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NYCB Goes to the Movies -- with Balanchine's Nutcracker

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That's the best ballet news in a loooong time. (However, should we expect full body searches entering and leaving the theater lest a surreptitious video camera filmed a pointe shoe? Will we have our brains zapped at the end to prevent unauthorized restagings from memory?)

I won't ask for miracles and hope for a dvd, but I do hope they think about weekend rebroadcasts for those of us away from the East Coast who may not be able to arrange work hours so we can see this on a weeknight (or what would be for us, late afternoon).

But no matter; at least someone at the company is finally showing some imagination. Welcome to the 21st century, NYCB!

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I love that this is happening. Also found it interesting that the blog post on NY Times pointed out the opposing view point that it could dilute the audience. I am of the completely opposite viewpoint. I think that very few people who will go see this in their respective cities outside of New York would have been able to travel to the city to see it live. Therefore, we are drastically increasing the audience, not diluting it. Just my opinion. Also, in my mind it is never a bad thing to give more people the chance to see quality art. Thank you NYCB for finally jumping on this bandwagon. Let's hope it is successful and that we see it more and more.

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Peter Gelb of the Met Opera was recently asked about the issue of diluting the in house audience in an interview. He noted that ticket sales in house declined last year, but he intends to proceed with HD broadcasts of the operas. Personally, I don't think that the HD broadcasts of the opera are the reason for generally declining ticket sales at the Met. I think it has more to do with weak casts and poor productions. Tickets for operas with "A" list cast members still sell very well.

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Great news but...does this now mean that it will not be telecast on PBS' 'Live from Lincoln Center' on Dec 14 (8pm EST), as announced earlier? Link to the earlier thread announcing the Dec 14 PBS live showing:

http://balletalert.i...lincoln-center/

Whatever...as we've been discussing on another thread, it's time for the 'big two' US ballet companies to jump on the Live-in-Cinemas bandwagon. I just find it odd that they would be showing in cinemas a ballet that will air live on TV 24 hours later.

EDITED TO ADD: Hoorah! The Dec 14th Live from Lincoln Center telecast is still 'on,' according to the series' Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/LiveFromLC

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Just bought tickets for NYC performance live on December 13. Only about $20, and I've seen it on NYCB stage so many times. For $20 I'll gladly see it again. (The 1993 filmed version was marred by the (commercially motivated) casting of child star Macaulay Culkin, whose performance was artificial and "acting".)

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...The 1993 filmed version was marred by the (commercially motivated) casting of child star Macaulay Culkin, whose performance was artificial and "acting"....

ITA, Eileen - and the editing was done as in a studio, without the feel of a live performance (which it was not). Just look at the wacko editing of the recent Miami City Ballet Square Dance, filmed in a studio...or the 1970s German films of NYCB ballets. I am truly looking forward to an unedited film of a live perfromance of the NYCB Nutcracker.

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Whatever...as we've been discussing on another thread, it's time for the 'big two' US ballet companies to jump on the Live-in-Cinemas bandwagon. I just find it odd that they would be showing in cinemas a ballet that will air live on TV 24 hours later.

It seems live public television (Live From Lincoln Center) must have put up part of the funding for this project. I think that explains why public television will broadcast the show the next night. For the Met Opera HD films, public television bought the right to air the films but the television air date is usually many months after the HD broadcast.

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Peter Gelb of the Met Opera was recently asked about the issue of diluting the in house audience in an interview. He noted that ticket sales in house declined last year, but he intends to proceed with HD broadcasts of the operas. Personally, I don't think that the HD broadcasts of the opera are the reason for generally declining ticket sales at the Met. I think it has more to do with weak casts and poor productions. Tickets for operas with "A" list cast members still sell very well.

Yes, but didn't he say that he saw a net gain in revenues and a surplus from this?

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I love that this is happening. Also found it interesting that the blog post on NY Times pointed out the opposing view point that it could dilute the audience. I am of the completely opposite viewpoint. I think that very few people who will go see this in their respective cities outside of New York would have been able to travel to the city to see it live. Therefore, we are drastically increasing the audience, not diluting it. Just my opinion. Also, in my mind it is never a bad thing to give more people the chance to see quality art. Thank you NYCB for finally jumping on this bandwagon. Let's hope it is successful and that we see it more and more.

I think it's great, too, but I AM concerned about audience dilution -- though not dilution of NYCB's NY metro area audience. Rather, I'm concerned about regional and local ballet companies that rely on their own Nutcracker performances to fund the rest of their seasons. What if the local audience opts for the NYCB live theater broadcast instead? What if it's such a success that it becomes an annual tradition? A live theater broadcast of a major company's Nutcracker goes after a local company's bread and butter in a way that a live broadcast of, say, "Jewels" or "Vienna Waltzes" wouldn't. Smaller companies aren't likely to perform either of those ballets, but an "event" theater broadcast of them might whet the local appetite for more live dance. (Of course, it could also just whet the appetite for more broadcasts with stars.) An NYCB (or ABT) Nutcracker might serve as nothing more than a substitute for the one live dance event certain audience members would think of going to.

Please, someone, tell me I'm being all henny-penny about this ...

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....It seems live public television (Live From Lincoln Center) must have put up part of the funding for this project. I think that explains why public television will broadcast the show the next night. ...

Ah, so tv viewers will be seeing the Dec 13th show/cast one day after it is broadcasted Live in Cinemas, rather than seeing the live show/cast on Dec 14th? Why do they call in 'LIVE from Lincoln Center'?

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....I AM concerned about audience dilution -- though not dilution of NYCB's NY metro area audience. Rather, I'm concerned about regional and local ballet companies that rely on their own Nutcracker performances to fund the rest of their seasons. ....

I don't think so. As long as there are Nutcrackers with lots and lots of children in the cast, there will be lots and lots of family, neighbors & friends going to see their darlings performing on stage. That's the source for 75% of audiences for Nutcrackers in many locales (not that there's anything wrong with that).

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I don't have any data on this, but I suspect these live broadcasts might have the opposite effect, viz., encouraging people to go to the theater to see these ballets live. Wasn't that the rationale for companies all over the country staging Swan Lake, after people had seen the movie? Even now, people can buy (or rent) DVDs with Balanchine's Nutcracker or the ABT version with Baryshnikov/Kirkland. And last year, the cable channel Ovation had a Nutcracker marathon with many versions shown in December.

Having taken my 5-year-old great-niece to several ballets in the last couple of years, the live performances are irreplaceable. We first watch a DVD of the ballet with her so she knows the story and what to expect. But she is excited beyond belief at the prospect of seeing live dancers, getting dressed up to go to the theater, going out for lunch with her grandmother and great-aunt, etc., etc., etc.

I think the more important issue for regional companies is realistic pricing, as Colorado Ballet has done. It just makes so much more sense to fill the house, even with tickets at 30-40% off, and introduce people to the theater experience, as opposed to the crazy practice of closing off tiers at NYCB.

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I think it's great, too, but I AM concerned about audience dilution -- though not dilution of NYCB's NY metro area audience. Rather, I'm concerned about regional and local ballet companies that rely on their own Nutcracker performances to fund the rest of their seasons....

I had the same thought, Kathleen, and I don't think the possibility is particularly farfetched. NYCB has nothing to fear, but other companies might. People may spend $20 on one Nutcracker and deem that sufficient (or all they can afford in these times), or not go see the local Nutcracker that can't hope to match NYCB's production values and dancers. I'm all in favor of these broadcasts, even if I find them less rewarding than others do, but it's not very considerate for the selected ballet to be the meal ticket of companies across the country. Even if there's no harm done in the end, that particular risk should not have been taken. One hopes they did some research first.

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I don't have any data on this, but I suspect these live broadcasts might have the opposite effect, viz., encouraging people to go to the theater to see these ballets live. Wasn't that the rationale for companies all over the country staging Swan Lake, after people had seen the movie? Even now, people can buy (or rent) DVDs with Balanchine's Nutcracker or the ABT version with Baryshnikov/Kirkland. And last year, the cable channel Ovation had a Nutcracker marathon with many versions shown in December.

Having taken my 5-year-old great-niece to several ballets in the last couple of years, the live performances are irreplaceable. We first watch a DVD of the ballet with her so she knows the story and what to expect. But she is excited beyond belief at the prospect of seeing live dancers, getting dressed up to go to the theater, going out for lunch with her grandmother and great-aunt, etc., etc., etc.

I think the more important issue for regional companies is realistic pricing, as Colorado Ballet has done. It just makes so much more sense to fill the house, even with tickets at 30-40% off, and introduce people to the theater experience, as opposed to the crazy practice of closing off tiers at NYCB.

I hope your suspicion is correct. I do think that there's a difference between wanting to see a live "Swan Lake" after seeing "Black Swan" and wanting to see your own local company's version of "Swan Lake" after seeing a live broadcast of, say, the Bolshoi's. I'm hoping like crazy that HD broadcasts give non-balletomanes the fever to see dance live, but I am concerned that companies that rely on bread-and-butter warhorses to fill the house might see the audience taper off after a star-studded, "event" HD broadcast of one of the same warhorses blows through the local multiplex. (I'm also concerned that a newbie audience might find a well-danced local version disappointing for all the wrong reasons -- no stars, no big sets, less pyrotechnically thrilling dancing, etc etc etc, but that's a different matter.)

I'm not so worried about DVDs or television broadcasts because they aren't the same kind of "let's all go to the theater for something special" event that an HD broadcast is. There's only so much of that kind of festive energy to go around in a busy family's life, and if it gets channeled into HD events, there might not any left over for local live art.

Dirac -- I think our posts must have crossed in cyberspace -- as you can see, I too am worried about the disparity in production values ...

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Correct me if I'm confused about this...the live version in the movie theatres December 13 is a 7:30 pm curtain in New York on a Tuesday night. That's 5:30 Mountain time and 4:30 Pacific time. Rough on a school night in much of the country, with parents who aren't yet off work for the day. The competition would have been worse if they had broadcast the Saturday matinee when parents are free from work (or most of them) and kids are off school. Or do they plan to do a "tape-delayed" version in the midwest and west, as television does? Or a rebroadcast? And if people realize it will be free on PBS the next night, wouldn't they opt for the latter?

The $20 ticket charge seems high for going to the movies, which might be the mental comparison of at least some parents. At many regional companies, you could get a discounted ticket up high for that price.

I'd like to stay optimistic about this HD development in ballet. I hope it promotes some synergy in the performing arts generally. The movie industry was convinced in the 1970s that VCRs would mean the death of that industry, but it hasn't worked out that way. I hope that people who see a performance on TV or in a movie theater will be motivated to go see a live performance, and vice versa. Better than having most of the population think that DWTS is the be-all-and-end-all of dance!

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The December 13 performance is 6 pm. Maybe performances in earlier time zones will be delayed an hour or three.

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This event doesn't seem to be on the Fathom website yet -- has anyone purchased tickets from some other source?

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I'm not so worried about DVDs or television broadcasts because they aren't the same kind of "let's all go to the theater for something special" event that an HD broadcast is. There's only so much of that kind of festive energy to go around in a busy family's life, and if it gets channeled into HD events, there might not any left over for local live art.

Dirac -- I think our posts must have crossed in cyberspace -- as you can see, I too am worried about the disparity in production values ...

Great minds think alike, Kathleen. :) I also agree that staying home and watching on television, no matter how big and fancy your screen, is remote enough from the real thing that viewers understand they're not having anything like the experience the theater audience did.

These fears could be groundless, of course. But I still wish NYCB had chosen another warhorse for riding into battle.

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well, which warhorse would you prefer?

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I'm still confused about the correlation between the Dec 13 'live in cinema' Nutcracker and the Dec 14 'live from Lincoln Center' TV edition. Are we talking about the exact-same cast and performance, shown twice...or two separate & distinct performances?

Somebody above seems to think that the Dec 14th TV showing will be a tape of the previous night's cinemas showing. That concerns me because (a) it's not the 'live' performance that PBS has been promising TV viewers and (b) there's no guarantee that the TV public may see the entire ballet uncut and unedited, e.g., what's to keep the Balanchine Trust from judiciously snipping and re-editing portions so that TV viewers cannot tape the entire experience. Between the 13th & 14th, will dancers be able to re-film flubbed portions (although I would not expect the need for that with top-flight dancers)?

On the other hand...

If the Dec 13 performance will be only for the cinema public AND the Dec 14 performance, with a different cast, will be also TOTALLY LIVE and UNCUT/UNEDITED for the TV public, then it would be a WIN-WIN situation. However, I still find it amazing that, after so many years of NYCB not showing live uncut performances, they would allow the airing of TWO separate and distinct performances -- with, say, Bouder leading on the 13th and Reichlen on the 14th -- to be shown live via two different media. Miracles could come true. Let's see what transpires.

re. Watching Live in a Theater vs via media/YouTube, etc. - I agree with dirac that there's absolutely no substitute for being in the theater. For ex., I would never trade my recent experience of having been inside La Scala seeing the Raymonda live had I known ahead of time that it would soon be available on YouTube/TV. No matter how sharp the picture and well filmed, YouTube/TV/DVD do not convey the energy of the moment...sitting in that red-and-gold box...looking out into the auditorium...witnessing a 3-dimensional live spectacle...being in Milano! TV, cinemas, DVDs, YouTube do not come close to being in a grand theater, no matter how wonderful it is to be able to see the ballet without having to spend round-trip int'l airfare, hotel room, and 180 Euros-a-show ticket, not to mention planning the wardrobe, etc. I would not be worried about TV/DVDs/cinemas keeping people away from wanting to experience the same ballet in the grand theater...because going to the theater is so much more than just 'viewing' a show. It's great to have seen the Bolshoi Reopening 'live in cinemas' but, if I could have, I would have much prefered to have been there in person.

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This event doesn't seem to be on the Fathom website yet -- has anyone purchased tickets from some other source?

Try Fandango.

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The NYCB website says that the tickets will go on sale on Nov 18 through the Fathom website.

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It looks like the "live" event will be tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific zones to 7:30 pm. That gets pretty late for a school night with young children.

http://www.fathomevents.com/performingarts/event/nycb_nutcracker.aspx

No information yet about pricing, but their Sleeping Beauty was $15.

I'm still optimistic that people who do go will be motivated to see a local company, if not their Nutcracker, then something in the spring. People struggling in this economy will likely wait for the free PBS version the next night. I'm surprised Fathom agreed to this deal with the back-to-back PBS show. What's the advantage to going to a movie theater - just the bigger screen?

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