:14 PM

Let me put in a plug for the discount options Colorado Ballet is offering for its Swan Lake next month. They are distributing nice printed cards around town for 25% off any seat for the performances Oct. 7, 8, 9, 14, and 15 (mat). You log into their ticketing site and enter the promo card BLACKSWAN (be sure to use all caps).

If you bought a subscription for all 4 programs this year, you got 40% off, and you can get 40% off additional single tickets, too. If you bought a 3-program subscription (excluding Nutcracker), you got 30% off and can also get 30% off additional single tickets. To get the subscriber codes, call or visit the box office at the Ballet.

I love their ticketing system. You can see every seat available on seating charts and select the ones you want. Much nicer than the system NYCB uses, where they assign you a seat and you have no idea what else might available. You can print the tickets at home at no extra charge, although there is a seat tax fee.

I visited an open house at the Ballet studios yesterday and learned that they are using the sets and costumes from Ballet West. They will have three pairs of leads and the casting should be announced in the next few days.

I've seen several performances of this company in the last two years and have always enjoyed them immensely. They only have 30 dancers on contract (although they are bringing in 20 more for Swan Lake to fill out the corps), and they seem to rely extensively on staff and school for extras. But the productions are so nicely done, in a beautiful theater with live orchestra, that it is well worth a visit, especially with these discounts!

I've been following the pricing debate at NYCB and am just appalled. Wouldn't it be better to come up with some very attractive subscriber discounts that were easy to use, the way Colorado Ballet does, to fill the house? They're trying to fill Ellie Caulkins Opera House (recently renovated and just gorgeous, with great sightlines everywhere), with seating for 2100, more than the theater-formerly-known-as-the-State Theater.

Here's a link to a site about the Opera House. It's next door to a light-rail stop. If you're visiting Denver, it's worth a visit:
http://www.artscompl...74/Default.aspx

#2 California

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:12 AM

At long last, a published review of the Colorado Ballet's Swan Lake, which opened last week (October 7). (I have yet to see anything in the Denver Post, although the engagement runs through October 23. This one was in the Denver Performing Arts Examiner.)

http://www.examiner....very-way-review

Prima ballerina Maria Mosina as Odette and Odile exquisitely embodies the art form with moves graceful and strong enough to make you gasp: arms floating like ribbons blowing in the wind, legs with unbelievable strength in slow, fluid movements in her pas de deux and quick turns of her pirouettes.


Let me add my enthusiasm for Mosina, a Russian who trained at the Bolshoi School.

#3 YouOverThere

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 09:45 PM

Let me put in a plug for the discount options Colorado Ballet is offering for its Swan Lake next month. They are distributing nice printed cards around town for 25% off any seat for the performances Oct. 7, 8, 9, 14, and 15 (mat). You log into their ticketing site and enter the promo card BLACKSWAN (be sure to use all caps).


I wonder if this discount was because of worrying about Hair siphoning off some of the audience. Hair only played those first 2 weekends. Tonight's audience was pretty sparse, with the mezzanine being nearly empty (I sat in the loge because of the economic preferences of the friend I went with, which I actually thought was better than sitting in the orchestra), so maybe they lured too many people with the discount and won't get a really good audience for the last weekend.

I love their ticketing system. You can see every seat available on seating charts and select the ones you want. Much nicer than the system NYCB uses, where they assign you a seat and you have no idea what else might available. You can print the tickets at home at no extra charge, although there is a seat tax fee.


There is, however, a $5 charge for picking up tickets at Will Call. An insider told me that the CB really wants people to print their own tickets. I don't know what the reason for this is.

They're trying to fill Ellie Caulkins Opera House (recently renovated and just gorgeous, with great sightlines everywhere), with seating for 2100, more than the theater-formerly-known-as-the-State Theater.


Let's not get carried away. I've sat in plenty of really lousy seats in the Ellie (the guy at the ticket office said to me today when I was shopping for cheap seats "You won't be able to completely enjoy the show from those seats."). The Ellie was designed to look spectacular rather than to be the best possible theater for the audience.

#4 California

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 04:53 AM

I wonder if this discount was because of worrying about Hair siphoning off some of the audience. Hair only played those first 2 weekends. Tonight's audience was pretty sparse, with the mezzanine being nearly empty (I sat in the loge because of the economic preferences of the friend I went with, which I actually thought was better than sitting in the orchestra), so maybe they lured too many people with the discount and won't get a really good audience for the last weekend.


I went down to the Ballet company offices in June to buy subscriptions. I was stunned that they were marketing these at 40% off if you bought all four performances for the year, and were able to buy extra singles at the same 40% off. (The discount was 30% if you skipped Nutcracker.) The staffer told me they were working with a new marketing company and were trying hard to build up the number of subscribers. And they wanted to fill the theater, especially with first-timers. (That 25% discount for the general public is the same as the discount they offered last spring for their Romeo and Juliet.) It has seemed to me that they just want to get people into that theater to see the company (also the explanation for starting with Swan Lake, which would have much more appeal for newcomers than the mixed bill that they started with in September 2010).

This city doesn't have a history of visits from major touring companies (ABT, San Francisco, Joffrey) and they need to build up an audience. I don't know what the explanation is (altitude? weak audience interest?) But I like the way they are going about audience development. Heavily discounting tickets (rather than closing off the top balconies, as NYCB is doing) seems a better way to get newcomers into that audience. I've been to 8 performances in this run, and invariably I seem to have lots of first-timers sitting around me. But that's good for the company.

There is, however, a $5 charge for picking up tickets at Will Call. An insider told me that the CB really wants people to print their own tickets. I don't know what the reason for this is.


This seems to be the trend everywhere and not just in ballet. They are cutting back on lines and staffing at the opera house. That's good for audiences, although it's also reducing the number of jobs thanks to automation.

Let's not get carried away. I've sat in plenty of really lousy seats in the Ellie (the guy at the ticket office said to me today when I was shopping for cheap seats "You won't be able to completely enjoy the show from those seats."). The Ellie was designed to look spectacular rather than to be the best possible theater for the audience.


I've tried sitting in orchestra, parterre, and first tier/mezzanine. If you go way over to the sides, you won't see a corner of the stage, but that's true everywhere. The orchestra has a good slope, so you see something other than the back of a head (unlike the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, which is just awful in the orchestra for that reason). In the first row, you have a great view of the stage and feet (unlike Vail and San Francisco). I like the first tier for seeing the corps patterns and orchestra/front for watching the principals.

My main complaint about the theater is that the ushers do a lot of late seating, at least in the first tier. It happened three times this month to me. Once, an entire row was in the wrong place, so a dozen people were fumbling around in the dark finding their seats, blocking the view for those of us right behind them. I finally talked to an usher about this. Why not keep people standing in the back until there's a reasonable pause? It seemed the ushers were trying to be courteous to the latecomers and forgot about the rest of us. But I think I should send a note to the theater management about this.

I was also dismayed that the Denver Post didn't publish a review (although they had some advance features). I talked with a staffer about this and apparently the Post's all-purpose arts critic was out of town. Some on-line arts bloggers did have reviews, but nothing that ordinary audiences would likely see. That's disgraceful, in a city this size for a major ballet.

Overall, this was a wonderful production and the company can take great pride in it. They brought in 20 extra corps members and had a nice, well-rehearsed corps. The three pairs of principals were just fine. For a company with only 30 dancers on contract, this was quite a feat! I went through the casting, and all the soloists got quite a work-out, dancing at every performance, usually in several roles. E.g., one soloist last night did the pas de trois in Act I, the four little swans, the four princesses, and the black swans in the last act. Whew! A recently retired principal is doing Rothbart at every performance. Staff, ballet mistresses, children from the school -- all were used to fill out the ensemble. Having a live orchestra is a real treat, and I'm glad they have managed to pull that off.

#5 YouOverThere

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 04:59 PM

I went down to the Ballet company offices in June to buy subscriptions. I was stunned that they were marketing these at 40% off if you bought all four performances for the year, and were able to buy extra singles at the same 40% off. (The discount was 30% if you skipped Nutcracker.) The staffer told me they were working with a new marketing company and were trying hard to build up the number of subscribers. And they wanted to fill the theater, especially with first-timers. (That 25% discount for the general public is the same as the discount they offered last spring for their Romeo and Juliet.) It has seemed to me that they just want to get people into that theater to see the company (also the explanation for starting with Swan Lake, which would have much more appeal for newcomers than the mixed bill that they started with in September 2010).


Getting people in any way possible may be a constructive strategy. I never thought that I would like ballet until I actually attended a performance.

I was also dismayed that the Denver Post didn't publish a review (although they had some advance features). I talked with a staffer about this and apparently the Post's all-purpose arts critic was out of town. Some on-line arts bloggers did have reviews, but nothing that ordinary audiences would likely see. That's disgraceful, in a city this size for a major ballet.


The Denver Post has more than one arts critic. Or at least they used to. It just sounds like covering the performing arts is just another thing that they are cutting back on. A friend who left his job as a newspaper columnist a few years ago has said that soon true local newspapers will be gone. Newspapers will contain little besides wire service stories.

Overall, this was a wonderful production and the company can take great pride in it. They brought in 20 extra corps members and had a nice, well-rehearsed corps. The three pairs of principals were just fine. For a company with only 30 dancers on contract, this was quite a feat! I went through the casting, and all the soloists got quite a work-out, dancing at every performance, usually in several roles. E.g., one soloist last night did the pas de trois in Act I, the four little swans, the four princesses, and the black swans in the last act. Whew! A recently retired principal is doing Rothbart at every performance. Staff, ballet mistresses, children from the school -- all were used to fill out the ensemble. Having a live orchestra is a real treat, and I'm glad they have managed to pull that off.


Couldn't agree more. The CB has really pulled out all the stops the last 2 times they've done Swan Lake.The audience response has been great - it historically has been rare that the CB gets a standing ovation (which I've never understood - I used to wonder if I was violating some sort of audience etiquette by standing) - but 3 out of the 4 performances have drawn a standing ovation. The only thing that I didn't like was the costumes. In Act I, the prince looked like he was wearing pajamas, and the costumes for the ladies-in-waiting looked like they were made from drapes.

My only concern is the state of leading men in the company. While Alexei Tyukov is clearly the best male DANCER in the CB, his acting IMHO could use some improvement. He is fond of really slow, very exaggerated hand gestures which lag behind everything else that to me look very unnatural and almost, dare I say it, student-like. Dmitri Trubchanov had some problems when he had to land a jump on one foot. He was consistently wobbly. Newly promoted principal Viacheslav Buchkovskiy had neither of those problems. However, he is rather small in stature. This was his first production as a leading man, and hopefully he will grow to relish being the person the audiences are focusing on.


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